According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national resale housing activity picked up a little further in October 2011 following the uptick in September.
Homes sold through MLS® Systems of real estate Boards and Associations in Canada rose 1.2 per cent in October 2011 from the previous month. While national sales activity levels are still best described as average, the monthly rise in October sales built on the 2.5 per cent gain in September, and lifted activity to the highest level since January.
Just over half of all local markets posted monthly sales increases, led by gains in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.
“There was no shortage of headline news in October about global financial market volatility and economic uncertainty, but it doesn’t appear to have dampened homebuyers’ spirits,” said Gary Morse, CREA’s President. “Interest rates are at low levels and are likely to stay that way for some time to come. Homebuyers clearly see the opportunities that the current interest rate environment presents. That said, all real estate is local, so buyers and sellers should consult their local REALTOR® for an understanding of opportunities in their housing market.”
As has been the case in most months this year, actual (not seasonally adjusted) national home sales in October stayed in line with the 10-year average for the month. Although up 8.5 per cent from levels one year ago, the gain in large part reflects last year’s nascent pick-up in activity following a mid-year lull.
A total of 397,561 homes have traded hands via Canadian MLS® Systems so far this year. This represents an increase of 1.8 per cent from levels in the first 10 months of 2010, but is directly in line with the 10-year average for the year-to-date figure.
The number of newly listed homes remained little changed in October compared with levels recorded in each of the previous three months.
“The prevailing economic outlook for Canada is one of slower but still positive economic growth, with heightened caution about investment and hiring decisions,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “Consumer confidence and the housing sector are being supported by low interest rates and high employment levels, but their prospects depend on how Canada’s economic outlook evolves in response to global economic risks and outcomes in the months ahead.
Home sales activity over the past couple of months suggests buyers are confident that the Canadian economy will remain relatively unscathed by global economic risks, since every home purchase is a homebuyer’s vote of confidence in the future. That confidence is no doubt rooted in the success of coordinated fiscal and monetary policy responses that helped quickly pull Canada out of the last recession, and a stated willingness and ability to carry out further policy actions if need be.”
While the combination of stable new listings and stronger sales made for a slightly tighter balance between supply and demand in October, the national housing market remains firmly rooted in balanced territory. The national sales-to-new listings ratio, a measure of market balance, stood at 53.4 per cent in October, up from 52.8 per cent in September.
Based on a sales-to-new listings ratio from 40 to 60 percent, about 60 per cent of local markets in Canada were in balanced market territory in October. Of the remaining markets, there was a handful more seller’s markets than buyers’ markets.
The number of months of inventory stood at six months at the end of October on a national basis, little changed from the end of September (6.1 months). It has remained stable at about six months since April. The number of months of inventory represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, and is another measure of the balance between housing supply and demand.
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in October 2011 stood at $362,899. This is up 5.5 per cent from October 2010, making it the smallest increase since January.