The Canadian housing market is showing signs of rebound. March sales activity has shown an increase in sales in many areas compared with pervious months. It appears that many potential buyers are getting over the initial shock of the economic downturn and are starting to realize that there are great buying opportunities out there.
First-time homebuyers, low interest rates and greater overall confidence in the housing market are credited for the sales increase in March. Buyers are still acting cautiously, but they are feeling positive about the resale housing market this spring.
“This is a good beginning to the spring market. Confident buyers are taking advantage of the great opportunities that are available to them right now, such as historically-low interest rates and a good supply of properties for sale,” said Rick Snell, President of Ottawa real estate board.
Paul Penner, President of Fraser Valley real estate board, confirms real estate activity has picked up. “REALTORS® are seeing the return of first-time home buyers who have been waiting in the wings for the last few months, and homeowners responding to the opportunity to buy-up by moving from a condo to a townhome or a townhome to a detached house. Homes with a lower price-point are attracting more attention."
“With current interest rates and price reductions, buyers are looking at monthly costs that are 20% less than they were a year ago. In Fraser Valley, that’s a $780 per month savings on a mortgage for an average detached home.” Penner added.
For buyers, this market means more options from which to choose. With low interest rates, the new renovation rebate and the increase in the Home Buyers’ Plan, it’s an appealing time to buy.
“With price stability, low interest rates, spring weather and pent-up demand; it appears that REALTORS® are starting to get busy again,” said Charlie Ponde, President of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. “Our offices are reporting an increase in buyer interest.”
Below is a brief summary of sales activities in some areas across the country:
GTA - Ontario
Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 6,171 sales – down 7% from March 2008, representing the smallest year-over-year decline in the last five months. The average price for March transactions was $362,052 – down less than 5% from the same month last year.
“Sales in March increased at a rate over and above what would be expected from the normal spring-time bump,” said Jason Mercer TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis. “A greater number of households have taken advantage of increased affordability in the housing marketplace.”
Ottawa - Ontario
Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,162 residential properties in March compared with 1,084 in March 2008, an increase of 7.2%. There were 788 sales in February 2009.
The average price of residential properties, including condominiums, sold in March in the Ottawa area was $286,888, virtually unchanged over March 2008. The average price for a condominium-class property was $208,936, an increase of 0.6% over March 2008. The average price of a residential-class property was $308,256, a decrease of 1.4% over March 2008.
Vancouver, BC, March 13, 2009: "After a weak start to the year, BC MLS® residential sales increased 17% in February, on a seasonally adjusted basis," said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. MLS® residential sales in the province climbed from a seasonally adjusted and annualized rate of 40,200 units in January to 47,000 units in February.
"It’s not surprising that home sales rebounded from January’s low level," noted Muir. "Reduced home prices and mortgage interest rates have markedly increased affordability. The carrying cost of an average home in BC is approaching a three-year low."
Year-to-date, MLS® residential sales declined 51% to 5,768 units compared to the first two months of 2008. The average MLS® residential declined 10% to $420,966, while MLS® residential dollar volume was down 56%to $2.4 billion over the same period.
Surrey, BC, April 2, 2009: The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board reports 1,006 sales were processed in March, reflecting a 24% decrease compared to the 1,315 sales in March of last year, however, a 48% jump from February’s 682 sales. March is the first month to surpass one thousand sales in the Fraser Valley since July of last year, reflecting more typical March sales totals last seen in the early 2000s.
Property selection continues to moderate from the record levels of over 12,000 active listings reached in September 2008. The Board received 7% fewer new listings in March compared to the same month last year – 3,028 compared to the 3,277 last year – taking the total number of active listings to 9,832, an increase of 14.7% compared to the 8,570 active listings available in March of last year.
The HPI benchmark price of Fraser Valley townhouses decreased by 10.3% in one year, going from $329,859 in March 2008 to $295,809 in March 2009, while the benchmark price of apartments decreased by 10.8% going from $254,664 in March of last year to $227,188 in March 2009.
Edmonton, Alberta, April 2, 2009: The average price of single family homes in the Edmonton area has hovered around the $350,000 mark for the first quarter of this year. At the beginning of January the average price for a Single Family Dwelling (SFD) was $351,870. The price varied slightly and at the end of March the average SFD price was $349,716, up 0.7% from the previous month. Condo prices were a little more volatile but popped up 1.6% in March to $230,469, after a 5% drop in February. The average price of a duplex/rowhouse was $276,776.
Residential sales through the Multiple Listing Service® in March totalled 1,380 units. Total MLS® sales (including commercial and rural sales) were 1,513 units. This is a 30% increase over the previous month. Total residential sales for the first quarter were 3,185 units and total MLS® sales were 3,471 with a YTD value of $1.1 billion.
There were 2,891 residential listings in March (down 31.7% from last March) resulting in a month end inventory of 7,476 residential properties (down from 9,464 in March 2008). The sales-to-listing ratio was 48% and average days-on-market was 56 days (down five from February).
Calgary, Alberta, April 1, 2009: Sales activity of single family Calgary metro homes was 1,086 in the month of March 2009 showing an increase of 32% from 825 sales in February 2009, according to figures released by the Calgary Real Estate Board. This was a decrease of 23% from March 2008 when single family home sales were 1,418. The number of condominium sales for the month of March 2009 was 446, an increase of 30% from the 343 condominium transactions recorded in February 2009 and a decrease of 21% from March 2008 when 565 condominiums changed hands.
Calgary metro homes in March 2009 was $420,354, showing an increase of just over 1% from February 2009, when the average price was $415,568 and showing a decrease of 11% from March 2008 when the average price was $474,513. The average price of a Calgary metro condominium was $284,056, showing a 6% increase from February 2009 when the average price was $268,971 and showing a decrease of 9% over last year, when the average price was $312,620.
Saskatoon, April 2009: First quarter residential unit sales maintained a similar pace to the last few months. Saskatoon REALTORS® sold 283 residential properties in the month of March which is down 28% from March 2008 when 391 units were sold. Sales numbers are on par with 2005 and 2006.
The average residential selling price was $266,720.00 which is down 8% from March 2008 with an average selling price of $289,530. These numbers indicate a slight softening of upper price range home sales. Year to date, the average selling price remains on par with 2008 at $274,584.
In March the average price of residential properties sold inside the city of Regina was $244,888, a new monthly high and up 4% from the previous record set last year of $234,504. The average price for the YTD was $232,385, yet another high and up 5% over 2008’s $221,085.
An inventory correction appears to have begun. Saskatoon REALTORS® listed 662 homes in March which is on par with 2008. Year to date, 1,742 homes have been placed on the market. Buyers had 1,435 properties to select from at the end of March. It will likely take the remaining part of 2009 to reduce the current larger than normal inventory level.
Nova Scotia, March 25, 2009: MLS® home sales in Nova Scotia were up in February 2009 from where they stood over the past three months but remained below levels reported one year earlier, according to statistics released by the Nova Scotia Association of REALTORS®.
Residential sales activity in February 2009 remained below February 2008 levels in all regions of the Province with 581 MLS® home sales recorded for the month. While this remains 23% below levels reported in February 2008, the year-over-year decline was smaller than the 32% drop observed in January.
Home sales from January to February increased 48% in 2009, which is the largest jump for that period in a decade. As a result, seasonally adjusted residential sales rose 13% in February compared to January.