Canadian home sales down in December

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity was down on a month-over-month basis in December 2014.

National home sales fell 5.8% from November to December.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 7.9% above December 2013 levels.
The number of newly listed homes rose 1.1% from November to December.
The Canadian housing market remains balanced.
The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.4% year-over-year in December.
The national average sale price rose 3.8% on a year-over-year basis in December.

The number of home sales processed through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations fell 5.8 per cent in December 2014 compared to November and remained above year-ago levels.

December sales were down from the previous month in almost two-thirds of all local housing markets, led by declines of about 25 per cent in both Calgary and Edmonton. Activity also slipped by about five per cent in the Greater Toronto Area.

“Home sales activity remained above year-ago levels in most local housing markets,” said CREA President Beth Crosbie. “Sales were also stronger in December than they were the previous month in about one-third of all local markets in Canada. This 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 how the housing market is shaping up where you currently live or might like to in the future.”

“December sales were down from the previous month in a number of Canada’s largest and most active housing markets, indicating a broadly based cooling off for Canadian home sales as 2014 came to an end,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “Even so, sales remain above year-ago levels in many of the same markets.”

“Given the uncertain outlook for oil prices, it’s no surprise consumer confidence in Alberta softened and moved some home buyers to the sidelines,” said Klump. “With regards to slower activity in Calgary and Edmonton, sales in these two markets had been running strong all year before they returned to levels that are entirely average for the month of December.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in December stood 7.9 per cent above levels
reported in the same month in 2013. Sales for the month were up from year-ago levels in about two-thirds of all local markets, led by Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, the Greater Toronto Area, and Montreal.

Some 481,162 homes traded hands via the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations on an actual (not seasonally adjusted) basis in 2014 — the highest annual level in seven years. Annual sales activity in 2014 was up 5.1 per cent from the previous year and stood 2.6 per cent above the 10-year annual average.

The number of newly listed homes rose 1.1 per cent in December compared to November. Led by Calgary, Regina and Ottawa, new supply was up in just over half of all local markets.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 51.8 per cent in December, down from the mid- 55 per cent range in the previous four months.

A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 per cent is generally consistent with balancedhousing market conditions, with readings above and below this range indicating sellers’ and buyers’ markets respectively.

The ratio was within this range in just over two-thirds of all local markets in November. More than half of the British Columbia, Alberta and Southern Ontario markets that had been in seller’s market territory in November returned to balanced market territory in December. This list included Greater Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and the Greater Toronto Area.

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 6.2 months of inventory nationally at the end of December 2014, up from 5.8 months in November. Together with the softer reading for the sales-to-new listings ratio, this suggests that the Canadian housing market has become more balanced.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 5.38 per cent on a year-overyear basis in December. Monthly price gains held steady between five and fiveand- a-half per cent throughout 2014.

In December, year-over-year price growth decelerated compared to November for townhouse/row units but accelerated for other types of homes tracked by the index. Two-storey single family homes continue to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+6.98 per cent), followed closely by townhouse/row units (+5.31 per cent) and one-storey single family homes (+4.51 per cent). Price growth remained comparatively more modest for apartment units (+3.51 per cent).

Price gains varied among housing markets tracked by the index. As in recent months,

Calgary (+8.80 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.89 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+5.82 per cent) continued to post the biggest year-over-year increases. By contrast, prices in Regina declined by 3.48 per cent.

In other markets from West to East, prices were up between 2.2 and 2.6 per cent on a yearover- year basis in the Fraser Valley, Victoria, and Vancouver Island, and by less than one per cent in Saskatoon, Ottawa, Greater Montreal, 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 December 2014 was $405,233, representing an increase of 3.8 per cent year-over-year and its smallest increase since May 2013.

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 $319,481 and the year-over-year increase shrinks to 1.9 per cent.

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