Canada’s housing data shows recovery accelerating before rate hike, ET RealEstate

June 24, 2023

TORONTO: Canada‘s housing market showed further signs of recovery in May following a yearlong slump, data on Thursday showed, a factor that could support additional Bank of Canada interest rate hikes.

Canadian home sales rose 5.1% in May from April and were up 1.4% year-over-year, the first increase on an annual basis since June 2021, the Canadian Real Estate Association said.

The industry group’s Home Price Index edged up 2.1% on the month and was down 8.6% annually, while the national average selling price was up 3.2% on the year.

Monthly sales gains from February through May have been helped by “a healthy job market, robust population growth, and a jolt to buyer psychology from a Bank of Canada that was previously on pause,” Rishi Sondhi, an economist at TD Economics, said in a note.

The data doesn’t reflect the Bank of Canada’s move last week to raise its benchmark interest rate to a 22-year high of 4.75%, the first hike since January.

The central bank said that a pickup in housing activity was among the factors that showed excess demand was more persistent than anticipated. Money markets see a roughly 60% chance that it will tighten further next month.

A lack of forced selling has contributed to a recovery in the housing market after lenders temporarily extended the period over which the debt of variable-rate borrowers is amortized, helping to shelter those borrowers from higher interest rates.

But the increase in borrowing costs has contributed to a slowdown in residential construction activity in recent months. That could thwart government plans to reduce a housing shortfall and add to the recovery in home prices.

Data on Thursday from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) showed that housing starts fell 23% in May compared with the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 202,494 units, much less than the 235,000 level of starts that economists had expected.

  • Published On Jun 16, 2023 at 07:00 PM IST

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