The national picture

Last month, home sales across Canada fell by 17.5% compared to September 2020. But demand isn’t tapering off. In fact, CREA says it was the second-busiest September on record.

Fewer sales aren’t always the result of buyers leaving the market. In Canada’s case, they just have far fewer properties to make offers on than they did a year ago.

“There is still a lot of demand chasing an increasingly scarce number of listings, so this market remains very challenging,” Cliff Stevenson, chair of CREA, says in a statement.

One stat to keep an eye on is the sales-to-new-listings ratio, which is a solid indicator of supply-demand dynamics. A balanced market is typically in the range of 40% sales to 60% new listings, with 60% and above for listings indicating a sellers’ market.

In September, Canada’s sales-to-new-listings ratio hit 75.1%, meaning buyers snapped up more than three-quarters of new listings by the end of the month.

It’s no surprise, then, that the national average price of homes sold in September — $686,650 — was 13.9% higher than a year ago.

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Regional highlights

Ontario

Sales in Ontario were down 20.8% compared to September 2020, but they were still 11.8% higher than the ten-year average for the month, according to the Ontario Real Estate Association. Home sales for the first nine months of the year were up 28% compared to the same period last year.

Here’s where things get ugly for Ontario homebuyers. The number of new listings was down 25.6% versus last September, and was the lowest figure recorded for the month in more than a decade. Active residential listings were down 38.9% year-over-year and are at their lowest point in more than 30 years.

There’s only one direction prices can move when supply is this low.

The average price of resale homes in Ontario was $887,290 in September, showing a 19.7% annual increase. Three areas of the province saw the average price increase by even more:

  • Western Ontario (Windsor, Chatham-Kent, London, Sarnia): 27.4% ($585,298)
  • Northeastern Ontario (Barrie, Kawartha Lakes, Muskoka, Peterborough): 24.1% ($761,102)
  • Southern Ontario (Brantford, Hamilton-Burlington, Niagara, Guelph): 20.3% ($774,626)

In the Greater Toronto Area, the average price of detached, semi-detached and townhouse properties all increased by more than 20%. The average price of a detached home in Toronto’s 416 area code hit $1.8 million.

British Columbia

Canada’s second-busiest real estate market experienced a similar month as Ontario. According to data from the British Columbia Real Estate Association, sales were down 19.9% year-over-year in September. The average price still managed to increase by 14%, hitting $913,471 by month’s end.

Active residential listings were down a colossal 36.8% compared to September 2020. In the Fraser Valley and Victoria, two of the province’s hottest markets, residential listings were down by more than 50%.

Prices saw the most movement in Chilliwack, Powell River and Vancouver Island. The average price in each area increased by more than 27% annually.

Prices in B.C.’s largest cities, Vancouver and Victoria, continue rising, but at a less scorching pace. The average price in Greater Vancouver, $1,174,305, was 6.5% higher than a year ago, while Victoria’s, $889,515, showed a 5.8% increase.

Quebec

Sales in Quebec are also being suppressed by evaporating supply, but buyers there have a ways to go before they’re paying prices in the same ballpark as those in Ontario and B.C.

Active listings for single-family homes and condos were both down by more than 25% in September, which helped drive the price of each asset class higher. The median price of a detached home rose 16% to hit $365,000. The median condo price increased 17% to $335,000.

While prices in Quebec City fall well within the provincial averages, those in Montreal can be considerably higher. The median price of a detached home in Montreal was $504,500 in September; that of condos was $365,000.

The Prairies

Things are much more stable on the Prairies, where market softness from 2015 until 2020 has left a fair amount of excess housing stock for buyers to choose from.

The most active province of the bunch in September was Alberta. A rocking Calgary market helped increase provincial activity a healthy 8.7% year-over-year, with the average detached price increasing 6.2% to $473,541.

Sales dipped between 12 and 20% in Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg, with the average price in Regina ($335,656) rising by 5% and Winnipeg’s ($318,400) increasing by 11.5%. Saskatoon’s average price dropped by 3% to $327,104.

Atlantic Canada

Even though Atlantic Canada was late to the real estate bacchanal, housing markets out east are getting their share of the action:

  • New Brunswick set a new record for activity in September, with sales coming in 32.9% higher than the ten-year average for the month. The provincial average price, $262,200, was 31.1% higher than a year before.
  • Nova Scotia just wrapped up the second-busiest September in history, which drove the average price of homes sold to $356,757.
  • A historic increase in new listings helped make Prince Edward Island’s market somewhat more approachable for buyers. The average price still managed to rise by 13% year-over-year to reach $337,801.
  • The Newfoundland and Labrador market broke its sales record for September and had its second-highest monthly sales total in history. The benchmark price for single-family homes in the province — $325,000 — was 12.3% higher than a year before.

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About the Author

Clayton Jarvis

Clayton Jarvis

Reporter

Clayton Jarvis is a mortgage reporter at MoneyWise. Prior to joining the MoneyWise team, Clay wrote for and edited a variety of real estate publications, including Canadian Real Estate Wealth, Real Estate Professional, Mortgage Broker News, Canadian Mortgage Professional, and Mortgage Professional America.

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