Little change in Canada’s March housing market amid flat sales and prices — is a buyer’s market coming?

Little change in Canada’s March housing market amid flat sales and prices — is a buyer’s market coming?

The Canadian housing market showed little change in March 2024, with home sales and prices remaining mostly flat. Sales activity recorded through Canadian MLS systems edged up by 0.5 percent month-over-month but remained below the average of the last 10 years. 

The national composite MLS Home Price Index (HPI) also remained mostly unchanged, dipping by 0.3 percent month-over-month. The report suggests that while there are expectations of a market pick-up this year, the current situation could be influenced by high interest rates and the anticipation of rate cuts.

Canadian consumers are tapped out but buyer’s market potentially on horizon

We’d say it’s more likely this flat market behaviour indicates that the Canadian consumer is tapped out, and with housing at record unaffordability, it’s unlikely we’ll see much growth until affordability returns to the market.

Affordability is a function of price, interest rates and income. According to Bloomberg, to reach pre-COVID affordability in Canada, prices would need to come down 33 percent, incomes would need to rise 55 percent or interest rates would need to fall 350 basis points. 

It’s likely that some combination of these three factors will eventually create a recovery in the Canadian real estate market. 

The data suggests buyers might respond positively to the increase in new properties for sale, which would reduce some excess demand and potentially create a buyer’s market, allowing for negative price discovery to take place. The full impact will be clearer with the release of April’s data.


The unadjusted transaction count for March 2023 exhibited a 1.7 percent increase compared to the previous month. This growth was relatively modest when juxtaposed with the preceding two months’ performances. Apparently, the Easter weekend’s sluggish market conditions can be blamed for this subdued growth.

However, when looking at the inability of monthly home sales to return to their 10-year average, it tells us that unaffordability and economic factors are clearly preventing Canadians from buying homes the way they have in the past:


Price activity seemed comparably underwhelming, with prices moving sideways (slightly downward) during the spring market of February and March — two months they almost always move up:

The biggest increases in price were observed in the following locations.

  1. Greater Moncton: +5 percent

  2. Estrie, Quebec: +3.5 percent

  3. Prince Edward Island: +2.7 percent

  4. Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario: +2 percent

  5. Chilliwack, British Columbia: +1.9 percent

The biggest decreases in price were observed in these locations.

  1. Simcoe & District, Ont.: -2.3 percent

  2. Mauricie, Que.: -3 percent

  3. Halifax: -1.7 percent 

  4. B.C.’s Interior region: -1.6 percent

  5. Owen Sound, Ont.: -1.2 percent


CREA’s 2024 forecast

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) released its quarterly forecast, which indicates a return to the 10-year average sales volume growth trajectory by 2025.

CREA expects interest rates to remain a key factor influencing Canadian housing markets through 2024 and 2025. The market has been noticeably quiet since the Bank of Canada’s rate hikes in 2023, with prices in many markets still well below their historic peaks seen in 2021 and 2022.

Source: CREA

Expectations suggest the first rate cut in 2024 may occur in the second half of the year, with financial markets predicting around 50 basis points of cuts by the end of 2024. Most economists seem to believe that Canada won’t cut until the United States Federal Reserve cuts, which we may not see this year if it doesn’t happen at the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting. 

CREA’s statistics show a bounce in new supply, sales and listings, suggesting the market may be gearing up for a recovery. Around 492,083 residential properties are projected to trade in 2024, a 10.5 percent increase from 2023. The national average home price is forecast to increase by 4.9 percent to $710,468 in 2024.

In 2025, national home sales are expected to climb by 7.8 percent to 530,494 units, while the national average home price is projected to rise by 7 percent to $760,120.

Increases in volume

CREA’s 2024 forecast shows the biggest increase in number of homes sold to take place in:

  • Alberta, by 13.6 percent

  • Nova Scotia, by 12.7 percent

  • Ontario, by 12.6 percent 

  • Quebec, by 11 percent

Source: CREA

Increases in price

CREA’s 2024 forecast expects the biggest increase in home prices to be seen in:

  • Alberta, by 7 percent to $479,765

  • British Columbia, by 6.9 percent to $1,037,382

  • Nova Scotia, by 6.7 percent to $451,114

  • Quebec, by 5.9 percent to $515,877


Source: CREA

Courtesy REM Magazine, CREA

Data is supplied by Pillar 9™ MLS® System. Pillar 9™ is the owner of the copyright in its MLS®System. Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by Pillar 9™.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.