After a record-setting month in March, national home sales fell 1.7 per cent in April 2017, according to new statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
April sales were down on a monthly basis on two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and offset by gains in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity fell 7.5 per cent year-over-year, with declines in nearly 70 per cent of all local markets. Sales had the greatest decline in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where sales activity remains well below last year’s record levels. The GTA’s activity also factored into the decline, as sales slowed compared to record levels set in April 2016.
“Sales in Vancouver are down from record levels in the first half of last year but the gap has started to close,” said Andrew Peck, CREA president, in a press release. “Meanwhile, sales are up in Calgary and Edmonton from last year’s lows and trending higher in Ottawa and Montreal.”
“Homebuyers and sellers both reacted to the recent Ontario government policy announcement aimed at cooling housing markets in and around Toronto,” added Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist. “The number of new listings in April spiked to record levels in the GTA, Oakville-Milton, Hamilton-Burlington and Kitchener-Waterloo, where there had been a severe supply shortage. And with only ten days to go between the announcement and the end of the month, sales in each of these markets were down from the previous month. It suggests these housing markets have started to cool. Policy makers will no doubt continue to keep a close eye on the combined effect of federal and provincial measures aimed at cooling housing markets of particular concern, while avoiding further regulatory changes that risk producing collateral damage in communities where the housing market is well balanced or already favours buyers.”
The number of newly listed homes climbed 10 per cent from March to April 2017, led by a 36 per cent increase in the GTA. Housing markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe also saw similar percentage increases.
The increase in new listings and falling sales resulted in the national sales-to-new listings ratio falling to 60.1 per cent in April, compared to 67.3 per cent in March. This indicates a sellers’ market, but is close to representing balanced housing market conditions.
The ratio was above 60 per cent in just over half of all local housing markets in April, especially those in British Columbia and southwestern Ontario. The GTA’s housing market became more balanced in April, while Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley returned to sellers’ markets.
The Aggregate Composite MLS HPI climbed 19.8 per cent year-over-year in April 2017. Price gains increased across all benchmark housing categories tracked by the index.
The average price of a two-storey single family home had the strongest year-over-year price gains at 21.8 per cent, followed by townhouse/row units, which increased by 19.9 per cent. Apartment units saw price increases of 18.8 per cent, while one-storey single family homes increased in price by 17.2 per cent. Benchmark home prices were up on a year-over-year basis in 11 of 13 housing markets tracked by the MLS HPI, but price trends varied widely by location.
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average sale price for homes in April 2017 climbed 10.4 per cent year-over-year to reach $559,317. This figure continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, two of the country’s most active and expensive housing markets. When excluding these two markets from calculations, the average price drops by more than $150,000.