The performance of Canada’s major metropolitan real estate market remained an unprecedented economic anomaly from March 2020 through to the first quarter of 2022. Fuelled by pandemic-driven lifestyle needs, historically low interest rates and endemic shortages in housing supply, sales activity and prices across the country’s conventional and luxury market soared to historic highs across every major urban market, and across every housing type. Following this unforeseen and anomalous era, the Canadian real estate market normalized through the second quarter of 2022. In light of rising inflation, increasing mortgage rates and global geo-economic volatility, near-term consumer concerns helped normalize sales activity, despite the fact that underlying confidence in the fundamentals of the luxury and conventional housing markets remain strong – as is the demand for housing.
“The Canadian real estate market is winding down a prolonged era of extraordinary sales activity and price escalation that has been an economic anomaly in the history of the country. The frenetic pace of this extraordinary market was bound to rebalance,” says Don Kottick, President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “In a normalizing market, it is very natural for buyers, sellers, and the market as a whole to undergo a period of hesitancy as all players watch for a new equilibrium, and this is exactly what we are seeing in the real estate market now. This hesitancy is not the same as lack of consumer demand or confidence in the housing market. In reality, there is an abundance of pent-up demand and a real need for conventional and luxury housing across every major Canadian market. Further, local and international confidence in the fundamentals of the Canadian housing market are strong. We have every expectation that as the market comes into balance, potential buyers and investors who have been discouraged by recent years’ market conditions, will re-engage to purchase a property to meet their needs.”
According to Kottick, there is a growing divide between the behaviour of the ultra-luxury and luxury real estate market, and the market for conventional homes. With greater financial resilience to adapt to rising interest rates, prospective high-end buyers are actively assessing emerging strategic investment opportunities as the market adjusts and are more prepared to engage even as the market normalizes. Conventional home buyers and households confronting still historically high housing costs, now compounded by inflation, rising mortgage lending costs and concerns of a recession, may require more time to adapt budgets to the new reality.
According to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada’s Top-Tier Real Estate: Mid-Year Report, residential sales in Canada’s largest luxury real estate market moderated through the first half of 2022. Even as the market gradually came into balance, Greater Toronto Area (Durham, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York) residential real estate sales (condominiums, attached and single family homes) over $4 million were up 7% year-over-year from previous records set in the first half of 2021. Sixteen properties sold over $10 million on MLS, one unit more than the record number of ultra-luxury properties sold above this price point in the first half of 2021. $4 million-plus condominium and attached home sales posted annual gains of 13% and 100% in the first half of 2022, surpassing previous record activity in the first six months of 2021, while single family home sales over $4 million were up a modest 6%. Overall, residential sales over $1 million were down 10% in the GTA in the first half of 2022.
Vancouver’s luxury residential real estate market experienced a sharp change in sales activity and consumer sentiment between the first and second quarter of 2022, as the city’s fevered sellers’ market calmed. In the first half of 2022, overall luxury residential sales over $4 million decreased 18% from the same period in 2021. Nine properties sold over $10 million on MLS during this time, compared to 16 sold in the first half of last year. While sales of $4 million-plus single family and attached homes fell 22% and 40% year-over-year from historic records from the first half of 2021, luxury condominium sales over $4 million were up 32% year-over-year. Residential sales over $1 million were down 18% year-over-year in the first half of 2022 as the city’s market shifted into more balanced conditions.
Even as Montréal’s residential sales activity normalized from its record-breaking highs of 2021, the city’s $4 million-plus residential real estate market saw sales volume increase 71% year-over-year in the first half of 2022, while sales over $1 million remained on par with the previous year with a nominal 1% annual decline. $1 million-plus condominium sales experienced the most significant year-over-year percentage gains of the residential housing types at 29%, while sales of single family and attached homes over $1 million fell 9% and 10% year-over-year respectively. In the spring of 2022, Liza Kaufman and Alfee Kaufman with Sotheby’s International Realty Quebec respectively listed and sold an extraordinary residential estate in a private and exclusive transaction that broke the record for the highest-priced residential sale in the province of Quebec, representing a strengthening trend for ultra-luxury residences to be sold exclusively, off-market.
In the first half of 2022, it was Calgary that led Canada’s major metropolitan markets in percentage sales gains across the $1 million-plus market. Strengthening local economic fundamentals, re-energized consumer and business confidence, and relatively affordable top-tier and luxury real estate prices attracted in-migration and investment from other Canadian markets. Overall, $1 million-plus residential sales saw a 40% year-over-year increase during this period, with five properties sold over $4 million where one had sold above this price point in the first half of 2021. Sales of single family homes, attached homes and condominium over $1 million posted annual gains of 36%, 85% and 89% respectively.
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The information contained in this report references market data from MLS boards across Canada. Sotheby’s International Realty Canada cautions that MLS market data can be useful in establishing trends over time but does not indicate actual prices in widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differentials within local markets. This report is published for general information only and not to be relied upon in any way. Although high standards have been used in the preparation of the information and analysis presented in this report, no responsibility or liability whatsoever can be accepted by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada or Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates for any loss or damage resulting from any use of, reliance on, or reference to the contents of this document.