Average Canadian house price hit $504,350 last month, up 11% in past year

The average price of a Canadian home eclipsed $500,000 last month, and it was the best January for sales in a dozen years.

Best January for home sales since 2008, Canadian Real Estate Association data shows

Last month was the best January for home sales in Canada in a dozen years, CREA says. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

The average price of a Canadian home eclipsed $500,000 last month and it was the best January for sales in a dozen years, new data from the Canadian Real Estate Association showed Friday.

The group that represents realtors said in a release on Friday that the average price of a Canadian home that sold in January was $504,350. That's an increase of 11.2 per cent from the same month a year earlier.

January is not typically a big month for home selling, as cold weather keeps would-be buyers indoors. So while the number of homes sold in January was slightly lower than it was in December, the sales volume was enough to make it the strongest January for house sales since 2008. More than 27,000 homes changed owners during the month, and two-thirds of all markets saw an increase in activity, CREA says.

On the price side, the average selling price went up by its biggest annual pace in almost four years. But as TD Bank economist Rishi Sondhi noted, that eye-popping figure is somewhat skewed because it's being compared against a time period when the market got hammered by new stress test rules for mortgages.

"It's worth noting that, while annual price growth heated up in January, the increase was flattered by a favourable year-ago comparison," he said.

That notwithstanding, there were some undeniable bright spots, he said. Alberta's average price posted its first annual increase in more than two years, up four per cent in the past year. "And in B.C., the average home price climbed at its fastest year-on-year pace since early 2018," he said.

As it often is, the national average is still skewed by feverish activity in two of Canada's biggest and most expensive housing markets — Toronto and Vancouver.

If those two cities are stripped out, CREA says the average Canadian home outside those two markets was worth $395,000 during the month.

BMO economist Robert Kavcic took particular note of the data from Toronto, which showed that the number of home sales in Canada's largest city has now fallen for four months in a row.

"But here's the thing," Kavcic said, "new listings have fallen much faster than sales in recent months and, while up in January, the level came into the year matching the lowest [seasonally adjusted] in a decade.

"Suffice it to say that there is probably plenty of pent-up demand in the Toronto market that is waiting to be satiated," he said. "And, for the record, every major market around southern Ontario is now looking at average prices up by double-digits from a year ago."