Sales last month were up 0.9% over September, even though listings declined 0.8%, which is in stark contrast to the August-to-September increase of 5%.
The Canadian Real Estate Association compiled the data, and another key finding was that October’s sales-to-new-listings ratio of 56.7% was up 1% from September, indicating the market is balancing.
Year-over-year sales in October decreased 4.3%, but the national average sale price of $505,937 was up 5%. However, the average sale price dropped to $383,000 when the GTA and GVA were removed from the equation.
REMAX Integra CEO Pamela Alexander says inventory is still tight in Canada’s two largest housing markets, but that signifies a return to a stable and predictable market. Fortunately, she says, it will be nothing like the beginning of 2016, when there was unusually high activity and homes sold well over value.
“It looks like it’s heading back to a normal market, like the one we’ve been experiencing for the last 10 years,” she said. “The market is trying to find its balance across the country, especially in its two biggest markets.”
Looking ahead through the remainder of 2017 and into next year’s first quarter, Alexander expects stable and healthy price growth, which she pegs in the five to 10% range, in accordance with robust market fundamentals, like immigration, strong employment and end-user consumer mentality.
However, inventory is below normal levels and will stay that way for the foreseeable future.
“Inventory is tightening up a little bit, but there’s still a bit more inventory than there was through the beginning of 2016,” she said. “We believe inventory will remain pretty tight. Right now we’re at two month’s supply, approximately, which is pretty tight by international standards. Inventory will continue to be in demand, and many markets are going to be driven by demand.”
Alexander doesn’t expect the B20 rule changes to have a major impact on the market, either. She believes consumers will adjust to the new rules, as they always do, and that the market always finds a way to adjust to the needs of supply and demand. As an example, she cited the land transfer tax, which is largely considered the price of doing business now in Toronto.
“There is still going to be price appreciation at the beginning of 2018, even with the mortgage rules,” said Alexander. “People are going to have to adjust to the new rules, but I think they’re going to do so. The stress test is giving people opportunities also to extend amortization periods, to offer variable rate mortgages—there are a lot of products out there and the banks don’t seem overly concerned. It will be a little bit different, but I believe that consumers will find a way to make it work.”
With files from The Canadian Press
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October sales indicate the housing market is bouncing back, and the Greater Toronto and Vancouver areas are leading the way.