Canadians on the move: Not an exodus, but the re-location trend in Canada is real

RE/MAX Canada expects average residential prices to rise four to six per cent in 2021

  • 35 per cent of RE/MAX brokers indicate that “move-over” buyers from other cities and provinces will continue to spark market activity in 2021
  • 45 per cent of RE/MAX brokers indicate that move-up buyers will likely be a primary driver of the housing market demand in 2021
  • Half of Canadians (53 per cent) are confident that Canada’s housing markets will remain steady in 2021
  • 52 per cent of Canadians believe real estate will remain one of the best investment options in 2021

TORONTO AND KELOWNA, BC, Dec. 1, 2020 /CNW/ – RE/MAX Canada is anticipating healthy housing price growth in 2021, with move-up and move-over buyers continuing to drive activity in many regions. An ongoing housing supply shortage is likely to continue, presenting challenges for homebuyers and putting upward pressure on prices. Due to these factors, the 2021 RE/MAX Housing Market Outlook Report estimates a four to six per cent increase in the average residential sales price nation-wide.

“We’ve seen a lot of anecdotal evidence since the summer that households are considering significant lifestyle changes by relocating to less-dense cities and neighbourhoods,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX of OntarioAtlantic Canada. “This has sparked unprecedented sales this year in suburban and rural parts of Canada and we expect this trend to continue in 2021.”

Despite the disruption of the virus, consumers are feeling optimistic, according to a Leger survey conducted on behalf of RE/MAX Canada, with 52 per cent of Canadians eyeing real estate as one of the best investment options in 2021, and expressing confidence that the market will remain steady next year.

An increase in housing market activity that came post-lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic last summer is a good indication of what may lie ahead. Despite a second round of lockdowns this fall, RE/MAX brokers and agents across Ontario-Atlantic and Western Canada continue to be optimistic about the housing market in 2021.  

“We are likely to see a very strong start to the new year when it comes to housing,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Region. “Despite the turmoil we’ve all weathered, Canadians remained on the move, and as we saw in our Fall Outlook Report, many suburban markets were flooded with new buyers moving from urban areas. This put a strain on already stretched supply levels, prompting competition among buyers and rising prices. As long as we have a supply issue, prices will be strong, and we anticipate this trend to continue in 2021.”

The impacts of COVID-19 on housing

While many economists predicted employment disruptions would negatively impact the Canadian housing market, the pandemic directly influenced only six per cent of Canadians to sell their home, according to the survey. Furthermore, 40 per cent of Canadians realized that their home needed renovations during the pandemic, and 29 per cent discovered that they need more space.

When it comes to where Canadians would prefer to live – urban, suburban or rural – they are evenly split, with roughly three in 10 preferring to live in each area. In fact, many suburban markets across the country have been heavily impacted by out-of-town buyers, a segment that is expected to drive market activity in 2021. This was a trend that was evident in many regions across the country, including North Bay, Kingston, Moncton and Greater Vancouver, among others.

Unsurprisingly, younger Canadians (under age 35) are significantly more likely to have realized that they need more space and are motivated to move out of their current neighbourhood.

“Despite the tragic impacts of the pandemic, our optimism in the strength of Canada’s housing market has always remained,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “While we’ve seen a significant shift in buyer preferences this year, we believe factors such as the supply issue, pent-up demand and historically lower interest rates will continue to fuel activity in 2021.”

A deeper dive: 2021 Canadian housing market insights

RE/MAX brokers and agents were asked to provide an analysis on their local market activity in 2020, as well as an outlook for 2021. Heading into the new year, 84 per cent of RE/MAX brokers and agents surveyed are anticipating sellers’ markets.

Western Canada

Vancouver and Greater Vancouver are good examples of the steady activity that’s anticipated to continue in 2021. According to the RE/MAX broker network in western Canada, sellers’ markets are likely in both regions next year, driven in large part by low inventory levels, low interest rates and high demand, as was the case in 2020. In Greater Vancouver, suburban neighbourhoods such as Pitt Meadows, Ladner and Maple Ridge are expected to be top neighbourhoods next year due to affordability and easy access to more outdoor space. Both regions are expected to see average residential prices increase by four and five per cent respectively in 2021.

Markets in Calgary and Edmonton, on the other hand, are currently balanced, which is anticipated to continue into 2021. The luxury market in Edmonton continues to be strong, with seemingly no impact felt by the pandemic. Both regions are predicting to see average residential prices increase by two and three per cent next year.


According to the RE/MAX broker network in Ontario, market activity across the province is estimated to remain very steady in 2021, with the potential for average sale price increases of between seven and 12 per cent in regions like London (10 per cent), Kitchener-Waterloo (seven per cent), HamiltonBurlington (seven per cent), Niagara (12 per cent), and Kingston (10 per cent), Cornwall (10 per cent) and Thunder Bay (10 per cent). This is being attributed to high demand and low supply, coupled with shifting home-buying trends toward local liveability factors such as more space, larger yards and closer proximity to amenities like parks.

Move-up and move-over buyers are also impacting luxury segments in the province. Cities such as Ottawa and HamiltonBurlington have seen a massive spike in demand for luxury homes since the start of the pandemic. This is expected to continue in 2021.

The urban-to-suburban buyer interest in Ontario has impacted Toronto’s downtown core, specifically for condos, which is currently a buyer’s market. Supply levels throughout Toronto are continuing to drop and are not expected to improve in 2021, which will impact average home prices. Immigrants are also expected to drive some market activity next year, which alludes to those coming to Toronto for education purposes, along with the expected influx of immigration from outside the country. Similar to Ottawa and Regina, Toronto’s luxury market remains unimpacted by COVID-19 and is driven by move-up buyers.

Atlantic Canada

Much like the rest of the country, the majority of Atlantic Canada is a sellers’ market, which is anticipated to continue next year. In Moncton, Halifax and Saint John, housing activity has been driven primarily by out-of-province buyers and move-up buyers who have either expedited retirement plans or are working from home and no longer need to be in an office.

Overall, similar to other areas across the country, increased space has become a prominent buyer demand in the wake of the pandemic, with detached homes serving as the most popular home type in cities like Moncton, Saint John and Charlottetown. This is expected to persist in 2021 according to RE/MAX Canada brokers in the region.

Additional findings from the 2021 RE/MAX Canada Housing Market Outlook Report:

  • More than one-third (36 per cent) would prefer to work with realtors who use technology/virtual services to enhance the buying/selling process
  • 15 per cent of Canadians have spent more time researching/monitoring the real estate market during the first and second wave of the pandemic

About the 2021 RE/MAX Canada Housing Market Outlook Report
The 2021 RE/MAX Canada Housing Market Outlook Report includes data and insights supplied by RE/MAX brokerages and local real estate boards. RE/MAX brokers and agents are surveyed on market activity and local developments. Regional summaries with additional broker insights can be found at

About Leger
Leger is the largest Canadian-owned full-service market research firm. An online survey of 1,534 Canadians was completed between November 6 and 8, 2020 using Leger’s online panel. Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members nationally and has a retention rate of 90 per cent. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.51 per cent, 19 times out of 20.


About the RE/MAX Network
RE/MAX was founded in 1973 by Dave and Gail Liniger, with an innovative, entrepreneurial culture affording its agents and franchisees the flexibility to operate their businesses with great independence. Over 135,000 agents provide RE/MAX a global reach of more than 110 countries and territories. RE/MAX is Canada’s leading real estate organization with more than 20,000 Sales Associates and over 900 independently owned and operated offices nationwide. RE/MAX, LLC, one of the world’s leading franchisors of real estate brokerage services, is a subsidiary of RE/MAX Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: RMAX). With a passion for the communities in which its agents live and work, RE/MAX is proud to have raised millions of dollars for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® and other charities. For more information about RE/MAX, to search home listings or find an agent in your community, please visit

Forward looking statements
This report includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as “believe,” “intend,” “expect,” “estimate,” “plan,” “outlook,” “project” and other similar words and expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends that are not statements of historical matters. These forward-looking statements include statements regarding housing market conditions and the Company’s results of operations, performance and growth. Forward-looking statements should not be read as guarantees of future performance or results. Forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time those statements are made and/or management’s good faith belief as of that time with respect to future events and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, (1) changes in business and economic activity in general, (2) changes in the real estate market, including changes due to interest rates and availability of financing, (3) the Company’s ability to attract and retain quality franchisees, (4) the Company’s franchisees’ ability to recruit and retain real estate agents and mortgage loan originators, (5) changes in laws and regulations that may affect the Company’s business or the real estate market, (6) failure to maintain, protect and enhance the RE/MAX and Motto Mortgage brands, (7) fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, as well as those risks and uncertainties described in the sections entitled “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in the most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and similar disclosures in subsequent SEC filings. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. Except as required by law, the Company does not intend, and undertakes no duty, to update this information to reflect future events or circumstances.

Canadians on the move: Not an exodus, but the re-location trend in Canada is real (CNW Group/RE/MAX Canada)


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