Canadian home sales up slightly but activity falls to 4-year low

by Steve Randall16 Apr 2018

There was a small, but welcome, rise in Canadian home sales in March with a 1.3% increase from February.

Despite the rise, actual activity (not seasonally adjusted) in the first quarter of 2018 was at its lowest level since the first quarter of 2014 with a 22.7% drop from the same period of 2017 (which had a record high).

Canadian Real Estate Association says that lower activity (mostly in double digits) was seen in 80% of local markets, and the only major urban centres to avoid the drop were Montreal and Ottawa.

March sales were up though in more than half of major markets with Ottawa and Montreal leading. But B.C.'s Lower Mainland, the Okanagan Region, Chilliwack, Calgary and Edmonton, all recorded declines.

"Recent changes to mortgage regulations are fueling demand for lower priced homes while shrinking the pool of qualified buyers for higher-priced homes," said Gregory Klump, CREA's Chief Economist. "Given their limited supply, the shift of demand into lower price segments is causing those sale prices to climb. As a result, 'affordably priced' homes are becoming less affordable while mortgage financing for higher priced homes remains out of reach of many aspiring move-up homebuyers."

There was a 3.3% rise in new listings nationwide in March but following the 21.1% plunge from December 2017 to January 2018, it did little to improve supply, which stood at 5.3 months last month.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose 4.6% y-o-y in March 2018. This was the 11th consecutive deceleration in y-o-y gains, continuing a trend that began last spring. It was also the smallest y-o-y increase since December 2013.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in March 2018 was just over $491,000, down 10.4% from one year earlier.

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