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Home listings leap, but still seller's market

Interesting article by Garry Marr, Financial post... 

Consumers began listing their homes in droves last month which should take some pressure off the heated housing market, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Thursday.

The Ottawa-based group said 97,663 homes were listed for sale across the country in March, a 20% increase from the same period in 2008. A total of 233,402 new listings have come on stream since the beginning of the year, more than in any other first quarter period on record, CREA said.

Still, said Mr. Pahud, it is a sellers' market.

"Negotiations still favour sellers during the home buying process in a number of major Canadian housing markets,” Georges Pahud, CREA's president. “The rise in new listings means that buyers may shop around more before making an offer.”

Home sales are starting to slow. Seasonally adjusted homes sales in the first quarter were down 3.4% from the fourth quarter of 2010.

Prices are still rising with average home selling for $340,920 in March, up 17.6% from a year ago. It was the second highest national average price on record, just $300 below the peak reached last October.

"This continues to point to a normalization in Canada’s housing market,” said TD Securities portfolio strategist Ian Pollick.

“In the final analysis, after an extremely strong run-up in existing home sales activity in 2009 and early 2010, it appears that the supercharged pace of activity is beginning to cool slightly.

“Additionally, when one considers mortgage rates are starting to lift higher, coupled with the introduction of the new mortgage rules (which takes effect April 19) and then the HST implementation (which takes effect July 1), it’s plausible to assume this strength can ease. This should eventually work its way into putting the housing market into a more balanced range.” 

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