Recovery underway in key Canadian markets ends
buyer dominance in resale housing, says RE/MAX
Kelowna, BC. (July 13, 2009) – Pent-up demand for residential housing has bolstered sales in Canada’s major markets—a clear signal that the housing sector has shifted into recovery mode, says RE/MAX.
More balanced market conditions have emerged, effectively ending the stronghold that buyers had on the market over the past six to eight months. Canada’s largest markets, Toronto and Vancouver, led the charge—with June sales among the highest in history for both local real estate boards. Close to 11,000 properties changed hands in Toronto, up 27 per cent over one year ago, setting a new record for sales in the month of June. The figure was just slightly off the all-time peak of 11,146 units. Residential sales in Greater Vancouver increased 75.6 per cent over one year ago, to 4,259 units, just short of the record breaking 4,333 sales, which occurred in June 2005. Overall, major markets began to recover in March, posting escalating sales in April, May and June. The impetus is expected to continue throughout the remainder of 2009, with most centres now forecasting year-end sales on par or ahead of 2008 levels.
“While sales are the leading indicator, there are other clear signals that recovery is indeed underway,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “Renewed consumer confidence, albeit cautious, has been key, supported by improved economic news. In addition, we’ve seen sale price-to-list price ratios climb across the country, rising as high as 105 per cent in some communities. Vendor incentives have also come off the table, both for resale and new housing stock.”
The recent surge in resale activity can be attributed to three key factors—pent-up demand, low interest rates, and greater affordability. The combination—in conjunction with declining inventory levels—has created heated market conditions in hot pocket neighbourhoods, prompting a resurgence in multiple offers in June. Average prices are holding steady or climbing, days on market are down, and inventory levels continue to tighten, especially at entry-level price points.
“The strength of the market, amid the most significant global recession in recent history once again underscores its relevance to the nation’s economic engine,” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Canadians believe in homeownership --a fact best illustrated by the purchasers who ventured forward in recent months and snapped up some of the best real estate deals this market has seen in years. Those who chose to sit it out on the sidelines are now facing a market in transition, characterized by the threat of rising interest rates, low inventory levels, and upward pressure on housing values.”
Although the current pace may be unsustainable, all markers point to greater stability in the market, leading to healthier activity in the long run, with inventory levels a key variable influencing pent-up demand.
Market by market overview:
Greater Vancouver Area
Growing consumer confidence levels have prompted a serious upswing in home buying activity in the Greater Vancouver Area, with sales in June (4,259) the second highest on record for the local real estate board. From White Rock to Vancouver, radiating out to the Fraser Valley, bidding wars are breaking out on well-priced product. In Kitsilano, an estimated 50 per cent of housing is selling in multiple offers. Low interest rates and increased affordability – average price is still significantly lower than one year ago – have served to stimulate market activity. Inventory levels have been on
the decline in recent months, placing greater upward pressure on values. First-time buyers are driving freehold housing sales at the $600,000 price point, while those looking at more affordable alternatives are considering condominiums starting at substantially less. Balanced market conditions prevail overall. Pent-up demand has also been building, with local purchasers and international investors both active in the market. The upcoming Olympics, and the completion of the much anticipated Canada Line this Fall are expected to further bolster the cautious optimism characteristic of the Greater Vancouver market at present. Home buying activity, as a result, is forecast to continue at a healthy pace for the remainder of the year, with year-end sales slightly ahead of 2008 levels.