MLS® home sales grow stronger in the third quarter

OTTAWA – October 15th, 2009 – National resale housing activity climbed to the highest level of any third quarter on record.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) home sales via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate boards totalled 135,182 units in the third quarter of 2009, according to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). This is the highest level of activity on record for the period from July to September. The number of transactions was up 18 per cent from the third quarter of last year, representing the biggest year-over-year increase since early 2002.

Seasonally adjusted national MLS® home sales numbered 127,941 units in the third quarter, up 12 per cent from the previous quarter. Building on two previous quarterly increases, seasonally adjusted MLS® home sales activity now stands 48 per cent above the low reached in the fourth quarter last year.

"Momentum for sales activity remained strong throughout the third quarter," said CREA President Dale Ripplinger. "Low interest rates, rebounding consumer confidence and an improving overall sense of economic security continue to draw homebuyers to the housing market."

Seasonally adjusted sales activity in the third quarter was up from the previous quarter in over 80 per cent of local markets. Quarterly activity increases in Vancouver (34 per cent), Toronto (11 per cent), and Calgary (19 per cent) contributed most to the national increase in activity.

Some 42,958 homes traded hands via the MLS® Systems of real estate boards in Canada in September 2009 on a seasonally adjusted basis. This represents an increase of 1.5 per cent from August, and lifts seasonally adjusted activity 63 per cent above the low in January.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) MLS® home sales activity remained strong throughout the quarter. Resale activity in September 2009 posted the fourth consecutive increase from year-ago levels, all of which exceeded 15 per cent. Sales numbered 42,497 in September, up 17 per cent year-over-year and a new record for the month. Year-over-year activity increases in Toronto (28 per cent) and Vancouver (124 per cent) were the driving force behind the increase in actual (not seasonally adjusted) national sales activity in September.

Climbing to $327,736, the national MLS® residential average price rose 11 per cent from the same quarter last year. The national average price continues to be skewed upward by a sustained increase in sales activity, including a sharp rebound in activity at the higher end of the price spectrum, in some of Canada’s priciest markets.

The national MLS® residential average price surpassed all previous monthly levels in September 2009, rising 13.6 per cent year-over-year to $331,602. July and August also posted new average price records for their respective months. A number of provinces set new average price records for the month of September, and Ontario posted the highest average price on record.

The price trend is similar but less dramatic for the weighted national MLS® average price, which compensates for changes in provincial sales activity by taking into account provincial proportions of privately owned housing stock. The weighted national MLS® average sale price was up 9.3 per cent year-over-year in September 2009.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the supply of homes coming onto the MLS® market edged up in the third quarter after four consecutive quarterly declines. Seasonally adjusted MLS® residential new listings were up one per cent from the previous quarter to 199,824 units. The increase reflects a quarterly rise in the number of new listings in British Columbia and Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland & Labrador. New listings remained stable or continued to retreat in other provinces.

While the small rise in seasonally adjusted new listings suggests that the number of homes coming onto the market may soon begin to edge higher, the number of new listings remains well down from year-ago levels. Barring a sudden unforeseen spike in levels, new listings are likely to remain down from year-ago levels for some time.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) new listings were down 12.5 per cent compared to the third quarter of 2008 after posting year-over-year decreases in each of the previous quarters. Newfoundland & Labrador is the only province in which new listings were up from year-ago levels.

An increase in sales activity and fewer new listings are drawing down inventories compared to year-ago levels. There were 208,215 homes listed for sale on the MLS® Systems of real estate boards in Canada at the end of September 2009, down 16 per cent from a year earlier. This is the fifth consecutive year-over-year decline in active listings, and the largest decline in more than six years.

Nationally, the number of months of inventory was 4.9 months in September 2009. This is down slightly compared to August, and remains well down from the recessionary peak of 12.8 months in January 2009. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

The seasonally adjusted residential dollar volume for MLS® home sales increased 20 per cent on a quarter-overquarter basis to $42.1 billion in the third quarter of 2009, the highest level on record. New provincial records were also set in British Columbia and Ontario, which propelled the national figure to a new high.

"Monthly sales activity remained on a strong upward trajectory throughout the third quarter in British Columbia, while showing signs that it may be topping out in other provinces," said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. "On balance, this suggests that sales activity may be starting to plateau after having climbed rapidly earlier this year."

"Headline average price increases over the rest of the year are expected to prompt sellers to return to the market after having retreated to the sidelines late last year and earlier this year," he added. "An increase in new listings will help keep a lid on price increases. Price increases over the rest of 2009 and early next year are likely to reflect declining average prices late last year and earlier this year."

PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this news release combines both major market and
national MLS® sales information from the previous month. The Canadian Real Estate Association has previously released these separately.

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 neighborhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.

MLS® is a co-operative marketing system 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 96,000 REALTORS® working through more than 100 real estate Boards and Associations. Further information can be found at www.crea.ca.

For more information, please contact:
Alyson Fair, Publicist
613-237-7111 or 613-884-1460
Email: afair@crea.ca

Carol Ireland

Carol Ireland

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Millennium Inc., Brokerage*
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