TORONTO, January, 2012 –The Royal LePage House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast released today showed the average price of a home in Canada increased between 3.6 and 6.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to the previous year. Royal LePage expects average price growth to continue through 2012 and predicts national average prices to increase by 2.8 per cent by the end of the year.
Despite calls in some quarters for Canadian house prices to soften in 2011, the market proved resilient as demand created by low interest rates and a relatively stable national economy created upward pricing pressure for all housing types surveyed. Further, recent high profile reports forecasting significant house price declines in 2012 are not supportable. Nationally, consumer confidence in the housing market was high in the fourth quarter as real estate brokers witnessed an unusually high quantity of multiple offer situations, including over the holiday season, compared to same period in previous years.
In the fourth quarter, standard two-storey homes rose 4.2 per cent year-over-year to $375,427, while detached bungalows increased 6.1 per cent to $344,392. Average prices for standard condominiums increased 3.6 per cent to $234,680.
“In the recovery period following the 2008-2009 recession, I found myself repeatedly speaking of ‘irrational exuberance’ in the Canadian housing market,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage Real Estate Services. “Expectations were too high and the pace of expansion unsupportable. With this report, I find myself in exactly the opposite position. Widespread calls for a major real estate correction in 2012 simply can’t be justified. The industry has significant momentum entering the year, and buoyed by the stimulative effect of very low interest rates, we expect the market to continue to expand – albeit at a slower pace.”
While 2011 was a very strong year for price growth, over the past five years, including the recessionary period, Canada’s average home prices have grown by only 3.5 per cent compounded annually, well below the long term average rate of appreciation. Canada’s GDP has also grown modestly over the same period and the economy is expected to expand by approximately two per cent in 2012. While unemployment remains stubbornly higher then pre-recession levels, sustained employment at today’s levels in a low interest rate environment can be expected to support continued average house price appreciation across the country.
Canadians remain confident in their real estate investments. Throughout 2011, buyers took advantage of low rates to enter the housing market or move-up to homes that better suited their family’s needs or wants. All regions included in the Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast anticipate positive average price growth in 2012. This includes the relatively expensive Toronto and Vancouver regions, where rising home prices have consistently out-paced the other urban centres.
”We believe calls for falling prices and more affordable housing in 2012 are unlikely to materialize,” said Soper. “While this will comfort the seventy per cent of Canadians who are homeowners, there is cause for concern when house price growth outpaces increases in wages and salaries for an extended period of time. Coupled with more restrictive mortgage regulations that have made it more difficult to obtain financing, those who aspire to own a home may find it increasingly difficult to enter the housing market and, in some regions, it may leave people out entirely.”
Regionally, Royal LePage expects to see cities with commodity-based economies, such as Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg, outperform larger urban centres such as Toronto and Vancouver. Royal LePage has forecast Calgary’s average house prices to climb 3.6 per cent in 2012. In 2011, the largest average price increase was seen in Regina, where average prices for standard two-storey homes rose 19.5 per cent year-over-year.
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