Canadian home sales ease in September

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity eased in September 2015 from the month before.


  • National home sales declined by 2.1% from August to September.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity edged up 0.7% compared to September 2014.
  • The number of newly listed homes retreated 2.1% from August to September.
  • The Canadian housing market remains balanced overall.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 6.9% year-over-year in September.
  • The national average sale price rose 6.1% on a year-over-year basis in September; excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, it increased by 2.9%.

The number of homes trading hands via MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations fell by 2.1 per cent in September 2015 compared to August.

Sales were down in more than half of all local markets in September, led by declines in Greater Vancouver, Calgary and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

“Sales are off the peak reached earlier this year but are still running strong, particularly in British Columbia and Ontario,” said CREA President Pauline Aunger. “That said, sales strength varies considerably among markets and price segments across Canada. 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.”

“Although national sales activity was not as strong in September as it was earlier this year, a lack of supply in some parts of the country is likely keeping a lid on transactions,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “The GTA and Greater Vancouver made sizeable contributions to the monthly decline in national sales activity. They also rank among the tightest urban housing markets in the country due to a shortage of inventory and supply of land on which to build, which is why prices there continue to grow strongly.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in September 2015 eclipsed activity one year ago by 0.7 per cent. Sales in September 2015 reached the second-highest on record for the month, standing just 0.3 per cent (130 transactions) below the record set in September 2009.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales were up from year-ago levels in a little over half of all local markets, led by the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. Calgary posted the largest year-over-year decline in activity compared to the record set last year.

In line with sales activity, the number of newly listed homes also declined by 2.1 per cent in September compared to August led by the Lower Mainland, Victoria, the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington and Montreal.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 56.8 per cent in September. With sales and new listings having posted monthly declines of equal magnitude in September, the sales-to-new listings ratio held steady compared to August. 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 half of local housing markets in September. Of the remainder, the majority breached the 60 per cent threshold in September and consisted almost entirely of markets in British Columbia and those in and around the GTA.

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 5.7 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of September 2015, up slightly from the 5.6 months recorded in each of the previous four months.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 6.90 per cent on a year-over-year basis in September, accelerating from 6.43 per cent in August, 5.90 per cent in July, and 5.43 in June. The recent acceleration in year-over-year growth follows about a year-and-a-half of gains that held steady within a range of between five and five-and-a-half per cent.

Year-over-year price growth picked up in September for all Benchmark home types tracked by the index, particularly for apartment units.

Two-storey single family homes continue to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+9.07 per cent), followed by one-storey single family homes (+6.48 per cent), townhouse/row units (+4.40 per cent) and apartment units (+4.22 per cent).

Year-over-year price growth varied among housing markets tracked by the index. Greater Vancouver (+13.72 per cent) and Greater Toronto (+10.46 per cent) continue to post by far the biggest year-over-year price increases. Meanwhile, price gains in the Fraser Valley have accelerated to almost nine per cent.

By comparison, Victoria and Vancouver Island prices logged year-over-year gains between five and six per cent in September.

For the second consecutive month, prices in Calgary were flat on a year-over-year basis. Prices in Saskatoon and Ottawa also ran roughly even with year-ago levels.

Elsewhere, home prices were up from September 2014 levels by about one-and-a-half per cent in Greater Montreal and by about two-and-a-half per cent in Greater Moncton. Prices fell by four per cent in Regina, extending year-over-year price declines there that began in 2013.

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 September 2015 was $433,649, up 6.1 per cent 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 markets are excluded from calculations, the average is a more modest $334,705 and the year-over-year gain is reduced to 2.9 per cent.

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