VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Sept. 16, 2015) - Following analysis of Canada's largest metropolitan real estate markets and examination of key macro-economic indicators, Sotheby's International Realty Canada is forecasting strengthening demand for residential real estate over $1 million in Toronto and Vancouver into the fall, including building momentum in luxury sales over $4 million, reinforcing both cities' positions as international market leaders in top-tier real estate. Considerable sales gains are projected for both markets across all product categories, while overall market balance is anticipated for Montreal. Calgary is expected to experience slowing sales and absorption rates.
Sotheby's International Realty Canada's mid-year 2015 Top-Tier Real Estate Report indicated divergence in the performance of major Canadian real estate markets during the first half of 2015. Sales of units over $1 million (condominiums, attached and detached single family) increased 56%, 48%, and 20% year-over-year in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Vancouver, and Montreal markets respectively, while sales volume decreased 36% in Calgary. At the same time, luxury real estate sales in the $2-4 million and $4 million-plus ranges surged 52% and 71% in Vancouver, and 46% and 72% in the GTA.
Limited inventory, historically low interest rates, heightened consumer confidence, and increased international demand are expected to accelerate growth in Vancouver and the GTA, and to sustain market balance in Montreal. The performance of Calgary's high-end real estate market will remain contingent on the state of the oil and gas industry, employment rates and net migration.
- The Bank of Canada's September 2015 decision to hold the key overnight interest rate at 0.5% will continue to have a positive impact on real estate sales over $1 million, stimulating consumer borrowing towards homeownership, offsetting affordability and signalling a conservative approach to fiscal policy that is attractive to foreign investors.
- In most major metropolitan markets, the contraction in the Canadian economy during the first part of the year, and speculation that growth may weaken, has not affected consumer confidence in the $1 million-plus real estate market. Stable national unemployment in the first half of 2015 had a positive influence on consumer confidence. In spite of the recent uptick in the national unemployment rate to 7% in August 2015, below national average unemployment rates in Toronto (at 6.7%) and Vancouver (at 5.7%) remain positive indicators for the market. Concerns about job loss in Calgary will temper high-end sales.
- The demand for single family homes over $1 million in the GTA and Vancouver is expected to remain high, outstripping available inventory. While sales gains are anticipated in the $1-2 million and $2-4 million ranges, the strongest percentage sales increases are anticipated in the $4 million-plus range.
- As a result of limited supply in the single family home market, demand for condominiums and attached homes over $1 million is expected to remain strong across the GTA and Vancouver as consumers seek alternatives, particularly in or near the downtown core.
- International demand for top-tier real estate in Canada's major cities is expected to remain high as volatility in global stock markets and a faltering Chinese economy results in a continued influx of buyers, particularly from mainland China.
- The upcoming federal election is not expected to impact the $1 million-plus real estate market heading into fall 2015.
Following significant sales gains in the first half of 2015 and over the summer, Vancouver's $1 million-plus real estate market is expected to continue to trend upward in fall 2015. Sales volume in July and August foreshadow the trajectory of the fall market, with gains of 17.9% year-over-year, and 8.6% and 68.9% increases in detached single family home and condo sales over $1 million specifically. There was a notable 50% year-over-year increase in Vancouver's $4 million-plus market over the summer, including six condo transactions representing a 200% increase and 57 detached single family homes sales representing a 42.5% increase over the summer prior.
It is projected that limited inventory, strong consumer demand, low interest rates and international buyers will continue to drive favourable seller conditions, multiple offers and sales above list prices in the fall. The detached single family home market is expected to lead gains in sales volume and pricing, particularly in the $2-4 million and $4 million-plus luxury segments, while the performance of the attached home and condo markets will also remain strong. Finally, limited supply in traditional luxury neighbourhoods will continue to propel buyers east and south as neighbourhoods in Vancouver East, along the Fraser River, and in South Vancouver continue to emerge as new options for luxury buyers.
After several years of record-breaking sales, Calgary's high-end housing sector experienced a downturn in the first half of 2015 as the market absorbed the effects of declining oil prices and a dip in consumer confidence. With the performance of Calgary's top-tier real estate market inextricably tied to the state of the oil and gas industry, local employment and net-migration, and with economic volatility and job losses anticipated in the coming months, real estate sales over $1 million are projected to slow in fall 2015 as absorption rates continue to decline. Market performance in September and October will be pivotal in indicating longer-term trends for the $1 million-plus real estate market into the new year.
Building on market performance from the first half of 2015, the GTA (Durham, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York) is expected to continue to lead Canadian $1 million-plus real estate sales this fall. The strongest performer of all major metropolitan markets in the first half of the year, high-end real estate in the GTA was characterized by heightened sales volume and multiple offers over the summer months, with sales over $1 million up 53.5% year-over-year in July and August. Notably, the $4 million-plus category performed exceptionally well with year-over-year gains of 158.3%. Sales of condos over $1 million remained strong over the summer, with gains of 19.7% over the year prior. Meanwhile, detached single family home sales soared 56.6% to 1,588 units sold over $1 million, with $1-2 million sales up 54.9%, $2-4 million sales up 63.3% and $4 million-plus sales up 116.7% year-over-year.
This momentum is expected to accelerate into the fall, given limited inventory, low interest rates, high consumer confidence and the influence of foreign buyers, particularly from mainland China. The detached single family home market is expected to experience continued price gains, pre-emptive and multiple offers as well as sales above list price. As a result of increased competition, heightened demand in the $1 million-plus attached home and condo market is also anticipated, while continued competition in traditional luxury neighbourhoods will result in growth in the $1 million-plus market in emerging high-end neighbourhoods in the northern part of the city, including York.
Balance is anticipated to remain in Montreal's high-end real estate market in fall 2015. Following a period of heightened activity in the latter half of 2014 resulting from consumer confidence instilled by the results of the provincial election, sales of top-tier real estate stabilized in the first half of 2015. This trend continued throughout the summer and the high-end market is expected to remain consistent in terms of both sales volume and selling prices in the fall, with the majority of sales anticipated in the $1-1.5 million single-family home market. Along with demand from the Middle East and France, Montreal has experienced an uptick in buyers from mainland China seeking multiple properties or condo units in recent months, a trend that is expected to continue into the fall.
To download the full report on Canada's luxury real estate market performance for the first half of 2015, please visit: http://sothebysrealty.ca/blog/en/2015/07/09/2015-mid-year-top-tier-real-estate-report/.
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