The housing market is highly seasonal. I’m writing this in the dead of winter. There aren’t typically a lot of listings at this time of year so, by extension, not a lot of sales, even if everything that becomes available is still selling. For that reason, many people don’t seem to pay as much attention to housing between, roughly, the start of a new school year and the following spring.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed  many observers of the real estate market seem surprised in March, that the market has continued to evolve over the six or so months they hadn’t been paying attention to it.

As we head into what might be the most headline-grabbing housing year ever, this blog post is to provide an update for those who may have been sleeping on the real estate market for the past few months.

In 2021, the spring market  was a record-setting one. Record number of sales. Record low supply. Record-low months of inventory. Record-high sales to new-listings ratios. Record price growth. So, the question is, how is 2022 shaping up in comparison? Let’s look at some numbers.

The seasonally adjusted number of properties listed for sale on Canadian MLS® Systems on the first day of February 2021 was a little under 125,000 – half of what it was in 2014 and 2015. It was a milestone at the time because after six years of decline it had officially dropped below the previous record-low set all the way back in the fall of 2002, almost 20 years earlier. On the first day of February 2022, that inventory number was 87,000, down another 30% from the previous year.

What about the number of months of inventory? Heading into the spring market of 2021 we had around two and a half months of inventory, a record-low at that time. For reference, the previous national seller’s market of the early 2000s never really dropped below four months of inventory. On January 1, 2022, and again on February 1, 2022, we had just 1.6 months of inventory, almost a full month below levels seen one year ago.

One of the features of the 2021 spring market was a surge in new listings in February and March which led to a huge surge in sales. It would be nice to get something like that again this year.

But, the competition for those 2021 spring listings also resulted in the strongest price growth ever at the time. The seasonally adjusted national MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) aggregate composite benchmark price rose by almost $20,000, or 2.8%, just between January and February 2021, then by that much again between February and March. Big gains.


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