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January 18, 2024 | Canadian Home Prices and Rents Amid Much Needed Mean-Reversion

Danielle Park

Portfolio Manager and President of Venable Park Investment Counsel ( Ms Park is a financial analyst, attorney, finance author and regular guest on North American media. She is also the author of the best-selling myth-busting book "Juggling Dynamite: An insider's wisdom on money management, markets and wealth that lasts," and a popular daily financial blog:

Canadian home prices are retreating. In previously hot areas, properties are selling up to 20% below 2022 prices, but nationally, the average sale price was just -11.4% in the latest quarter.

After an outrageous 59% average price increase nationally between Q1 2020 and Q1 2022, the mean-reversion prospects remain big from here. As shown below, courtesy of Better Dwelling, Canadian real estate prices remain extreme compared with other G7 countries with much larger economies and GDP per capita.

There is hope that the spring will bring more buyers, and that’s usually true. At the same time, however, new listings are rising amid financially stressed owners, power of sale proceedings, increasing unemployment and a growing wave of restrictions on short-term rentals. See: Reno flips gone bad lead to 2024 hangover:

Onlookers have been busily predicting the outlook for real estate in 2024, but one hangover from 2023 still looms over the market: observers say a remarkably high number of homes are still being sold under power of sale.

Most mortgage agreements allow the lender to force the sale of a property if a borrower fails to make required payments.

“Most of the stuff you’re seeing now is reno flips gone bad,” said Ron Butler, broker and owner of Butler Mortgage Inc., referring to homes that appear to have racked up big debts to renovate and upgrade to attract a higher-end buyer. “What we’re seeing here is the collapse of speculation: it takes a while to collapse; it’s never instantaneous … there’s a policy point where the lender says ‘let’s cut our losses.’”

As painful as this may be for present owners, more supply suggests lower prices and rents–both are much needed. See the latest move in Kelowna approves sweeping restrictions on short-term rentals:

Kelowna city council has voted to eliminate most short-term rentals, such as those listed on Airbnb, across the city with some small exceptions.

Council was asked by city staff to endorse sweeping changes to the city’s short-term rentals bylaw, far exceeding restrictions being introduced by the province.

Council heard the potential hardship from those utilizing short-term rentals as a way to afford making monthly mortgage payment during a recent public hearing while also hearing from staff that short-term rentals are having an adverse affect on the city’s long-term rental stock.

Coun. Rick Webber told his colleagues the decision for him came down to what would benefit the community as a whole and not individual landowners.

“Listening to the discussion today the argument seems to be will this get more people into homes or force a lot of people out of their homes,” said Webber.

“Well, that’s a hell of a question to answer, and there is no obvious answer to this.”

Webber sided with the majority saying if the province’s legislation and the city’s restrictive bylaw works as intended, it will make more homes available for more people.

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January 18th, 2024

Posted In: Juggling Dynamite

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