Is the housing cool-down already over? -

Is the housing cool-down already over?

Home re-sales and prices eked out a small gain in January — and yes, that includes Toronto and Vancouver.


Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

To recap:

  • Sales of existing homes edged up 1.3 per cent in January from December, the first monthly gain since September 2012, the Canadian Real Estate Association said today.
  • Compared to January 2012, non seasonally adjusted sales were down 5.2 per cent.
  • Sales activity rose 5.6 per cent from December in Greater Toronto, 4.7 per cent in Greater Vancouver and 10 per cent in Edmonton. Overall, though, monthly sales activity declines in about half of all local markets.
  • In year-over-year terms, sales were down four per cent in Toronto and as much as 13 per cent in Vancouver. In general, two thirds of local markets registered lower activity compared to January 2012, with Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and few others, bucking the trend.
  • The average price for homes sold last months was $354,754, up two per cent from the same period in 2012.
  • On average, the time lag between a new listing and a home sale was 6.6 months in January, virtually unchanged from December.
  • Sales of single-family homes and town houses registered gains, whereas condos held roughly steady.
  • The MLS Home Price Index, which adjusts for different types of properties sold, rose 3.3 per cent in January on a year-over-year basis. It was the smallest gain since April 2011.

What the analysts are saying:

  • The January reading suggests that the housing market may be stabilizing after the cool-down witnessed since tighter mortgage rules took effect in July 2012, writes TD’s Derek Burleton. According to the bank’s research, the impact of new mortgage insurance rules tends to wear out after six to nine months. Burleton expects this to be the case for the latest round of tightening as well, especially since a relatively healthy labour market and interest rates at historic lows should encourage home-buying.
  • In a report published yesterday, before today’s release by CREA, the International Monetary Fund warned that Canadian residential real estate prices are 10 per cent overvalued. The Fund also indicated that household debt to disposable income and real estate investment as a share of GDP have reached an all time high in 2012. Though the report predicted a housing correction, it said Canada is unlikely to experience “a house boom-and-bust a la United States.”