The CEO Poll: Long slog ahead for home prices

CEOs predict years of sluggish growth for residential real estate prices.

Canadian CEOs don’t think that the country’s real estate market is in a bubble, but that doesn’t mean they’re optimistic about further growth.

A recent Compas Inc. poll shows that business leaders expect a rise in residential real estate prices over the next 12 months of just 1.75%. That’s a modest prediction, given that real estate prices jumped 18% in the past year, and that over the past 20 years, they increased on average by 3.4%.

Like the executives polled, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) expects to see continued growth in housing prices as well as increased buying and selling through the first half of 2010. Both CREA and the poll respondents said many homebuyers are looking to purchase homes before the harmonized sales tax comes into effect. “B.C. and Ontario are likely to see house prices drop in the latter two quarters of this year, following the adoption of the HST,” said one executive.

Rising interest rates are also expected to cool the market. Some of Canada’s big banks have already begun to adjusttheir historically low rates with recent hikes in the cost of fixed-rate mortgages.

The Canadian housing market tumbled following the international financial crisis in 2008, but it experienced a quick rebound, starting in 2009. In total, Canada’s housing prices have increased by 92% since the beginning of 2000, according to the Teranet-National Bank House Prices Index.

But according to the chief executives, the housing market faces years of slow growth. Two years from now they expect average residential prices to be up by 5% overall. They believe that over the next five years, prices will experience an overall increase of 13.9%.

The executives also weighed in on which major markets will see the strongest prices over the next five years. Respondents expect Vancouver, which saw prices increase by 22% in the last year, to continue to have strong growth. The executives polled also see strong markets in Calgary and Toronto, but expect Ottawa and Montreal to experience the least growth.