Canadian home prices continue to plunge in June as higher rates pinch

By Julie Gordon

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The price of a resale home in Canada fell 1.8% in June from last year, the first annual decline since May 2020, as the market continued to cool sharply from February's peak amid tighter borrowing conditions, data from Canada's realtors showed Friday.

Canada's national average selling price fell to C$665,850 ($511,092) in June from C$678,280 in the same month of 2020, data from the Canadian Real Estate Association showed. Prices are down 6.4% on the month and down 18.5% from February's peak.

GRAPHIC: Canadian home prices

"The June housing data show a market seriously wobbling, and that was before the Bank of Canada’s 100-bp (basis point) knockout blow," said Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Economics, in a note, adding an even deeper correction is yet to come.

The Bank of Canada surprised with its jumbo-sized increase on Wednesday, lifting the policy rate to 2.5% from 1.5%. It has hiked four times this year in an effort to tame hot inflation, with money markets betting on rates hitting 3.5% by year-end.

Home sales in Canada fell 5.6% in June from May and are down 23.9% year-over-year, led by Canada's largest cities, the CREA said.

"Sales activity continues to slow in the face of rising interest rates and uncertainty," said Jill Oudil, chair of the CREA. "The cost of borrowing has overtaken supply as the dominant factor affecting housing markets at the moment."

The frenzy of the start of 2022 has faded, with sales down 19% in the second quarter from the first. New listings rose 4.1% in June and the sales-to-new listing ratio eased to its lowest level since 2015.

"Almost three-quarters of local markets were balanced markets (in June) based on the sales-to-new listings ratio," CREA said.

The rapid change from February shows just how sentiment-driven the market was, said BMO's Kavcic.

"The latest move the Bank of Canada should all but wash away any remaining froth," he said.

CREA's home price index, which smoothes out some of the swings of average and median prices, slid 1.9% on the month, but was still up 14.9% annually.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Alison Williams)