House prices falling across Canada

Calgary and Edmonton hit hard, according to report from real estate association

House prices are falling across the country, with significant declines in March in the Calgary and Edmonton regions.

According to its regular monthly report, the Canadian Real Estate Association said the aggregate MLS benchmark price across Canada of $617,200 was down by 0.47 per cent year over year during the month. The report said the benchmark price last posted a year-over-year decline of similar magnitude in September 2009.

The Calgary price fell by 4.95 per cent year over year to $409,400. The Edmonton price dropped by 4.39 per cent to $319,000.

The association said home sales through Canadian MLS systems edged up 0.9 per cent in March following a sharp drop in February. But that still left activity near some of the lowest levels recorded in the last six years.

Sales activity fell 4.6 per cent year over year to the weakest level for the month since 2013. It was also almost 12 per cent below the 10-year average for March.

“It will be some time before policy measures announced in the recent federal budget designed to help first-time homebuyers take effect,” said Jason Stephen, CREA’s president. “In the meantime, many prospective homebuyers remain sidelined by the mortgage stress-test to varying degrees depending on where they are looking to buy.”

“March results suggest local market trends are largely in a holding pattern,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist. “While the mortgage stress test has made access to home financing more challenging, the good news is that continuing job growth remains supportive for housing demand and should eventually translate into stronger home sales activity pending a reduction in household indebtedness.”

– Mario Toneguzzi

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