Canada’s housing market remains on fire during pandemic, with average prices up 18% since last year

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Canada’s housing market continued its improbable run in August, as average prices jumped by almost 20 per cent from where they were a year earlier, and the number of homes sold shattered the monthly record, too.

Canada’s housing market was ice-cold in March and April but has been red-hot ever since. (The Associated Press)

 

Canada’s housing market continued its improbable run in August, as average prices jumped by almost 20 per cent from where they were a year earlier, and the number of homes sold shattered the monthly record, too.

The Canadian Real Estate Association, which represents more than 130,000 realtors across the country, said Tuesday that 58,645 homes were sold during the month, which is 33 per cent more than changed hands in the same month last year.

August is typically not a very busy month for home sales. Normally, the market starts off the year slowly in the cold winter months before spiking in the spring, cooling down through the summer and getting cold again toward the end.

But 2020 has thrown those seasonal trends out the window as lockdowns in March and April delayed a lot of home purchases and pushed the buying season until later in the year.

Despite a global pandemic that at last count had wiped out more than a million jobs from Canada’s labour market, last month was the sixth-busiest month on record for home sales, and the busiest August ever.

Average price can be misleading

Prices skyrocketed, too. The average price of a Canadian home that sold last month was $586,000. That’s up 18.5 per cent from the same month last year.

CREA says the average price can be misleading, because big sales in expensive markets like Toronto and Vancouver can skew the number.

So CREA calculates another figure, known as the House Price Index, which the realtor group says is a better gauge of the market, because it adjusts for the volume and type of housing across markets.

The HPI rose by 9.4 per cent in August. That’s the biggest annual leap since 2017.

“It has been a record-setting summer in many housing markets across Canada, as realtors and their clients play catch up following the loss of so much of the 2020 spring market,” CREA chair Costa Poulopoulos said in a press release.

“It really does seem that the spring market shifted into the summer.”

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