Vancouver Is The Fastest Cooling Real Estate Market In Canada, Toronto Not Far Behind

Last year’s booming real estate markets are this years fastest cooling ones. Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) numbers show a major shift in SNLR in September. The indicator, used to determine a buyer’s or seller’s market, actually fell in all but two major markets.

Sales To New Listings Ratio (SNLR)

The sales to new listings ratio is a simple but powerful indicator used by the real estate industry. It’s what it sounds like, the ratio of homes sold compared to the number of new listings for sale on the MLS. CREA uses it to determine whether a market is a seller’s or buyer’s market. A seller’s market, when the ratio above 60, generally sees an increase in prices. A buyer’s market, when the ratio is below 40, generally sees a decrease in home prices. Between those are a balanced market – easy peasy!

Two notes to keep in mind are the speed in change and multiple listings of the same property. A fast changing ratio could see a market act like the opposite reading. That is, if a buyer’s market is rising quickly, it may seem like a seller’s market. The opposite is also true, so context is important. A market may only be making a pit stop in balanced territory before making a full swing.

The other issue is agents often cancel and resist to game statistics, creating a lot of new listings. This is less of an issue, since re-listing a stale property means the same thing – weak demand. Using active listings only obfuscates the number of stale listings. There’s pros and cons, but just remember that no indicator is perfect. Context is everything, so use multiple indicators before coming to a market conclusion.

The Highest SNLR Are East of Toronto

The major regions with the highest ratios are London, Ottawa, and Montreal. London’s SNLR reached 76.8 in September, the highest in the country. Ottawa came in second with an SNLR of 68.7, up from last year’s 62.5. Montreal came in third with a ratio of 68, up from last year’s 61. The highest SNLRs are all east of Toronto, and trailed price growth over the past few years.

Sales To New Listings Ratio – September 2018

The sales to new listings ratio in Canadian markets with more than 500 sales in September.

Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

Toronto and Vancouver Real Estate Are Amongst The Lowest Now

The lowest ratios were observed in Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver. Edmonton had the lowest of any major region, falling to 46 in September. Calgary did slightly better with 47.6, still down last year’s 54.9. Toronto came in third with 49, down from last year’s 56.8. Vancouver rounds out the list at 4th lowest, with an SNLR of 50.7. None of these cities have a whole lot in common, so there’s not a lot to take away from the pairs.

Montreal and Ottawa Real Estate Markets Are The Sole Winners

Only two major markets saw improvements to the SNLR – Montreal and Ottawa. Montreal’s ratio of 68 is 11.48% higher than last year. Ottawa’s SNLR of 68.7 is up 9.92% compared to the same month last year. Seriously, no other market with more than 500 sales in the month saw growth from last year.

Sales To New Listings Ratio Change

The percent change of sales to new listings ratio in Canadian markets with more than 500 sales in September.

Source: CREA, Better Dwelling.

British Columbia’s Real Estate Markets Lead Declines

BC is home to the fastest cooling markets in Canada. The SNLR in Vancouver reached 50.7 in September, down 21.76% from last year. Fraser Valley fell to 56.4, down 20.23% from last year. Victoria fell to 63.6, down 16.43% from last year. Toronto was the fourth fastest falling market with a SNLR of 49, down 13.73% from last year. These markets all saw unsustainable growth, so a slow down shouldn’t surprise.

Only two major markets saw growth, with all others cooling, showing this is a national trend. A few schmucks in government are blaming the stress test, but that’s unlikely. Most markets don’t have price to income ratios high enough to cap buying. Vancouver is one exception, but prices were so far detached from local incomes the impact was minimal. Instead, this might have more with higher interest rates. Steep prices and the rising cost of debt servicing is lowering the incentive to jump in.

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  • Jason Murphy 6 years ago

    Vancouver will recover, it was just a slowdown ahead of the election. Fully expect sales to bump higher now that it’s over.

    • TRK 6 years ago

      Same with Toronto, election today. Once it’s clear what the policies are, people will jump back into buying.

      • Enough of this 6 years ago

        Sure thing guys.. “election” is the reason for slowing.. obviously things are starting to get tight for the realtor/bull crowd. Have fun with that wishful thinking as you make your way into the abyss. Up came and went, now it’s down time. Buckle up

      • neo 6 years ago


        The policies in place have nothing to do with municipal politics. OSFI and the BOC don’t care who the mayor of Toronto and Vancouver are.

      • Willy 6 years ago


    • Asterix1 6 years ago

      The ELECTION! That was really funny! Wow, unbelievable…

      Is that what CREA/TREB/REBGV are telling you to tell your dwindling client base? Enjoy the 1/4 point raise in a few days, more to follow.

      • SUMSKILLZ 6 years ago

        I laughed too! Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Kramer and Newman are interviewing homeless men to staff their rickshaw venture. One man keeps blurting out senselessly, “its the government” …..

    • Mtl Matt 6 years ago

      Come on, who gives a f*** about municipal elections when deciding to buy a house. I never, ever checked who the mayor was when moving between cities.

    • Cash 6 years ago

      To be clear, the Vancouver housing market has crashed. It’s pretty clear where prices go from here. Lots of precedent.

      Kennedy Stewart promises to triple vacancy taxes. Doubtful his policies will rececitate Vancouver sales.

      If you are exposed in Vancouver, best to liquidate before your lender does it for you.

      • Beh G. 6 years ago

        Why would a tripling of the vacancy tax resuscitate the market?!

        If anything, it would incentivize speculators and other owners of empty homes to list their properties, further increasing new listing and reducing the SNLR.

        This would only add further downward pressure on prices by increasing supply while demand is dwindling due to tighter credit conditions.

    • Ron Lead 6 years ago

      Well, it’s you vs. several leading hedge funds that have bet against the city. I’m going with the HF managers on this one. 50% decline over 3 years.

    • Greg 6 years ago

      Idiots like Jason Murphy and TRK are the exact reason why the Canadian economy will collapse. No knowledge and no sense.

  • Panda King 6 years ago

    How is it falling in Toronto? Sales are up from last year.

    • Beh G. 6 years ago

      From 6379 to 6455?! That´s barely more than 1% and lower than population growth so once you do that adjustment they were actually down compared to last September.

  • David Shamir 6 years ago

    How is it possible people are still delusional in thinking sales can always beat a record? There’s only so many people that want and can afford a home. Combine that with new units, and demand for resales can only be so high for so long.

    • The Amazing Mathmagician 6 years ago

      Ask an average person you know how much they think Toronto prices will rise next year. You’ll get something like 10% to 15%, because they think it’s the “average” growth rate.

      At 15%, prices should double every 5 years. The price of a condo should be almost $7 million according to their math, because they never stop to think for two seconds how do people buy the millions of shoebox condos at that price?

  • Scott 6 years ago

    London real estate is crazy right now. Up 21% on average prices, 107.2% sales to new listings in St. Thomas. Lots of immigration, employment, and people fleeing Toronto to drive it higher.

    • queali 6 years ago

      Ive been tracking real estate sales in quite a few of the major cities and St. Thomas is not selling at 107%

    • Enough of this 6 years ago

      I’ve heard tales of this place you speak of. A place filled with wonder and bliss. The streets glittering with gold, wine flowing rivers, muses whispering the endless secrets of the universe while gifting eternal ecstasy. Names where heard, but it was not Elysium, Zion, Eden or any other. Instead the echoes arriving as a breeze on a warm summer day shared with us mere mortals the dream of cities laced with the magic of the gods. Vancouver, Toronto and yes London became a part of our worship. If only we could be blessed to be a part of such fantasy.. I mean reality.. Please take our hands and guide us dear sir.. guide us.. guide us.. lol

  • Jay 6 years ago

    Supply of money buyers can borrow is slowly dwindling.. another BoC rate hike this Wednesday, and I bet at least 2 more by the end of Q2 2019.

    people will be buying, but not at these current prices.

    gg no re

  • Derek 6 years ago

    London is east of Toronto? London, England?

  • rustinpeace 6 years ago

    hikes are going to have a big impact. People just dont understand how cheap money has been over the past 10 years. This was not the normal. On a half million mortgage every hike is the equivalent of 40k tacked on to the original home price. The normal rate will be around 3-4% in about 16 months. For people that got in with massive mortgages or investment properties with low rates will feel it. Wait till the next two hikes. You will see a lot more properties hitting the market. The supply of buyers is falling. Trust me I am in the market for buying a house and I make good money but I know not to over extend myself. Bank approved me for 900k . I only need 500k and I will not under any circumstance pay for a crappy house in Scarborough in a bad neighborhood with a ton of crime and next to a rail line for 900k. I don’t understand the people who actually pay that kind of a premium. The big downturn will start with the condo market falling which will be followed by detached.

    • Asterix1 6 years ago

      I agree with everything that you say, but…

      Luxury market, single detached, townhouses are already down in GTA. The condo market is next (and last) to fall in this crumbling deck of cards.

  • Rick Abrams 6 years ago

    Sometimes it seems like no one has heard of the business cycle. When the ups and downs are smoother, it is best. Rapid fluctuations in prices are bad. These seems like corrective actions, maybe a little over due, but better than what happened in the US before the Crash of 2008.

  • Im Therious 6 years ago

    I know you guys are a daily housing blog, but covering these other “big data” topics would be informative, I think. Getting data may be a challenge, but these stats would shed light on where things are headed, even though we can kind of guess at this stage…

    In my mind:

    – House prices vs some kind of economic indicator (TSX60, income, unemployment, bankruptcies ???) over the last 50 years
    – House prices broken down by price (bottom 10%, middle 80%, top 10%) over time and grouped by market.
    – Comparison of the Canadian housing market starting from 2000 vs Japan starting in 1980, with a few good measures thrown in, e.g., interest rates, stock market indicators, etc.. (I requested this in a previous comment)

    Keep up the good work.

    …and I’m Therious.

  • Al Daimee 6 years ago

    The slowdowns experienced are healthy for keeping growth normal. Since the 2008-9 correction, prices on average rose 11% year over year across all housing types in Toronto. The 30 year (1986-2016) historical average in Toronto is approx. 6.5% and was experienced through 2 booms, a much larger and prolonged recession (1990-1996) with double digit interest rates and a secondary, minor recession in 2008-9 where prices in Toronto gave back about 10% in 6-9 months before resuming a large bounceback.

    A short-term break in price growth is healthy in allowing incomes and savings to catch up to prices. Rates needed to rise to offset inflation which is higher than the 2% target that BoC is looking for.

    Top this off with a lot of confusion over what industry watchers are saying is in store for the future and you will see people sit on the sidelines waiting for a clear trend to emerge. There are differences in opinion and that is causing a lot of would-be buyers to pause their buying plans.

    IMO, I think now is a pretty good time to take advantage of the combination of lower rates and a bit less competition for QUALITY properties. Sales are down compared to peak numbers due to buyer absorption and the rush to quality, of which there is still not enough supply to meet demand, so sales appear to stagnate.

    I put my money where my mouth is and recently bought an upgrade home (and it was still in a 3-way bidding war after 2 days on the market), moving from condo to house, because I do believe there is price appreciation in store for Toronto real estate and it will come more from the freehold housing side than condo side after the strong run in prices for condos.

    For those who are paying current rental rates in Toronto, a closer look at ownership makes sense, as the rent + invest vs. buy argument is still in favour of buying over the next 5 years, even with real estate growing at 3-4% per annum in the next 5 years.

    • John 6 years ago

      “For those who are paying current rental rates in Toronto, a closer look at ownership makes sense, as the rent + invest vs. buy argument is still in favour of buying over the next 5 years, even with real estate growing at 3-4% per annum in the next 5 years.”

      Lol, yes, if housing sees growth every year then buying makes sense. What’s the worst that could happen right? Lose a job, sell your house, collect profit. Rinse & Repeat.

      Let’s glaze over the current trends, at home and abroad (AUS anyone?). Let’s not consider what happens if house prices dont rise. Especially ignore the possibility of a job loss and declining home prices. It’s all make-believe anyway.

      Just for you Al, because you seem like a nice guy, I’ll explain the joke! You spew TREB words and employ sales tactics like associating yourself to the product, “I have this exact same model at home!” But you’re on a bear blog that reports data to the contradiction of everything you said. The only thing make-believe is the borrowed money typical people would need to buy a home in today’s market.

      • Al Daimee 6 years ago

        BD used to seem objective in the beginning and has progressed into a bear blog. It’s so true, this blog is so bearish and one-sided that it is actually dangerous when people read this and act (or sit out of the market) based on such a polarized view.

        Many years ago, I used to be that guy: the person who listed to media channels and not those who were living the day-to-day in the trenches. It cost me a lot of money sitting out of the market for a couple of years in 2004.

        I partake in this blog from time to time as a balancing voice to all of the negativity out there!

        • someguy 6 years ago

          There aren’t very many people around who are more negative than me as it relates to the future of Canadian real estate and the inflated stock markets, etc. But I agree with you in that BD seems to feel the need to force too much of a negative spin on everything. (An increase of 0.04% to 0.05% YoY — that’s a 25% increase!) I think the big picture tells a very negative tale, and on that front I agree with BD, but that doesn’t mean that every bit of info that comes in should be spun that way.

        • @xelan_gta 6 years ago

          I think you are totally missing the point. I haven’t followed this blog before 2017 but I may assume that it was “objective” because headwinds/tailwinds were mixed and direction of RE market wasn’t clear.
          Now BD became “bearish” because pretty much every single piece of macro data, public opinions and government policies are pointing to a further contraction of credit and decline of RE market.

          If you ask people on this blog when they become “bearish” I’m pretty sure that vast majority will answer you: “on or after 2016” when first cracks appeared in RE market.
          After 2017 foreign buyers’ tax and interest rates tightening it became even clearer where everything is heading. B20, vacancy tax in 2018 reaffirmed it even further.

          I’m sorry to hear that you missed opportunity in 2004, but pretty much every bear knows that prices in GTA recovered from 1989 crash only around 2010.
          Affordability is almost 2 times worse now than it was in 2004 (70% of income vs 40%) so I’m not even sure how you can build a bear case in 2004.

          So in my view BD is bearish for a reason and if you need a dose of bullish data you can always refer to TREB/REBGV/CREA forecasts or RE industry “experts” opinions who rarely even know what the yield curve is.

        • Simpletown 6 years ago

          Thanks Al. It’s good to have an objective view represented by an industry professional. We should all follow your lead and buy now. Realtors know what’s going on and have no incentive to mislead or misrepresent. The best time to buy is now, always.

        • Trader Jim 6 years ago

          That’s because it didn’t exist before 2017. 😂

        • Mister Miyagi 6 years ago

          Al, you’re a terrible real estate agent if you thought it was a bubble in 2004, when prices were 20% below the 1990 inflation adjusted high, but you think they aren’t a bubble after a 30% single gain – also know as an exhaustion move.

          You’re two steps from being a used car salesperson, and it’s disappointing that you aren’t aware the YOU CANT LEGALLY GIVE INVESTMEMT ADVICE!!! Become an investment dealer if you want to do that.

          BTW, Many people on here are anonymous because legally many of us can’t use our real names due to compliance issues with people that are actually licensed to explain investments.

    • Mossy 6 years ago

      Al Daimee,

      Did you ever see the BD post about how it would take FORTY ONE years for incomes to catch up with home prices in Toronto? Here’s the link:

      I don’t think this break you speak of is going to be short term.

  • Steve Threndyle 6 years ago

    I read a story, think it was in Friday’s Globe, that said that a majority (can’t recall exactly) of first time home buyers take on the MAXIMUM MORTGAGE THAT THEIR BAND WILL ALLOW. (Then, of course, there is the bank of mom and dad and the ‘shadow lending market’, not to mention ‘zero down financing on a new Ford F-150 and suddenly, without having kids or being insured against job loss, the average debt is at 140 percent of household income. With ZERO safety net.

  • Vlad 6 years ago

    This site is home for bunch of sorrow losers, who shake their fist to the sky, asking to punish those who invested at the right time into RE.
    People who got balls to invest into RE years ago, when others been timing market and downsizing, got rewarded very handsomely and don’t really care about steady appreciation along the inflation now or even mild correction.

    • John 6 years ago

      Dont you have a bet with Gus about the number of interest rate increases this year? I think you’re about to lose.

  • Cat 6 years ago

    Al Daimee
    Just another realtor(royal lepage) what a story.

    • Al Daimee 6 years ago

      It’s true… I am a real estate agent and I don’t hide my identity behind any alter egos. I am an industry professional, good at what I do and provide advice in the same way I would handle my own money. You can take or leave what I say, but there are times where I would like to contribute to a conversation or express an opinion. I’ve had my bearish comments in the past (such as my feelings toward the market trend in March 2017 making absolutely no sense/overinflated).

      • @xelan_gta 6 years ago

        Al Daimee, that’s respectable and frankly, you didn’t do bad because it’s not a bad time now to upgrade from condo to detached.
        In my view it’s not the best time because price difference between condos and detached will shrink even further (in absolute terms) but it’s much better now than it was a year or two ago.

        Since you are open to discussion, here is a free tip – watch what’s happening to Greater Vancouver RE market and don’t think it won’t happen to GTA because we are in the same credit tightening cycle. Vancouver market is in free fall now and media will pick it up very soon. Try applying your bullish points and see if the market rebounds in spring 2019.

        If you are wrong about Vancouver, most likely you will be wrong about Toronto as well.

  • Cat 6 years ago

    Al Daimee
    Then identify yourself as an agent ,then tell your story.

  • Derek Brassard 6 years ago

    I think people who are seriously thinking about buying into the Vancouver real estate market now or the foreseeable future will be purchasing at the peak, regardless of whatever correction is applied. You are not buying at a fair market anything, as the ceiling prices had already been exacerbated and quite frankly exhausted by those specifically who added then removed their own listings on MLS, only so that their listings would show very few days on market after relisting them on MLS. This kind of behavior has also been exhausted. Nothing trades fairly in markets where values are into the stratosphere for garbage homes with garbage features on 33 foot frontage lots. You are not hitting the lottery when buying in a bullshit market like Scamcouver. More like left with marbles and dust after your purchase anywhere in Scamcouver.

  • Maria 6 years ago

    I fully agree with Derek. Houses in Vancouver, mostly old sheds covered in mold, moldy smell so strong, that I cover my nose when entering someone’s “million dollar nest”. That all require demolition. Yet, this Sunday, we went to Deep Cove and parked the car by the rundown, moss covered, broken windows, can’t even call it a shed “structure” that had a sign on its broken roof – “Reconstruction of Histirical Site in Progress”. Seriously?????

  • poetrycraig 6 years ago

    This is the man all tatter’d and torn,
    That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
    That milk’d the cow with the crumpled horn,
    That tossed the dog,
    That worried the cat,
    That kill’d the rat,
    That ate the malt
    That lay in the house that Jack bought.

Comments are closed.