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Canadian Real Estate Market Pre- and Post-Pandemic

COVID-19 has adversely impacted the housing markets of most major Canadian cities. In Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, buyers and sellers have had to navigate volatile markets while dealing with obstacles that have further complicated every stage of buying or selling a property — from hosting open houses to securing an interest rate. 

The changes to the real estate market across Canada have been drastic. Many markets that lagged behind historically because of their location were suddenly valuable, whereas other markets, like Toronto, rocketed from being expensive to becoming unattainable. When you also consider corresponding changes to the rental market and interest rates, buying in Canada looked very different from March 2020 and onward.

Here is how the Canadian real estate market in major cities looked like before and during the pandemic. 

COVID-19 and the Canadian Housing Market

Since the start of the pandemic, housing prices in Canada have increased by 34% overall, although housing markets in major Canadian cities have slightly cooled as many moved to the suburbs or to cottage country for more space. Some experts see it as the worst level of affordability in over 30 years.

  • The cost of owning a home in a Canadian city now takes up 64% of median household income.
  • The average value of a home in Canada is $780,000.
  • 34% of all residences in Vancouver are occupied by non-owners.
  • 25% of all residences in Toronto are occupied by non-owners.

2019

General:

Part of the demographic shift in home buyers was due to older millennials entering their late 30s and early 40s. Zillow became available in Canada, giving buyers and sellers access to home data like never before, and Toronto’s short-term rental market was impacted by increased municipal regulation of Airbnb.

  • Residential real estate transactions reached 486,800. This was a 6.2% increase from the five-year low experienced in 2018. 
  • The number reflects the real estate booms in Ontario and Quebec, which experienced increases of 9% and 11% respectively.

Toronto: 

  • The average home price was $883,520.
  • The price increase in 2019 vs. 2018 was 5.7%.

Vancouver:

  • Average home price was roughly $1,001,000, a 3.1% drop from the end of 2018.

Montreal:

  • The average price of a house in 2019 was $360,900, up slightly from $330,900 in 2017.
  • 2019 marked the fifth annual increase of more than 5%.

2021

General:

The year 2021 was a record one for the Canadian housing market. 667,000 transactions occurred in 2021, which was an increase of 21% or 114,000 units. As of 2022, Toronto is ahead of Vancouver as the most expensive real estate market in Canada.

Toronto:

  • Toronto home prices were up by close to 25%
  • MLS reported a record 121,712 sales, a 28% increase from 2020.
  • The average selling price was at an all-time high of $1,095,475, a 17% increase from 2020.

Vancouver:

  • There were 43,999 homes sold, breaking the record set in 2015.
  • Home sales were up by over 42% compared to 2020 and over 73% compared to 2019.
    • In January 2021: a detached house cost $1,576,800.
    • In December 2021: a detached house cost $1,910,200.
    • Home prices increased by 21% over the course of the year.

Montreal:

  • The aggregate home price was up by 10.7%. 
  • The average price reached $669,500 by the end of the year.
  • The median price for a single-family detached home was $1,101,500, an increase of 15.3%.

Sources:

  • WOWA, “Canadian Housing Market News,” January 17, 2022. 
  • Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), “Canadian housing market: Looking back on 2019 and the challenges ahead in 2020,” January 16, 2020. 
  • The BREL Team, “The Toronto Real Estate Market 2019 Year in Review.” 
  • Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, “Home sales decline below long-term averages in 2019 despite increased demand to end the year,” January 3, 2020. 
  • The Canadian Magazine of Immigration, “Average House Price in Montreal,” January 18, 2022. 
  • RBC Economics, “Monthly Housing Market Update,” January 17, 2021. 
  • Toronto Star, “New data shows Toronto home prices soared by almost 25% in 2021,” January 6, 2022. 
  • Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, “Metro Vancouver home sales set a record in 2021,” January 5, 2022.  
  • Vancouver Sun, “Douglas Todd: How disastrous has the COVID-19 pandemic been for Canadian housing?” December 29, 2021. 
  • CTV News, “Toronto beats Vancouver as most expensive real estate market in Canada, report suggest,” February 8, 2022. 

Rob Shapiro | Contributing Writer

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