Real estate association says Hamilton home sales crashed, local realtors disagree

Hamilton's housing sales take hard hit during COVID-19, according to national numbers, but local realtors are reporting otherwise.

The national realtors association says market should have seen 25 per cent more sales

The national realtors association says the region saw a large dip in housing sales due to COVID-19, but the local Hamilton-Burlington board is reporting an increase. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Hamilton's housing market should have seen much higher sales than it did last month, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), but COVID-19 kept sellers at bay. 

report Wednesday from the national realtors association says that in Hamilton-Burlington "sales declined"  by 24.9 per cent from February to March, second only nationally to Calgary, which saw a 26.3 per cent drop. But the statistics have caused some confusion among local agents on the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB), as their numbers show that sales were actually up 10 per cent over the previous month. 

CREA spokesperson Pierre Leduc said the percentages in its report refer to March estimates based on past trends and current data. 

In short, he said, Hamilton-Burlington should have had 25 per cent more sales than it did.

As it stands, the month had 1,098 sales. Compared to February, Leduc agreed that the region actually saw 10 per cent more sales. 

The nearly 25 per cent decrease is the result of CREA seasonally adjusting the raw data reported by RAHB. 

According to CREA, seasonally adjusted data removes any fluctuations or abnormal periods (i.e. holidays) that would influence the numbers. 

CREA makes every month 30 days long with four weekends and excludes holidays and seasons— this averages out the data and ensures that external factors are not causing monthly highs or lows. 

Once they did this to RAHB's numbers, CREA found that "sales for the month should have been much higher." 

Nationally, CREA reported that the housing market saw a 14.3 per cent drop. 

In the coming months, should the pandemic continue, CREA anticipates that housing prices will also drop. 

"(COVID-19 has) taken the wind out of the sales," Leduc said. "Basically both buyers and sellers have moved to the sidelines to figure out a new normal."

Local RE/MAX realtor Conrad Zurini said CREA's numbers "should have been presented in a better way." 

With the way sales were progressing, Zurini said, it makes sense that March was "poised" to do 25 per cent more sales. 

But, he added, it's important to note that the month did still see an increase. 

Dip follows strong February

According to Zurini, February's sales were "off-the-charts," with the month seeing a 30 per cent increase since January and a 25.5 per cent increase since February 2019. 

So when comparing February to March, it would look like a large dip. 

When comparing March 2020 to March 2019, reports from CREA and RAHB state that sales only declined by 3.1 per cent. 

While Zurini said COVID-19 has had an impact on the market, he argues that the statistics from CREA make it seem worse than it was. 

"January and February saw increases in sales and new listings, as well as average price. For March there was growth at the beginning of the month; however, COVID-19 infiltrated our communities mid-month and slowed activity in the latter half," RAHB President Kathy Della-Nebbia said in a press release from April 2. 

"We are seeing the impact on our market activity and expect to continue to see a slowing of the market as our communities focus on this unprecedented fight."

About the Author

Jennifer La Grassa


Jennifer La Grassa is a reporter/editor for CBC Windsor. Email: jennifer.lagrassa@cbc.ca