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Canadian Real Estate Market


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Blog by Liz Penner | September 2nd, 2017


National Statistics

Canadian home sales fall further in July

Ottawa, ON, August 15, 2017 - According to statistics[1] released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Association (CREA), national home sales declined further in July 2017.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • National home sales fell 2.1% from June to July.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in July stood 11.9% below last July's level.
  • The number of newly listed homes edged back by 1.8% from June to July.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) was up 12.9% year-over-year (y-o-y) in July 2017.
  • The national average sale price edged down by 0.3% y-o-y in July.

The number of homes sold via Canadian MLS® Systems fell 2.1% in July 2017, the fourth consecutive monthly decline. While the monthly decline was about one-third the magnitude of those in May and June, it leaves sales activity 15.3% below the record set in March. (Chart A)

Chart A

CHART A

Sales were down from the previous month in close to two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Calgary, Halifax-Dartmouth and Ottawa.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 11.9% on a year-over-year (y-o-y) basis in July 2017. Sales were down from year-ago levels in about 60% of all local markets, led by the GTA and nearby markets. National sales net of activity in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region was little changed from one year ago.

"July's interest rate hike may have motivated some homebuyers with pre-approved mortgages to make an offer," said CREA President Andrew Peck. "Even so, sales activity continued to soften in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. Meanwhile, sales and prices in Montreal continue to strengthen. All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to."

"July marked the smallest monthly decline in Greater Golden Horseshoe home sales since Ontario's Fair Housing Plan was announced in April," said Gregory Klump, CREA's Chief Economist. "This suggests sales may be starting to bottom out amid stabilizing housing market sentiment. Time will tell whether that's indeed the case once the transitory boost by buyers with pre-approved mortgages fades."

The number of newly listed homes slipped further by 1.8%, led by the GTA. Many other markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region have also seen new supply pull back recently after having jumped immediately following the Ontario government's announcement of its Fair Housing Plan in late April. New listings were also down in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and northern British Columbia, with the lattermost region having been hit by wildfires.

With sales down by about the same amount as new listings in July, the national sales-to-new listings ratio was little changed at a well-balanced 53.5%. By contrast, the ratio was in the high-60% range in the first quarter of 2017.

A national sales-to-new listings ratio of between 40 and 60 percent is generally consistent with balanced national housing market, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers' and sellers' markets respectively.

Considering the degree and duration to which current market balance is above or below its long-term average is a more sophisticated way of gauging whether local conditions favour buyers or sellers. (Market balance measures that are within one standard deviation of the long-term average are generally consistent with balanced market conditions).

Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with its long-term average, more than 60% of all local markets are in balanced market territory. In the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, housing markets that recently favoured sellers have become more balanced, with some beginning to tilt toward buyers' market territory.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents how long it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were 5.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of July 2017, the highest level since January 2016. This was up from five months in June and up by more than a full month from where it stood in March.

The number of months of inventory in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region is up sharply from where it stood prior to the Ontario government housing policy changes announced in April 2017. For the region as a whole, there were 2.6 months of inventory in July 2017. While this remains below the long-term average of just over 3 months, it is more than triple the all-time low of 0.8 months reached in February and March.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 12.9% y-o-y in July 2017, representing a further deceleration in y-o-y gains since April. The deceleration in growth from June to July was the result of softening prices in the Greater Golden Horseshoe housing markets tracked by the index. (Chart B)

Chart B

CHART B

Price gains diminished in all benchmark categories, led by single family homes. Apartment units posted the largest y-o-y gains in July (+20%), followed by townhouse/row units (+15.9%), two-storey single family homes (+10.7%), and one-storey single family homes (+9.7%).

While benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in 12 of 13 housing markets tracked by the MLS® HPI, price trends continued to vary widely by region.

After having dipped in the second half of last year, benchmark home prices in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia have recovered and are now at new highs (Greater Vancouver: +8.7% y-o-y; Fraser Valley: +14.8% y-o-y).

Meanwhile, y-o-y benchmark home price increases were running a little below 20% in Victoria and just above 20% elsewhere on Vancouver Island.

Benchmark price gains slowed again on a y-o-y basis in Greater Toronto, Oakville-Milton and Guelph but remain well above year-ago levels (Greater Toronto: +18.1% y-o-y; Oakville-Milton: +12.7% y-o-y; Guelph: +23% y-o-y).

Calgary benchmark prices further edged into positive territory on a y-o-y basis in July (+1.1%). While Regina home prices popped back above year-ago levels (+3.6% y-o-y), Saskatoon home prices remained down (-2.2% y-o-y).

Benchmark home price growth accelerated in Ottawa (+5.8% overall, led by a 6.8% increase in two-storey single family home prices) and Greater Montreal (+4.9% overall, led by a 7% increase in prices for townhouse/row units). Prices were up 5.4% overall in Greater Moncton, led by one-storey single family home prices which set a new record (+8.9%). (Table 1)

The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) provides the best way of gauging price trends because average price trends are prone to being strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in July 2017 was $478,696, down 0.3% from where it stood one year earlier. This was the first y-o-y decline in the measure since February 2013, reflecting fewer sales in the GTA and Greater Vancouver on a y-o-y basis.

Because these 2 markets nonetheless remain highly active and expensive, Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto upwardly skew the national average price. Excluding these two markets from calculations trims almost $100,000 from the national average price ($381,297).