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Real Estate Market Comparison: Calgary vs. Vancouver vs. Toronto

Last week, RBC released a report saying that we are seeing early signs of a housing market upturn across Canada.

I’m going to make things interesting for you by overlaying the graphs of the 3 hottest markets in Canada so you can compare them directly.

Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

Calgary is going to be especially interesting because it shows a very different trend compared to Vancouver and Toronto, so make sure you stay till the second half where we analyze the trend over the past decade.

We are going to take a look at the 3 markets as of January 2024.

Then, we are also going to compare the trends over the past decade.

#1 Current Market Highlights

Let’s start with the market activities in January 2024 compared to a year ago.

Annual percentage change in market activities in January 2024 for Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto

In Vancouver, resale activities were up 39% while new listings were only up 15%.

Calgary saw similar numbers as Vancouver with resale activities up 38% and new listings up 16%.

Toronto also saw a 37% increase in resale activities but new listings were up only 6%.

Overall, we are seeing almost 40% more transactions in all 3 markets, a lot busier than before.

That’s just the percentage increase, we will need to take a look at the actual sales to new listings ratio in order to understand the demand and supply conditions.

Let’s say 10 new listings come onto the market and 5 of them get sold.

Then we have a ratio of 0.5 and that’s a pretty balanced market.

If 10 new listings come up and less than 4 of them are sold, then we’re in a buyer’s market.

If more than 6 out of 10 are sold, we are in a seller’s market.

Demand and supply conditions, sales-to-new listings ratio, in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto

As of January 2024, Vancouver is in a very balanced market, with a ratio of 0.49.

What about Calgary?

It is already in a very strong seller’s market, with 86% of new listings sold.

That’s pretty crazy.

Toronto is similar to Vancouver, in a balanced market, with about half of the new listings sold.

Let’s take a look at home prices as of January 2024.

Benchmark home prices for Greater Vancouver, Greater Toronto and Calgary

In the Greater Vancouver area, the benchmark price for a detached house is $1.94 million dollars.

In the Greater Toronto area, it is $1.36 million dollars, around 30% cheaper than Vancouver.

In Calgary, it is only $702,000.  That is almost 65% cheaper than Vancouver.

What about a townhouse?

In Vancouver, the benchmark price is $1.07 million dollars.

Toronto, $795,000, roughly 25% cheaper than Vancouver.

Calgary, $426,000, again 60% cheaper than Vancouver.

What about condos?

In Vancouver, the benchmark price is $752,000.

In Toronto, it is $683,000, around 10% cheaper.

In Calgary, the price is only $324,000, still almost 60% cheaper than Vancouver.

The price point in Calgary is very attractive indeed and that’s the primary reason why it is in the seller’s market.

Let’s take a look at the annual percentage change in price.

Annual percentage change in home prices in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto

In Vancouver, prices are 4.2% higher in the first month this year compared to the first month last year.

In Calgary, prices are 10% higher.

In Toronto, prices are actually 0.4% lower, so pretty much still flat.

In summary, we are seeing a very hot market in Calgary, while Toronto and Vancouver are still slowly recovering from the bottom.

Now, let’s take a look at:

#2 The Trend Over the Past Decade

We’ll start with supply and demand in Vancouver.

Sales to New Listings Ratio in Vancouver from 2014 to 2024

Since 2014, Vancouver was always in a seller’s market and so housing and affordability became such a hot topic.

The government reacted with a bunch of new policies like the non-resident speculation tax, the vacant home tax.

People were worried about the effects of the new policies and they stepped to the sidelines.

The market changed direction and turned into a buyer’s market in 2018 and 2019.

As we all know by now, those policies were ineffective and we quickly went back into a seller’s market.

Then Covid hit, after that, it was the post-covid buying frenzy.

Then of course the rate hikes, recovery during the first half of 2023, more rate hikes, and recovery again this year.

This supply and demand graph tells the whole story.

Toronto is very similar to Vancouver, with a majority of the time in a seller’s market over the past decade.

Now, Calgary is very interesting because it’s very different from Vancouver and Toronto.

Sales to new listings ratio in Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary from 2014 to 2024

From 2014 to 2020, Calgary was pretty much always in a balanced market.

Then suddenly Covid changed the market.

Calgary has been in a very strong seller’s market for the past 4 years.

See those spikes in the sales-to-new listings ratio, new listings that came onto the market were pretty much sold right away.

You see, even Vancouver and Toronto have never reached such a strong seller’s market over the past decade.

By the way, I spent a lot of time putting these graphs together, if you want to see more analytic videos like this one, please show your support by giving me a like and subscribe!

So it seems Covid is the trigger point when people started buying in Calgary.

I would say one of the main reasons was the post-covid buying frenzy in Vancouver and Toronto.

People felt that they were priced out of the market, so they went to the significantly cheaper Calgary market.

Newcomers to Canada are also more attracted to land in Calgary because of the much lower living costs.

Let’s see how that demand in Calgary is reflected in the price changes.

Annual percentage change in home prices in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary

We know that from 2014 to 2020, Calgary was in a balanced market.

And as you can see, prices were more or less flat, with annual percentage change within 5%.

Then ever since Covid, prices have been increasing at more than 10% almost every year.

That sounds crazy, but take a look at Vancouver.

We have seen price hikes of 10, 20, 30% per year.

Those 2 drops correspond to the policy changes and rate hikes that we talked about earlier.

But otherwise, prices have pretty much been always increasing.

Take a look at Toronto.

The price hikes were actually even bigger than in Vancouver, especially the post-covid years.

We saw an annual price hike of 35% in 2022.

It makes sense that we also experienced the biggest drop with the rate hikes.

Keep in mind that the price point in Calgary is significantly lower than Toronto and Vancouver.

If we say that the price of a detached house increases by 10% in Vancouver, we are talking about a $200,000 ball park.

In Toronto, $150,000.

In Calgary, only $70,000.

I think the Toronto and Vancouver market will continue to be very resilient because as you can see, people who own real estate throughout the past decade are doing very very well.

Like I told you last week, people are taking advantage of this slower market to upgrade.

We have young people upgrading from 1 bedroom to 2 bedroom condos and we have families upgrading to bigger houses.

As for Calgary, I don’t know the market enough to predict what’s going to happen.

It will probably still be hot in 2024 but it will be interesting to see if it will continue to be the case going forward.

Calgary has always been significantly cheaper but it was never a very popular Canadian city in terms of real estate because of its cold weather, job opportunities, infrastructure and so on.

Maybe the price point will be enough to overcome all that or maybe Calgary has changed.

I will have to do more in-depth studies before I can make more meaningful comments.

Here's the original RBC report, you would be surprised at how I took the information, analyzed it and put things into perspective for you.

I hope you appreciate this kind of market comparison and analysis.

Give me a like if you do so I can put more time and effort into doing this kind of analysis.


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