CREB®'s Q1 2023 Housing Market ReportSales activity has behaved as expected through the start of 2023 and slowed by 43 per cent over last year’s all-time record-high performance in the first quarter. The steeper decline in the first quarter was expected, given the surge in sales last year, as purchasers were eager to enter the market ahead of expected rate gains.
“While no further rate gains have occurred so far this year, the higher lending rates and limited supply options are contributing to some of the pullbacks in sales,” said CREB® Chief Economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “Nevertheless, despite the decline, sales activity has remained well above pre-pandemic levels thanks to recent gains in migration coupled with a stronger employment market.”
The most notable challenge in the market has been related to supply levels. New listings were expected to ease as higher lending rates would make it more difficult for the move-up buyer. However, the pace of decline in new listings has exceeded expectations. New listings in the first quarter declined by 40 per cent, preventing any significant shift in the supply levels given the relatively strong sales.
Inventory levels in the city averaged 2,814 units in the first quarter, 21 per cent lower than last year’s levels and over 42 per cent below long-term trends for the first quarter. With a sales-to-new-listings ratio of 71 per cent and a months of supply of under two months in the first quarter, conditions continue to favour the seller.
Exceptionally tight market conditions early last year drove significant price gains throughout the 2022 spring market, peaking at $544,733 in the second quarter. While supply-demand balances remained tight throughout 2022, prices did trend down over the third and fourth quarters, somewhat adjusting for the rapid rise earlier in the year.
Further tightening in the supply-demand balance in the first quarter was enough to stop the downward price trend as the quarterly benchmark price rose by nearly two per cent over the fourth quarter to $531,200 but remained below the Q2 high.
“Some of the fluctuations in price were expected this year, given what happened last year,” said Lurie. “However, price growth to date has been stronger than expected. Given the limited supply currently on the market, we could expect to see some stronger price growth through spring, potentially supporting a modest annual gain in 2023.”