A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

Home sales shifting towards pricier housing in several major markets, CMHC says

In more recent months, CMHC has seen the number of sales outpace new listings

Buyers are spending more money on home purchases in several major Canadian cities, even as the COVID-19 pandemic causes layoffs and income reductions across the country.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Thursday that home sales have shifted toward more expensive housing types in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal in recent months.

The federal housing agency attributed the shift to fewer new immigrants, government relief programs that helped Canadians manage costs and pandemic-related employment troubles, which disproportionately kept younger and lower-paid Canadians out of the market.

“It’s higher income households that are continuing to manage to cope with the pandemic, have kept their jobs and their salaries are increasing, so demand at the higher end of the market probably reflects this,” said Aled ab Iorwerth, CMHC’s deputy chief economist, during a Thursday press conference.

“The other aspect that … may be happening is that people are selling condos at the city centers, looking for more single-detached housing further out in the suburbs or in rural communities, and those prices are generally higher.”

His comments came as CMHC released a report analyzing the Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal real estate markets throughout the pandemic.

The agency found the COVID-19 pandemic was no match for these markets, which saw prices, sales and housing starts soar above expectations during the health crisis.

The flurry of housing activity and increases were driven by government relief programs, variations in lockdown measures and pent-up demand for homes and show that many Canadians weren’t letting increased restrictions or dramatic economic situations deter them from buying.

CMHC’s analysis of the year revealed that lockdowns and other restrictions caused a sharp decline in sales and price levels in the second quarter of 2020, but they had rebounded, moving higher than pre-pandemic levels by the end of the third quarter.

In more recent months, CMHC has seen the number of sales outpace new listings, placing upward pressure on prices and keeping prospective buyers of more affordable housing out of the market.

CMHC found early in the pandemic, sales fell faster than new listings in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, but this changed in the third quarter, as strong growth in new listings was outpaced by stronger growth in sales.

Depending on how long the trend lasts, ab Iorwerth worries what it will mean for people looking for entry-level or less expensive housing.

He believes there may be people that lost their jobs permanently in the retail sector or others that have been hit hard by the pandemic, but the scale of those losses and their impact on housing is difficult to ascertain at the moment, he said.

While he predicts people will return to their normal spending habits and once more frequent restaurants and other urban entertainment venues as the virus is quelled, he said it’s too difficult to predict how long it will take the housing market’s lower-end to rebound.

He said, “We are really in the hands of the pandemic.”

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Smoke billows on the West Shore, April 16 around 12:15 p.m. (Black Press Media photo)
Saanich, View Royal firefighters respond as smoke spotted in Burnside West area

Multiple fire departments respond to area of Burnside West and Prospect Lake roads

A GoFundMe has been launched in memory of an eight-year-old boy who drowned at a Hotel Zed pool in Victoria on March 24. (Jane Andema/GoFundMe)
GoFundMe started in memory of 8-year-old boy who died at Hotel Zed pool

Child drowned after wandering off to the pool alone

This image shows northbound traffic on Highway 17 looking to turn west onto Keating Cross Road (far right top corner), crossing the southbound lane on Highway 17. A new flyover overpass promises to ease delays and improve safety, but the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce is calling for revisions in joining other critics. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce calls for revisions to Central Saanich flyover overpass

Chamber deems current proposal necessary but insufficient in calling for full movement interchange

The Capital Regional Hospital District has approved awarding a tender to QM Environmental for the demolition and hazardous materials disposal of the Oak Bay Lodge. (Black Press Media File)
Winning bidder approved for Oak Bay Lodge demolition

Capital Regional Hospital District board approves $4.266 million budget for project

Rendering of the floating market space that is part of one of the two proposals for the Turkey Head and Oak Bay Marina properties. (Courtesy District of Oak Bay)
Oak Bay Marina questionnaire nets hundreds of responses

Mayor Kevin Murdoch impressed by the quality, quantity of input on two proposals

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A almost hitting school bus

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier John Horgan booked to get AstraZeneca shot Friday

‘Let’s show all British Columbians that the best vaccine is the one that’s available to you now,’ he said

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
P.1 variant likely highest in B.C. due to more testing for it: Dr. Henry

Overall, just under 60% of new daily cases in the province involve variants

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read