Housing News : Property prices and sales edge upwards in Canada
Residential property prices in Canada are continuing to edge upwards and activity is either up or steady in half of local markets, according to the latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
Nationally transactions were up just under 1% in April compared with the previous month and activity stood 11.5% above levels in April 2011.
But CREA said that she size of the year on year increase reflects a slowdown in sales last April following changes to mortgage rules which came into effect in March 2011.
The actual, not seasonally adjusted, national average price for homes sold in April 2012 was $375,810. While more or less flat compared to last spring on a national basis, average sale prices were up on a year on year basis in 80% of all local markets in April.
‘It bears repeating that the national average price was skewed higher last spring by record level high end home sales in Vancouver’s priciest neighbourhoods, and that a replay of this phenomenon was not expected this year,’ said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.
‘Sales data confirm that high-end activity in Vancouver is well off the peak levels reached at this time last year, which is exerting a gravitational pull on the national average price. By contrast, activity in Toronto is stronger this spring than it was last spring. Higher priced sales activity there is on the rise and buoying average prices. As the most active housing market in Canada, Toronto is the biggest factor supporting national average price,’ he explained.
‘Netting Vancouver out of the national average price calculation yields a 4.9% year on year gain. Netting Toronto out of the national average price calculation, while leaving Vancouver in, produces a 2.2% year on year decline. Netting out both Vancouver and Toronto results in a 3.1% increase in average price. On balance, this points to modest price growth amid balanced market conditions in much of the rest of Canada,’ he added.
Sales over MLS® Systems of real estate Boards and Associations in Canada edged up 0.8% from March to April 2012, putting them on par with levels reported in the same month two years earlier. The data also shows that the number of newly listed homes edged back 0.2% from March to April.
Activity was either up or held steady in half of all local markets in April, with Toronto and Calgary posting the biggest monthly increases for the second month in a row.
Activity gains in Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, as well as London and St. Thomas also made significant contributions to the national sales increase in April. Increased activity in these markets offset monthly declines in Ottawa, Windsor-Essex, Quebec City, the Fraser Valley, and Vancouver.
‘A number of Canadian housing market trends in April remained intact from the previous month. Trends in Vancouver and Toronto continue to diverge. These two housing markets have an obvious influence on national statistics and a high profile, but Canada is a big place. Trends in housing markets differ across Canada,’ said Wayne Moen, CREA president.
A total of 157,804 homes have traded hands so far this year, up 6.4% from levels reported in the first four months of 2011 and about 4% above both the five and 10 year averages for sales during the first quarter of the year.
The number of newly listed homes was little changed in April compared to March, having edged back 0.2% on a month on month basis.
The national sales to new listings ratio, a measure of market balance, stood at 55.9% in April, up slightly from its March reading of 55.4%. Based on a sales to new listings ratio of between 40 to 60%, the number of local markets that were in balanced market territory in April at 59 was up slightly from March’s 56.
Nationally, the number of months of inventory stood at 5.6 months at the end of April, unchanged from levels reported in March. The number of months of inventory represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, and is a further measure of the balance between housing supply and demand.