- National home sales edged up 4.1% from February to March.
- Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 9.5% above March 2014 levels.
- The number of newly listed homes rose 1.8% from February to March.
- The Canadian housing market remains balanced.
- The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 4.95% year-over-year in March.
- The national average sale price rose 9.4% on a year-over-year basis in March; excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, it increased by 2.4%.
The number of home sales processed through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose by 4.1 per cent in March 2015 compared to February.
March sales were up from the previous month in nearly two-thirds of all local markets, led by Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Calgary and Edmonton. Despite the monthly rebound, Calgary and Edmonton sales came in below the 10 year average for the month of March.
“Low mortgage interest rates are good news for affordability as we head into the spring home buying season,” said CREA President Pauline Aunger. “This spring should see buyers coming off the sidelines in places where winter was anything but mild. Like the weather, all real estate is local and nobody knows your real estate market better than REALTORS®, who remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you currently live or might like to in the future.”
“Greater Vancouver and the GTA are really the only two hot spots for home sales and prices in Canada,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “Price gains in these two markets are being fuelled by a shortage of single family homes for sale in the face of strong demand. Meanwhile, supply and demand for homes is well balanced among the vast majority of housing markets elsewhere across Canada.”
Year-over-year price gains for single family homes in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto have exceeded those in other housing markets tracked by the MLS® HPI throughout the first quarter of 2015 (Chart A).
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in March stood 9.5 per cent above levels reported in March 2014 and slightly above the 10 year average for the month. March sales failed to lift activity recorded during the first quarter above its 10 year average. First quarter sales were below their 10 year average in most local housing markets.
The number of newly listed homes rose 1.8 per cent in March compared to February. The rebound in Greater Toronto more than offset the continuing pullback of new supply in Calgary, where it had climbed sharply toward the end of last year but now stands at a multi-year low.
The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 53.9 per cent in March, up from 52.7 per cent in February and 50.4 per cent in January.
A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 per cent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings above and below this range indicating sellers’ and buyers’ markets respectively. The ratio was within this range in about 60 per cent of all local housing markets in March.
The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.
There were 6.1 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of February 2015, down from 6.3 months in February and 6.5 months in January. While both the sales-to-new listings ratio and months of inventory measures have tightened at the national level in the past few months, they remain firmly entrenched in balanced market territory. Moreover, both measures of housing market balance indicate that upward pressure on selling prices is subsiding in an increasing number of local markets.
The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 4.95 per cent on a year-over-year basis in March. This marks the first year-over-year increase of less than 5% since last May and its smallest gain since January 2014 (Chart B).
Year-over-year price growth decelerated in March for apartment units, while accelerating slightly for other Aggregate Benchmark housing types tracked by the index.
Single family home sales continue to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+5.83 per cent), led by two-storey single family homes (+6.66 per cent). By comparison, the rise in selling prices was more modest for townhouse/row units (+4.55 per cent), one-storey single family homes (+4.41 per cent) and apartment units (+2.36 per cent).
Price gains varied among housing markets tracked by the index. Greater Toronto (+7.85 per cent) and Greater Vancouver (+7.19 per cent) posted the biggest year-over-year increases. This was followed by Calgary at 4.13 per cent, which was a markedly smaller gain compared to those posted last year and the smallest since August 2012.
In other markets tracked by the index, prices were up compared to year-ago levels by between two-and-a-half and three per cent in Fraser Valley, Victoria, and Vancouver Island, while remaining little changed in Saskatoon, Ottawa, and Greater Moncton. Prices also ticked up by half of one per cent in Greater Montreal, while falling four per cent in Regina (Table 1).
The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) provides a better gauge of price trends than is possible using averages because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is.
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in March 2015 was $439,144, up 9.4 per cent on a year-over-year basis.
The national average home price is being increasingly skewed by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price is a relatively more modest $332,711 and the year-over-year gain shrinks to just 2.4 per cent.
– 30 –
PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this news release combines both major market and national sales information from MLS® Systems from the previous month.
CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.
MLS® Systems are co-operative marketing systems used only by Canada’s real estate Boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale.
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry trade associations, representing more than 109,000 REALTORS® working through some 90 real estate Boards and Associations.
Further information can be found at http://crea.ca/statistics.