Recovery or Dead Cat Bounce? Canadian Real Estate Sales Rise Unexpectedly

Canadian real estate sales are stabilizing after last year’s massive drop. Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) numbers show a large climb for sales volume in April. The increase comes after months of negative growth, but may be more of a sign of stabilization. Last year’s decline in sales was the largest in over a decade, so it was a relatively easy beat.

Canadian Real Estate Sales Rise Over 4%

Canadian real estate sales made a climb from the multi-year low hit last year.  CREA reported 48,461 sales in April, up 21% from the month before. This represents an increase of 4.2% when compared to the same month last year. For context, it’s a 9.96% decline compared to April 2017. Most of the increase was a partial offset from the huge drop made last year. Over the past 5 years, April 2018 was the only month with fewer sales.

Canadian Real Estate Sales

The unadjusted sales for all home types, as reported through the Canadian MLS.

Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

One interesting note to take away is how big of a swing the annual pace of growth made last month. The 4.2% annual pace of growth in April was the highest since March 2018, and follows 15 months of negative numbers. April 2018 had made the largest annual decline for the month in over 10 years. The rise this year appears to be largely normalization. Regardless, it’s hard to discount the massive change in direction.

Canadian Real Estate Sales Change

The annual percent chage of unadjusted sales for all home types, as reported through the Canadian MLS.

Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

Real Estate Markets With The Biggest Gains, Saw Big Losses Last Year

Canadian real estate markets with the biggest gains, showed big drops last year. Niagara is reporting the biggest growth with 632 sales in April, up 22.7% from last year. Last year Niagara experienced a 15.4% decline compare to one year before that. Toronto sales came in at 9,042 last month, up 16% compared to one year before. In 2018, Toronto real estate sales had fallen 22.3% from the year before that. One exception would be Quebec City in third with 908 sales in April, up 12.1% from last year. Last year, those sales had increased a massive 40.1% from the year before. The rise in Quebec comes after trailing national price increases over the past few years.

Canadian Real Estate Sales By Market

Canadian real estate sales in markets with more than 500 sales in 2018.

Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

British Columbia Real Estate Keeps Falling

British Columbian real estate markets bucked the trend, printing big drops for a second year. Vancouver real estate had the biggest declines in Canada with 1,850 sales in April, down 29.7% from last year. Vancouver had also seen sales decline 48.9% last year, when compared to the year before. Fraser Valley had the second largest drop with 1,308 sales in April, down 18.9% from last year. Last year the Valley had also seen sales decline 38.8% from the year before. Victoria came in third with 665 sales, down 10.1% compared to the same month last year. Sales in Victoria last year had already fallen 21.5% from the year before that.

Canadian Real Estate Sales Change By Market

The percent change in Canadian real estate sales, in markets with more than 500 sales in 2018.

Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

Canadian real estate sales bounced due to a large decline in the country’s largest markets last year. Large and rapid declines are usually followed by a quick bounce higher. British Columbian markets are a big exception this year, which are compounding lower. On the upside, it’s difficult to drop even further without a decline in the regional economy.

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  • Mac 5 years ago

    Hate to be the person that quotes Timothy Sykes, but he has the best explanation on volume recovery I’ve come across.

    ” traders are seeing the decline and beginning to think, “maybe I should exit here and take my profits”.

    At the same time, the trade can become enticing for people looking for a good value. This could cause a flurry of buying activity.

    You could think of it like a pressure system that you’d see on the Weather Channel. When these two things happen at the same time, they create a pressure that causes the perfect storm, briefly making the stock spike.

    However, the pressure is unsustainable, and after the flurry of activity, the downward crash continues.

    • TO Investor 5 years ago

      Except buying a home isn’t the same thing as “trading.” It’s not volatile like the stock market.

      • Mortgage Guy 5 years ago

        The technical term is literally “real estate trading.” One asset, sometimes with improvements, trades from one person to the next. The more people view real estate as a “good investment,” the more prone it becomes to acting like an investment instead of somewhere to go.

        A prudent government would look at the value of the land versus the value created by these individuals in society, and know it’s a hair on fire problem.

      • Bluetheimpala 5 years ago

        Yes the volume and short term volatility is completely different (housing is not a liquid asset) but the point is that the thinking is the same. “Oh I can make $$$, buy X and hold for Y time in days/months/years and sell for X+Profit”. However the volume difference doesn’t incubate this market. Historically, outside of pockets where there has been infrastructure enhancements or benefiticial development, YoY gains are 2%. We had multiple years where the YoY was 5-10 times that…hence the thinking above and little bounces like this, similar to what we’re seeing in the stock market, sucks in the plebes. That’s what I believe has been happening for the last 12 months approx. It’s a tease. You’ve been warned. Tock. BD4L.

        • SCE 5 years ago

          Still chirping about an impending housing crash? Didn’t you just buy a place????

          When will you fools just accept that the crash already happened. Nothing but blue skies now. Don’t have to believe me, but don’t deny the data.

          Tick tock. BD4L

      • Rob 5 years ago

        Actually it is when it comes to people and greed vs fear, human emotions, etc…

  • David Brown 5 years ago

    If you’re in BC, I would find it extremely difficult to jump back in right now with everything happening in the province. If you’re in Ontario, it’s still surprising, but the bubble hears not what’s happening around it.

    • RainCityRyan 5 years ago

      I see most folks waiting on the sidelines in BC until we all know what’s going to happen on several fronts.
      Will there be a commission on money laundering?
      Will the push for unexplained wealth orders continue/pressure build?
      How much worse will the inventory overhang become?
      RE is between 15-30% of our economy, with it being undermined how will the rest of the regional economy fare?
      Oh and of course we’re all still up to our eyeballs in debt …

      • RainCityRyan 5 years ago

        we can tick the “money laundering commission” off the unknown list … it is proceeding.
        The BC premier has appointed Justice Austin Cullen to head the commission

  • Nobody 5 years ago

    Regular homeowners, investors, and speculators are all profiting from money laundering. Think about, our equity is sky rocketing from the money coming into this country as a result of human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, drug dealing, etc. We’re a country of hypocrites who defend human rights but at the same time profit from pure evil. Gotta love Canadian values.

  • Mortage Guy 5 years ago

    Possibly of interest is the dollar volume change.

    Sales increased by 4.2% from last year, but the average sale price increased by only 0.3%.

    • Paul Robson 5 years ago

      What does that mean?

      • Joe 5 years ago

        Price levels usually lag behind sales levels. If sales levels were to sustain the increase, then price levels will follow.

        For Toronto specifically, I think there are more sales in the lower end (2m) causing the average price to only increase 0.3%.

  • SUMSKILLZ 5 years ago

    Realtors used to put 2-3 arrow, pointer signs for open houses. Last weekend I saw someone put more then ten out at various intersections. Some had balloons too! Nothing says “classy” like balloons…

  • GB 5 years ago

    I sold my Downtown Toronto Condo in October. Renting now. Hoping to get in cheaper or maybe a semi – seems like better value.

    Semi market downtown is crazy tight – around 2 months of supply or less.

    Interesting to see SEMIs in the core trading for more than detached homes in Lawrence Park or Leaside. Seems the everyone wants to be downtown ? Traffic is just too crazy – and TTC solutions are a decade away.

    Good luck to all.

    • Ethan Wu 5 years ago

      Not only are TTC solutions a decade away, there’s going to be 10 years of pain while they build them out.

  • MoMo 5 years ago


    After boomer is now 63.

    In your 50s you usually buy your biggest house. Now they are done ? The last decade was great for volumes. Now for the aging in place to continue.

    Average millennial is only 27 – end with extra Education and Debt aren’t driving sales yet.

    We could be in a dead zone for awhile.


  • Jon snow 5 years ago

    the demand for core Toronto will not go away any time soon. people have a strong desire to live in the city for work, school and lifestyle and are willing to pay a premium, even willing to give up on things like cars and bigger homes. tech jobs are paying higher salaries to attract talent. GTA prices have already dropped and some good value for detached homes. For those ‘investors’ who can’t continue leveraging their properties in a slowing market, they will probably sell at discounted prices for the rest of this year but don’t expect 2014 prices.

  • NJ 5 years ago

    Don’t get too exited RE pals, if you keep holdn up your ‘return of the bull’ reporting for long, your daddy is gonna get you and peek the rate this monthend quoting “inflation worries”…

    • me 5 years ago

      You do know GTA condo prices both resale and new construction are ar record Prices – higher than when the Toronto Detached (and overall average prices) peaked in the Spring of 2017.

      • NJ 5 years ago

        Stage is set nice for an increase this time, “Recent economic data have been stronger than expected, supporting the Bank’s view that growth in Canada is becoming more broadly-based and self-sustaining” lol


      insolvencies are up 6% last month. We will see a rate cut.

      • RainCityRyan 5 years ago

        I wrote this big long post see-sawing back and forth about what the BoC will do in the near future but deleted it as here’s what it really boils down to:
        A rate cut (even ZIRP) would only support RE prices IFF we haven’t reached credit exhaustion/market fundamentals firm up.

        • RE EXPERT EXTRAORDINAIRE 5 years ago

          I believe insolvencies for the month of April are up 6%. I can see a rate cut coming. I wonder what people will say here if that happens lol!

          • RainCityRyan 5 years ago

            only source i have for insolvencies is the Gov’t page (just updated for March)
            if there’s some early data for April I’d love to see a link!

            Regardless of what the insolvencies for April end up @ I think we’ll see a break in the link between rate cuts and reinforced housing prices.
            BoC managed to make it all the way to 1.75% before we had to stop raising and hold/cut? This is a big red flag that we’re nearing/at credit exhaustion.

            Oh and the genie is out of the bottle on the “housing only goes up” narrative that we tell each other. Now I’ll pause for someone to tell me how this time is different.

          • RE EXPERT EXTRAORDINAIRE 5 years ago

            Rain city- I actually heard it on the radio and I thought it was announced from bdo but now I’m second guessing myself cause I cant find the article but I did find this. It says up 7.3% you

          • RE EXPERT EXTRAORDINAIRE 5 years ago

            Rain city- to say we are approaching the end of a cycle you should keep in mind how long interest rates were below 3% for. Like almost 10 years. We could go another 10 years up.

          • @xelan_gta 5 years ago

            You know recessions followed after rate hikes&cuts cycles much more often then they didn’t? In fact in US there was only one example of soft landing when recession didn’t follow rates hikes & cuts cycle.
            You are correct rate cuts are coming but I wouldn’t be so happy about it.

          • WorldClassCitizen 5 years ago

            The source you site is a law firm that deals with insolvency. That is an add my friend not actual legitimate information. Check your sources.

            Oh BTW I hear the costs of bridges is going to sky rocket I got a great deal on one in New York if you’re interested.

          • MM 5 years ago

            Xelan_Gta, if I remember correctly, you sold your condo few years ago claiming yourself an expert. You main argument has been that rate hikes are coming and coming and coming and that it guarantees price crash.
            Sure, rate cut environment has its own risks and benefits, you are able to talk about them loudly. However we should not forget that your first forecast was wrong since rate hikes stage is over.
            Canada is full of such “experts”;)

      • RE EXPERT EXTRAORDINAIRE 5 years ago

        World class citizen-
        After this you have to do your own homework.
        Here is a Mike Martin’s video with the stats from bnn Bloomberg…. your kind of info source so I will look forward to your excuse after.
        I will be awaiting your apology for your ignorance…

  • Cannuckster 5 years ago

    You know nothing, Jon Snow …. sorry, but GOT made me do it!

  • Asterix1 5 years ago

    The RE can keep publishing their garbage benchmark stats! For sales volume, a slight raise of sales vs a terrible April 2018 numbers is nothing to scream about.

    Newspapers publish TREB rubbish at the start of the month, followed by CREA rubbish mid-month! Cant escape the propaganda. The industry keeps adding layers of lipsticks to a dirty pig. Fundamentals will keep acting like water and rinse the makeup off.

  • M Whitaker 5 years ago

    Would like to read more info on Vancouver Island. Especially Qualicum Beach area.
    Sellers are greedy here trying to make a quick buck from the Vancouver City folks.

  • DB 5 years ago

    gta landlord i like your sense of humor.
    hmmm. did i spell that correctly…hmmmm i smell a re:t

  • AGuyInVancouver 5 years ago

    Hong Kong reoprting huge capital flight from Mainland China as trade talks collapse. Perhaps this will be echoed in Canada

    • Joseph 5 years ago

      Interesting! Any insight? Is there a good article on this or just word of mouth?

      I saw the fight in their parliament the other day. Usually it’s been the Japanese politicians who I’ve seen fighting. Crazy situation between Hong Kong and China.

  • Paul 5 years ago

    “ CREA reported 48,461 sales in April, up 21% from the month before “
    Really??? Comparing to a month that has the lowest sales volumes in 3 decades. lol. Any amount of rise in sales would look good.
    This information is confusing and misleading and on a best day,, useless.

    Catch a falling knife.

    You’re going to have the occasional upward spikes but you have to look at the overall trend.


      Hi Paul, it’s the months of inventory that has more importance. Moi shows if the inventory is moving.

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