Home Sales Rise 0.8% in September as Listings Fall, Canadian Average House Price Up 8.8% Despite Higher Rates

This article appeared on CBC News on October 15th, 2013.

Canadian home sales posted a small month-over-month increase in September and the national average sale price rose but the number of new listings declined, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Home sales were up just 0.8 per cent from August to September, while overall activity remained on par with the 10-year average in September, CREA said.

However, last month’s sales were up 18.2 per cent compared with September 2012 and the average sale price was up 8.8 per cent to $385,906.

Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, highlighted regional shifts as the reason for the spike from last year.

“Regionally, the big story continues to be the snap-back in Vancouver, where sales were up a towering 64.3% year over year in September,” he said in a note to investors.

However, Kavcic says that stripping out volatile markets like Vancouver and Toronto shows a balanced housing market.

“Any worry about a hard landing in Canadian housing has quickly become a faint memory, and underlying conditions are more balanced than the flashy headline results suggest.”

Looking forward, Kavcic sees a softer market by no need for alarm. “Sales in September 2012 [were] slumping in the wake of stricter mortgage rules,” he said.

The association’s MLS Price Index, which is less volatile as it adjust for the characteristics of houses sold, rose by a more modest 3.1 per cent.

“Year-over-year increases in the sales over the past couple of months highlight how activity softened across much of the country following the introduction of tighter mortgage rules last summer,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

“While the momentum for sales activity began improving a few months ago, it may be losing steam after having only just climbed back in line with an average of the past 10 years,” he added.

About 340,980 homes have traded hands across the country so far this year, or 1.8 per cent below levels recorded in the first three quarters of 2012.

There were 1.4 per cent fewer newly listed homes in September compared with August, the association said, adding that while the Canadian housing market has tightened, it continues to remain balanced.

Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Calgary, Greater Toronto, London, St. Thomas, Ont., Ottawa and Montreal all saw listing declines.

The Canadian Real Estate Association is one of Canada’s largest single-industry trade associations, representing more than 106,000 realtors working through more than 90 real estate boards and associations.