Home Sales Vary Across Canada

Home sales increased a further 6.2 per cent in August, rising to another new all-time monthly record, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Unlike the previous two months in which activity was up right across the country, sales in August were up in about 60 per cent of local markets. Gains were led by the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) and British Columbia's Lower Mainland. With ongoing supply shortages in many parts of Canada, it is interesting to note that the GTA and Lower Mainland also saw a considerable amount of new supply become available in August, it says. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity posted a 33.5 per cent year-over-year gain. It was a new record for the month of August and the sixth-highest monthly sales figure of any month on record. Transactions were up compared to last August in almost all Canadian housing markets. So far this year, some 341,463 homes have traded hands over Canadian MLS Systems, up 0.8 per cent from the first eight months of 2019. Yet, "it will come as a surprise to many that as of the end of August, home sales in 2020 had fully caught up to where we were at that time last year; however, that is somewhat of a low bar as the first half of 2019 wasn't really anything to write home about," says Shaun Cathcart, CREA's senior economist. "A more useful comparison would be to ask where are we now versus where we thought we'd be before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, and on that score there is still a lot of catching up to do.” Despite some record monthly highs and lows this year, with eight months now in the books and activity showing signs of moderating in September, 2020 is looking like it will go down as a fairly middling year overall – weaker than in a non-COVID world but quite a bit better than expected back in April, he says.