Canadian home sales decline in April, says CREA
According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales declined in April 2017.Home sales over Canadian MLS® Systems fell by 1.7% in April 2017 from the all-time record set in March.
April sales were down from the previous month in close to two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and offset by gains in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 7.5% year-over-year, with declines in close to 70% of all local markets. Sales were down most in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where activity continues to run well below last year’s record-levels. The GTA also factored in the decline, with faded activity compared to record levels set in April last year.
“Sales in Vancouver are down from record levels in the first half of last year but the gap has started to close,” CREA President Andrew Peck. “Meanwhile, sales are up in Calgary and Edmonton from last year’s lows and trending higher in Ottawa and Montreal. All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to.”
“Homebuyers and sellers both reacted to the recent Ontario government policy announcement aimed at cooling housing markets in and around Toronto,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “The number of new listings in April spiked to record levels in the GTA, Oakville-Milton, Hamilton-Burlington and Kitchener-Waterloo, where there had been a severe supply shortage. And with only ten days to go between the announcement and the end of the month, sales in each of these markets were down from the previous month. It suggests these housing markets have started to cool. Policy makers will no doubt continue to keep a close eye on the combined effect of federal and provincial measures aimed at cooling housing markets of particular concern, while avoiding further regulatory changes that risk producing collateral damage in communities where the housing market is well balanced or already favours buyers.”
The number of newly listed homes jumped 10% in April 2017, led overwhelmingly by a 36% increase in the GTA. Housing markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe also saw similar percentage increases.
The jump in new listings and drop in sales eased the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 60.1% in April compared to 67.3% in March.
A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers’ and sellers’ markets respectively.
The ratio was above 60% in just over half of all local housing markets in April, mostly in British Columbia and southwestern Ontario. The GTA downshifted into the middle of the balanced range in April, while Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have returned to sellers’ 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 4.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of April 2017, up slightly from 4.1 months in March when it fell to its lowest reading in almost a decade.
Although new listings surged in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, inventories remain tight at near or below one month across the region. Ontario’s recent changes to housing policy were announced late in the month, so their full effect on the balance between supply & demand has yet to be determined.
Two-storey single family homes posted the strongest year-over-year price gains (+21.8%), followed closely by townhouse/row units (+19.9%), apartment units (18.8%) and one-storey single family homes (17.2%).
While benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in 11 of 13 housing markets tracked by the MLS® HPI, price trends continued to vary widely by location.
After having dipped in the second half of last year, home prices in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia have been recovering, are up from levels one year ago, and are now at new heights or trending toward them (Greater Vancouver: +11.4% y-o-y; Fraser Valley: +18% y-o-y).
Meanwhile, benchmark home price gains remained in the 20% range in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island. Price gains were in the 30% range in Greater Toronto and Oakville-Milton, and ranged in the mid-20% in Guelph.
By comparison, home prices eased in Calgary (-0.9% y-o-y) and Saskatoon (-2.6% y-o-y) and are now about 5.5% below their peaks reached in 2015.
Home prices were up modestly from year-ago levels in Regina (+0.4% overall, led by a 2% increase in apartment prices), Ottawa (+4% overall, led by a 4.9% increase in two-storey single family home prices), Greater Montreal (+3.7% overall, led by a 5.5% increase in prices for townhouse/row units) and Greater Moncton (+4.8% overall, led by a 12.7% increase in prices for townhouse/row units).
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 April 2017 was $559,317, up 10.4% from where it stood one year earlier.
The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are two of Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations trims more than $150,000 from the average price.