Canada’s housing market not likely to see double-digit gains: Coldwell Banker chief

VANCOUVER – The Canadian housing market remains strong, but the days of double-digit gains in real estate are largely over, according to the president of Coldwell Banker Canada.

And that’s all the more reason to view your home purchase primarily as a lifestyle decision rather than an investment in the hopes of a “quick return,” John Geha said.

“The double-digit appreciation days are gone, but we’re still seeing solid growth in real estate values,” Geha said in a phone interview from Kelowna. “It’s a healthy market.”

In Kelowna, sales are picking up, and that trend holds true for the province as a whole, Geha said, who also described the national market as “healthy.” Even the Windsor housing market is heating up, he noted.

As for the bidding wars taking place in hot Vancouver neighbourhoods such as Strathcona and Mount Pleasant, it’s a phenomenon that is also taking place in areas of Toronto, Geha said. It’s partly fuelled by tight supply and partly by immigrants getting into the market, he said.

Geha, who is from Ohio, said the federal government’s reduction of amortization levels for CMHC-insured mortgages and other credit-tightening measures are “scary” for some because they’ve made housing — particularly in Metro Vancouver — less affordable.

But in the long-term, those moves are positive because they should help Canada avoid the speculation that occurred south of the border.

They also better prepare the Canadian buyer to choose a home best suited for them, Geha said.

“Your first-time homebuyers may have to make some decisions, and it may be a different price range that they’re looking at,” he said. “People are starting to prepare: ‘I may not be able to buy today, but I’m going to put myself in position within the next 12, 18, 24 months that I can buy.

“When they buy, their decision is a solid decision, not this quick, impulsive decision.”

Realtors are tapping into social media to manage their time better and communicate more effectively — which also helps homebuyers, Geha said.

“It’s opened the world to see real estate at the snap of a finger, whether you’re looking on YouTube or delivering that message through Twitter or Facebook,” he said. “It’s still a relationship business, that hasn’t changed and that never will change. But it’s the efficiency and the speed of communication, and the ability to deliver that message worldwide, that has changed.”

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