A record-breaking number of homes were listed for sale in the Hamilton area last month, according to new data from The Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB).

And that spike marks a measurable move toward a "healthier" and more balanced market, says the area's real estate board.

'We appear to be moving toward more balance, which tends to be a healthier market overall.' - RAHB CEO George O'Neill

A whopping 3,208 new listings were processed through the organization in May, which is 41.1 per cent higher than May of last year and 34.8 per cent higher than the 10-year average.

In a statement, RAHB CEO George O'Neill said that two months ago, realtors were talking about the low inventory of listings — yet now, they're already talking about a record for new listings.

"The increase in listings suggests that homeowners have been watching the market, seen home values increase significantly over the last year or two, and decided to take advantage of those increases," O'Neill said.

Seasonally adjusted sales of residential properties were 3.5 per cent lower in May than the same month last year, but O'Neill still considered things steady.

"With the increase in listings and steady sales, we appear to be moving toward more balance, which tends to be a healthier market overall," he said.

When there are more listings, buyers have more choices, and the "balance" he refers to is the balance between what sellers want and what buyers want in terms of price. The lower the number of listings, the more tilted the market is in favour of sellers, fostering bidding wars and higher prices.

Nonetheless, prices in the region continued to rise, the RAHB says. The median price of freehold properties rose by 20.2 per cent over the same month last year, while the median price for a condo increased by 22.3 per cent compared to the same time period.

The average sale price in the region for May was $604,848, the organization says.

Provincial measures

In April, the provincial government announced measures to try to help cool Toronto's extreme housing market growth, with an additional focus on the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

O'Neill says that he has often been asked whether or not the change in the amount of listings relates to the province's Fair Housing Plan.

The plan expands rent control to all units, including those built after 1991, takes a look at realtor practices like representing both buyer and seller on a deal, and caps rent increases at 2.5 per cent even if the rate of inflation is higher, among other measures.

He wonders if even just the talk of controls contributed to people deciding what to do.

"Our members reported seeing a shift in the market even before the announcement," O'Neill said. "It's possible that sellers read and heard that changes were coming and decided to act sooner rather than later.

"Sales remain strong, suggesting the Non-Resident Speculation Tax announced in April doesn't seem to have had an influence in our area."