The scorching hot Ottawa real estate market has cooled, but home values here are holding.
Marnie Bennett, who has been in the industry for more than four decades, says she is acting as part psychologist and economist as well as realtor right now with “managing expectations”.
She reassures everyone that industry growth has been a lottery win for homeowners, even with the cool down.
“The home equity growth that home sellers have experienced in in the last 2 years would traditionally take 10 to 12 years to realize.” explains Bennett.
“The market is cooling, but that cool down isn’t just a reality check. It’s a return to a more normal market. “
Bennett says double-digit price increases were unheard of in the city Ottawa.
“Based on historical data, over the last 70 years, Ottawa home prices increased on average 6.3 per cent annually in the core and 3.5 per cent annually in the outlying areas – the Ottawa Valley towns.”
COVID-19 created a whirlwind of home buying and the highest escalation of home prices on record.
“Renters and first time homebuyers raced to buy a home and this created price increases of up to 78 per cent since 2020,” says Bennett.
“After experiencing shocking sticker prices for homes and ‘free’ money with the lowest interest rates in the history of Canada. we are now returning to a normal real estate market.”
Bennett says homebuyers enjoyed the lowest interest ever offered in Canada at about 1.5 per cent.
“The result in the housing market is that home buyers are shell shocked about rising interest rates at over four per cent from only 1.5 per cent. Home sellers are having to appreciate that the joyride is over and that increased home prices are leveling off to normal increases,” says Bennett.
For long-term perspective she explains: “In 2002 for example interest rates were seven per cent and in the eighties they were ‘double-digit’ 18 per cent.”
“As a realtor we are having to educate both the homebuyer and the home seller about real estate cycles and that we are all adjusting now to normal times.”
Bennett says home sellers in Ottawa have not seen a decrease in prices but there is more competition and homes going on the market need to be in good repair and ready to sell.
“In this market with rising inventory of 168 per cent since January well cared for homes with top level presentation is necessary in order to sell.”
This is a positive for buyers out there as there is more choice and that prices are negotiable and terms.
“This has all happened very quickly and in some areas we are headed towards a buyers market.”
For the third straight month there have been double digit decreases in home sales in Ottawa.
“There are many factors—rising interest rates, the increased cost of living and inflation,” says Bennett. “Lifestyles are changing. People can enjoy more travel and entertainment.”
“These are the first time homebuyers. Higher interest rates and the stress test are causing this slow down.”
The lower values are year over year and do not factor in the astronomical growth from 2020 to 2021.
When asked about the price decrease in Manotick, Bennett explains this could be an anomaly but will be closely watched.
“In Manotick it could be that in the month of May there were fewer waterfront properties sold. They are in the $2-million dollar range so that skews the numbers. We will see what June does. We will monitor this.”
Real estate: 27 per cent of homeowners accessed credit, survey finds – CTV News
A new survey exposes balance sheet vulnerabilities for some Canadian homeowners amidst rising interest rates.
Released by BNN Bloomberg and RATESDOTCA, the survey found that 27 per cent of homeowners who participated have accessed a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Almost 80 per cent of those participants have used it, and half of them said they have done so in the last two years.
Aside from the pressure of increased interest rates, HELOCs are complicated by new real estate loan guidelines announced by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions on Tuesday. In late 2023, borrowers will be required to pay principal and interest on combined loans above 65 per cent of the property value.
Prior to these guidelines, HELOCs were an ideal way for homeowners to tap into their home equity during the prior decade’s low interest rates and high home prices, but the survey findings suggest that the Bank of Canada’s recent interest rate increases might have changed the way older Canadians leverage their home value. With HELOCs being based on variable-rate interest, borrowers will be hooked to higher payments.
Since HELOC lenders are able to demand full payment at any time, this can raise concerns for consumers who have not set aside extra money to pay down their HELOC amidst the pressure of rising interest rates.
According to the survey, 58 per cent of respondents said they have an outstanding balance on their HELOC.
Although the majority said they borrowed less than $50,000, 10 per cent said they borrowed more than $100,000. Balances of at least $50,000 were more common for Canadians aged 55 and older.
Of the 1,507 Canadians surveyed, 65 per cent said they were homeowners.
With files from BNN Bloomberg and RATESDOTCA
In Ontario, real estate buyers are holding out for a price cut – The Globe and Mail
The stalemate that is taking hold in the Ontario real estate market right now arises from a belief that is becoming more entrenched each month: buyers reckon prices have farther to fall.
House hunters see properties in some areas selling at 15 per cent or so below the high-water mark set in the first quarter and decide to hold off for an even steeper discount. Sellers either refuse to budge or feel the landscape shifting under them and rush to complete a transaction before more ground crumbles away.
The war in Ukraine, stubborn inflation and the rise in interest rates have precipitated a much more tumultuous real estate market than industry watchers were predicting even a few months ago, according to John Lusink, president of Right at Home Realty.
Mr. Lusink says sales for June are set to come in about 26-per-cent below even his conservative projections at the start of the year, continuing a trend that has been on a downward slope since February.
“We can throw that forecast out the window,” he says of his projections for 2022.
The landscape is the same across the Right at Home network, which spans 12 regions of Ontario.
The number of listings, meanwhile, is gradually increasing after a slow spring, he adds.
Mr. Lusink expects the final tally for Right at Home’s sales in June to show a 37-per-cent drop from the same month last year.
“It’s, needless to say, concerning.”
Rishi Sondhi, economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, points out that sales and prices have fallen disproportionately in Ontario and British Columbia, where prices climbed the most during the pandemic. The retrenchment in activity is especially hard in the Greater Toronto Area, where investors have played a particularly large role in the past year.
The downturn is part of a worsening picture across Canada, as sales and prices continued to decline in May under the weight of higher interest rates, Mr. Sondhi points out. Some sales were likely pulled forward to late 2021 and early 2022 as people braced for higher rates, he adds.
The economist says some GTA buyers also likely purchased new homes before selling existing properties, expecting the market would remain hot, he adds. Those sellers may be forced to accept lower prices now in order to complete the new deal, but he expects that dynamic to run its course before too long.
Mr. Sondhi is forecasting a continuing decline in prices throughout the rest of the year as a reflection of sharply higher interest rates.
Alongside the buyers betting that prices will slide, Mr. Lusink says, stands another cohort ready to buy – but the task has become much harder with the rise in rates. One buyer Mr. Lusink spoke with recently had obtained a fixed-rate mortgage at 4.3 per cent, which is almost double the rates buyers were able to lock in just a couple of years ago.
The mortgage “stress test” requires borrowers to show they can handle mortgage rates approaching seven per cent and above, he points out.
A recent survey commissioned by Right at Home also shows a shift in attitudes: Only 19 per cent of potential first-time homebuyers in Ontario plan to buy in the next two to three years, compared with 30 per cent who planned to buy in 2021, according to the study.
The percentage of homeowners planning to sell who are doing so to take advantage of current market conditions increased to 23 per cent this year from 11 per cent last year, the data shows.
The Maru Public Opinion Survey polled 813 Ontario adults in May and has an estimated margin of error of plus or minus three per cent 19 times out of 20.
In Burlington, Ont., real estate agent Tanya Rocca is already seeing homeowners preparing properties for sale before the fall market arrives.
“It’s very busy right now,” says the agent with Royal LePage Burloak Real Estate Services. “People are panicked.”
Ms. Rocca says prices in the area which have dropped between 12 and 15 per cent from the February peak.
The average price of a freehold property dropped to $1.431-million in May in Burlington, she says, compared with the $1.51-million buyers were paying in April and the $1.6-million in February and March.
The affluent city, which sits on Lake Ontario west of Toronto, was one of the many communities that saw a large influx of buyers during the pandemic as people sought more space. Burlington’s historic downtown core and large selection of detached houses with pool-sized lots have made it very popular with families.
Ms. Rocca says many buyers didn’t even have a chance at a house in the midst of ferocious bidding wars; now people have their choice of properties.
Some current sellers have been caught in the market transition, Ms. Rocca adds, because they bought a new property before selling an existing one.
“Buyers, in fairness, are getting the power back – which they love,” she says. “There are great opportunities out there because people need to sell.”
Ms. Rocca was shocked at some homeowners earlier this spring who were disappointed on offer night when they received bids that came in $300,000 or $400,000 above the asking price.
“People were debating whether they should take it.”
She recalls one pair of homeowners with a home backing onto a golf course who listed their property with an asking price of $2.5-million. The sellers were disappointed they didn’t receive a hefty amount above asking.
“They got their asking price literally the week things started to shift,” Ms. Rocca says. “They were so close to not taking it.”
As the summer begins, it’s not uncommon to see listings sitting with 30 to 50 days on market, she adds.
In the current environment, Ms. Rocca recommends setting a price near the realistic market value. She often “sharpens” it a little bit to make it more attractive compared with other competing properties in the area.
To help homeowners come to terms with the new reality, she stresses that first-quarter prices were the result of an overheated market – not an accurate reflection of value.
“This is not money they’ve lost – they never had it.”
Ms. Rocca says some people who purchased properties in Burlington at the beginning of the pandemic are now being called back to offices in Toronto. With more cars on the road and the price of gas skyrocketing, many are reluctant to commute.
“People were making such rash decisions during COVID,” she says, adding that some of those folks are now selling and moving back to the GTA.
With such an extended run-up in real estate prices while rates were low for years, the market in Ontario saw a few blips but no real correction, she points out. A move to restore balance is healthy, in her opinion.
“I think we’re going through a cycle right now which is very much needed.”
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