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Highlights:

  • National home sales rose 3.1% from April to May.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 2.7% above May 2014 levels.
  • The number of newly listed homes was little changed from April to May.
  • The Canadian housing market remains balanced overall.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.17% year-over-year in May.
  • The national average sale price rose 8.1% on a year-over-year basis in May; excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, it increased by 2.4%.

The number of home sales processed through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 3.1 per cent in May 2015 compared to April. This marks the fourth consecutive month-over-month increase and raises national activity to its highest level in more than five years. (Chart A)

May sales were up from the previous month in about 60 per cent of all local markets, led by increases in the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal.

“CMHC announced in April that effective June 1 it was hiking mortgage default insurance premiums for homebuyers with less than a 10% down payment, so some buyers may have jumped off the fence and purchased in May to beat the increase,” said CREA President Pauline Aunger. “It’s one of the factors that could have affected sales last month. That said, all real estate is local, with trends that reflect a combination of local and national factors. REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future.”

“Sales in and around the Greater Toronto area played a starring role in the monthly increase in May sales,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “At the same time, the rebound in sales over the past few months in Calgary and Edmonton suggests that heightened uncertainty among some home buyers in these housing markets may be easing.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in May 2015 stood 2.7 per cent above levels reported for the same month last year and 5.7 per cent above the 10 year average for the month.

Sales were up on a year-over-year basis in about half of all local markets, led by activity in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Greater Toronto and Montreal.

The number of newly listed homes was virtually unchanged (-0.2 per cent) in May compared to April. This reflects an even split between housing markets where new listings rose and where they fell, with little monthly change for new listings in most of Canada’s largest and most active urban markets.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 57.6 per cent in May, up from a low of 50.4 per cent in January when it reached its most balanced point since March 2013. The ratio has risen steadily along with sales so far this year as new supply has remained little changed.

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 May. About a third of local markets were above the 60 per cent threshold in May, comprised mostly of markets in and around the Greater Toronto Area and markets in British Columbia.

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.

The national balance between supply and demand has tightened since the beginning of the year, when buyers had more negotiating power than they had in nearly two years. There were 5.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of May 2015, its lowest reading in three years.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 5.17 per cent on a year-over-year basis in May, up slightly from the 4.97 per cent year-over-year gain logged in April. Gains have generally held to the range from five to five and a half per cent since the beginning of 2014. (Chart B)

Year-over-year price growth accelerated in May in all Benchmark home categories tracked by the index with the exception of one-storey single family homes.

Two-storey single family homes continue to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+7.18 per cent), with more modest increases for one-storey single family homes (+4.11 per cent), townhouse/row units (+4.09 per cent) and apartment units (+2.91 per cent).

Year-over-year price growth varied among housing markets tracked by the index. Greater

Vancouver (+9.41 per cent) and Greater Toronto (+8.90 per cent) continued to post by far the biggest year-over-year price increases. By comparison, Fraser Valley, Victoria, and Vancouver Island prices all recorded year-over-year gains of about four per cent in May.

Price gains in Calgary continued to slow, with a year-over-year increase of just 1.21 per cent in May. This was the smallest gain in more than three years and the eleventh consecutive monthly slowdown in year-over-year price growth.

Elsewhere, prices held steady on a year-over-year basis in Saskatoon and Ottawa, rose slightly in Greater Montreal and fell by about three per cent 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 May 2015 was $450,886, up 8.1 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 $344,988 and the year-over-year gain is reduced to 2.4 per cent.

Simon Fraser
Market Update

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