During the event, SCMP Conversations: Canadian real estate — buy now, or buy later? hosted by the South China Morning Post, experts discuss the current state of the Canadian real estate market, including market outlook, housing prices, buying trends, future lending policies, and more. This conversation was moderated by Peggy Sito, Deputy Business Editor at South China Morning Post.
The Pandemic’s Effect on the Market
Data has shown that home prices in Canada rose about 4.6% in the third quarter of 2021. “There are many long-term factors that have affected the rise of house prices in Canada,” explained Ignatius (Iggy) Chong, Head of Private Banking for Greater China at RBC Wealth Management.
“In Canada, our main issue is supply [of homes],” said Keelan Chapman, Founder and Manager of Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre. There is an imbalance between supply and demand, as the pandemic has slowed down construction, but demand for homes has stayed steady or increased.
Many homebuyers are looking to get bigger spaces for their families so that parents can have space to work remotely during the pandemic and children can have a richer environment while at home. Along with the supply/demand imbalance, many families’ increased capital and willingness to pay high amounts for homes contributes to Canada’s rising real estate prices.
Does Immigration Affect Home Prices?
Alisha Ma, Founder & Managing Partner of Halcyon Counsel Ltd., noted that although Canada welcomed around 400,000 immigrants in 2021, “there’s very little data to support the claim that immigrants are driving up home prices in Canada.” In Vancouver and Toronto, two of the most popular locations for immigrants to settle down, a foreign buyer’s tax is in place.
This is a 15% tax in the greater Toronto area, and in the greater Vancouver area, it is a 20% tax. Keelan shared that Montreal is a fantastic location for investors and homebuyers to look into, as real estate in the area provides similar returns to Vancouver and Toronto without the foreign buyer’s tax.
Investing and Interest Rates
In addition to the home buyer’s market in Canada, many people are investing in property to grow their capital. Alisha suggested that investors look into university towns (in addition to large cities) because university students will always need housing in these locations. Some examples of Canadian university towns include Brandon in Manitoba, Winnipeg, Waterloo, Halifax, Victoria, and Ottowa.
In terms of interest rates, “the Bank of Canada has already made it clear that there is an intention to raise rates next year,” said Iggy. Regardless, the panelists advise buyers and investors to avoid “panic buying” out of fear of missing out on a good opportunity, because despite high home prices, there are many different options in terms of location, lenders, fixed mortgages, etc. Doing your research and getting expert advice about long-term planning is suggested before making an investment.
Overall, the Canadian markets are still very healthy and will remain so as long as there is “a sustainable demand,” Iggy said.
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