National home sales were little changed February, says the Canadian Real Estate Association, since the number of sales inched up less than 1% over January levels.
The slight rise follows five months of declines, it adds, so housing activity is sitting 9.3% below August 2013 highs.
Activity was mixed across Canada: while several housing markets rose, an equal number declined. As the same time, there was little change in Canada’s large urban markets.
Read: Housing starts stable
“Sales…rebounded in some of the smaller local markets where activity [has been previously] impacted by harsh winter weather,” says CREA president Laura Leyser.
She adds, “[Upcoming] activity…will be influenced by the availability of listings, which [will] var[y] considerably from market to market.”
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) housing activity stood 1.9% above levels posted in February 2013, says CREA, which adds the year-over-year gain reflects increased sales in B.C. and Alberta.
Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, predicts, “Sales activity this spring will be supported by the recent decline in the benchmark five-year conventional mortgage rate.
That’s because “buyers needing…insurance who opt for a term of less than five years must qualify for mortgage financing based on that rate, and not [for] a discounted rate that their lender may be offering.”
He continues, “[That] support will be of particular importance in some of Canada’s larger urban markets where home prices are higher than those in smaller markets.”
The number of newly listed homes was also little changed in February, having edged up 0.6% on a month-over-month basis. As with sales activity, there was a roughly even split between the number of local markets where new listings increased and those where listings fell.
The number of new listings nationally would have declined, but there was a 7.8% increase in listings in Toronto, where January saw the lowest level of listings in more than three years.
However, monthly declines in Vancouver and Edmonton offset Toronto’s gain.
CREA also looked at housing supply versus demand in February. This metric represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.
Last month, there were 6.4 months of inventory at the national level, down slightly from 6.5 months at the end of January. As with the sales-to-new listings ratio, the months of inventory measure continues to point to a well-balanced housing market at the national level.
As well, the association found the actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in February 2014 was $406,372, an increase of 10.1% over February 2013.