2019: Vigour Returns, Except In The Prairies

January 20, 2020

In December the Teranet–National Bank National Composite House Price Index™ was up 0.2% from the previous month. This was a good showing for a month of December, equalled or bettered in only three of the last 13 years.  The composite index for the month was braked by declines of the indexes for Calgary (−0.6%), Edmonton (−0.2%) and Winnipeg (−0.1%). The indexes for Victoria and Vancouver were flat from the month before. The remaining six markets of the composite index were up: Quebec City 0.2%, Ottawa-Gatineau 0.3%, Toronto 0.4%, Montreal 0.4%, Hamilton 0.4%, Halifax 0.7%.

Over the year 2019, as usual, the composite index grew fastest from May to August with smaller variations later in the year due to slowing home resale activity. If purely seasonal factors were taken out, the resulting seasonally adjusted index would show a fifth straight monthly rise in December after six straight declines from February through July. In other words, the underlying trend of the index was a return of strength in the second half of the year after a shaky first half. The newfound vigour can be attributed mainly to the indexes for Toronto, Hamilton and more recently Vancouver, Victoria and Quebec City. The indexes for Ottawa-Gatineau and Montreal showed sustained strength throughout the year. The three Prairie markets – Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg – were rather lethargic.

Over the 12 months ending in December, the cumulative rise of the composite index was 1.9% – moderate, but it was a fifth consecutive month of acceleration. The 12-month gain was braked by the three largest western markets, Vancouver (down 4.0% from a year earlier), Edmonton (−1.5%) and Calgary (−0.9%). The change from a year earlier was marginally upward for Winnipeg (1.0%), Victoria (1.1%) and Quebec City (1.5%), more firmly upward for Toronto (4.5%), Hamilton (5.9%), Montréal (6.4%), Halifax (7.4%) and Ottawa-Gatineau (7.4%).

Besides the Toronto and Hamilton indexes included in the composite index, indexes exist for the seven other urban areas of the Golden Horseshoe. In general, the 12-month movement of these indexes has been quite similar to those of Toronto and Hamilton – recoveries beginning in the second quarter of the year after a period of weakness. All seven were up from a year earlier, some strongly: Barrie 4.2%, Oshawa 4.7%, Guelph 6.7%, St. Catharines 7.5%, Kitchener 7.6%, Brantford 9.8%, Peterborough 10.4%.

Indexes not included in the composite index also exist for seven markets outside the Golden Horseshoe. Of the two in B.C., Abbotsford-Mission was struggling in 2019, ending the year with a 12-month retreat of 2.8%, while Kelowna ended the year up 3.4% from a year earlier after nine months of recovery. Of the five in Ontario, Windsor (+8.9%) and London (+10.1%) did well over the whole 12-month period. The up-and-down path of Thunder Bay left it up 6.6% from a year earlier. Recovery over the eight months ending in December left Kingston up a spectacular 11.8% and Sudbury up 3.7% from a year earlier.

For the full report, including historical data, please visit www.housepriceindex.ca.