How interest rates affect buying and selling

The Annapolis Valley real estate landscape is beginning to increase activity. As buyers and sellers prepare for the traditional spring influx of listings, one can hope that interest rates will begin to decline after an increase of rates over the last year or more.

The Bank of Canada's interest rate, also known as the “overnight rate”, has a significant influence on the Canadian housing market, affecting both home buying and selling:

When the Bank of Canada raises or lowers its key interest rate, it directly affects the interest rates that Canadian banks offer on mortgages. When interest rates are low, mortgage rates tend to be lower as well, making it cheaper for homebuyers to borrow money. This can stimulate home-buying activity.

Conversely, when interest rates are high, mortgage rates increase, making it more expensive to borrow money and potentially slowing down home-buying activity.

Lower interest rates generally make it easier for people to afford homes because their mortgage payments are lower. This can lead to increased demand for homes, which can drive up home prices.

Conversely, higher interest rates can make homes less affordable, potentially leading to a decrease in demand and a decrease in home prices.

As we have seen with recent increases in the “overnight rate”, changes in interest rates can also affect overall housing market activity. Lower interest rates can stimulate housing market activity by encouraging more people to buy homes, while higher interest rates can dampen housing market activity by making it more expensive to borrow money.

When looking at whether it is a seller's market vs. buyer's market, a low-interest-rate environment, where borrowing is cheaper, is often a seller's market because more buyers are looking to purchase homes. Conversely, in a high-interest-rate environment, it tends to be a buyer's market because there are fewer buyers able to afford homes.

Knowing that the Bank of Canada's interest rate has a significant influence on the Canadian housing market, affecting both home buying and selling activity, hope is that interest rates will begin to decline sooner than later.

This past May 2, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said before a Canadian Senate committee on banking, the economy, and commerce, that high interest rates have been more effective in Canada than in the United States, likely setting the stage for the two countries’ monetary policy to be much different in the coming months.

Macklem indicated that he and his team are growing more confident that inflation is on a sustainable path back to two percent.

Canadian economic growth has somewhat stalled, indicating that there is an excess supply of goods. Wage increases have stabilized and the labour market has cooled, which has helped to bring down prices, Macklem noted in his presentation to the Senate.

Noted by CBC, Macklem was happy with recent signs. "Our key indicators of inflation have all moved in the right direction.”

"We've come a long way in the fight against inflation, and recent progress is encouraging."

Canada's annual inflation rate was 2.9 per cent in March, below the U.S.'s 3.5 per cent.

Macklem has said that the Bank of Canada is seeing the right trends to begin lowering interest rates, but it wants to see those trends sustained for a longer period.

Macklem's upbeat tone could be good news for homeowners and would-be buyers who have been forced to buy or refinance a home with interest rates at 20-year highs.

The next opportunity for the central bank to cut rates comes on June 5. As a buyer or seller, this may be the time to start your search in the spring – a traditional time to sell homes.

Sources: Globe and Mail & CBC


Spring is here! Time to Sell?

Spring brings renewal and also brings those looking to buy or sell a home. Listing your home in the spring can offer several advantages, making it what some feel is the best time to sell for many homeowners.

Spring is when nature comes alive, with flowers blooming and trees regaining their lush foliage. The improved curb appeal can make your home more attractive to potential buyers, as they are greeted by a visually appealing exterior. Don’t skimp on preparing your home for that visual curb appeal. Hiring a professional gardener could pay dividends in selling your home.

Spring typically brings milder weather compared to winter, making it more conducive for home viewing. Buyers are more willing to venture out to see properties when the weather is pleasant, leading to increased foot traffic for your home. Open houses on a sunny spring day bring more attention to those who are in search of a new home.

With longer daylight hours in spring, there's more time for home showings, both during the weekdays and on weekends. This flexibility allows potential buyers to schedule viewings after work or school, increasing the likelihood of attracting interested parties.

Families often prefer to move during the summer months when children are out of school, allowing them to settle into a new home before the next academic year begins. Listing in spring provides ample time for closing the sale and facilitating a smooth transition before the summer break.

Many homebuyers receive tax refunds in the spring, providing them with additional funds for a down payment or closing costs. This increased financial capacity can lead to more motivated buyers actively seeking properties during this time.

Since spring is a popular time for home sales, there tends to be increased competition among buyers. This competitive environment can lead to multiple offers and potentially higher sale prices for sellers.

Listing your home in the spring allows you to take advantage of the preceding months to prepare your property for sale. Whether it's decluttering, making repairs, or enhancing curb appeal, you have ample time to showcase your home in its best possible condition.

While it's true that spring is a popular time for home buying and mortgage activity, and there may be seasonal trends in the housing market, interest rate movements are influenced by a wide range of factors beyond just the time of year.

Overall, the combination of improved weather, extended daylight hours, increased buyer activity, and financial incentives make spring an optimal time to list your home for sale. By capitalizing on these factors, you can maximize your chances of attracting interested buyers and achieving a successful sale.


Buying and Selling in the Winter

The decision to buy or sell a home during the winter months can depend on various factors, and there are both advantages and disadvantages to consider.

As a buyer, the winter months can offer some advantages. Typically, during the winter months, there are fewer buyers, which can mean less competition for the homes available on the market. This might give you more negotiating power and potentially better deals.

Some sellers might be more motivated to sell during the winter, especially if their home has been on the market for a while. This could lead to more favorable terms for the buyer.

Winter conditions can reveal certain issues with a home that might not be apparent in other seasons. For example, you may be able to identify drafts, insulation problems, or heating system efficiency.

The only real disadvantage as a buyer in the winter is there might be fewer homes available on the market during the winter months, limiting your choices.

Granted, the winter weather can make house hunting more challenging. Snow, ice, and cold temperatures can impact travel. Hey, we are Canadian! Doing anything in the winter can be a challenge.

Would you consider selling in the winter? Some advantages of the winter include fewer buyers and those who are actively looking during the winter months are often more serious about making a purchase.

Surprisingly, staging a home during the winter can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere, which may appeal to potential buyers.

The only real challenge of selling in the winter is “curb appeal”. Winter landscapes can be less visually appealing, and snow and ice can make the exterior of a home less attractive. This could affect the overall curb appeal

In 2023, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland all experienced varying trends in their respective housing markets. Despite higher interest rates and higher asking prices, sales in Nova Scotia were elevated and expected to continue in the new year.

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland all suggest strong seller's markets. Nova Scotia saw a dramatic increase in the Sales-to-New-Listings Ratio (SNLR), soaring from 64% to 80%.

Nova Scotia exhibited an impressive 11% increase in year-on-year sales, with an average home price rising to $408,141.

Nova Scotia currently demonstrates a strong sellers' market, indicating a higher demand for homes than listings are coming to market.

In summary, the decision to buy or sell a home during the winter months depends on your specific circumstances, local market conditions, and personal preferences. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons and consider factors such as weather, market trends, and your timeline. Consulting with a local real estate professional can provide valuable insights based on the specific conditions in your area.