2021 Year-End Canadian Luxury Real Estate Market Report

January 12, 2022

Engel & Völkers is excited to share its 2022 Year-End Canadian Luxury Real Estate Market Report. This report combines market data with intel from Engel & Völkers’ local Canadian market experts. The result is a residential property analysis covering the markets in Halifax, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. The report shares insights on what’s happening inside Canada’s top real estate markets, including notable trends, in-demand neighborhoods, economic factors, and changing buyer and seller preferences in three different price segments: under $1 million, $1-$3.99 million, and over $4 million. In addition, the analysis discusses how unparalleled local demand has led to low supply.

Click here to access the full report.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Engel & Völkers reports Canada’s premium markets in Halifax, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver are experiencing precariously low supply due to unparalleled local demand.

After nearly two years of fierce market competition, the topography of Canada’s housing landscape has been permanently altered. Low interest rates and easy access to borrowing were catalysts for Canadians to leverage their assets and level up. Baby boomers made the decision to hold on to their homes and forego downsizing or moving into retirement homes. Interprovincial migration was fueled by Canadians ‘going home’ — many of whom cashed out homes in Ontario and British Columbia to purchase properties in their cities of origin. The Bank of Canada held historically low interest rates through the year, stating they will hold until mid-2022.

MARKETS AT A GLANCE

Halifax

2021 saw a 155% increase in homes sold priced over $1 million compared to last year. Engel & Völkers is forecasting a single-family housing inventory crunch that will characterize 2022.

The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) continues to be a key real estate market to watch in North America. It is a city in motion, with ever-growing cultural attractions, the awe-inspiring Maritimes and affordable real estate. While home values have increased considerably in the past few years, Halifax is well-priced in comparison to other metro markets. Notably, those moving from populated centers in Canada, like Ontario and British Columbia, were able to cash out and purchase larger homes with more amenities for less than half of the value of their previous homes. Additionally, demand for Halifax was driven by international migration, primarily from Britain, the United States and Europe.

“Homebuyers are interested in Halifax because their investment goes further here than in any other major city in Canada. Nova Scotia has more coastline than Great Britain and over 3,000 lakes, making waterfront property a hot commodity in this market. In the $1 million-plus range, single-family homes, especially in these coastal areas outside of the city core, are the most in demand property type.”

Donna Harding, License Partner, Engel & Völkers Nova Scotia

Overall, 2021 saw the number of premium sales increase in both single-family homes and condominium units. Upward pressure from the middle market is accelerating market activity in the $1 million-plus category. A lack of housing inventory will continue to distress the Halifax housing market, and some first-time buyers are now priced out of the single-family category.

Before the pandemic, Halifax typically had 25 months of inventory in its supply. In 2021, this number was reduced to four months. The market conditions for 2022 will be determined by the amount of supply that is replenished in the first half of the year. If the supply bottleneck continues, buyers and sellers can expect to see conditions similar to 2021.

Montréal

The number of units sold in Montréal priced over $1 million grew by 150% since 2019. The condo market in the city core will be the darling of 2022.

Montréal’s premium marketplace had another benchmark year, so much so that the year finished seeing the supply of renovated, luxury homes become scarce. Confidence in the market remained strong through the summer, even as the market pace slowed. As an island, the number of premium homes in top neighbourhoods is limited. Buyer demand remained consistent, and after a historic run, premium supply in the marketplace dwindled.

Throughout the year, the number of single-family detached units sold valued at over $4 million nearly doubled, increasing by 75 percent compared to 2020. The total number of single-family detached units traded that were valued between $1 – 3.99 million also grew exponentially by 42 percent in 2021 compared to 2020.

Engel & Völkers predicts the condo market in the city core will be the darling of 2022 and investment in resort markets will likely taper off. Due to consistently low inventory, Montréal will maintain its position as a seller’s market throughout 2022 with prices continuing to rise as a result. The number of premium listings sold in Montréal year-over-year keeps climbing to new heights. While Montréal was known for its affordability, this is rapidly changing.

Ottawa

9% of all transactions in 2021 were for homes priced over $1 million, rising from 2% in 2019. Engel & Völkers is projecting 2022 will continue to see rapid home price increases due to low supply in the marketplace.

Canada’s capital made extraordinary month-over-month gains in 2021, driven by an inventory crunch and buyers’ fear of missing out. In 2019, only two percent of all transactions were for homes priced $1 million and higher. This number grew to nine percent in 2021, making it one of the fastest-growing segments in the Ottawa market. The total number of units sold priced between $1 – 3.99 million grew by 167 percent from 691 in 2020 to 1,847 in 2021. In the $4 million and higher category, the number of units sold grew from one in 2020 to nine in 2021, increasing by 800 per cent.

Buyers should be prepared to spend $2 million for premium properties in Ottawa’s top neighbourhoods. The average price of residential properties over $1 million reached $1,343,945 at year-end, and the average price for residential properties over $4 million landed at $4,802,333.

This growth is credited to Ottawa’s stable work industries, coupled with migration to Ottawa from other major Canadian cities. Many who were part of the influx were native Ottawans who cited ‘coming home’ as the reason for their move.

Engel & Völkers anticipates the market will take off fairly quickly in January 2022, with demand trending towards central neighbourhoods and lifestyle-oriented properties. If inventory remains low over the next 12 months, move-up buyers and downsizers will not have suitable options to move into and may not list their homes. This will continue to restrict market activity and constrict supply for first-time homebuyers. Rapid price increases will continue as long as supply fails to meet demand. The same upward pressure will affect pricing in the rental market as would-be first-time buyers continue to rent.

Toronto

Total units sold grew by 240% in the $4 million-plus range and 87% in the $1 – 3.99 million range and year-over-year. Sustained demand coupled with constrained supply will shape market conditions in 2022.

The second half of 2021 showed promise that the Toronto market was normalizing, moving towards a balanced
market still favoring sellers. By April 2021, buyers in the marketplace reduced and it seemed like COVID-fueled ‘fear of missing out’ had ceased. As summer turned to fall, expected new inventory did not materialize and supply did not balance with demand. Instead, Torontonians enjoyed summer and a warm fall and held off listing their homes. Many felt confident they could sell their homes but worried about finding a suitable replacement in Toronto’s low inventory marketplace.

Stunted supply coupled with sustained demand will continue to put pressure on the Toronto market through 2022. In addition to a lack of home sellers, new construction cannot keep pace with Toronto’s growing population. As a result, there will likely be a long-term supply shortage.

“Persistently low inventory continues to drive the Toronto market to record highs. Low interest rates combined with appreciating property values have propelled move-up buyers forward, causing a surge of activity in the high-performing premium category. In the ultra-premium segment, the inventory crunch is even more extreme, leaving buyers with little selection. ”

Anita Springate-Renaud, License Partner, Engel & Völkers Toronto Central

Engel & Völkers predicts the market will balance heading into 2022. New inventory coming on the market will remain low, increasing competition amongst buyers. While the GTA has not run out of buyers and sellers,

Engel & Völkers predicts a holding pattern scenario through spring and summer in 2022. With many companies continuing to opt for more flexible work situations, buyers will look for homes outside the downtown core, but cities will remain popular. A Toronto planning report suggests it will soon allow multiplexes on streets where they are currently forbidden as a means of creating “gentle density” to alleviate supply constraints. With eased lockdown restrictions and the return of full-time or part-time commuting for some workers, many who made a move out of the city are contemplating a return.

Vancouver

2021 saw a 115% increase in sales of homes priced over $8 million. Engel & Völkers is projecting persistent lack of supply and sustained local demand will characterize the market in 2022.

2021 was a benchmark year for the premium and ultrapremium markets in Metro Vancouver, where a record number of sales priced over $8 million took place, totalling 97 in 2021. With significant demand from local buyers, premium listings were absorbed quickly, further cementing Vancouver’s status as a seller’s market. The volume of offmarket ultra-premium transactions continues to grow, as buyers and sellers traded sought-after real estate with discretion and privacy.

In the first half of the year, the Vancouver market looked as though it was normalizing and replenishing its inventory after the 2020 real estate rush. However, the arrival of summer
brought market deceleration, as many sellers took time off to vacation and socialize after a long lockdown period.

In the fall, some relists came back onto the market, but not enough to replenish supply. By year-end, the market entered a gridlock phase. Sellers were still unsure about the future and while many felt confident that they could sell their homes, they were uncertain they would find a suitable home to move into due to Vancouver’s low inventory marketplace.

Due to a lack of fall inventory, market conditions favouring sellers prevailed. If these conditions remain through 2022, Engel & Völkers is predicting price increases due to precariously low supply. Engel & Völkers expects already low inventory will further diminish due to continued local buyer interest. If international buyers return to the market in 2022, this will further compound market pressure.

Explore the full version of the report below.

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