MLS sales stay strong
OTTAWA – While sales over its Multiple Listing System (MLS) were slightly lower in November than they were the previous month, as were the number of newly listed properties, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported last week they were 32.1% higher than they were in November 2019. What’s more, the national average price posted a 13.8% gain year-over-year.
The realtors’ group note the decline from October to November reflected fewer transactions in about 60% of all local markets – notably in the larger markets across the country including Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.
Actual sales activity posted a 32.1% year-over-year gain in November – equaling the surge seen in October and setting a new record for the month by well over 11,000 transactions. For the fifth straight month, year-over-year sales were up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019. Among the few markets – mainly a handful in Ontario – that were down year-over-year, it is most likely a supply issue rather than a demand issue.
So far this year, some 511,449 homes have traded hands over the MLS – up 10.5% from the first 11 months of 2019. It was the second-highest January to November sales figure on record, trailing 2016 by only 0.3% at this point.
“If I had to sum up the Canadian housing story in 2020, I would say it’s gone from weakness because of COVID to strength despite COVID,” CREA senior economist Shaun Cathcart said in a statement. “It will be a photo finish, but it's looking like 2020 will be a record year for home sales in Canada despite historically low supply. We’re almost in 2021, and market conditions nationally are the tightest they have ever been and sales activity continues to set records.
“Much like this virus, I don’t see it all turning into a pumpkin on New Year’s Eve,” he continued, adding, “but at least vaccination is a light at the end of the tunnel. Immigration and population growth will ramp back up, mortgage rates are expected to continue to remain very low, and a place to call home is more important than ever. On top of that, the COVID-related shake-up to so much of daily life will likely continue to result in more people choosing to pull up stakes and move around. If anything, our forecast for another annual sales record in 2021 may be on the low side.”
The number of newly listed homes declined by 1.6% in November, led by fewer new listings in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Ottawa. The national sales-to-new listings ratio was unchanged at 74.8% – the highest on record and well above the long-term average of 54.2%.
There were just 2.4 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of November 2020 – the lowest reading on record for this measure. At the local market level, some 21 Ontario markets were under one month of inventory at the end of November.
The actual national average home price was just over $603,000 in November 2020, up 13.8% from the same month last year. Excluding the GTA and the Greater Vancouver Area – the two largest and most expensive housing markets in Canada – drops the national average to $481,000.