Toronto, Vancouver home sales surge as Canada’s most expensive cities move into recovery mode

[Globe and Mail – October 3, 2019]

Home sales rose sharply in Toronto and Vancouver last month as Canada’s most expensive cities continued to move strongly into recovery mode after a long slump.

Sales of all home types climbed by 22 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area in September compared with the same month last year, while average prices rose by 5.8 per cent. Much of the growth in activity came from a sharp rebound in sales of detached houses.

In Greater Vancouver, sales roared ahead by 46 per cent in September from a year earlier, but the growth came off of a low base of sales in 2018 as the Vancouver market was cooling rapidly. Last month’s sales were 1.7 per cent below the 10-year average for September, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

“The real picture is that the level of sales activity is now effectively back to normal,” Bank of Montreal senior economist Robert Kavcic said in a research note. “Unless the broader economy rolls over, look for this market to firm up further as we move into the fall.”

In contrast to Toronto, the sales surge in Vancouver came after prices fell to their lowest level since the spring of 2017, drawing buyers back into the market.

The residential benchmark price for the Vancouver region decreased in September to $990,600, down 0.3 per cent from August and a 7.3-per-cent drop from a year earlier.

The benchmark figure, an industry representation of the typical home sold in Greater Vancouver, has declined 16 consecutive times on a month-over-month basis. It has fallen from a record high of $1.1-million in May, 2018.

Regionally, the benchmark price of detached homes sold fell to $1,406,200 last month, an 8.6-per-cent decrease compared with a year earlier. The benchmark price for condos slipped 6.5 per cent year over year to $651,500 while declining 7.2 per cent to $767,500 for townhouses.

“We’re seeing more balanced housing-market conditions over the last three months compared to what we saw at this time last year,” Vancouver board president Ashley Smith said in a statement.

There were 13,439 properties listed for sale last month in the Vancouver region, a 2.7-per-cent increase over September, 2018.

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