"Sales in many housing markets continue to recover from winter's deep freeze," CREA President Beth Crosbie said. "At the same time, activity softened in some of Canada's West Coast housing markets. This shows how local and national housing market trends can be very different."
Led by British Columbia and Alberta – who reported a 16.8 per cent and 14.8 per cent sales increase, respectively – March 2013 saw 41,387 houses change hands in March; up from 39,448 a year ago.
Canada’s two westernmost territories also reported major year-over-year sales jumps with Northwest Territories enjoying a 175 per cent sales increase and Yukon reporting an 80 per cent increase.
However, despite the slight boom in sales to start the spring season, home buyers didn't exactly flood the market.
"There's little doubt that winter's icy grip prompted many potential home buyers to put off house hunting," said Gregory Klump, CREA's Chief Economist. "That said, we'll have to wait and see what happens in April because while overall sales improved in March, there was little evidence of a flood of pent-up demand being released."
Despite this, CREA believes the sales figures don’t provide a completely accurate snapshot of the overall demand for housing in Canada.
"It's important to keep in mind the distinction between sales activity and housing demand," Klump said. "Some markets, like Toronto and Calgary, are seeing multiple offer situations for some listings where each ultimately results in a single sale. This means national sales are being constrained by a lack of supply despite strong demand in some markets, since Greater Toronto and Calgary combined account for a one-quarter of national activity."
Homes sales have started to bounce back from a relatively cool winter market, with Canada seeing a 4.9 per cent year-over-year sales increase in March.