January of 2013 saw an increase in the number of home sales across Canada when compared to January of last year. Nationwide real estate sales have been fairly steady since the slow down this past August, mostly a result of another round of lending rules for mortgages.
Sales driven by the MLS System and other listing services increased by 1.3 percent nationwide, and continued the five-month long trend of small but steady increases from month to month.
Roughly half of local markets saw the increase in January sales, including some of the most active areas across Canada. For example, Greater Toronto saw an increase of 5.6 percent while Greater Vancouver came in at 4.7 percent. Edmonton saw almost a ten percent increase. Areas that saw softer sales, thus tempering the nationwide numbers included Calgary, St Thomas, London, Regina, Montreal, the Fraser Valley and Ottawa.
Wayne Moen, president of the Canadian Real Estate Association, noted that the latest report is much like the previous one, except that the local markets are seeing more movement. The upward trend in both Toronto and Vancouver was unexpected. But Moen reminded people interested in investing in real estate to find out what the market was doing in the area they were looking into and not depend so much on a national report.
If we look at actual activity levels, rather than the seasonally adjusted numbers, sales for this past January were 5.2 percent less than in January 2012. Looking at it this way nearly two thirds of the local real estate markets were looking at declines for the month. Exceptions included Guelph, Windsor-Essex, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary.
As far as listings, nationwide they increased by 1.6 percent this past January compared to the same month one year ago. That is the first increase seen in like month to like month comparisons since September of 2012.
Greater Toronto has the highest number or listings, making up for an exceedingly slow listing month in December of 2012. Other high profile markets that saw bigger listings numbers included Vancouver Island, the Fraser Valley, Greater Vancouver and Montreal. All of these areas saw a declining number of listings during the last few months of 2012.
Another measure of real estate market health is how many listings are on offer in that market. By the end of this past January the nation had 6.6 months worth of inventory on the books. By the end of December that number was a bit higher, at 6.7 months. Since August of 2012, the average number of months of available inventory varied between 6.6 and 6.7.
Home prices increased by two percent this January compared to last, averaging $354,754 nationwide. Greater Vancouver did see fewer sales this January, which meant the area did not exert as much influence on the national numbers. Even so, when you take Greater Vancouver out of the equation, the national average for sales comes in at a 3.3 percent increase.