Statistics released on February 14 by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show national home sales declined between December 2019 and January 2020. Home sales recorded over Canadian MLS® Systems declined by 2.9% in January 2020, although they remain among the stronger monthly readings of the last few years. 

Highlights:

  • National home sales fell by 2.9% on a month-over-month (m-o-m) basis in January.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 11.5% year-over-year (y-o-y).
  • The number of newly listed properties was little changed (+0.2%) m-o-m.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) advanced by 0.8% m-o-m and 4.7% y-o-y.
  • The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average sale price climbed 11.2% y-o-y.

“Home price growth continues to pick up in housing markets where listings are in short supply, particularly in Southern, Central and Eastern Ontario,” said Jason Stephen, president of CREA. “Meanwhile, ample supply across the Prairies and in Newfoundland and Labrador is resulting in ongoing competition among sellers,” said Stephen.

“Looking at local market trends across the country, one thing that stands out in markets with historically tight supply is a larger than normal drop in new listings at this time of the year,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist. “The logic being that if you are a seller, you’re not just choosing when to list but effectively when to sell, so why not hold off until the spring when the weather is better, and more buyers are looking? Deferred listings mean deferred sales, which could explain some of January’s decline in activity. The question going forward is how many sellers are out there waiting to list their property, how much demand will respond, and how that will impact prices later this year.”

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between sales and the supply of listings. It represents how long it would take to liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity. There were 4.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of January 2020 – the same as in November and December and the lowest level since the summer of 2007. This measure of market balance is now a full month below its long-term average of 5.2 months. While still just within balanced market territory, its current reading suggests that sales negotiations are becoming increasingly tilted in favour of sellers.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in January 2020 was around $504,350, up 11.2% from the same month the previous year. This was the largest increase since mid-2016. The national average price is heavily influenced by sales in the GVA and GTA, two of Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations cuts close to $110,000 from the national average price, trimming it to around $395,000.

Source: CREA