canadian-home-sales-record Photo: James Bombales

While home sales across the country declined slightly in November from the previous month, they were up a healthy 32 percent over the same time last year.

In other words, it’s the type of stellar performance that’s become standard during 2020’s post-spring lockdown period.

But the strong home sales figures published today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) represent more than just a continuation of the market’s remarkable performance in the second half of the year.

Canadian home sales are a hair’s breadth away from breaking an all-time record for transactions in a single year.

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“Many Canadian housing markets continue to see historically strong levels of activity, so much so that a new annual sales record this year is looking more likely every day,” said CREA Chair Costa Poulopoulos, in a media release.

According to CREA, there have been 511,449 home sales between January and November this year. That’s up 10.5 percent from the same 11-month period in 2019 and already the second-highest January to November sales tally on record.

This year’s total is behind 2016, the current record-holder, by only 0.3 percent. So yes, you read that right, in this bizarre and anxiety-inducing year, Canada’s housing market may very well see its best-ever performance for home sales.

In fact, CREA’s Senior Economist Shaun Cathcart thinks it’s more likely than not to be a record-breaker.

“If I had to sum up the Canadian housing story in 2020, I would say it’s gone from weakness because of COVID to strength despite COVID,” said Cathcart. “It will be a photo finish, but it’s looking like 2020 will be a record year for home sales in Canada despite historically low supply.”

On the pricing side, CREA’s Home Price Index rose 11.6 percent over the previous year. Meantime, the national average home price was up nearly 14 percent to $603,000, though the association said that this is heavily influenced by the country’s most expensive markets, Toronto and Vancouver.

The propulsive price growth is linked to the record-low supply — measured in months of inventory — that Cathcart mentioned. CREA said there were 2.4 months of inventory at the national level by the end of last month, meaning it would take 2.4 months to sell all the homes listed on the market at the current rate of sales. In Ontario, supply is exceptionally tight, with 21 markets across the province posting less than one month of inventory at the end of November.

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