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Residential Market Commentary - Pandemic predictions

Longer term outlooks for the housing market are mixed, depending on which indicators are being considered.

The gloomiest projections are coming from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The agency expects it will be, at least, the end 2022 – nearly three years from now – before housing prices recover to pre-recession levels. CMHC head Evan Siddall also points out that the coronavirus pandemic has homeowners struggling to make payments.

“Ten of thousands of Canadians are having trouble meeting their mortgage commitments”, he said.

CMHC estimates 10% of homeowners are deferring their mortgage payments right now.

The agency says the COVID-19 outbreak makes dependable long-term forecasting difficult. It says variables that used to be known – like employment, income and immigration – have become unknown.

The agency performed a stress test in January based on a pandemic. However, the coronavirus has turned out to be much worse than the scenario that was used. CMHC is now recalculating its forecasts.

Lenders and realtors have a brighter view. While sales have plummeted, average prices have remained stable on a year-over-year basis. A deficit of new listings is offered as the key reason.

Analysis by one of the big banks indicates that the benchmark price for a home has actually increased by about 10%. It sees that as an indication buying patterns have shifted to lower cost homes. The same report suggests most markets remain balanced for buyers and sellers, despite the pandemic.



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