Toronto, Vancouver markets push October home sales higher, CREA says

OTTAWA – Canadian home sales grew in October as demand remained strong in the red-hot real estate markets in Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said Monday the number of homes sold through its Multiple Listing Service was up 1.8 per cent in October from the previous month.

However, the gains weren’t shared across the country, as the number of markets where sales posted a monthly increase and those where sales fell were evenly split.

Compared with a year ago, sales rose 0.1 per cent.

BMO chief economist Doug Porter said the housing market has split into three groups with Toronto and Vancouver too hot for comfort, the Prairies hit by the sliding price of oil and a middle ground which includes places like Ottawa and Montreal.

Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina all posted double-digit sales declines in October. Calgary’s housing sales are down 36.4 per cent from a year earlier.

“The renewed sag in oil in recent months looks to have triggered a renewed weakening in housing markets across much of Alberta and Saskatchewan,” Porter said.

Oil prices have fallen back to around US$45 a barrel after rebounding to around $60 a barrel in June. The price of crude has dropped precipitously from above US$105 last year.

Canadians are still looking to buy detached homes, which remain in short supply in Toronto and Vancouver. There were 5.5 months of national inventory at the end of October, down from 5.7 in September.

That demand has pushed home prices higher despite the availability of condo apartments.

The national average price for homes sold in October was $454,976, up 8.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis, driven by Vancouver and Toronto.

Prices in Greater Vancouver were up 15.33 per cent from a year ago, while Greater Toronto was up 10.33 per cent.

Without the Vancouver and Toronto markets, the average was $339,059, up 2.5 per cent from a year ago.

Porter said both markets are too hot for comfort and called the 19.3 per cent year-over-year gain in sales in Vancouver out of this world.

“If anything, October saw an even greater divergence of Vancouver from the rest of the country (and perhaps planet Earth),” he wrote.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 57.9 per cent in October. CREA says a sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 per cent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions.