Rising mortgage rates brought uncertainty and caution to Metro Vancouver’s housing market in 2022
After seeing record sales and prices during the pandemic, Metro Vancouver’s* housing market experienced a year of caution in 2022 due to rising borrowing costs fueled by the Bank of Canada’s ongoing battle with inflation.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 28,903 in 2022, a 34.3 per cent decrease from the 43,999 sales recorded in 2021, and a 6.6 per cent decrease from the 30,944 homes sold in 2020.
Last year’s sales total was 13.4 per cent below the 10-year sales average.
“The headline story in our market in 2022 was all about inflation and the Bank of Canada’s efforts to bring inflation back to target by rapidly raising the policy rate. This is a story we expect to continue to make headlines into 2023, as inflationary pressures remain persistent across Canada,” Andrew Lis, REBGV’s director, economics and data analytics said.
Home listings on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver reached 53,865 in 2022. This is a 13.5 per cent decrease compared to the 62,265 homes listed in 2021 and a 0.8 per cent decrease compared to the 54,305 homes listed in 2020.
Last year’s listings total was 3.2 per cent below the region’s 10-year average.
The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 7,384, a 41 per cent increase compared to December 2021 (5,236) and a 19.6 per cent decrease compared to November 2022 ( 9,179).
The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,114,300. This represents a 3.3 per cent decrease over December 2021, a 1.5 per cent decrease compared to November 2022, and a 9.8 per cent decrease over the past six months.
“Closing out 2022, the data show that the Bank of Canada’s decisions to increase the policy rate at seven of the eight interest rate announcement dates in 2022 has translated into downward pressure on home sale activity and, to a lesser extent, home prices in Metro Vancouver,” Lis said. “While the consensus among many economists and forecasters suggest the Bank of Canada may be near the end of this tightening cycle, rates may remain elevated for longer than previously expected since the latest inflation figures aren’t showing signs of abating quickly. We’ll watch the 2023 spring market closely to see if buyers and sellers have adjusted to the higher borrowing-costs and are participating more actively in the market than we have seen over the last 12 months.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2023, the consensus among most economists and professional forecasters is that the Bank of Canada is likely near the end of the current interest rate tightening cycle. Mortgage rates may remain elevated for some time however, as inflation remains a concern for the Bank of Canada, limiting their ability to decrease the policy rate in the near-term.
December 2022 summary in Greater Vamcouver
Residential home sales in the region totalled 1,295 in December 2022, a 51.8 per cent decrease from the 2,688 sales recorded in December 2021, and a 19.8 per cent decrease from the 1,614 homes sold in November 2022.
Last month’s sales were 37.7 per cent below the 10-year December sales average.
There were 1,206 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the MLS® in Metro Vancouver in December 2022. This represents a 38 per cent decrease compared to the 1,945 homes listed in December 2021 and a 60.5 per cent decrease compared to November 2022 when 3,055 homes were listed.
For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for December 2022 is 17.5 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 12.3 per cent for detached homes, 19.5 per cent for townhomes, and 21.7 per cent for apartments.
Generally, analysts say downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.
Sales of detached homes in December 2022 reached 371, a 53.3 per cent decrease from the 794 detached sales recorded in December 2021. The benchmark price for a detached home is $1,823,300. This represents a 5.1 per cent decrease from December 2021, a 1.8 per cent decrease compared to November 2022, and a 11.4 per cent decrease over the past six months.
Sales of apartment homes reached 702 in December 2022, a 52 per cent decrease compared to the 1,464 sales in December 2021. The benchmark price of an apartment home is $713,700. This represents a 1.7 per cent increase from December 2021, a 0.9 per cent decrease compared to November 2022, and a 6.9 per cent decrease over the past six months.
Attached home sales in December 2022 totalled 222, a 48.4 per cent decrease compared to the 430 sales in December 2021. The benchmark price of an attached home is $1,012,700. This represents a 0.2 per cent decrease from December 2021, a 1.5 per cent decrease compared to November 2022, and a 9.2 per cent decrease over the past six months.
Sales volume was down by an average of 20-30% compared to November, depending on the area. For example, there was a 67% increase in condo sales in Mission, but let's be real - there were only 3 sales in November, so that stat is a bit misleading.
But how does this compare to historical trends? That's the more important question, as sales volume is naturally cyclical. When we look at the last 18 years of data, we can see that this past December had the 3rd lowest sales for any December, with a total of just 651 sales in the Fraser Valley.
As for what will happen with sales now, it's tough to say. But I'm expecting the volume of sales to increase from these historical lows in the coming months.
One strange thing about this market is that while prices have continued to fall and the volume of transactions has decreased, we've actually had a relatively low number of listings on the market! To give you an idea of how unusual this is, let's look at the last market crash in 2008/2009. We had a decrease in price and sales volume, but the listing inventory skyrocketed to record levels (10,474 listings in July 2008). This time, we still have a decrease in price and sales volume, but the listing inventory is near record lows under these market conditions (3,476 listings in the Fraser Valley in December). This is just something very strange that we're expecting to increase and we're keeping a close eye on.
Now, onto prices. The average and median prices were a bit misleading last month, so the best metric to look at this month is the Housing Price Index (HPI). (See Below)
Overall, prices in the Fraser Valley went down 2.1% just last month, which is the exact same decrease we saw the month prior. With the volume of sales so low in some areas, it's not looking like prices will stop falling anytime soon, especially if we see another interest rate hike on January 25th (which is very likely).
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
So, my advice for this month is pretty much the same as it was last month. If you're in the market for a bigger place, now might be the perfect time to make the move. You'll probably "save" more money than you'll "lose" in the current market. Plus, the higher-priced homes have come down in price more than the lower-priced ones, making it possible for many people to make a move that wasn't possible before in the rising market.
On the other hand, if you're looking to downsize, you might want to explore options with your broker and realtor to see if there's a way to accomplish your goals sooner rather than later, or possibly even consider other options. It all depends on where you're at in life, whether you're retired or still have a working income, etc.