Photo: James Bombales

After a month of waiting to see how the new mortgage stress test would affect the Canadian housing market, the results are in. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, national home sales dropped 14.5 per cent month-over-month in January to the lowest level in the past three years.

“This morning’s report was a highly anticipated one as it gave us a glimpse of how the implementation of updated [mortgage] rules impacted the Canadian housing market and how the market is faring in light of higher interest rates,” writes TD senior economist Michael Dolega, in a note released today.

According to Dolega, the numbers confirm many economists’ predictions that the new mortgage rules would cause a pull-forward of sales activity in December, followed by a steep sales drop in January.

“We expect some near-term volatility to persist in the market, as the fallout from the new rules and rising rates is absorbed by buyers and sellers, before some stabilization mid-year,” writes Dolega.

For more context on where the Canadian real estate market is headed this month, here are 8 stats to help put things in perspective:

1. Activity in January was down in three-quarters of all local markets. Nevertheless, a few markets saw a year-over-year jump in sales, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal and Halifax.

2. “The piling on of yet more mortgage rule changes that took effect starting New Year’s Day has created homebuyer uncertainty and confusion,” writes CREA president Andrew Peck, in a statement. “At the same time, the changes do nothing to address government concerns about home prices that stem from an ongoing supply shortage in major markets like Vancouver and Toronto. Unless the supply shortages are addressed, concerns will persist.”

3. The number of newly listed homes dropped 21.6 per cent year-over-year last month, the lowest level since the spring of 2009. New supply was down in 85 per cent of local markets.

4. The listings plunge shifted the national sales-to-new-listings ratio to 63.6 per cent in January. A ratio of between 40 and 60 per cent is considered balanced, while readings below and above are considered buyers and sellers markets, respectively.

5. “The decline in January sales provides clear evidence that the strength in activity late last year reflected a pull-forward of transactions, as rational homebuyers hurried to purchase before mortgage rules changed in 2018,” writes CREA chief economist Gregory Klump, in a statement. “At the same time, a large decline in new listings prevented market balance from shifting in favour of homebuyers.”

6. The MLS Home Price Index rose 7.7 per cent year-over-year, which was the ninth consecutive deceleration in year-over-year gains, a trend that began last spring.

7. Apartment units posted the largest year-over-year price gains in January at 20.1 per cent, while single-family homes only saw a 2.3 per cent year-over-year increase.

8. The national average sale price was up by 2.3 per cent year-over-year, to $481,500. That price tag would be a lot lower if not for the expensive Vancouver and Toronto markets — without them, the national average price becomes $374,000.

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