Canadian Real Estate Enters A National Seller’s Market, As Sales Jump

Canadian real estate buyers are facing less inventory, and more competition. Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) data shows the sales to new listings ratio (SNLR) increased in most markets this past January. The rising ratio, used to help understand demand, reached a “seller’s market” last month. Not just in one place either – the whole country is now a seller’s market.

Sales To New Listings Ratio (SNLR)

The sales to new listings ratio (SNLR) is one way to gauge relative demand of inventory. Analysts use it to help determine how fast new listings are coming in to replace sold inventory. The lower the ratio, the more inventory will build. The higher the ratio, the tighter inventory is. When people talk about supply and demand, this is one of the core metrics used to understand it.

The SNLR is a straightforward read. When the SNLR rises above 60%, the market is a seller’s market – and prices should rise. When the ratio falls below 40%, the market is a buyer’s market – and prices should fall. Between 40% and 60% the market is considered balanced, and priced right for demand. Generally the ratio needs to stay in the range to see it respond in the expected manner. There’s also a few caveats, such as priced right for the market now, doesn’t mean it’ll be priced right later.

Canada Enters A National Seller’s Market

Canada entered a national seller’s market last month, after a big spike in sales. The SNLR for Canada’s urban aggregate reached 60.5% in January, up 6% from a year before. Montreal had the highest SNLR of any city at 79.8%, up 9.6% from last year. Halifax followed with an SNLR of 79%, up 14% from a year before. Ottawa came in third with an SNLR of 78.6%, up 8.4% from a year before. The national number is the highest for January in at least 3 years. The top 3 cities have also seen at least 3 consecutive increases for the month.

Sales To New Listings Ratio

The sales to new listings ratio in selected Canadian residential real estate markets.

Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

The lowest ratios of any urban market were all located in the Prairies. Saskatoon has the lowest urban SNLR at 42.8% in January, up 2.7% from a year before. Regina follows with an SNLR of 47.7%, up 4.7% from last year. Edmonton comes in third with an SNLR of 48.7%, up 4.7% from last year. Despite having the lowest ratios, all three markets are “balanced” by this indicator. These markets also saw improvements from a year before.

Eastern Canada Is Seeing The Fastest Rise In SNLR

Eastern Canada is seeing the fastest rise in SNLR, and it’s really fast. Halifax made the biggest jump with the SNLR reaching 79% in January, up 14% from a year before. Montreal was in second with an SNLR of 79.8%, up 9.6% from a year before. Toronto came in third with an SNLR of 58.8%, up 9% from last year. All three markets are firmly above their 2018 number as well.

Sales To New Listings Ratio Change

The percent change in sales to new listings ratio selected Canadian residential real estate markets.

Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

The only declines for SNLR were located in Southern Ontario. The Windsor-Essex region reported an SNLR of 69.8% in January, down 5.4% from a year before. London’s SNLR fell to 72.8%, down 1.9% from last year. The drops still weren’t enough to bring the markets out of seller’s territory.

Canadian real estate sales are growing faster than new inventory in all but two markets. The sudden surge in sales over the past few months, likely has to do with delayed B-20 demand. The surge in demand is removing a lot of pressure on prices to fall, which compounds inventory issues. Ironically, fewer people want to sell during a seller’s market.

Like this post? Like us on Facebook for the next one in your feed.



We encourage you to have a civil discussion. Note that reads "civil," which means don't act like jerks to each other. Still unclear? No name-calling, racism, or hate speech. Seriously, you're adults – act like it.

Any comments that violates these simple rules, will be removed promptly – along with your full comment history. Oh yeah, you'll also lose further commenting privileges. So if your comments disappear, it's not because the illuminati is screening you because they hate the truth, it's because you violated our simple rules.

  • Rob 4 years ago

    Scalp any where there’s university kids. They don’t have the 20% for new construction, so you can middle man the markup.

  • GTA Landlord 4 years ago

    When does Toronto hit the LA problem – prices are still rising, but people realized they can live in other places and earn the same income, so the urban population is on the decline.

    Nothing stops prices but an economic movement. When that hits though, watch out.

  • Bill Mcintosh 4 years ago

    Toronto-specific commentary – the USA has a lot more mobility than Canada as they have a lot more options. In Canada, people don’t move as much even from high price Toronto – it’s been that way for decades. Yes, some people move – but we are consistently net in-province/country importers of other Canadians into the city.

    Beyond this, addressing the perpetual indignation of rising home prices (likely from those who are not yet owners), there’s a trend towards urbanization pushing people into cores. We also have the greenbelt controlling sprawl (somewhat – though it could get leapfrogged like Innisfil, Barrie, etc.), high immigration, low interest rates, a recent increase to minimum wage, a strong economy, low unemployment, and some of the best climate in Canada (if you think our winters are bad, try the other 90% of the country, even an hour north – and don’t give the speck of southern BC as a counterargument – they’re the only exception). Oh, and B-20 pent up demand, FOMO, and a culture of housing-above-everything. There’s nothing at the moment pushing prices down. When these things change, perhaps prices will change. But it’s not happening anytime soon without some external shock. I get a kick out of the comments on some of these posts. All the “WTF? But people are going insolvent, how are prices rising?” or “WTF? People’s debt loads are increasing, how are prices rising?”. We need to look at the whole picture not just a single metric. There’s *always* some metric that will argue against the current behaviour of the market, but taken as a whole, I see no reason prices won’t continue to increase in Toronto.

    Oh and by the way, yes it’s objectively and measurably harder today for young adults than it was 20 years ago. But not as much as you think. 20, 30, or 40 years ago we had to live in $hitty little run down apartments and scrimp and save downpayments for years the same as you do now. The difference is, it was expected, and we didn’t whine or expect that we should be about to buy a detached home in the inner core of Toronto within a year of graduating. So while I feel sympathetic to those who now need to save 4 years for a downpayment instead of 3, and that only buys a condo downtown rather than a semi or detached a few minutes out, it’s worth keeping in perspective that things aren’t quite as dire as they appear. Save, work, invest, and live. Before you know it, it’s 20 years later, you have equity, you’re a (fiscal) Conservative and you’re listening to the next batch of young adult (fiscal) Liberals complaining about unfairness and arguing how the ‘rich’ don’t pay enough and they should get pharmacare, daycare, rebates, child funds, and who-knows-what-else on the backs of those who happen to have lived longer than they have, not realizing one day that will be them.

    • Lurkosaur 4 years ago

      “So while I feel sympathetic to those who now need to save 4 years for a downpayment instead of 3….”

      What numbers are being used here to come up with that statement? Average condo prices and average salaries? What about current rent? Are you using an average or current new rent average to subtract from income before dp savings? Or perhaps, people living with their parents was a thing in the past too?

      It’s not that your numbers can be refuted, you seem smart enough to know that it can be, it’s just that I think your comparison with the past, numbers to numbers, will show a whole different picture of what young folks go through today to get their foot in RE (and these are not folks that just graduated) and I think its a bit on the dishonest / ignorant side, depending on how much you know.

      If you did the math for then and now, and it compares well with your experience as mentioned above, put it here so we can all be enlightened on how similar life was however number of years ago.

  • alvi 4 years ago

    Canada tends to more urbanized than USA and has more immigration relatively speaking. All data points suggest a net migration to the GTAA so massive exodus does not seem imminent

  • Average Man 4 years ago

    Absolutely a valid question. Add to that, Toronto isn’t L.A. I like Toronto. I like living here. But to pretend it’s in the same stratosphere as the global entertainment capital of the world is just lies. Toronto is a nice second-tier city that is pretty good at a lot of things and great at nothing. When people act like it’s natural that Toronto should be approaching the same affordability levels as these kinds of cities, it’s like “Nah.”

    • brash2019 4 years ago


      Comparisons of Toronto to leading global cities are always hilarious to me. Have the people who make these comparisons ever visited NYC, L.A. or London?

      To imply that Toronto even has 1/10th of what those cities offer is reaching at best and laughable at worst. Toronto can be compared to cities the size of Stockholm or Barcelona, and even then Toronto loses by a long shot.

  • Old Nick 4 years ago

    It’s a perfect time to buy a 3 million dollar 650 square foot condo in Vancouver or Toronto.. If you buy now you will double your money over night, these numbers don’t make sense and are heavily messaged by the crooks that we call Real Estate agents..

    Do people understand basic mathematics? Average salary in Canada is what 50K, then how do we get houses that are worth so much?

    Seize all property owned by foreigners and give it to CANADIAN families.

  • Peter T 4 years ago

    The whole world is coming to our country to consume our real estate. Speak out against immigration, or enjoy the continued upward cost of housing.

Comments are closed.