Canadian housing: ‘There have clearly been corrections in progress’

Canadian house prices may be up for the second month in a row, but a key report warns that “there have clearly been corrections” in some markets.

The Teranet-National Bank house price index rose in February by 0.1 per cent from January, but prices were actually up in just three of the 11 markets tracked in the report released Thursday.

 Prices rose 1.5 per cent in Vancouver, 0.5 per cent in Victoria and 0.3 per cent in Hamilton. And that’s where it ends.

The index showed losses of 0.1 per cent in Toronto and Quebec City, 0.3 per cent in Calgary and Montreal, 0.6 per cent in Halifax, 0.8 per cent in Edmonton, 1 per cent in Winnipeg and 2.1 per cent in the Ottawa regions.

“In some markets there have clearly been corrections in progress,” said senior economist Marc Pinsonneault of National Bank.

“The monthly retreat in Calgary was the fourth in a row, for a cumulative decline of 2.3 per cent,” he added.

“In Winnipeg it was the fourt in five months, for a cumulative decline of 3 per cent. East of Toronto the corrections have tended to be larger. For Ottawa-Gatineau it was the fifth retreat in six months, total decline 5.2 per cent, for Montreal the sixth in seven months, total decline 5 per cent, for Halifax the fourth in five months, total decline 5.5 per cent. Quebec City prices fell for a fourth straight month, total decline 2.9 per cent.”

On an annual basis, the index rose 4.4 per cent from a year earlier.

But that, the group said, marked the fourth month in a row of slower gains.

The annual tally for those that gained: Hamilton at 8 per cent, Toronto at 7.3 per cent, Vancouver at 5.7 per cent, Calgary at 5.6 per cent, Edmonton 4.7, Victoria at 4 per cent and Halifax at 0.8 per cent.

The losers: Winnipeg, down 1 per cent, the Ottawa region down 1.2 per cent, and Montreal down 2.4 per cent.

Prices in Quebec City were little changed.

The troubles in Calgary and Edmonton had, of course, been expected.

“These trends are expected to continue, with commodity-driven markets (including St. John’s) likely to experience price corrections of up to 10 per cent peak to trough through the year,” said economic analyst Admir Kolaj of Toronto-Dominion Bank.

“Elsewhere, economic conditions are expected to remain more favourable for housing activity due to a rising U.S. economy, a low Canadian dollar and lower-for-longer interest rates. That said, the impact of lower rates on the housing market is likely to be modest due to a lack of pentup demand and deteriorating affordability in a few major markets. Meanwhile, an increasing trend in listings is likely to keep home price growth in check for most major markets.”

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