Housing News

CMHC Changes Coming in July

While CMHC argues that its new mortgage rules are needed to address vulnerabilities in the housing market, many analysts argue that the timing of these new regulations will only serve to dampen a recovery and will likely make the situation worse.

CIBC’s Benjamin Tal expects that CMHC’s new policy will mean that 5% of potential home buyers will no longer be able to qualify for a mortgage, while Ross Taylor with Concierge Mortgage Group says that buyers who do qualify under the regulations will be able to borrow 10% (or more) less than they can under the current policy.

In contrast with CMHC, both Genworth Canada and Canada Guaranty—two private mortgage insurers in Canada—have stated that they will not be changing their underwriting policies at the moment with respect to debt service ratio limits, minimum credit score, or down payment requirements. According to Jaeme Gloyn with National Bank of Canada, the decision by the private insurers “will help soften potential negative impacts to the housing/mortgage market” that CMHC’s policy could lead to. Both private insurers feel that their current policies are adequate to allow them to manage their mortgage risk.

SRA CEO Jason Yochim says that “real estate is local and some markets like Saskatchewan’s will be impacted much more significantly than markets like Toronto.” “We applaud Genworth Canada and Canada Guaranty for staying the course and maintaining current underwriting policies.”

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Update - May 27th, 2020

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) released a doomsday-style housing forecast May 27 that envisioned a nightmare collapse of the housing market with national sales dropping up to 29 per cent, starts plunging by from 50 per cent to 70 per cent and average house prices dropping as much as 18 per cent with no real recovery until 2022.

“Canada will see a historic recession in 2020 with significant falls in indicators of the housing market,” stated the Housing Market Outlook special edition spring 2020.

Bob Dugan, CEO of CMHC was quick to add the disclaimer that , “this housing outlook is subject to unprecedented uncertainty due to the pandemic” during a conference call with media.

The report states that Western Canada will be hit particularly hard, due to the Prairie provinces’ reliance on the resource industry and British Columbia’s exposure to the tourism and hospitality sector, which have been hammered by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

But CMHC’s uncertainty about its forecast is well placed, according to residential industry experts, who say there are early, positive signals that the current downturn could be brief, if brutal.

“We are already seeing inquires from home buyers up 5 per cent from pre-COVID levels,” said Elton Ash, Western Canada executive vice-president for Re/Max. Ash noted that the high level of housing sales at the start of this year is an indication of coiled demand that will lead to a quicker recovery than most expect. Ash is particularly bullish on Metro Vancouver, noting benchmark home prices increased in April and May, compared to a year earlier, even as sales crashed in the face of the pandemic. 

“To see the price drop that CMHC is suggesting is unrealistic,” Ash said. He sees downward price adjustments in B.C. of perhaps 5 per cent to 10 per cent, depending on the region.

“Yes, there has been some economic pain, but not to the extent that CMHC is suggesting,” he said.

Ash added that realtors and consumers have widely embraced the latest technology for virtual home tours, listings and communication, which has allowed many home transactions to proceed.

Brendon Ogmundson, chief economist of the BC Real Estate Association, is also confident that the “resiliency” of home buyers will lead to recovery later this year, following the plunge in housing sales with the arrival of COVID-19.

“We should be happy sales only fell by 50 per cent when you consider this is a global pandemic,” he said. Ogmundson said home prices in B.C. will remain fairly stable because the number of homes for sale has declined nearly 25 per cent because of social distancing. In April, he added, the benchmark provincial home price was 7.8 per cent higher than in April of 2019.

BCREA expects a sales recovery to begin in the second quarter, fed by “super low mortgage rates and pent-up demand,” Ogmundson said,

Ogmundson also noted that the majority of lost jobs are in the lower-end of income levels. “This will have more of an impact on the rental housing market rather than those buying homes,” he suggested.

Copyright © Western Investor


June 4, 2020

For immediate release

Across the province, year-over-year sales were down nearly 14% from May of last year (nearly 13% year-to-date), new listings were down almost 20% (both year-over-year and year-to-date), and the median sale price was down 5.7% (down 2.2% year-to-date). Despite this negative performance, and considering a pandemic that has led to a global recession, Saskatchewan’s real estate market is performing quite well and will likely get better as the province continues to re-open.

New listings and sales closely tracked last year’s numbers until the province declared a state of emergency in midMarch. Based on previous epidemics and the restrictions put in place to limit the spread of the outbreak, “we expected transactions to fall dramatically in April,” said SRA CEO Jason Yochim. “But we also expect transactions to return to normal levels once restrictions are lifted,” and we see that happening with new listings and sales up significantly from where they were this April.

And while sales prices have fallen (also consistent with evidence from previous pandemics), part of this decline is related to the higher levels of inventory due to reduced sales which, combined with weaker demand due to COVID restrictions, puts downward pressure on prices. As pent-up demand subsides and people begin to buy again, we should expect to see prices begin to return to normal as well.

Saskatchewan’s market strength calls into question CMHC’s recent projections about the province’s real estate market, and CMHC’s Housing Market Outlook ignores the local nature of real estate. For instance, Saskatoon and Regina account for over 50% of the sales in the province, and these two markets alone can have a significant impact on the province’s overall performance. In addition, even at the height of the province’s state of emergency, year-to-date (YTD) sales in North Battleford, Estevan, and Yorkton were up more than 10% from last year, and YTD prices in several markets were also up.

“I hear more frequently that our members are receiving multiple offers”. So while the real estate sector in the province has been hit by COVID and continues to feel its effects, the outlook isn’t nearly as grim as some are making it out to be, and we’re already starting to see signs of recovery going into summer. “As the province continues to open up and our members take action to protect public safety,” says Yochim, “I expect markets to make a strong recovery.”


Regina Sales in Regina were down 18.2%, going from 286 in May 2019 to 234 in May 2020, and down 13.6% in the overall region, going from 339 to 293. In Regina, sales were 19.2% below the 5-year average (and 24.8% below the 10-year average), while in the larger region, sales were 15.6% below the 5-year average (and 20.4% below the 10-year average). Year-to-Date (YTD) sales in Regina fell 22.2% over last year, decreasing from 1,100 to 856, while YTD sales in the larger region fell 19.4%, going from 1,285 to 1,036.

Sales volume was down 22.9% in the city, going from $90.0M to $69.4M in 2020 (25.0% below the 5-year average, and 30.5% below the 10-year average). YTD sales volume in the city was $254.2M, a decrease of 23.7% from last year. In the region, sales volume was down 20.1%, going from $387.7M to $309.6M (21.9% below the 5-year average and 26.2% below the 10-year average). YTD sales volume decreased 20.1% in the region, falling from $387.7M in 2019 to $309.6M in 2020.

In Regina, the number of new listings in May 2020 fell 23.9%, going from 637 to 485 (21.3% below the 5-year average and 20.9% below the 10-year average), while in the region, new listings fell 22.4% from 830 last year to 644 this year (21.4% below the 5-year average and 19.6% below the 10-year average). YTD new listings in the city fell 22.4%, going from 2,449 to 1,901, while in the larger region, the number of new listings to date fell 21.6%, going from 3,143 to 2,463. Active listings fell 22.4% in Regina (down from 1,609 to 1,248) and fell 22.4% in the region (down from 2,284 to 1,772).

Inventory in Regina stood at 5 (which is 5.2% below the level last year and 3.8% above the 5-year average), while the sales to listing ratio was 48.2%, suggesting balanced market conditions. Inventory in the larger region stood at 6 (which is 10.2% below the level last year and 1.4% below the 5-year average), while the sales to listing ratio was 45.5%, suggesting balanced market conditions.
Homes in Regina stayed on the market an average of 61 days in May—up 15.1% from 53 days last year (and above the 5-year average of 48 days and above the 10-year average of 38 days). Homes in the region stayed on the market longer than homes in the city at 65 days on average in 2020, but also up from an average of 55 days last year (and 27.0% above the 5-year average).

Median home prices in Regina went from $290,500 to $282,000 (a decrease of 2.9%) and were approximately 6.2% below the 5-year and 7.3% below the 10-year average median price. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI)—a more accurate measure of house price trends—is up 3.7% from $267,200 to $271,300. Year-to-date, the median home price in Regina was $286,735 which is essentially unchanged from the $286,690 price from the same time last year. Median home prices in the region went from $294,000 to $280,000 (a decrease of 4.8%) and were approximately 6.6% below the 5-year and 7.3% below the 10-year average median price. Year-to-date, the median home price in the region was $285,800 which is 0.3% above the $285,020 price from the same time last year.

House prices will fall 10% before recovery: Moody’s

Western markets will take worst hit, but some analysts see a rebound as early as June

Western InvestorApril 30, 2020

Western cities will bear brunt of housing downturn, analysts say.
— | Vancouver Courier

Housing sales, prices and starts across Canada will plunge this year and stay muted for at least a year, with Western provinces taking the worst hit, according to Moody’s Analytics.

Other analysts, however see a more brief, shallow downturn that could reverse as early as June.

“The COVID-19 pandemic along with the collapse in oil prices will create a perfect storm this year for both home sales and residential construction,” according to Abhilasha Singh, an economist at Moody’s Analytics who authored the Canada Housing Outlook, released April 30.

The negative effect will be felt acutely in the West because of its economic makeup, the report states.

“British Columbia is most exposed in terms of leisure/hospitality and trade, while the Prairie provinces—which were already dealing with softening demand for energy—are most vulnerable to the collapse in oil prices,” Singh said.

Moody’s is forecasting a national contraction of the baseline GDP by 15 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, compared to year earlier, while the unemployment rate will nearly doubles] to 10 per cent. This will cause housing starts to fall to 145,000 annualized units by the end of 2020, compared with 210,000 in early 2020. 

While the report highlights the “extraordinary measures” taken to lower lending costs, including slashing the Bank of Canada interest rate to 0.25 per cent in March and a subsequent reduction in the five-year mortgage to below 3 per cent, it warns home buyers, worried about job losses, will remain sidelined.

“Not even lower interest rates will be enough to save the housing market,” Singh said.

As a result, Moody’s Analytics expects Canadian home prices to suffer a peak-to-trough decline of about 10 per cent.

 “As the outlook begins to improve in early 2021, house prices are expected to rebound,” the report notes.

Nationally, the composite house price index is forecast to decline 2.7 per cent this year and 3.6 per cent in 2021, but increase in 2022. 

In comparison, home prices in Metro Vancouver are forecast to drop 4.2 per cent this year and a further 6 per cent next year and continue to decline by 2 per cent in 2022 before a tepid recovery three years from now.  

Calgary, which saw housing sales plunge 63 per cent by mid-April compared to a year earlier, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board and RBC Economics, could suffer the worst house price decline in Canada. 

Moody’s forecasts Calgary home prices falling 8.3 per cent this year and 8.8 per cent in 2021, though it projects a potential double-digit price increase by 2023.

RBC Economics and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) forecast a more shallow and shorter downturn in the housing market due to COVID-19 and its trailing economy malaise. 

CREA expects to see housing sales returning to a strong pace in 2021.

 “This will be a temporary shock,” agreed Robert Hogue, of the macroeconomic and regional analysis group with RBC Economics, who says the recovery could start as early as mid-2020.

“We expect stronger  activity to  resume once  social distancing  orders are relaxed. Our baseline assumption is sometime in June. Exceptionally low interest rates will  help spur the  recovery,” Hogue said. 

“Our current view is the recovery will stretch into 2021 in most markets,” he added. “Odds of a major price drop are still low.” 

The exception to this rosy scenario is the Prairies, Hogue warns. 

“ The plunge  in crude  oil  prices  are poised to further drive [Prairie home] prices lower,” he said.

Copyright © Western Investor

Saskatchewan Residential Real Estate Market sees little effect of COVID-19 in March

Sales in Regina were up 1.9%, going from 210 in March 2019 to 214 in March 2020, and up 11.5% in the overall region, going from 235 to 262. In Regina, sales were approximately 2.0% below the 5-year average and just over 9.0% below the 10-year average, while in the region overall, sales were 3.7% below their historical averages. 

Year-to-Date (YTD) sales in Regina fell 8.6% over last year, decreasing from 525 to 480, while YTD sales in the larger region fell a more modest 3.7%, going from 597 to 575.

Sales volume was up 5.3% in the city, going from $62.4M to $65.7M in 2020 (3.4% below the 5-year average). 

YTD sales volume in the city was $141.5M, a decrease of 9.3% from last year. In the region, sales volume was also up 19.0% going from $68.3M to $81.3M (2.9% above the 5-year average). 

YTD sales volume decreased 1.7% in the region, however, falling from $176.3M in 2019 to $173.4M in 2020.

The number of new listings in Regina fell a significant 19.5% from March of last year, going from 534 to 430 (over 13.0% below the 5- and 10-year averages), while in the region the
situation was slightly better with new listings only falling 16.1% from 670 last year to 562 this year. 

Active listings also fell 4.6% in Regina (down from 1,344 to 1,282) and 4.2% in the region (down from 1,836 to 1,759).

The sales to listing ratio was 49.8% in Regina and 46.6% in the region suggesting somewhat balanced market conditions in the area.

Homes in Regina stayed on the market an average of 68 days in March—down 6.8% from 73 days last year (but still above the 5-year average of 58 days). 

Homes in the region stayed on the market somewhat longer than homes in the city at 75 days on average in 2020, but also down from an average of 84 days last year.

Average home prices in Regina went from $297,134 to $307,140 (an increase of 3.4%) and were approximately 1.0% above the 5- and 10-year average price. 

The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI)—a more accurate measure of house price trends—is up 1.8% from $266,500 to $271,300. Average home prices in the region also increased 6.8%, going from $290,559 to $310,250 which is also approximately 0.3% above historical averages.



CREA’s REALTOR® Code has been the measure of professionalism in organized real estate for over 40 years. The first code was approved in 1913; members approved the first code of ethics specific to CREA members in 1959. The Code has since been amended many times to reflect changes in the real estate marketplace, the needs of property owners and the perceptions and values of society.

A REALTOR’s® ethical obligations are based on moral integrity, competent service to clients and customers, and dedication to the interest and welfare of the public. The REALTOR® Code, by setting high standards of professional conduct for REALTORS®, helps to protect Canadians’ rights and interests. It also creates a level of trust between REALTORS® and their clients.

 Download the REALTOR® Code (PDF).


The REALTOR® Code establishes a standard of conduct, which in many respects exceeds basic legal requirements. This standard ensures the protection of the rights and interests of consumers of real estate services. As a condition of membership, all REALTORS® agree to abide by the Code.

Key items of the Code include:

  1. REALTORS® must disclose in writing whom they are representing as an agent in the transaction, and explain to parties in a transaction the details of the agency relationship; and
  2. REALTORS® can’t acquire an interest in property (either directly or indirectly) without disclosing the fact that they’re real estate professionals.


The REALTOR® Code establishes obligations that may be higher than those mandated by law. However, in any instance where the code and the law conflict, the obligations of the law must take precedence.

Courtesy of: Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) CREA.CA


Shirley MacFarlane
Shirley MacFarlane
461 Broad Street N. Regina SK S4R 2X8