Canada real estate: Housing markets slow in March, still historically high

Canada real estate: Real estate agent Karen Staddon puts on a mask as she prepares for a client's visit at a home for sale, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada June 5, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Realtors are reporting fewer bidding wars in some markets (REUTERS/Christinne Muschi)

Canada's real estate market slowed in March, but buyers aren't getting bargains.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) says sales fell 5.4 per cent month-over-month and 16.3 per cent below the all-time record set in March 2021. Sales dropped in about half of the markets tracked, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Calgary.

But the pullback from such brisk levels means activity remains historically high. CREA says it was the second-busiest March on record for sales.

The number of newly listed properties fell 5.5 per cent month-over-month.

Price growth slowed last month. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 1 per cent month-over-month, lower than the 3 per cent jump in February. Prices were up 27.1 per cent year-over-year.

Also See: The latest real estate news for housing prices, mortgage rates, markets, luxury properties and more at Yahoo Finance Canada.

CREA senior economist Shaun Cathcart says moderating prices is a good thing considering so many worry about another year of soaring prices as in 2021.

"There were a number of measures announced in the federal budget to help aspiring home buyers, the biggest being getting more housing built. That is the obvious long-term solution to this issue because we all need to live somewhere," said Cathcart.

"In the near term, the Bank of Canada will do the heavy lifting in the months ahead to slow things down on the price side. Unfortunately, that won't really do anything to help affordability. Quite the opposite in fact."

The Bank of Canada hiked its key interest rate by 50 basis points last week and warned of higher rates to come in order to fight inflation. Its next interest rate announcement is on June 1.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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