Canadian home sales little changed in August

According to statistics1 released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity posted a small month-over-month increase in August 2015.

• National home sales edged up by 0.3% from July to August.
• Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 4.0% above August 2014 levels.
• The number of newly listed homes rose 0.5% from July to August.
• The Canadian housing market remains balanced overall.
• The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 6.43% year-over-year in August.
• The national average sale price rose 8.7% on a year-over-year basis in August; excluding Greater Vancouver    and Greater Toronto, it increased by 4.2%.

The number of homes trading hands via MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations edged up 0.3 per cent in August 2015 compared to July and remains near levels that have changed little since reaching a five-year high in May. 

Sales were little changed on a monthover-month basis among all local markets in August, with an even split between markets posting increases and those with declines.

“August marked the fourth month in a row for strong and stable national sales activity,” said CREA President Pauline Aunger. “While home prices increased in British Columbia and in the Greater Toronto Area, they have been holding fairly steady in many other parts of the country for some time now. 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.”

“Prices continue to rise in Ontario and British Columbia, where listings are either in short supply or heading in that direction,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “August also provided early evidence that modest price growth is re-emerging in some markets in Quebec and New Brunswick. The continuation of low interest rates is supporting home sales and price trends, and is likely to keep doing so for some time.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in August 2015 was up four per cent from the same month last year. It was the third highest August sales figure on record after 2005 and 2007, and stood 6.6 per cent above the 10-year average for August.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales were up from year-ago levels in a little over 60 per cent of all local markets, led by the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Sales in Calgary continued to post the largest year-over-year declines after having run near record levels there last year.

The number of newly listed homes edged up by 0.5 per cent in August compared to July, led by gains in Edmonton and the GTA.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 56.7 per cent in August, down slightly from 56.9 per cent in July. 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 a little under half of local housing markets in August. More than one-third of all local markets breached the 60 per cent threshold in August, comprised mostly of markets in British Columbia together with 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 5.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of August 2015, unchanged from the previous three months and holding at a three-year low for the measure.

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

Year-over-year price growth picked up in August for all Benchmark home types tracked by the index with the exception of townhouse/row units.

Two-storey single family homes continue to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+8.85 per cent), followed by one-storey single family homes (+6.09 per cent), townhouse/row units (+4.29 per cent) and apartment units (+3.08 per cent).

Year-over-year price growth varied among housing markets tracked by the index. Greater Vancouver (+11.96 per cent) and Greater Toronto (+9.99 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 seven per cent, while Victoria and Vancouver Island prices logged year-over-year gains of about five per cent in August.

Prices in Calgary were flat on a year-over-year basis in August, marking the first month since September 2011 of no year-over-year price growth. Prices in Saskatoon also ran roughly even with year-ago levels.

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

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