Blog by Mark Longpre

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Home sales, listings, prices rise in March

OTTAWA — Existing home sales in Canada rebounded in March, climbing 1.4 per cent from the month before and totalling 43,621 units on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported Thursday.


Further gains in Toronto more than offset a decline of activity in Vancouver, the board said. In February, month-over-month sales slipped 1.6 per cent.


Prices also rose, as did the number of listings, with the national average in March hitting $340,920, the second highest national average on record, $300 below the record reached last October.


Listings climbed 20 per cent over the previous record set in March 2008. A total of 97,663 properties were listed for sale in March, and 233,402 listings have come on stream since the beginning of the year, more than in any other first quarter period on record, the board said.


"With the increase in sales during the month, the number of new listings rose for the sixth straight month, rising by a big 5.9 per cent month over month following the upwardly revised 3.2 per cent month-over-month gain in February. This continues to point to a normalization in Canada's housing market," said TD Securities portfolio strategist Ian Pollick.


"In the final analysis, after an extremely strong run-up in existing home sales activity in 2009 and early 2010, it appears that the supercharged pace of activity is beginning to cool slightly.


"Additionally, when one considers mortgage rates are starting to lift higher, coupled with the introduction of the new mortgage rules (which takes effect April 19) and then the HST implementation (which takes effect July 1), it's plausible to assume this strength can ease. This should eventually work its way into putting the housing market into a more balanced range."