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According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity edged up slightly on month-over-month basis in February 2015.


Highlights:
• National home sales edged up 1.0% from January to February.
• Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 2.7% above February 2014 levels.
• The number of newly listed homes fell 2.5% from January to February.
• The Canadian housing market remains balanced.
• The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.01% year-over-year in February.
• The national average sale price rose 6.3% on a year-over-year basis in February.

The number of home sales processed through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose by one per cent in February 2015 compared to January.

The monthly increase was led by Greater Vancouver, the Okanagan region, and Greater Toronto. Gains there offset sales declines elsewhere, with more than half of all local markets having posted weaker sales in February compared to January.

“A number of buyers across the Prairies stayed on the sidelines in February,” said CREA President Beth Crosbie. “That’s likely to remain an important part of the national housing story until the outlook for oil prices starts improving. Meanwhile, home sales in British Columbia and much of Ontario are improving, which underscores the fact that all real estate is local. Nobody knows this better than your local REALTOR®, who remains your best source for information about the housing market where you currently live or might like to in the future.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in February stood 2.7 per cent above levels reported in the same month last year, but remained five per cent below the 10-year average for the month of February.

“Sales came in below the ten-year average for the month of February in two-thirds of all local markets,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “That said, the opposite was true in a few large urban markets in British Columbia and Ontario despite a shortage of listings there, which is fuelling prices higher.”

The number of newly listed homes fell 2.5 per cent in February compared to January, led by Greater Vancouver, the Okanagan region, and Calgary. New listings in Calgary have retreated in recent months after having climbed sharply toward the end of last year.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 52.2 per cent in February. With sales up and new listings down, this marked an increase from 50.4 per cent in January.

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 more than half of all local markets in February.

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 6.4 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of February 2015, down from 6.5 months in January. Both the sales-to-new listings ratio and months of inventory measures continue to point to a balanced market at the national level.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 5.01 per cent on a year-over-year basis in February. Price gains have held steady between five and five-and-a-half per cent for more than a year.

Year-over-year price growth decelerated in February for all Aggregate Benchmark housing types tracked by the index except two-storey single family homes, which again posted the biggest year-over-year price gain (+6.63 per cent).

This was followed by townhouse/row units (+4.44 per cent) and one-storey single family homes (+4.34 per cent). Price growth remained more modest for apartment units (+2.77 per cent).

Price gains varied among housing markets tracked by the index. Greater Toronto (+7.84 per cent), Greater Vancouver (+6.38 per cent) and Calgary (+5.96 per cent) posted the biggest year-over-year increases. Even so, the increase in Calgary was far smaller than gains posted last year and the smallest since December 2012.

In other markets from West to East, prices were up compared to year-ago levels by between two and two-and-a-half per cent in the Fraser Valley, Victoria, and Vancouver Island, while holding steady in Saskatoon, Ottawa, and Greater Montreal, and falling in Regina and 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 February 2015 was $431,812, up 6.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

The national average home price remains skewed by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price is a relatively more modest $326,910 and the year-over-year gain shrinks to just 1.5 per cent. 

Simon Fraser
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