Average house in Canada worth $470,661 in December, up 3.5% in 2016

The average price of a Canadian home continues to move higher, but there are signs of a slowdown, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

House prices last month increased at slowest annual pace in 2 years

House prices increased by 3.5 per cent last month, the lowest annual increase since 2014. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The average price of a Canadian home continues to move higher, but there are signs of a slowdown, according to figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association.

CREA said Monday that the average sales price in December was $470,661 — 3.5 per cent higher than the same month a year earlier. 

That's the slowest pace of increase in two years, the realtor organization said. Prices were up, on average, and sales also rose to a new annual record. There was $263 billion worth of home sales in 2016, the highest on record. But that pace is unlikely to continue, Dominion Lending Centre's chief economist Sherry Cooper said. "Housing activity will not provide the boost to overall economic growth in 2017 that it did last year as first-time homebuyers will find it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage."

CREA seems to agree with that assessment as the group's chief economist Gregory Klump said "new regulations mean that in order to qualify for a mortgage, home buyers will either have to save longer for a bigger down payment or purchase a lower priced home."

The average price rose last year, but the picture changes drastically depening on the area of the country.

In B.C.'s Fraser Valley and the Greater Vancouver area, prices continued to rise by more than 20 per cent in calendar 2016, as they did in Victoria and the Greater Toronto Area.

But in Calgary, the average price declined by 3.7 per cent in 2016. In Saskatoon, it was 1.6 per cent lower, on average.

Four other major markets saw modest gains, including:

  • Regina (5.2 per cent).
  • Ottawa (4 per cent).
  • Greater Montreal (3.3 per cent).
  • and Greater Moncton (1.9 per cent).

But because of their sheer size, Toronto and Vancouver continue to skew the national average higher. Stripping those two cities out of the calculation, the average price of a home in Canada is more than $120,000 lower — an average of just $352,513 everywhere else.

"It was massive year for Canadian residential real estate," Bank of Montreal economist Robert Kavcic said, "but, as always, location was paramount."