National resale housing activity in Canada improved in February after having declined in January and increased 1.4% month on month, according to the latest statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
Actual, not seasonally adjusted, activity was up 8.6% from February 2011 levels and the number of newly listed homes climbed 1.9% from January to February. The national sales to new listings ratio was little changed, remaining firmly in balanced territory.
The national average home price increased 2% on a year on year and sales activity recorded through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations edged up 1.4% from January to February 2012, recouping one third of the monthly decline in activity between December 2011 and January 2012.
Activity was up on a month on month basis in half of all local markets in February, led by Calgary, Toronto, Barrie, Montreal, Quebec City, Saint John, and Halifax-Dartmouth.
Actual, not seasonally adjusted, activity was up 8.6% year on year in February and a total of 61,772 homes traded hands in the first two months of 2012, up 6.7% from the same period in 2011.
The number of newly listed homes also rebounded 1.9% month on month in February, reaching the highest level since May 2010. A rebound in new listings in Toronto and Montreal, Canada’s two most active markets, offset a retreat in new listings in Vancouver, Canada’s third largest market.
With both sales and new listings having risen, the national sales to new listings ratio, a measure of market balance, was little changed in February at 53.3% compared to January’s 53.6%.
The national rise in both sales activity and the number of newly listed homes beyond the normal seasonal increase provides clear evidence that Canadians are confident in housing market prospects,’ said Gary Morse, CREA’s president.
The data also shows that based on a sales to new listings ratio of between 40 to 60%, some 60% of local markets were balanced in February. Compared to the previous month, there were more buyers’ markets and fewer sellers’ markets.
The actual national average price for homes sold in February 2012 was $372,763, up 2% from its reading for the same month last year.
In February 2011, the national average price was stretched upward by a spike in high end home sales in some of Vancouver’s priciest neighbourhoods, and a replay of that was not expected this year,’ said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.
‘February’s data bear this out, but other factors are now keeping the national average price aloft. The main one is the housing market in Toronto, where a tight balance between supply and demand continues to drive some of the strongest home price gains in the country, particularly for single detached properties,’ he added.
He also pointed out that there has been a preference in recent months, in Toronto and other markets, for single family homes which are typically more expensive. This trend held in February, putting additional upward pressure on the national average home price.