Canadian Real Estate Wealth’s Property Forecast issue will be out in December, and after this year’s real estate market turbulence, readers will breathe easier next year.
The theme that will likely carry through the year is cautious optimism, as market fundamentals throughout the country will remain robust. Some provinces, however, will still face significant fiscal headwinds, while several key industries are running at full capacity, and that will taper growth. Prices aren’t expected to surge as they have in recent years past, but that doesn’t mean markets like Toronto and Vancouver won’t remain out of reach for a great many.
This year could have been catastrophic for Canada’s real estate market, thanks to repeated government intervention dating back to 2017. Ontario had its Fair Housing Plan, B-20 made its impact immediately, and British Columbia’s NDP government seems determined lower the cost of housing by stymieing market activity as much as it possibly can. However, markets remained resilient, and in the case of Toronto, have trended upward since the beginning of summer.
Heavily-leveraged investors relying on appreciation had a rough year, as did buyers hoping to wait out the market only to be torpedoed by stringent mortgage stress testing. Nevertheless, as 2018 draws to a close, investors in Canadian real estate markets still stand tall. While sales and average prices suffered a great deal, it hasn’t been to the level most feared. Trade tensions with the United States also curbed interest rate hikes for a while, and the new trade deal has helps sidestep many of the uncertainties that have had economists worried, namely tariff threats—auto sector tariffs would have plunged Ontario into a recession.
There was little chance of 2018 being a great year, but given that it could have been outright catastrophic, greener pastures doubtless lie ahead. Canada’s GDP grew 3% in 2017, and was expected to contract this year largely because of the real estate market. Expect a considerable private capital injection into the economy in 2019.
Building activity is expected to slow down next year, and that’s good news for landlords. The combination of sub-1% vacancy rates in a growing number of cities and a declining number of new properties will only add pressure to local rental markets.