Hints of Active Spring Market in March Housing Data: CREA

The Canadian housing market will experience some degree of improvement this year, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

According to the latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), there are expectations that the Canadian housing market will pick up on some level this year, despite home sales and prices being mostly unchanged on a month-over-month basis in March 2024.

Image: CREA

Home sales activity recorded over Canadian MLS Systems went up 0.5 per cent between February and March 2024, holding around 10 per cent below an average of the last 10 years.

The National Composite MLS Home Price Index (HPI), however, was mostly unchanged on a month-over-month basis in March 2024, dipping 0.3 per cent.

According to the data, weekly tracking revealed a bounce in new supply around the second week of March, which lead to a burst of sales in the last week of the month, and a jump in listings in the first week of April.

“We’ll have to wait for the April data to really understand how buyers are responding to all these new properties for sale, but if you look at last spring as a guide and add to that record population growth in the last year and a central bank that is far more likely to cut this summer than raise like it did last year, it could get interesting,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s senior economist. “Will the story be high interest rates keeping a lot of people on the sidelines this year, or the much expected and anticipated first rate cuts enticing a lot of people back into the market? Probably a bit of both.”

According to CREA, the actual number of transactions came in 1.7 per cent above March 2023. That was a smaller gain than those recorded in the previous two months, although a part of that reflects a mostly inactive market during the Easter long weekend.

The number of newly listed homes declined by 1.6 per cent on a month-over-month basis in March, according to CREA.

“While the official March monthly numbers were quite flat, anecdotal evidence from late last month and early April suggests activity is ramping up,” said Larry Cerqua, chair of CREA.

With sales increasing and new listings falling in March, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 57.4 per cent, according to CREA.

CREA noted that the long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 55 per cent. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 45 per cent and 65 per cent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings above and below this range indicating sellers’ and buyers’ markets respectively.

There were 3.8 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of March 2024, unchanged from the end of February, according to CREA.

The actual national average home price was $698,530 in March 2024, up 2 per cent from March 2023.

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