Canadian housing market sees largest year on year fall in sales since 2013

National home sales fell 1.3% from June to July in Canada, the third month in a row that transactions have fallen, and fell by 2.9% year on year, the largest since 2013. The data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) also shows that the national average sale price was up 9.9% in July year on year but when Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver are excluded from the figure this dropped to 7%. Sales activity was down from the previous month in slightly more than half of all markets in July, led by Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Transactions in these two markets peaked in February of this year, and have since then dropped by 21.5% and 28.8% respectively. According to CREA president Cliff Iverson much of the national sales decline in recent months reflects slowing activity in B.C.’s Lower Mainland area. ‘National sales and price trends continue to be heavily influenced by a handful of places in Ontario and British Columbia and mask significant variations in local housing market trends and conditions across Canada,’ he explained. Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, said that the figures suggest that sales are being reined in by a lack of inventory and a further deterioration in affordability. He pointed out that the new 15% property transfer tax on Metro Vancouver home purchases by foreign buyers took effect on 02 August so it will take some time before the effect of the new tax on sales and prices can be observed. A breakdown of the figures shows that actual, not seasonally adjusted, sales activity was down 2.9% year on year July 2016, the first annual decline since January 2015 and the largest since April 2013. In line with softening activity in the Lower Mainland, year on year increases have been losing momentum since February 2016. Sales were down from levels one year earlier in about 60% of all Canadian markets, led by Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Calgary and Edmonton. The number of newly listed homes rose by 1.2 percent in July 2016 compared to June. While new supply climbed in fewer than half of all local markets, increases in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, Greater Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton outweighed declines in smaller markets. With sales down and new listings up, the national sales to new listings ratio eased to 61.6% in July 2016, its second monthly decline following its peak of 65.3% in May. A sales to new listings ratio between 40% and 60% is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers’ and sellers’ markets respectively. The ratio was above 60% in about half of all local housing markets in July, virtually all of which continue to be located in British Columbia, in and around the Greater Toronto Area and across Southwestern Ontario. The CREA report points out that the number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance… Continue reading

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