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National resale activity edges down in January

According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association, the number of homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards declined in January 2010 from the previous month. Seasonally adjusted national home sales dropped 2.8 per cent from near record levels reported in December. Ontario accounted for about half the national decline. Activity was also down in British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba, but reached new heights in Quebec. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) residential sales activity in January 2010 was up 58 per cent from year ago levels, when national home sales activity reached the lowest level in a decade. Because activity began recovering in February last year, large year-over-year gains are expected to shrink over upcoming months. The average price of all homes sold through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards in January 2010 was $328,537, up 19.6 per cent from one year ago. In January 2009, the average residential sale price fell to the lowest level in almost three years. Year-over-year average price gains are being stretched by weakness one year ago, and are expected to shrink beginning next month. The price trend is similar but less dramatic for the national weighted average price, which compensates for changes in provincial sales activity by taking into account provincial proportions of privately owned housing stock. It climbed 14.9 per cent year-over-year basis in January 2010. The residential average price in Canada’s major markets also climbed 19.6 per cent year-over-year in January. As with the national counterpart, the price trend is similar but less dramatic for the major market weighted average price, which rose 13.1 from January 2009. Across Canada, the seasonally adjusted number of new listings on Boards’ MLS® Systems edged up three tenths of one percent on a month-over-month basis in January to reach the highest level since November 2008. New listings rose in British Columbia, Alberta and Newfoundland, offsetting declines in other provinces. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of new residential listings was up 3.4 per cent from one year ago. “The resale housing market is becoming more balanced in a number of provinces, including my own province of Saskatchewan,” said CREA President Dale Ripplinger. “A more balanced market is likely to result in smaller price increases going forward, with buyers in less of a rush due to an increase in supply. That said, market conditions vary across Canada, so buyers and sellers are wise to consult with a REALTOR® since they know current conditions in your local market.” Strong demand for resale homes continues to draw down supply. There were 170,199 homes listed for sale on Boards’ MLS® Systems in Canada at the end of January 2010, a decline of 18 per cent from levels reported for the same month in 2009. Nationally, there were 4.4 months of inventory in January 2010 on a seasonally adjusted basis. This is up slightly from 4.2 months in December. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of months of inventory in January 2010 stood at 6.6 months. This is well below where it stood one year ago (12.8 months), but slightly higher than it was in the month of January in the years 2004 through 2008. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity. “January results suggest that the national resale housing market may be past the recent peak,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. “One car doesn’t make a parade, so a few more months of results showing a cooling trend will be required before talk of a Canadian housing bubble begins to fade. It could take until the second half of the year before a cooling trend becomes evident, since home buying activity may continue to be accelerated in the first half of 2010 by expected interest rate increases, and by the introduction of the HST in Ontario and British Columbia on Canada Day.” (CREA 02/17/10)

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