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Sales in housing markets across Canada hit historic lows in April, taking a 57.6 per cent nose dive from April 2019, says the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Some argue, in the new reality, year-over-year comparisons are meaningless, but comparison of April sales to those of March shows national sales fell 56.8 per cent, with every major market recording sharp declines.
Sales fell by 66.2 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area, 64.4 per cent in Montreal, 57.9 per cent in Greater Vancouver, 54.8 per cent in the Fraser Valley, 53.1 per cent in Calgary, 46.6 per cent in Edmonton, 42 per cent in Winnipeg, 59.8 per cent in Hamilton-Burlington and 51.5 per cent in Ottawa.
“Never in our recent history have we dealt with such widespread effects of a pandemic that limit everyone’s day-to-day life and have forced all of us to pivot and adjust to our new reality,” says Costa Poulopoulos, chair of CREA.
The seasonally adjusted sales dollar-volume fell 62 per cent in April from March, to just under $8 billion from $21 billion .
In Calgary, the dollar decline was 55.8 per cent, to $272 million from $612 million.
Some expectations were for even less activity in April.
“We saw what was happening in Europe and the effect of the mandated lockdown order rolled out in March. We rebuilt our forecast for the year, both the public one we release on prices but also the internal financial plan,” says Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage. “We had forecast April to be down 90 per cent.”
The expectation was based on people not buying without being able to tour homes for sale, says Soper.
“We felt 10 per cent of a normal busy spring market would constitute a reasonable number of people who were in an emergency situation to buy a home,” he says. “The fact that over 40 per cent of normal buyers got out and made a transaction under the shelter-at-home guidelines means that there’s a tremendous amount of demand in the country.”
“Realtors across the country continue to comply with all government directives and advice to keep their clients safe. We’ve adopted new technologies allowing us to continue showing properties virtually as well as completing all necessary documents,” says Poulopoulos.
April will likely be the low point in most markets this year, says Soper.
“We’ll see lots of improvement in activity levels. We typically have four or five million visits per month to royallepage.ca at this time of year. At the beginning of April, volumes of visitors were down 30 per cent year over year but (as of the second week of May) we’re up 22 per cent year over year, a dramatic change over the last six weeks in terms of attitudes.
“We report on closed business not on pending business so there still will be a lag in terms of revenue and closed transactions in May because we’re looking at activity from late March and April and we really don’t expect the industry, from a business stand point, to start to pick materially until June.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020