The average price of a Canadian home rose by three per cent in the year up to September, even as sales came in 11 per cent lower than they were a year ago.
The Canadian Real Estate Association said Friday that the deceleration in price gains largely reflects softening price trends in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe area, which stretches around the southwestern corner of Lake Ontario.
Double-digit annual increases were the norm in the region throughout 2016, before a slowdown earlier this year that saw price increases slow to single digits and then briefly dip into negative territory before recovering.
- 'The market has changed,' and buyers welcome the Toronto housing cooldown
- ANALYSIS — Sniffing out the truth about Canada's housing market is tricky
"National sales appear to be stabilizing," CREA president Andrew Peck said in a statement. "While encouraging, it's too early to tell if this is the beginning of a longer-term trend."
While sales were down 11 per cent from last year's level, 2016 marked the busiest September for home sales on record.
When discussing Canada's real estate picture, the Toronto and Vancouver markets get a lot of attention — because they are large and have had such outsized gains, which skewed the national numbers higher, the realtor group has long warned.
"The national result continues to be influenced heavily by trends in Toronto and Vancouver, but housing market conditions vary widely across Canada," Peck said Friday.
Vancouver took steps in the summer of 2016 to cool its market via a foreign buyers tax, and Toronto did the same in April 2017. Both appear to have had a cooling effect on their respective markets, although they are both at different stages in the cycles.
After an initial slowdown in the summer of 2016 after the new rules came in, Vancouver prices are bouncing back sharply, with the average selling price in the city up more than 17 per cent to $1,046,982.
"The Greater Vancouver area, in particular, is once again showing signs of heating conditions with sales up strongly and prices nearing record levels," TD Bank economist Michael Dolega said of the CREA numbers. "Still, we expect rising mortgage rates will take some steam out of this market given the affordability pressures, with slower price growth on the horizon."
- One year on, Vancouver house prices are on fire again
- Realtors brace for the end of the housing market boom
Toronto's still a little behind on that path as average prices in the Greater Toronto Area are still digesting April's rules changes. The average selling price in the city has risen by just over four per cent to $785,099. Prices in the GTA seem to have peaked, in the short term, around May.
Nationally, the average price of a Canadian home sold last month was $487,000. If Toronto and Vancouver are stripped out, that figure drops to just above $374,500.
"Further tightening of federal regulations aimed at cooling housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver risks creating collateral damage in markets elsewhere in Canada," CREA's chief economist Gregory Klump said.