Monday, December 7, 2009

MLS® home sales remain strong in August

National resale housing market sales activity remained up from year-ago levels in August 2009 for the third consecutive month, posting the largest year-over-year gain in more than two years.
According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), a total of 42,483 homes traded hands via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards in August 2009. This represents an increase of 18.5 per cent from the same month last year, and the third consecutive year-over-year gain of more than 15 per cent. Sales were 6.6 per cent below the record for the month of August set in 2007.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, national MLS® home sales held steady. At 42,426 units, seasonally adjusted activity came to within six-tenths of one per cent of levels in the previous month. Seasonally adjusted activity in Alberta and Quebec declined, offsetting activity gains in British Columbia. Seasonally adjusted activity still remains 60.8 per cent above the decade-low in January.
“National sales activity in the third quarter is on track for a significant increase compared to the second quarter,” said CREA President Dale Ripplinger. “Low interest rates and affordability continue to attract homebuyers to the housing market. Consumer confidence continues to rise, which bodes well for activity in the coming months.”
Resale activity in August 2009 was up from year-ago levels in about approximately three-quarters of all local markets. Year-over-year gains in Vancouver (117 per cent), Toronto (27 per cent), Calgary (17 per cent) and Montreal (nine per cent) contributed most to the national increase in activity. Aggregate MLS® home sales activity for 25 major markets posted the third consecutive increase from year-ago levels of more than 20 per cent in August.
Demand continues to improve in Canada’s more expensive housing markets, drawing the national average price upward. The national MLS® residential average price rose 11.3 per cent from year-ago levels to $324,779. This is the highest national average price for the month of August.
The MLS® residential average price for the month of August set records in every province except Alberta. A sustained increase in sales activity, including a rebound in activity at the higher end of the price spectrum in some of Canada’s priciest markets, is skewing the national average price upward.
This price trend is similar but more muted for the weighted national MLS® average price, which compensates for changes in provincial sales activity by taking into account provincial proportions of privately owned housing stock. The weighted national MLS® average sale price in August 2009 was up 7.1 per cent year-over-year, but down eight-tenths of a per cent from the previous month.
The weighted average price increase for an aggregate of 25 major markets reveals a similarly muted trend compared to its unweighted counterpart. The major market weighted average price rose 5.3 per cent year-over-year in August 2009, compared to an increase of 11.8 per cent for the unweighted major market average price. The major market weighted average price compensates for changes in sales activity in major markets by taking into account the proportion of privately owned housing stock in each market in relation to the major market aggregate.
The number of new listings coming onto the MLS® market posted the eighth consecutive decline from year-ago levels. New residential listings were down 8.9 per cent year-over-year to 64,167 units, the lowest level for the month of August in five years.
Improved demand is combining with fewer new listings to draw down inventories on the housing market. There were 212,227 homes listed for sale on the MLS® Systems of real estate Boards in Canada at the end of August 2009, down 13.3 per cent from a year earlier. This is the fourth consecutive year-over-year decline in active listings.
Nationally, the number of months of inventory was up slightly to five months in August from 4.4 months in July, but still well below the recessionary peak of 12.8 months in January 2009. The number of months of inventory edged up in most major markets in August. The number of months of inventory is equal to the supply of active listings at the end of the month divided by the number of sales that month. It represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.
The seasonally adjusted dollar volume of all residential MLS® sales set a new record in August 2009, rising 1.5 per cent from the previous month to $14 billion. British Columbia contributed most to the increase, having posted the highest seasonally adjusted dollar volume on record for the province.
“The balance of sentiment making big-ticket purchases pushed into positive territory in August for the first time since early last year,” said Chief Economist Gregory Klump. “Recent cuts to mortgage interest rates will no doubt provide further support for this indicator, which is an important factor underlying the housing market.”
“Activity may be leveling out as we indicated in last month’s revised resale housing market forecast. Average prices dropped sharply over the second half of 2008 and have rebounded since then, so comparisons against year-ago levels are likely to show continued improvement over the rest of 2009.”
CREA September 15, 2009
“Copyright Canadian Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.”

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