Slowdown on the horizon for condominium markets in most major Canadian centres as renewed concerns over Bank of Canada rate hikes emerge, says RE/MAX® Canada

Alberta markets are the outliers, as affordability attracts interprovincial migration at a staggering rate

Photo: Toronto Condominiums

TORONTO, ON and KELOWNA, BC, /PRNewswire/ — Recent economic indicators suggesting that Canadian homebuyers could be facing increasingly strong headwinds in the form of further interest rate hikes signal the end of a short-lived bounce in condominium activity in major markets across the country, according to a report released today by RE/MAX Canada.

The RE/MAX 2023 National Condominium Report examined close to 100 communities in seven major centres, including Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, CalgaryEdmontonGreater Toronto AreaOttawa and HalifaxDartmouth. The report found that stronger condominium sales in May, June, July and August of this year were no match for year-to-date 2022 levels, given the strength of home-buying activity in the first quarter. Overall sales in the condominium segment fell in all but two markets in the first eight months of 2023, with Calgary climbing a substantial 22 per cent, and sales edging up a nominal three per cent in Edmonton year-over-year. Meanwhile, average price held steady in three markets – Greater VancouverCalgary and HalifaxDartmouth — while slipping in the Fraser Valley, Edmonton, the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa. Higher borrowing costs, combined with the minimum qualifying rate of two per cent added by the stress test, contributed to lower condominium market share in three of the seven markets, including Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and Ottawa.

“It’s really a mixed bag of results in markets across the country when it comes to condominiums this year,” says Christopher Alexander, President of RE/MAX Canada. “While there was some momentum in the market early in September that dovetailed with the Bank of Canada’s (BoC) announcement to pause interest rate hikes, the most recent inflation numbers extinguished the flame. Lifecycle sales will continue to contribute to steady activity, but a comeback similar to that of the second quarter is likely out of the question.”

In the country’s largest condominium market of Toronto, a sizable uptick in new listings in August contributed to growing concerns. Toronto’s apartment inventory rose almost 24 per cent year-over-year (3,893/3,144) while townhouse stock saw a more moderate increase of 7.5 per cent (929/864). New listings of apartments in the Fraser Valley also soared, up 27.9 per cent (709/554) in August, compared to August of 2022. Modest increases were also noted in Edmonton and HalifaxCalgary experienced a significant uptick in listing inventory compared to year-ago levels at almost 37 per cent (893/653), but the sales-to-new-listings ratio sat at 98 per cent (876/893) in August. A decline in inventory was also reported in Greater Vancouver year-over-year (3,986/4,028) while supply in Ottawa’s condominium market also edged lower, now hovering at 2.2 months, down slightly from year-ago levels.

Interprovincial migration was a significant factor in Alberta markets, according to RE/MAX Canada 2023 National Condominium Report, as affordability and a lower cost of living proved irresistible to buyers in more expensive provinces – namely Ontario and British Columbia. Both provinces registered a decrease in in-migration in the first quarter of 2023, according to Statistics Canada Quarterly Demographic Estimates, Provinces, and Territories. While Ontario welcomed 125,000 international migrants in Q1 2023, the province registered a decline of 14,732 in interprovincial migration. Out-migration was the largest on record since 2000. British Columbia received 40,840 international migrants but lost 712 residents. The biggest winners were Alberta, welcoming 35,932 new international migrants and 15,786 interprovincial migrants, the highest level since 2000 and Nova Scotia, attracting 7,636 new international migrants and 2,690 interprovincial migrants.

“The cost of living is out of control in larger centres and even the most affordable housing now carries a pretty substantial sticker price,” says Alexander. “Earnings have not kept pace with housing costs and inflation continues to stretch household budgets thin. Taxation is also an issue, with the City of Toronto gearing up to introduce an even more punitive Municipal Land Transfer Tax in January of 2024. Is it any wonder why buyers are heading west to Calgary and Edmonton or east to more affordable markets such as Halifax?”

Affordability remains a top concern in most markets across the country. Despite some softening in overall values, the RE/MAX report found that carrying costs are proving prohibitive for many buyers at today’s interest rates. RE/MAX Brokers in several markets noted that current qualifications for mortgage financing are a roadblock to home ownership, given the stress test adds another two per cent to already high posted rates. Not surprisingly, the most active areas in every market are often those areas where affordable condominium product can be found. First-time buyers and investors remain most active in condominium markets, with lower price points doing well virtually across the board.

2023 Condominium Market Trends

  • At the upper end of the price spectrum, the luxury condo market remains healthy in Toronto and Calgary while activity has slowed at higher price points in Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Halifax. Downsizing buyers who are selling more expensive freehold properties are in large part behind the push for condominiums.
  • More and more buyers are willing to go farther afield to realize better value, greater bang for their buck, or avoid land transfer taxes. Others are downsizing their expectations. Many are now expanding their search perimeters due to limited inventory in popular areas and price points—even if it means moving to provinces that offer better value.
  • Maintenance fees and the health of condominium boards are factors cited in buying decisions in several markets. Buyers don’t want unexpected expense outlays, given the already high cost to carry a home. Condos offer an affordable entry-point, but unlike freehold properties, deferring repairs and maintenance are not an option. Therefore, it’s important for buyers to know that there are no surprises. More buyers are doing their due diligence to ensure all is in order.
  • Assignments represent opportunities at present in markets like Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and the Greater Toronto Area. Many presale buyers active three to four years ago have found that they no longer qualify for mortgages at new interest rate levels. With their purchases nearing completion, many are looking to sell (or assign) their condos to new purchasers, in the hopes of recouping their down payments and possibly some equity gain.
  • New condominium construction has slowed considerably in most markets, with many new projects delayed or cancelled. In some cases, city approvals have slowed the process, but in most cases, the financial viability of the project just doesn’t make sense in the current economic environment.

“We do anticipate a softer end to the year, as economic conditions erode buying power and impact consumer confidence,” says Elton Ash, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Canada. “The signs are already evident with inventory building and new projects being delayed or cancelled. Savvy buyers will find some opportunity in larger markets, and although some further softening in values is anticipated in most centres, the impact will be somewhat tempered by the tight rental market and continued population growth. Look for condominium sales to rebound in the second or third quarter of 2024, as quantitative tightening eases, re-invigorating homebuying intentions.”

Market-by-Market Overview

Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley

On the heels of a solid second quarter performance, demand for condominium/strata apartments remains steady in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Homebuying activity surpassed 2022 levels in May, June, July and August in both markets, but continue to fall short of strong sales in the first quarter of 2022. Almost 10,100 apartments were sold in Greater Vancouver between January and August of 2023, a decrease of 17 per cent from the 12,159 sales posted during the same period in 2022, while median values increased in nearly half of markets surveyed during the same period. Condo sales in the Fraser Valley were down approximately 10 per cent to just over 3,400 units, with Abbotsford the only market to buck the trend (up four per cent). Average price has softened year-over-year, with most markets in the Fraser Valley down by single digits.

While the market welcomed the Bank of Canada decision to hold on rates at their September meeting, potential homebuyers appear to be mulling over their options. Mixed signals characterized much of September, with some strata product moving well, as others lingered on the market longer than expected. First-time buyers are most active in the market, with the ability to qualify top of mind with today’s purchasers. Most are starting their search for strata product below $600,000 within popular areas such as LangleyBurnabyNew WestminsterCoquitlamPort Moody and Langley. The bank of mom and dad, once a serious driver in homebuying activity, has dried up in today’s higher interest rate environment. For some would-be buyers, once they consider the closing costs, including the down payment and associated taxes, the upfront cost of homeownership is simply too expensive. This, even though first-time buyers are fully exempt, up to $500,000, on land transfer tax. The monthly rates for rentals have skyrocketed over the past year as a result, with the average one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver sitting at close to $3,000 in September and $2,550 in Burnaby, according to – driven by both demand and a shortage of available units.

For those who are moving forward with their decision to buy a home, there are some opportunities in the market in the shape of assignments as new buildings near completion. Some buyers who intended to close when they bought into a project have found themselves unable to qualify at today’s interest rates and, as a result, are selling properties at a discount. Denser areas continue to see the greatest activity, with amenities such as easy access to the SkyTrain, schools and shopping districts most sought-after. Maintenance fees are also a factor in today’s market, with a well-run strata council imperative to the overall financial health and welfare of the condominium. Safety has also become increasingly important in the decision to buy.

Strata sales at the top end of the market have slowed, despite a $19-million condominium sale early in the year in the city’s core. Nine condominium apartments have moved over the $5-million price point in Greater Vancouver year to date, with more than 8,000 properties currently listed for sale.

While inventory levels edged up over the summer months, selection is still limited at popular price points. Good listings tend to move quickly, while those that are over-priced tend to stagnate. Should the BoC hold interest rate hikes in its next scheduled announcement, homebuying activity – both sales are prices – should remain steady throughout the remainder of the year.

Calgary (City of)

Interprovincial in-migration continues to push homebuying activity to new limits, as local and out-of-province buyers compete for condominium product in Calgary’s heated apartment market. Calgary leads the country with a 22 per cent increase in condominium sales, with more than 5,500 units changing hands between January and August of this year, compared to year-ago levels for the same period. Average price year to date has risen in lock step, climbing eight per cent to $301,887, up from $279,306 in 2022.

The city’s affordable housing and robust provincial economy have served to attract record net migration to the province this year. In the first quarter of 2023, net-interprovincial migration topped 15,700, the highest level since 2000, according to the Statistics Canada Quarterly Demographic Estimates, Provinces and Territories Table. Add international migration to the equation and it’s easy to see how the sales-to- new- listings ratio rose to 98 per cent in August (876/893).

Inventory levels are exceptionally low, down 40 per cent from year-ago levels (1,035 vs 1,700) and are expected to decline in the coming months. Upward pressure on condominium values is expected to continue as a result, with demand currently outpacing supply. Buyers have come to accept that they can no longer narrow their search to sought-after neighbourhoods and have expanded to quadrants of the city. Homebuying activity in key markets such as Bridgeland/Riverside Saddle Ridge, Lower Mount Royal, and Downtown East Village has soared, with sales climbing 58.9 per cent, 49.1 per cent, 42.7 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.  Average price increases in the city’s most popular areas have climbed by double digits, led by Eau Claire at almost 35 per cent. The city’s luxury market has seen a bump in sales as well with 19 properties moving over $1.5 million so far this year, compared to just 10 one year ago.

After seven years of hardship, the province’s economic engine is firing on all cylinders. The advertising campaigns promoting Alberta, the incentives put in place for businesses, and the reduced level of taxation have all contributed to Calgary’s vibrant housing market. Buyers from Canada’s most expensive provinces – Ontario and British Columbia – represent most of the in-migrants to the city, stimulating homebuying activity at every price point and housing type. Investment dollars continue to filter into the local housing market. Inventory remains the only barrier to greater sales activity, but if they build it, they will come. Overall housing starts in Alberta were up 18.7 per cent to close to 3,400 in August, according to the province’s Economic Dashboard.

Edmonton (City of)

The return of economic prosperity to the province has served to bolster overall homebuying activity in Edmonton and emphasize the Alberta Advantage. Almost 2,500 condominium apartments changed hands in the city between January and August, up just over three per cent from the same period in 2022. Year-to-date (January-August) average price contracted by almost four per cent in 2023, likely a reflection of a greater number of apartment sales under the $150,000 price point.

Investors, flush with cash, from Ontario and to a lesser extent, British Columbia, have played a substantial roll in the market this year. Drawn to the city’s exceptionally affordable housing stock, investors have been buying up condominium apartments under $150,000 and townhomes between $180,000 to $250,000. Demand has also increased for lower-priced condominiums between $75,000 and $100,000, which typically require some renovation before they can be leased as rentals. With replacement values hovering at between $225,000 to $250,000 for apartment-style transactions, anything below is trading for less than replacement costs.

Local buyers are also active in the market, despite higher interest rates, given the attractive price point for condominium product. Infill condominium townhomes and row houses have been especially popular with entry-level buyers, with many moving in multiple offer situations in some of the city’s most sought-after communities. Condominium townhomes that offer as much as 1,500 square feet of living space with a single-car garage and a backyard can be purchased for under $235,000, a bargain when compared to similar single-detached product which typically sell for more than $400,000. While condominiums of varying styles can be found throughout Edmonton, Oliver is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in the city and is made up of mostly high rise and apartment-style condos at both entry level and luxury price points. Nearly half of residents in the densely populated area, located just west of the downtown core, are between 20 to 39 years of age. The University district in the south-central quadrant, anchored by the University of Alberta is also sought after; as is the more suburban southwest quadrant, which includes a smattering of condominium product amongst higher-priced, single-detached homes and green space.

In-migration has also factored into the mix, with many new buyers relocating to Edmonton from British Columbia and Ontario. Recent data from Statistics Canada for the first quarter of the year shows that in-migration and immigration levels in the province have hit their highest levels since 2000. Affordability is a major driver, in addition to lower housing values, with no land transfer or provincial tax in the province a welcome relief for buyers coming from other provinces.

Although inventory levels remain healthy, with new construction adding to the supply, there continues to be upward pressure on overall values. Demand for condominiums remains strong at almost every price point up until $700,000. Few condominiums units exist at luxury price points beyond $700,000 in Edmonton, with just 31 sales reported so far this year.

The city is ideally positioned for further growth in the months and years ahead, thanks to a vibrant provincial economy, affordable housing, and an influx of out-of-province buyers. Demand for entry-level housing in the form of condominium apartments, row houses and townhomes should increase in tandem with the city’s population. Average housing values are forecast to climb but increases will be held in check by a healthy supply of homes available for sale.

Greater Toronto Area

After four consecutive months of sales surpassing year-ago levels, renewed concerns over higher interest rates are likely to slow homebuying activity in the Greater Toronto Area’s (GTA) condominium market in the coming months. Overall sales of condominium apartments and townhomes in the GTA year-to-date (January-August) are off last year’s pace by 12.8 per cent at 18,263, compared to the 20,948 units sold during the same period in 2022. The average price of condominium apartments and townhomes combined has softened as well, with values hovering at just under $750,000, down six per cent from year-ago levels.

Affordability continues to be a major factor in the market, with high interest rates and the government stress test the primary roadblock to homeownership, as fewer first-time buyers can qualify for a mortgage, despite lower overall condominium values. Those that are committed to buying, including first-time buyers, investors, and downsizers, are willing to travel further afield to realize value, as evidenced by the uptick in condominium sales in the 905 where buyers realize more bang for the buck and are not subject to the municipal land transfer tax applied in the 416-area code.

Sales data in 60 Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) districts during the first eight months of the year showed an increase in transactions in one quarter of its districts (15/60) year-over-year, including six in the 416 area code: Stonegate-Queensway (W07), Bedford Park-Nortown, Forest Hill North, and Lawrence Park (C04), Newtonbrook West, Willowdale West, and Lansing-Westgate (C07), Bridle Path, SunnybrookYork Mills, St. Andrew-Winfields, Hoggs Hollow (C12), Oakridge, Birchcliffe-Cliffside (E06), and Milliken, Agincourt, and Malvern West (E07). In the 905, nine districts experienced growth in sales activity, including Brock, ClaringtonUxbridgeKing, Georgina, Richmond HillVaughanStouffville and Burlington. Thirteen of the 15 markets that experienced an uptick in sales had average prices that appeal to entry-level buyers— ranging from $558,000 in Georgina to $789,351 in Stouffville. According to TRREB MarketWatch, 70 per cent of year-to-date sales of condominium apartments occurred between $500,000 and $799,999 while 65 per cent of condominium townhomes moved between $600,000 and $899,999.

The top end of the condominium market has remained relatively strong, with sales over the $2 million price point climbing 5.7 per cent, up from 173 units between January and August 2022 to 183 during the same period in 2023. Slightly lower values were one factor contributing to the increase in homebuying activity at luxury price points. The average price of sales over $2 million was $2,925,608, compared to $2,964,221 during the same period in the previous year. The uber-luxe segment over $5 million also experienced a bump, with 11 properties moving in 2023, compared to nine in 2022.

Despite the softer sales and average pricing, condominiums were able to grow their marketshare by almost a percentage point year-over-year, rising from 36.3 per cent to 37.2 per cent of all TRREB sales. The townhouse segment maintained 7.8 per cent of the market in both 2022 and 2023.

While inventory levels were tight for much of the year, the supply of condominium apartments in city’s central core rose in August. This was led primarily by an upswing in new listings in condominium communities south of Bloor Street, and markets north of Highway 401 including Bayview Village, Newtonbrook East/Willowdale East, and Bathurst Manor/Clanton Park. Neighbourhoods that are still reporting tight market conditions include Banbury-Don Mills, Mount Pleasant and Rosedale-Moore Park. Opportunities exist in the current environment as a growing number of assignments come to market. Many of these buyers purchased condominiums during the pre-construction phase at a time when interest rates were at record lows. As the buildings near completion, many are unable to qualify at new interest rate levels, leaving them no choice but to sell their units.

With demand now moderating amid improved supply levels, there is potential for a further incremental decrease in condominium values in the Greater Toronto Area in the months ahead. The only stop guard is the over 35 condominium projects slated for launch that may be placed on hold or even cancelled as developers pause and wait for condominium markets to stabilize. The oversupply of listings will likely be absorbed as vacancy rates in the city remain low, but how quickly it will take to resolve will be dependent on interest rates and consumer confidence levels. With the posted interest rates for a five-year, fixed-rate mortgage hovering at close to six per cent at each of Canada’s five major banks and more increases expected, a one per cent downward adjustment to the stress test would go a long way in helping younger buyers gain a foothold in today’s market.


Homebuying activity in Ottawa’s condominium sector is gaining momentum heading into the fall market, with affordability and lifestyle the primary drivers once again. Year-to-date average price remains off year ago levels at just under $432,600, down 5.5 per cent from the $457,965 reported during the same period in 2022. Overall condominium sales contracted by just over 17 per cent between January and August, although monthly sales have been consistently ahead of the same period reported in 2022 since May.  Ottawa’s housing market traditionally experiences an uptick heading into the fall market, but September’s Bank of Canada announcement to pause on rate hikes yet again, combined with lower housing values year-over-year have provided greater impetus in the marketplace.

While higher mortgage rates and stringent borrowing rules continue to weigh heavy on buyers, especially those purchasing their first home, those that qualify are considering a condominium as a first step towards homeownership. Buyer traffic has increased in recent weeks as more listings come on stream, which is a trend that is expected to continue in the coming months. Many of the buyers shopping in today’s market are already pre-approved, which has provided greater stability for both those buying and selling. For buyers who are downsizing, many already have significant equity available and those that do require a mortgage are typically finding that the mortgage rate they’ve been paying on homes purchased or refinanced in 2018 and 2019 are not as big a leap.

After peaking in early 2022, condominium values have softened, with prices comparable to late 2021 levels.  Buyers are heading into the market with the mindset that the worst is behind us, and as a result, confidence is on the upswing. While the best deals were likely those condominiums that were scooped up in the third and fourth quarters of 2022, there are some opportunities in the marketplace. Balanced conditions currently exist, with the greatest activity between the $500,000 and $550,000 price point. First-time buyers, many of whom are professionals, are leading the charge, sparking sales in suburban areas such as Orleans, Barrhaven, and Kanata and the urban core. A shortage of available inventory in exists in the suburbs, especially for those looking at stacked condos, as turnover is few and far between. Greater availability exists in the downtown core for one-bedroom apartments if buyers are willing to compromise on square footage. The supply of two-bedroom condos under $600,000 remains tight. Downsizing buyers tend to spend between $650,000 to $750,000, but often find themselves opting for properties closer to the $750,000 price point with better amenities. Maintenance fees and condominium boards have become increasingly important in today’s condominium market, with the status certificate taking on new meaning for buyers seeking insight into the building’s status, management and financial health.

New construction has slowed considerably over the past year, with fewer new condominium developments coming to market. Many buildings that were initially planned as condos have shifted to rentals as demand for rental units has soared. A one-bedroom apartment is leasing for $2,058 per month, up 11 per cent from one year ago, according to, while two-bedroom apartments are now commanding $2,531 per month, up 12 per cent year-over-year.


While overall homebuying activity has slowed somewhat from year-ago levels, seller’s market conditions continue to prevail in the Halifax condominium market. Five hundred and forty condominium units changed hands between January and August of 2023, down just under four per cent from the 560 sales posted during the same period in 2022. Days on market have climbed to 23, up from 18 days. Average price, meanwhile, has edged slightly higher, approaching $467,900 year-to-date, a nominal increase over 2022 levels.

Single first-time buyers, young professionals and empty nesters continue to drive homebuying activity in the condominium sector. However, limited inventory levels and an aging condominium stock, in large part due to fewer condo developments in the past, have made it more difficult to find cost-effective units. Newer condominiums with better finishings are now comparable in cost to townhomes and single-detached product, with freehold often the preferred option. Buyers that move forward with the decision to buy a condominium typically seek buildings with healthy financial track records and little turnover. The luxury segment of Halifax’s condominium market has slowed, with properties over $600,000 sitting on the market longer. Some of the newer buildings offer spacious, uber-luxe units, but overall availability remains sparse.

Approximately 120 condominiums are currently listed for sale, representing about eight per cent of total active properties. Despite an uptick in available units, condominium selection is still tight as builders and developers focus on purpose-built rentals, given current rental demand and cost factors that make it more appealing for developers to build rental units. Just seven condominiums are under construction or recently completed in HalifaxDartmouth, including the NRTH condos, Agricola West, Casa Villa, Gorsebrook Park, and Seapoint, while presales are currently underway on Navy Lane condos. New product under construction is expected be in high demand when finished. The existing supply of condominiums is concentrated in the Halifax core or on the peninsula which leaves very little option in Halifax’s surrounding communities.

Strong population growth through immigration and interprovincial migration have contributed to Nova Scotia’s vibrant residential housing market. In the first quarter of 2023, the population increased by another 9,450 residents, according to the Statistics Canada Quarterly Demographic Estimates, Provinces and Territories interactive dashboard. The trend is expected to continue as Halifax‘ affordable housing is a magnet for Canadians and immigrants alike. As such, demand is expected to remain strong throughout the remainder of the year, despite the actions of the Bank of Canada.


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