Na­tional home sales down over 50% in April


Sales in hous­ing mar­kets across Canada hit his­toric lows in April, tak­ing a 57.6 per cent nose­dive 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, says Soper.

“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,” he says.

Poulopou­los says, “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.”

April will likely be the low point in most mar­kets, says Soper. “We’ll see lots of im­prove­ment in ac­tiv­ity lev­els. We typ­i­cally have four or five mil­lion vis­its per month to roy­ 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.

“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 ... to start to pick up ma­te­ri­ally un­til June.”

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