Canadian home sales rebound in January
Ottawa, ON, February 16, 2016 16 - According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales rebounded in January 2016 compared to the previous month.
- National home sales edged up by 0.5% from December to January.
- Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 8% compared to January 2015.
- The number of newly listed homes retreated by 4.9% from December to January.
- The Canadian housing market has tightened but remains balanced overall
- The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 7.7% year-over-year in January.
- The national average sale price rose 17% on a year-over-year basis in January; however, excluding British Columbia and Ontario, it edged down 0.3%.
The number of homes trading hands via MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations edged up by 0.5 percent in January 2016 compared to December of last year. The monthly increase lifted national sales activity to the highest level since late 2009 (Chart A).
The number of local housing markets was almost equally split between those where sales were up from the month before, and those where sales were down. Monthly sales increases in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Lower Mainland of British Columbia fuelled the national sales increase and offset monthly sales declines in Calgary, Edmonton and the Okanagan Region.
“Single family home buyers in the GTA and Lower Mainland of British Columbia had been expected to bring forward their purchase decisions before tightened mortgage regulations take effect in February 2016,” said CREA President Pauline Aunger. “If listings in these and nearby markets were not in such short supply, January sales activity would likely have reached even greater heights. Meanwhile, other major urban housing markets have an ample supply of listings, particularly where some home buyers have become increasingly cautious amid an uncertain job market outlook. All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future.”
“January 2016 picked up where 2015 left off, with single family homes in the GTA and Greater Vancouver in short supply amid strong demand standing in contrast to sidelined home buyers and ample supply in a number of Alberta housing markets,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “Tighter mortgage regulations that take effect in February may shrink the pool of prospective home buyers who qualify for mortgage financing and cause national sales activity to ease in the months ahead.”
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity rose eight percent on a year-over-year basis in January 2016 and stood 2.6 percent above the 10-year average for the month of January. Activity was up compared to January 2015 among roughly two-thirds of all local markets. B.C.’s Lower Mainland and the GTA again contributed most to the national increase.
The number of newly listed homes fell by 4.9 percent in January compared to December which more than reversed monthly gains that were posted in the final two months of 2015. Canada’s largest urban housing markets contributed to the monthly decline in new listings, including the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Calgary, Edmonton, the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Ottawa and Montreal.
The national sales-to-new listings ratio rose to 59.2 percent in January due to the drop in the new supply of listings, January's reading was the ratio's highest since November 2009. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 percent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers’ and sellers’ markets respectively.
The ratio was within this range in about 45 percent of all local housing markets in January. A little over one-third of all local housing markets recorded a ratio above 60 percent; as in recent months, virtually all these housing markets are located in British Columbia and Ontario.
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 5.3 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of January 2016, down from 5.4 months at the end of last year and the lowest level in nearly six years. The national figure is being pulled lower by increasingly tighter housing markets in B.C. and Ontario. This is particularly true in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, the GTA and Hamilton-Burlington, where months of inventory are currently sitting at or below two months.
The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 7.73 percent on a year-over-year basis in January – the largest gain in more than five years. Year-over-year price growth accelerated for two-storey single family homes and apartment units.
Two-storey single family homes continue to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+9.97 percent), followed by one-storey single family homes (+6.86 percent), townhouse/row units (+6.46 percent) and apartment units (+5.16 percent).
Year-over-year price growth continued to range widely among housing markets tracked by the index. Greater Vancouver (+20.56 percent) and the Fraser Valley (+16.94 percent) posted the largest gains, followed by Greater Toronto (+10.69 percent).
Home prices in Victoria posted a year-over-year gain of just over seven percent while Vancouver Island home prices rose by five-and-a-half percent.
By contrast, home prices retreated by about three percent on a year-over-year basis in Calgary, by about two percent in Saskatoon, and by less than one percent in Regina. While home prices have begun to decline in Calgary and Saskatoon only fairly recently, they have been trending lower in Regina since early 2014.
Prices crept higher on a year-over-year basis in Ottawa (+1.10 percent), rose modestly in Greater Montreal (+1.48 percent) and strengthened further in Greater Moncton (+6.57 percent).
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 January 2016 was $470,297, up 17.0 percent on a year-over-year basis.
The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. If these two housing markets are excluded from calculations, the average is a more modest $338,392 and the year-over-year gain is reduced to eight percent.
Even then, the gain reflects a tug of war between strong average price gains in housing markets around the GTA and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia versus flat or declining average prices elsewhere in Canada. If British Columbia and Ontario are excluded from calculations, the average price slips even lower to $286,911, representing small a decline of 0.3 percent year-over-year.
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