National MLS® sales remain on track to set new record

Resale housing activity in Canada’s major markets edged down slightly in July 2006, but activity for the first seven months of 2006 remained above levels posted for the same period in any other year on record, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. 

Sales also remain on track to set a new annual record in 2006.

According to statistics released by CREA, seasonally-adjusted home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service ® in Canada’s major markets numbered 27,231 units in July 2006, a decline of 2.9 per cent compared to June.

The monthly decline in sales activity was largely the result of fewer transactions in Vancouver and Calgary, which more than offset smaller monthly increases in Edmonton and a number of other major markets.

In Winnipeg, MLS® sales also declined when compared to June, but May and June also happened to be the Winnipeg Real Estate Board’s two best months in its 103-year history.

“It stands to reason July would be a little less hectic than May and June since they were exceptional months in every possible way,” said Walter Boni, president of the WREB.

But even July posted record sales and dollar volume when compared to the same month in 2005. MLS® sales were up eight per cent to 1,186 units and dollar volume sales increased 21 per cent to $179 million, according to the WREB.

Nationally, actual (unadjusted) sales activity in July declined 4.1 per cent compared to the same month in 2005. Even so, transactions for the year-to-date in July were 2.6 per cent ahead of levels posted for the first seven months of last year.

Year-to-date activity reached the highest level on record in Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Saint John, and a number of other major markets.

Year-to-date by the end of July, the WREB reported MLS® increasing by three per cent to 7,593 units and dollar volume up 17 per cent to $1.16 billion.

Seasonally-adjusted MLS® residential new listings Canada-wide numbered 47,557 units in July. This represents an increase of 1.9 per cent from the previous month, and is the highest level in more than 15 years. 

The monthly decline in sales and the increase in new listings caused the market to become more balanced than during any other month in the past 5.5 years.

New listings reached the highest level on record in Calgary, and the second highest level on record in Toronto and Montreal.

The WREB said year-to-date new listings are 10 per cent higher than the same period in 2005.

“The increase in new listings in many major markets will provide buyers with a wider selection of homes to choose from,” said CREA president Alan Tennant. “Consumers should work with a REALTOR ® to locate and purchase the home of their dreams.”

The MLS® residential average price in Canada’s major markets was $294,924 in July, up 10.1 per cent from levels recorded one year ago. Average price surpassed all previous monthly records in a number of major markets, including Edmonton, London and St. Thomas, St. Catharines, and Montreal.

“Sales edged lower in Vancouver and returned to more normal levels in Calgary, which caused total resale housing activity in Canada’s major markets to ease slightly in July,” said Tennant. 

“Demand for resale homes remained strong across Canada’s major markets in July 2006,” said CREA’s chief economist Gregory Klump. “Interest rates are stable, so strong full-time employment and rising incomes will continue to support the resale housing market over the rest of the year. 

“Market conditions will become increasingly balanced as sales activity softens and active listings continue to rise,” he added. “This will help to keep price gains in check in the coming months.”