According to national sales statistics released yesterday by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), sales increased by 0.9% on a month-over-month basis in March. This follows a sharp drop in February. An increase is certainly welcomed. But it still puts March 2019’s activity at the lowest point it has seen in six years.
If we compare MLS national sales statistics, we see that on a year-over-year basis, March’s activity dropped 4.6% (not seasonally adjusted). Average sales price also trended downwards.
National sales statistics vary by market
British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan saw sales activity fall more than 20% under their 10-year average. On the other hand, Quebec and New Brunswick continue to see heightened activity with well above-average sales.
Some economists, such as Doug Porter, Bank of Montreal’s chief economist and Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief economist say that March’s results are somewhat disappointing. However, we have yet to see the effects of the first time buyers incentive program announced during the last Federal Budget.
“It will be some time before policy measures announced in the recent Federal Budget designed to help first-time homebuyers take effect,” said Jason Stephen, CREA’s President. “In the meantime, many prospective homebuyers remain sidelined by the mortgage stress-test to varying degrees depending on where they are looking to buy”.
Housing supply is also dependent on geography
Regarding the housing supply, the report shows that the number of newly listed homes rose by 2.1% in March. In fact, housing supply increased in around 66% of all local markets throughout the country. This increase in inventory was led by Winnipeg, Regina, and Victoria.
In contrast, the Greater Toronto Area, the largest real estate market in Canada, saw a decrease in new listings. The GTA was closely followed by Ottawa and Halifax-Dartmouth.
We saw more new listings come into the market, yet the number of sales was still stagnant. The national sales-to-new listings increased from 54.2% to 54.9% in February. The average sale price also decreased by 1.8% on a year-over-year basis to $481,745. But if we exclude the two largest markets, the GTA and the GVA, that figure drops to slightly under $383,000.