National resale housing activity continues its return to normal levels, having risen in November 2010 for the fourth consecutive month, according to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
Seasonally adjusted national home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards climbed 4.8 per cent in November 2010. Although this is well short of record level activity for the month of November posted a year ago, seasonally adjusted sales now stand 19.5 per cent above levels recorded in July 2010, when it reached this year’s low point.
“Sales activity rose in many local markets but eased in others,” said Georges Pahud, CREA President. “Homebuyers and sellers need to recognize that local and national market trends may differ, and for that reason, they would do well to consult their local REALTOR® in order to understand how the housing market is shaping up in their market.”
Seasonally adjusted activity was up from October levels in two-thirds of all local markets, including eight of Canada’s ten most active markets. Month-over-month increases were reported in Calgary (+2.6 per cent), Edmonton (+6.9 per cent), Fraser Valley (+10.5 per cent), London & St. Thomas (+6.5 per cent), Montreal (+8.2 per cent), Ottawa (+4.2 per cent), Toronto (+6.0 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+11.3 per cent). These markets accounted for more than half of national activity in November.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) national sales activity in November 2010 was 9.3 per below levels in November 2009.
The persistence of large year-over-year declines from last year’s record levels has been masking the steady improvement in national sales activity since July 2010. A comparison of November sales activity to sales for the same month in previous years suggests that activity is currently running at more normal levels.
The number of new residential listings on Canadian MLS® Systems edged down 0.7 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in November. New listings remain 14.6 per cent below the peak reached in April 2010.
The national housing market has been firming up since July 2010 due to improving sales activity and a muted rise in new listings, but overall remains balanced. About 60 per cent of local markets in Canada were in balanced market territory in November. Of the remaining 40 per cent, three-quarters of these markets have a sales to new listings ratio consistent with a being classified as a sellers’ market.
“An increase in new listings is likely to return many sellers markets to balanced territory over the coming months,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “With sales activity having returned to better health and a firm floor under prices, sellers who previously shied away from putting their home on the market are expected to list their home in response to improved housing demand in recent months.”
The number of months of inventory represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, and is another measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. The seasonally adjusted number of months of inventory stood at 5.8 months at the end of November on a national basis. This is down from 6.1 months in October. The number of months of inventory now stands 1.4 months below the level reached in July 2010, when it stood at this year’s highest level.
The national average price for homes sold in November 2010 was $344,268, up two per cent from November 2009. Nearly two-thirds of local markets recorded a year-over-year increase in average price. In recent months, the national average price has been influenced by rising prices but fewer sales in some of Canada’s priciest markets compared to one year ago.
“Following the chilling lows at the onset of the recent recession and the dizzying heights during the subsequent recovery, the national housing market appears to be returning to some semblance of normalcy,” said Klump. “Changes to mortgage regulations earlier this year were prudent and sufficient, striking the right balance between preventing speculative housing market activity and keeping homeownership affordability within reach for creditworthy home buyers. That’s a good thing, since housing activity helped support Canadian economic growth this year. Rising interest rates and weaker expected job growth are likely to contribute to softer prospects for housing market activity and average price growth next year, reflecting weakening economic growth prospects.”