ReMax Canada said Tuesday that the Canadian housing market "vastly improved" over the last three months, though not everyone would agree.
The real estate brokerage said in its buoyant "Market Trends Report for Fall 2010" that it expected sales to return to average levels this fall, after a slow summer, as fears over a double-dip recession ease.
"With the diminished risk of a W recession occurring, rebounding commodity and equity markets, and more positive economic data emerging daily, the outlook for the residential housing market has vastly improved over the past three months," the brokerage stated.
And yet, other figures suggest housing sales slowed over the summer across the country. Vancouver and Toronto saw sales drops of more than 30 per cent. On Monday, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said sales were 37.6 per cent lower in September than a year ago, and were only 0.8 per cent higher than August's figures.
But ReMax said the 19 real estate boards in the markets it tracks are still seeing higher prices when compared to a year ago.
It found year-to-date sales (January to August) ahead of 2009 levels in 11 markets (58 per cent) and it said prices were up year-over-year in all cities.
Greater Montreal posted a nine per cent increase in activity, while five markets experienced double-digit gains in 2010 (Vancouver and St. John's up 16 per cent, Sudbury up 13 per cent, and Winnipeg and the Greater Toronto Area up 11 per cent).
Sylvain Dansereau, executive vice-president of ReMax Quebec, said it's expected that home buyers who have been sitting on the fence about buying a home will make the decision to buy this fall.
"...We expect many of those individuals will jump back into the fold in tandem with improving economic conditions. Overall, we expect a more subdued, but very healthy market going forward," Dansereau said.
Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president of ReMax of Western Canada suggested it was difficult to compare 2010 trends to those of 2009.
"2009 defied logic in terms of residential housing activity. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," he said. "Comparisons are difficult. We cleaned up in the first quarter of 2010 because housing activity during the same period one year earlier was dismal. We're now comparing the second half of the year to 2009 and falling short of expectations. Looking at the big picture however, the market remains healthy."
Other highlights of the report:
While virtually all markets reported softened activity over the summer months, Winnipeg saw 32 per cent of all homes sell in multiple offers in August.
Montreal was the sole market still experiencing seller's market conditions, while Greater Toronto and Winnipeg were balanced, slightly favouring the seller.
First-time buyers led the charge in 58 per cent of markets, while move-up purchasers dominated in 21 per cent of markets. The remainder reported all segments working in tandem.