Canadian Home Sales Edge Lower But Remain Strong in July
According to statisticsreleased today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity edged slightly lower on a month-over-month basis in July 2015.
- National home sales edged back by 0.4% from June to July.
- Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 3.4% above July 2014 levels.
- The number of newly listed homes edged up 0.2 per cent from June to July.
- The Canadian housing market remains balanced overall.
- The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.9% year-over-year in July.
- The national average sale price rose 8.9% on a year-over-year basis in July; excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, it increased by 4.1%.
The number of home sales processed through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations declined by 0.4 per cent in July 2015 compared to June. While this marks the second consecutive monthly decline in activity, sales activity in May, June and July reached their highest monthly levels in more than five years.
July sales were down from the previous month in about half of all local markets, led by declines in Hamilton-Burlington and in the Durham Region of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The monthly decline in sales for these two markets represents a pullback from record levels in June and likely reflects an insufficient supply of listings. By contrast, sales in Newfoundland and Labrador were up most on a month-over-month basis, marking a rebound from a quiet month of June for the province.
“National sales activity remains solid, fuelled by strength in British Columbia and the Greater Toronto Area, where listings are in short supply or trending that way,” said CREA President Pauline Aunger. “That said, markets elsewhere across Canada are largely well balanced and in some cases have an ample supply of listings. As always, 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.”
“It’s fair to say that the strength of national sales is still a story about two cities, but it’s equally about how trends there are spreading out in their respective provinces,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “Trends in British Columbia and Ontario have a big influence on the national figures, since they account for about 60 per cent of national housing activity. As a result, the national picture reflects how demand is running high for the short supply of single family homes in and around the GTA while the balance between supply and demand is tightening in B.C.’s Lower Mainland. These remain the only places in Canada where home prices are growing strongly.”
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in July 2015 came in 3.4 per cent ahead of the same month last year, and marked the second highest July sales figure on record after 2009. Activity stood 12.6 per cent above the 10-year average for July.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales were up from year-ago levels in just over half of all local markets, led by the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia and the GTA. While Calgary continued to post the largest year-over-year declines in sales compared to last year’s record levels, activity there is nonetheless running roughly in line with five and 10-year averages for sales during the month of July.
The number of newly listed homes was little changed (+0.2 per cent) in July compared to June, marking the fourth consecutive month in which new listings have held steady. New supply was up in a little more than half of all local markets, led by rebounds in Calgary and Edmonton which offset a small step down in the GTA.
The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 56.8 per cent in July, down slightly from 57.1 per cent in June. The measure has closely tracked the trend for sales this year as new supply has remained stable.
A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 per cent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings above and below this range indicating sellers’ and buyers’ markets, respectively.
The ratio was within this range in about half of local housing markets in July. About one-third of all local markets breached the 60 per cent threshold in July, comprised mostly of markets in British Columbia together with those in and around the Greater Toronto Area.
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 5.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of July 2015, unchanged from the previous two months and a three-year low for the measure. The national balance between supply and demand has tightened since the beginning of the year as rising sales have drawn down on overall supply.
The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 5.90 per cent on a year-over-year basis in July, accelerating from the 5.43 per cent year-over-year gain in June. Gains over the past year and a half had been holding steady within a range of about five and five and a half per cent.
Year-over-year price growth picked up in July for all Benchmark home types tracked by the index. Two-storey single family homes continued to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+8.16 per cent), with comparatively more modest increases for one-storey single family homes (+4.88 per cent), townhouse/row units (+4.49 per cent) and apartment units (+2.96 per cent).
Year-over-year price growth varied among housing markets tracked by the index. Greater Vancouver (+11.23 per cent) and Greater Toronto (+9.39 per cent) continue to post by far the biggest year-over-year price increases. By comparison, year-over-year price growth in the Fraser Valley accelerated to about six per cent, while Victoria and Vancouver Island prices continued to log year-over-year gains of about four per cent in July.
Price gains in Calgary continued to slow, with a year-over-year increase of just 0.14 per cent in July. This was the smallest gain in nearly four years, with July’s reading down about 0.7% from the peak reached in November 2014 and up by about an equal percentage compared to the recent low point reached in April 2015. Prices continued running roughly even with year-ago levels in Saskatoon.
Elsewhere, home prices were up from July 2014 levels by just under two per cent in Greater Montreal and by just under one per cent in Ottawa. By comparison, prices fell by about three and a half per cent in Regina and by about one and a half per cent in Greater Moncton.
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 July 2015 was $437,699, up 8.9 per cent on a year-over-year basis.
The national average home price continues to be upwardly distorted by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. If these two markets are excluded from calculations, the average is a more modest $341,438 and the year-over-year gain is reduced to 4.1 per cent.
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