The rapid housing price growth that we saw earlier in the year is finally beginning to cool down in Canada. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) shows a decreased overall price of 1.7% from June to July 2022.
Aside from the housing market itself, a recession could be looming in the near future, which could drive the cost of real estate further down. This has many Canadians questioning whether or not it’s the right time to purchase real estate.
Here are some factors to keep in mind if you plan on shopping for real estate in the near future.
Market factors to consider while shopping for real estate
The housing market is in a constant state of flux, depending on overall economic conditions, federal interest rates, the cost of building materials, and more. Here are some of the most important market factors to consider when shopping for real estate.
Interest rates & inflation
Around 87% of homebuyers finance their home, as opposed to paying for their home in cash. If you plan on financing your home, you’ll need to take out a mortgage loan from the bank. Your interest rate on your mortgage will strongly correlate with the federal interest rates.
Due to the current 7.6% inflation rate in Canada (as of July 2022), the Bank of Canada (BoC) has pushed a quantitative tightening policy by increasing the federal overnight interest rate to 2.5%.
If you’re shopping for real estate, it means that your mortgage from the bank might come with a higher interest rate and monthly payment. However, it could also mean that the prices of houses might drop as well.
Sellers’ market vs. buyers’ market
During a buyers’ market, there are more homes for sale than people who are looking for them. Conversely, in a sellers’ market, there are more people looking for homes than homes available on the market.
Currently, Canada is still not in a buyers’ market, according to MLS data gathered by Wowa. Using something called the sales-to-new-listings ratio (SNLR), if it is below 40%, it is a buyers’ market, and it is currently above that mark.
Personal factors to consider while shopping for real estate
While the current market is certainly important, your own personal finances are going to make or break your ability to purchase real estate. Here are the most important personal factors to consider when shopping for real estate.
Most banks want to see that you have at least a 600 credit score. If you have a score below 600, you might have a hard time finding a lender who will work with you, and if you do, they’ll almost certainly charge much higher interest rates. Regardless of how good your credit quality is, it’s a good idea to check it once a month to make sure there’s no fraud on your account. There are many services in Canada that offer free credit score reports.
When determining your eligibility for a home loan, most lenders want to see that you have a reliable source of income so that you can keep up with your monthly mortgage payments. Additionally, they’ll also look at how you handle your finances, by seeing if you pay your bills on time and have acceptable levels of debt. They need to ensure that you have enough money left over after paying your monthly expenses to handle the mortgage payment.
How much you have for a down payment
The minimum down payment required by most banks is 5% of the total home value. However, many banks may require borrowers to put 10% down.
Is it smart to buy a house in 2022?
While nobody can predict for certain what will happen, there is a high probability that there will be continued downward pressure on home prices due to increased interest rate prices. Personally, I would wait until the market flips more to a buyers’ market and we see some price relief before buying. Read the up-to-date Canadian Real Estate Association reports, which provides valuable insight into how the markets are doing.
It also depends heavily on what city you want to buy a property in. Different housing regions of Canada will react much differently to market movements, so stay on top of the area that you want to buy and watch the next few months closely.
Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder and former financial advisor. He writes personal finance tips for thousands of daily Canadian readers on his Wealth Awesome website.