December sales up over last year, no thanks to Calgary

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December turned out to be an active month compared to the same month in 2013, as sales activity stood 7.9 per cent higher, according to stats released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

 Sales for the month were up from 2013 levels in two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Vancouver Area and the Fraser Valley, the GTA and Montreal. Surprisingly, however, Calgary reported a decline in sales for the period.

“Given the uncertain outlook for oil prices, it’s no surprise consumer confidence in Alberta softened and moved some home buyers to the sidelines,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

“With regards to slower activity in Calgary and Edmonton, sales in these two markets had been running strong all year before they returned to levels that are entirely average for the month of December.”

According to CREA stats, home sales were down almost six per cent from November to December of 2014. However, this comes as no surprise given that home sales typically fall in the winter months and around the holidays.

While more people listed homes, a 1.1 per cent rise month-over-month, fewer homes were sold despite that rise in listings.

December sales were down from the previous month in almost two-thirds of all local housing markets and were led by declines of approximately 25 per cent in Calgary and Edmonton while activity also slipped about five per cent in the GTA.

“December sales were down from the previous month in a number of Canada’s largest and most active housing markets, indicating a broadly based cooling off for Canadian home sales as 2014 came to an end,” Klump said. “Even so, sales remain above year-ago levels in many of the same markets.”

About 481,162 homes were traded via the MLS system in 2014, which is the highest annual level in seven years. What’s more, annual sales activity in 2014 was up 5.1 per cent from the previous year and stood 2.6 per cent above the 10-year annual average.

“The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity,” said Klump.

 “There were 6.2 months of inventory nationally at the end of December 2014, up from 5.8 months in November. Together with the softer reading for the sales-to-new listings ratio, this suggests that the Canadian housing market has become more balanced.”
Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver experienced the largest price gains year over year, all above 5.8 per cent, while prices declined by 3.48 per cent in Regina, according to stats from CREA.

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