The Canadian Real Estate Association released its national home sales figures for March 2019, reporting a slight increase in activity.
Compared to February, national home sales reported through the MLS systems jumped nearly 1%, but on a year-over-year basis home sales fell 4.6%, making it the weakest March since 2013. Last month’s home sales were also 12% below the 10-year average for March.
While sales activity increased in the Greater Toronto Area, Oakville-Milton, and Ottawa, home sales plummeted in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to more than 20% below the 10-year average.
"It will be some time before policy measures announced in the recent Federal Budget designed to help first-time homebuyers take effect," says Jason Stephen, CREA's President. "In the meantime, many prospective homebuyers remain sidelined by the mortgage stress test to varying degrees depending on where they are looking to buy. All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future.”
New listings went up 2.1% in March, amounting to 5.6 months of inventory, which is greater than the long-term average of 5.3 months. On a national level, inventory is up at a healthy level, but the CREA noted that supply dropped in the GTA and is low overall in Ontario.
The only housing type to experience price growth in March 2019 was apartments, moving up by 1.1% year-over-year. Price growth for townhomes remained mostly unchanged, dropping 0.2%. Pricing for one-storey singles fell 1.8% and 0.8% for two-storey singles.
In the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Guelph experienced the greatest year-over-year price growth, spiking 6.6%, and Niagara Region followed closely with 6% growth. Hamilton-Burlington price growth went up by 3.7%, followed by the GTA increasing 2.6%, and home prices in Oakville-Milton jumped 2.3%. Barrie and District was the only region to see price growth drop, falling more than 6%.
"March results suggest local market trends are largely in a holding pattern," says Gregory Klump, CREA's Chief Economist. "While the mortgage stress test has made access to home financing more challenging, the good news is that continuing job growth remains supportive for housing demand and should eventually translate into stronger home sales activity pending a reduction in household indebtedness.”
The national average price in March 2019 was $481,745, which is a 1.8% year-over-year decline. If you remove the most expensive markets, Greater Vancouver and the GTA, from the equation, the average home price is just under $383,000.