More listings mean more choice for home buyers

The number of new listings of homes for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® in Canada’s major markets set a second consecutive monthly record in May 2008, according to statistics released by the Canadian Real Estate Association CREA.

WinnipegREALTORS® president Darlene Clare reported Winnipeg followed the national trend, when the association recorded over 4,000 new MLS® listings  in April and May.

“Buyers will have more to choose from with the increase in housing inventory on the market,” Clare added.

Nationally, record numbers of new listings are creating more balanced resale housing markets in many major centres, according to CREA. 

Nowhere has this trend been more evident than in Regina and Saskatoon. These were the tightest of Canada’s major markets at the beginning of the year, but the combination of a surge in new listings and slowing sales activity put them among the most balanced of major resale housing markets in May. 

CREA reported a similar, but less pronounced, trend also pushed Vancouver’s resale housing market into a more balanced position in May. These markets joined Calgary, Edmonton and Windsor as the most balanced major markets in the country.

“The resale housing market has evolved in just a few short months,” said CREA chief economist Gregory Klump. “The record number of new listings means more opportunities for buyers.”

New MLS® residential listings in Canada’s major markets numbered 54,029 units on a seasonally adjusted basis in May — the highest level on record. This was an increase of 2.2 per cent over the previous peak reached in April.

The new record resulted largely from record or near-record numbers of new listings in Vancouver, Victoria, Regina, Saskatoon, Toronto and Ottawa, which more than offset a monthly decline in new listings in Edmonton and Calgary, where the number of new listings continued retreating from their peaks in March.

Seasonally-adjusted MLS® sales activity in Canada’s major markets edged lower by 0.5 per cent month-over-month to 26,902 units in May. The small monthly decline resulted mostly from fewer transactions in Vancouver, Regina and Saskatoon. 

A monthly decline in activity in these cities offset an increase in transactions in Toronto, Ottawa and London & St. Thomas.

In contrast to the easing trend in many major markets, MLS® home sales activity in Ottawa reached new heights in May. Transactions for the first five months this year also continue to run ahead of activity for the same period in any previous year in Regina, Thunder Bay, and Newfoundland & Labrador.

Reflecting an increasingly balanced housing market, the major market MLS® residential average price rose just 1.1 per cent year-over-year to $337,071 in May. While this is a new record for average price, it is the smallest year-over-year price increase in more than seven years.

“Unlike the situation in the United States, re-sale housing prices in Canada continue to increase,” said CREA president Calvin Lindberg. “The evolving market, however, means the increase in average price is below the double digit percentages reported during the record-setting years of 2006 and 2007.”

New records for MLS® residential average price were reached in a number of major markets in May, including Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, Hamilton-Burlington, Kitchener-Waterloo, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Saint John (N.B.), Halifax-Dartmouth, and St. John’s (NF. & L.).

In Winnipeg, the average residential-detached home price rose 13.7 per cent over May last year to $221,431. The average condominium sale price rose 23 per cent over May 2007 to $184,836.

“Rising food, fuel and home prices are denting consumer confidence,” said Klump. “Increasingly cautious home buyers may keep listings on the market longer before being sold, which increases the importance of realistic pricing.”