January was a chilly month in Canada, not just due to the frigid temperatures and wicked weather. The latest figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show national real estate sales slipped last month, down due to the drag in activity in the Prairies.
Real estate sales slip
The number of MLS home sales fell 3.1 per cent in January 2015 compared to December 2014.”As expected, consumer confidence in the Prairies has declined and moved a number of potential homebuyers to the sidelines as a result,” says Beth Crosbie, CREA president. “By contrast, housing market trends in the Maritimes are continuing to improve, which underscores the fact that all real estate is local.”The drop in sales was seen in about 60 per cent of all local housing markets.”Comparing sales activity for January this year to sales one year earlier, there was a fairly even split between the number of markets where sales were up versus the number of markets where sales were down,” says Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist. “The decline in national sales largely reflects weakened activity in Calgary and Edmonton. If these two markets are removed from national totals, combined sales activity remained 1.9 per cent above year-ago levels.”
New listings, inventory up
While sales fell, new listings rose 0.7 per cent from December 2014, led by Edmonton and Greater Toronto. By contrast, Greater Vancouver, Calgary and Regina posted the largest monthly declines in new listings.The national sales-to-new-listings ratio was 49.7 per cent in January – the first time it fell below 50 per cent since December 2012 – marking a return to a balanced housing market.Another factor indicating a balanced market was the amount of housing inventory, which reached 6.5 months – the highest reading since April 2013.
Prices continue to climb
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in January 2015 was $401,143 – up 3.1 per cent year-over-year. This average, however, is skewed by Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Taking these two markets out of the equation, the average price is a relatively more modest $312,280, which represents a year-over-year decline of 0.3 per cent.
Two-storey single-family homes continued to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+6.57 per cent), followed by townhomes (+ 5 per cent) and one-storey single-family homes (+4.61 per cent). Price growth remained comparatively more modest for apartment units, at 3.11 per cent. Greater Vancouver (+5.53 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.47 per cent) and Calgary (+7.76 per cent) continued to post the biggest year-over-year increases, though that rate is slowing in Calgary.
In other markets from West to East, prices were up on a year-over-year basis in the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Vancouver Island, while remaining stable in Saskatoon, Ottawa and Greater Montreal. By contrast, prices declined on a year-over-year basis in Regina and Greater Moncton.