By now many of the big real estate boards have reported their October numbers. Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Montreal being the notable exceptions as well as the national board, CREA. Let’s take a quick tour across the country from west to east and see how things are shaping up using information directly form the horse’s mouth (board press releases). Let’s also watch for examples of the spin machines being put into overdrive!
Victoria (VREB.org): Real estate sales rise in October
“Greater Victoria rose in October while prices remained mixed. A total of 467 homes and other properties sold in October through the Victoria Real Estate Board’s Multiple listing Service® (MLS®), up 18 per cent from the 395 sales in September.”
Hey that’s great news! Of course what they don’t immediately tell you up front is that this is down from the 742 sales from October of last year for a drop of 37%! Count one for the spinsters.
“Victoria Real Estate Board President, Randi Masters, noted that the number of sales in October was similar to the levels seen in the late 1990s. “We were pleased to see market activity pick up last month with sales now more closely reflective of the balanced market a decade ago prior to the very active years between 2001 and 2009.”
Balanced market of a decade ago? Wow! Nicely done! Masters should teach ‘Spinning stats 101’. That’s classic!
What of inventory?
“The number of properties available for sale at the end of last month declined slightly to 4,046 but this was still 26 per cent higher compared to the 3,219 available properties in October of last year.”
Rough calculations based on current sales volume gives us a months of inventory of 8.7 months, well into buyer market territory. Average prices remained firm, actually rising above their 6 month average, but median prices continue to remain weak. I discussed this phenomenon in an earlier post, noting that this is classic market behaviour as sales dry up and new buyers at the entry level become harder to find.
Vancouver (REBGV.org): Home sales remain steady in Greater Vancouver
“Greater Vancouver home sales have remained steady over the past four months, indicating stability in the residential housing market.”
If I may paraphrase: “Sales have been consistently crappy since buyers boycotted our ridiculously high prices and the Hot Asian money went looking for better deals. Year over year stats remain atrocious, but who wants to talk about those?”
Sales in Greater Vancouver totaled 2,337 in October 2010, a 37% decrease from the 3,704 sales in October 2009.
Prices are virtually unchanged over the past 3 and 6 months.
Total inventory totaled 14,075 equaling 6 months of inventory, slightly into the buyer’s market range.
Calgary (CREB.com): Calgary buyers remain cautious
Nice to see an honest headline from one of the boards.
“Home sales in the city of Calgary were down month-over-month in October 2010, showing signs that buyers still remain cautious, despite signs of economic recovery. Year-over-year sales continued to trend lower in the month of October”
“The number of single family home sales in the month of October 2010 shrank by 7 per cent at 888, compared with September 2010, when sales were 958.”
“Year-over-year, the number of single family homes sold in October 2010 in the city of Calgary were down 31 per cent.”
The average price of a house in Calgary also declined 4% on a month-over-month and year-over-year basis. But, as noted in the release, “(the) average price is being buoyed by more sales in the million dollar plus category.” More evidence of a dying market as new buyers, the ultimate drivers of price growth, continue to shy away.
Edmonton (EREB.com): Month-over-month price drop brings properties to 2009 housing price levels
Yet another honest headline.
“Although the all-residential average price dropped 3% in October, average prices are almost exactly what they were a year ago….Stability is the key word for the Edmonton housing market,” said Larry Westergard, president of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.”
Ah yes….there’s the spin! ‘Atta boy, Larry! Way to represent!
Sales were down 29% from year ago levels. How’s THAT for stability? Total inventory stands at 7,689, representing 7.1 months of inventory, firmly in the buyer’s market range.
Toronto (torontorealestateboard.com): October Price Growth Reflects Healthy Housing Market Conditions
“Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 6,681 sales through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in October 2010. This represented a 21 per cent decrease compared to the 8,476 sales recorded in October 2009.”
Healthy market conditions?
Prices were up slightly year over year. Active listings were up 24% to 18,305. With 6,681 sales, this would give a months of inventory of only 2.8 months indicating a strong seller’s market. I smell a rat! I’m not too sure how this jives with a significant drop in sales and rise in listings. I’m going to dig a bit deeper. These numbers seem odd.
So, massively declining sales in all reporting boards along with a rise in listings. Prices remain mixed, but with the difference in the average and median prices widening, it’s indicative of an absence of new buyers, the grease that keeps markets moving. Give it some time! Sales first…..prices after.
I’ll update the other boards when they release their numbers. If anyone has some insight into the Toronto market numbers, shoot me a line.