By: Miguel Fernandez Morales LLB, MBA

Will the market bounce back in 2023?



The Canadian real estate market saw its fair share of highs and lows in 2022. With the new year right around the corner, what can we anticipate in 2023?  Lauren Haw, CEO of Zoocasa described the theme of 2023 as being “all about timing”. Here are five trends that we have our eye on: 

1. Rate Increases Will Catch Up to Homeowners

In our 2022 market predictions, we expected that rising interest rates would be top of mind. Many planned for interest rates to mimic 2018 trends. During that year the Bank of Canada increased rates three times in response to a strong Canadian economy. However, 2022 paints a different picture with post-pandemic inflation running high, few analysts planned for seven consecutive interest rate hikes.

Some homeowners that were up for renewal in late 2022 or 2023 chose to pull forward and break their mortgage early to lock in a lower rate and get ahead of the hikes,” explained Haw. In 2023, homeowners that are coming up for renewal on three or five-year fixed mortgages can expect to be refinanced for a rate up to 3% higher than they received three to five years ago. In 2018 and 2022, rates ranged from mid to high 3% to low to mid 5%. Today, most rates are hovering around the higher end of 5% and are pushing into the mid-range of 6%. 

In 2018, a homeowner that made a 10% downpayment on a $805,000 home (the April 2018 Toronto region average was $804,584) with a 5-year fixed rate of 5.14% over 25 years has a monthly payment of $4,404. With a new rate of 6.49%, that same homeowner would now be paying $4,999 a month, an increase of $595 each month and $7,140 per year. “With inflation impacting the cost of groceries, childcare, and other day-to-day expenses, many homeowners will not be able to carry the burden of the new mortgage rates and will choose to sell,” Haw continued.

2. More Landlords May Choose to Sell their Income Properties at Time of Renewal

Landlords may be hit even harder by the rate hikes because interest rates on investment properties tend to be as much as 0.6% higher than a standard mortgage, according to Canadian Real Estate Magazine. This means that mortgage rates for some landlords may exceed 7% at time of renewal. Haw explained: “The interest rate hikes may still outweigh the rental increase cap in many situations, forcing landlords to either pay out of pocket to hold onto their investment property or put it on the market.” 

After freezing rent increases in 2020 due to the pandemic, landlords in Ontario were then allowed to increase rates for existing renters but still capped at a maximum of 1.2% in 2022. In 2023, the province has increased that limit to a maximum of 2.5%, according to the official Rent Increase Guideline. Despite rental caps, the average year-over-year listed rent for all property types in Canada has increased 12.4%, according to
In 2021, Teranet reported that one in four properties in Ontario or one in five homes in Canada are purchased as investment properties. The demand for rental properties across the country is already surging as the dream of owning a home has become increasingly unaffordable for many Canadians. If landlords choose to sell their investment properties, it will put even more pressure on an already exhausted rental market that in many city centres, can’t keep up with the demand. 

3. The Year of The Sideline Buyer 

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), year-to-date national sales activity is down 38.9% compared to last year. Some of the historically most active markets have experienced the greatest declines, including Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), down 53.5% and 49.6% respectively. Even though prices have come down in many markets, some prospective buyers chose to wait it out on the sidelines. However, Lauren Haw predicts that 2023 will be “the year of the sideline buyer”. 

In a recent survey of Zoocasa readers, 33% noted that their timeline for buying and/or selling is delayed because of the interest rate increases. “Many prospective buyers chose to wait on the sidelines while interest rates rose, but whether they were planning to move because they wanted a bigger home, a new neighbourhood, to be closer to the office, they likely still need to move,” explains Haw. These “sideline buyers” have been waiting, and by 2023, many will have waited long enough and will finally decide to enter the market regardless of where interest rates stand. Homeowners that will hit or exceed the maximum amount they can afford on a monthly and/or yearly basis will add to the demand in housing. In the same survey, 29% of respondents said they are hitting the maximum they can afford.

4. Low Supply Isn’t Going Anywhere, At Least Not Until Early Summer

Although we expect to see inventory rise because sellers can’t put their plans on hold any longer, inventory will likely still be low in the first half of the year. The long term average of national inventory is just over five months. For most of this year we’ve been sitting around three months and at the beginning of 2022, CREA reported that Canada hit the all-time national low of 1.7 months. This figure measures how long it would take all housing stock to be sold if sales continued at their current levels. 

New listings dropped another 1.3% month-over-month according to CREA.  Inventory may hit another new all-time low in 2023. Supply is often lowest in winter, and it may trend toward the lower end of the one month mark, setting a new record. Haw said: ”This will make conditions difficult and competitive for in-market buyers that have a set timeline to purchase a home”. Canadians that are planning to buy early in the new year should plan for tight market conditions and begin their home search as soon as possible. 

Inventory and market conditions often improve in the spring and many sideline sellers are likely holding on as long as they can, and will begin listing in the spring, leading to an improvement in inventory by early summer.

5. A Record Wave of New Canadians Will Add Pressure to Already Stressed Markets

The Government of Canada recently announced record immigration targets of 1.5 million new Canadians by 2027. A recent survey by Ipsos Public Affairs found that a large number of newcomers to Canada buy a home within their first five years of living in Canada. So, what does this mean for an already stressed market? Likely, more competition and even higher demand than we’ve seen in the past few years. “Although the effects may be delayed, the added pressure on housing markets will be felt in the next two to three years,” said Haw.

 shortage in supply drives up the prices of homes as well in some already unaffordable areas. Newcomers to Canada often settle in city cores, the greatest effects could be felt in some of Canada’s already most expensive markets. However, this has a ripple effect and if the housing market in a major city like Toronto becomes even more saturated, it will impact the GTA and smaller cities outside of the region. 

Ready to start planning for the 2023 real estate market? We’re here to help! Give us a call today to speak to a local real estate agent. Keep an eye on our Market Insights blog for more news about Canadian real estate markets and sign up for our newsletter to get updates sent directly to your inbox.