It was announced the Greater Toronto Area reported 8,012 home sales in March 2020, up by 12.3 per cent compared to 7,132 sales reported in March 2019. However, despite a strong increase in sales for March 2020 as a whole, there was a clear break in market activity between the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 periods. The overall March sales result was clearly driven by the first two weeks of the month. There were 4,643 sales reported in the pre-COVID-19 period, accounting for 58 per cent of total transactions and representing a 49 per cent increase compared to the first 14 days of March 2019. There were 3,369 sales reported during the post-COVID-period – down by 15.9 per cent compared to the same period in March 2019.
Metro Vancouver’s housing market saw steady home-buyer demand to begin March and a levelling off of activity as the month went on and concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak intensified.
“The first two weeks of the month were the busiest days of the year for our region with heightened demand and multiple offers becoming more common. Like other aspects of our lives, this changed as concerns over the COVID-19 situation in our province grew.” – Ashley Smith, REBGV president.
Last month’s sales were 19.9 per cent below the 10-year March sales average.
“Many of the sales recorded in March were in process before the provincial government declared a state of emergency. We’ll need more time to pass to fully understand the impact that the pandemic is having on the housing market,” Smith said. However, it is important to note real estate business is still carrying on in BC as the provincial government deemed it an essential service.
With a total of 14,662 transactions concluded, the residential real estate market in the Montreal CMA continued its momentum and posted its 23rd consecutive quarterly increase in sales.
“Montreal’s real estate market experienced record sales at the start of the year, building on the momentum of an equally strong year-end in 2019. At the same time, the number of active listings continued to decline in all areas,” said Julie Saucier, president and chief executive officer of the QPAREB.
“The resale market is becoming even tighter across the metropolitan area, putting additional and widespread pressure on prices,” added Charles Brant, director of the QPAREB’s Market Analysis Department. “The full impact of the health crisis will only be felt on sales in the next two quarters. That said, the extremely tight market conditions and very favorable financing conditions will help limit the negative impact on prices”, he added.
In Victoria, it isn’t business as usual either. “Last month, we stated that we saw the spring market kicking off,” says Victoria Real Estate Board President Sandi-Jo Ayers. “The start of March continued that trend and we saw higher year-over-year sales for the first weeks of the month – spring had officially sprung with multiple offers, new listings and sales. And then the world changed. Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, we have tracked a predictable downturn of sales in our market. Moving forward it is hard to predict what our spring market will look like, but it will likely be very different than recent years as our entire community slows down to stay healthy.”
In Calgary, March sales activity started the month strong, but quickly changed, as concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 brought about social distancing measures. This had a heavy impact on businesses and employment.
“This is an unprecedented time with a significant amount of uncertainty coming from both the wide impact of the pandemic and dramatic shift in the energy sector. It is not a surprise to see these concerns also weigh on the housing market,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
The reduction in both sales and new listings should help prevent significant price declines in our market. However, price declines will likely be higher than originally expected due to the combined impact of the pandemic and energy sector crisis.
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