A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

Home sales shifting towards pricier housing in several major markets, CMHC says

In more recent months, CMHC has seen the number of sales outpace new listings

Buyers are spending more money on home purchases in several major Canadian cities, even as the COVID-19 pandemic causes layoffs and income reductions across the country.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Thursday that home sales have shifted toward more expensive housing types in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal in recent months.

The federal housing agency attributed the shift to fewer new immigrants, government relief programs that helped Canadians manage costs and pandemic-related employment troubles, which disproportionately kept younger and lower-paid Canadians out of the market.

“It’s higher income households that are continuing to manage to cope with the pandemic, have kept their jobs and their salaries are increasing, so demand at the higher end of the market probably reflects this,” said Aled ab Iorwerth, CMHC’s deputy chief economist, during a Thursday press conference.

“The other aspect that … may be happening is that people are selling condos at the city centers, looking for more single-detached housing further out in the suburbs or in rural communities, and those prices are generally higher.”

His comments came as CMHC released a report analyzing the Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal real estate markets throughout the pandemic.

The agency found the COVID-19 pandemic was no match for these markets, which saw prices, sales and housing starts soar above expectations during the health crisis.

The flurry of housing activity and increases were driven by government relief programs, variations in lockdown measures and pent-up demand for homes and show that many Canadians weren’t letting increased restrictions or dramatic economic situations deter them from buying.

CMHC’s analysis of the year revealed that lockdowns and other restrictions caused a sharp decline in sales and price levels in the second quarter of 2020, but they had rebounded, moving higher than pre-pandemic levels by the end of the third quarter.

In more recent months, CMHC has seen the number of sales outpace new listings, placing upward pressure on prices and keeping prospective buyers of more affordable housing out of the market.

CMHC found early in the pandemic, sales fell faster than new listings in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, but this changed in the third quarter, as strong growth in new listings was outpaced by stronger growth in sales.

Depending on how long the trend lasts, ab Iorwerth worries what it will mean for people looking for entry-level or less expensive housing.

He believes there may be people that lost their jobs permanently in the retail sector or others that have been hit hard by the pandemic, but the scale of those losses and their impact on housing is difficult to ascertain at the moment, he said.

While he predicts people will return to their normal spending habits and once more frequent restaurants and other urban entertainment venues as the virus is quelled, he said it’s too difficult to predict how long it will take the housing market’s lower-end to rebound.

He said, “We are really in the hands of the pandemic.”

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some bystanders with fire extinguishers helped keep the fire under control. Photo courtesy Suzie Thomas
Bystanders keep fire from spreading near McIvor Lake turnoff

‘Just be vigilant and careful,’ says Campbell River fire chief

The Pier Street Farmers Market will once again take up residence on Sundays from May to Septmber at the parking lot across from the Community Centre in downtown Campbell River for 2021. Mirror File Photo
Pier Street Farmers Market returns to Cedar Street parking lot for 2021

…and it’s hoped that the addition of artisans this year will make it even better

Some recommendations from the Downtown Safety Select Committee have been approved by Campbell River City Council, including removing the glass stage covering at Spirit Square. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Council going ahead with removing Spirit Square stage covering

But mayor acknowledges need for ‘welcoming, warm place with support services’

A small fire on North Rendezvous Island is the first wildfire of the season in the Campbell River area. Officials are asking people to take caution when burning during these dry conditions. BC Wildfire Dashboard
‘Conditions are tricky at the moment’ warns Coastal Fire Centre

Small fire on North Rendezvous Island first of the season for Campbell River area

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read