THE industry body for Toronto real estate agents says the city’s record-breaking surge in home prices is nearing an end as borrowing costs are set to rise.
Prices rose 6.9% on a seasonally-adjusted basis in January, the fastest monthly gain in almost five years, data released from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board show.
The average selling price was C$1.24mil (RM4.09mil) during the month. But the group says the increases won’t continue.
Its forecast for the year is that selling prices will average C$1.23mil (RM4.06mil), implying they will flatline for a while.
The real estate agents’ prediction comes on the heels of a warning from Canada’s top banking regulator that the country’s housing market is in a “speculative fever” that could be brought to a halt as the Bank of Canada starts raising rates.
“In some markets, where you had really rapid increases in prices, you could see a fall of 10%, 20%,” Peter Routledge, the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, said on the Herle Burly podcast this week.,
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The central bank refrained from raising its benchmark rate from 0.25% at its Jan 26 meeting but said hikes are imminent to combat the highest inflation the country has seen in 30 years.
Financial markets are pricing in about six quarter-point increases over the next year to take the policy rate to 1.75%.
The prospect of higher rates comes after the Canadian housing market became one of the world’s frothiest, setting records for both prices and sales in 2021.
“Definitely as we move through the year, it’s possible we’ll see average prices below that January mark,” says Jason Mercer, the real estate board’s chief market analyst, adding that January tends to have outsize price swings because there are fewer transactions.
“There’s going to be changes in the marketplace that will likely influence demand. Higher borrowing costs will be one of those,” Mercer says.
The Toronto board is still not predicting large price declines, though. — Bloomberg