Every month I try to get a jump on the VREB by pulling the data for sales and new listings and prices from the VREB database before the official numbers are released. And every month I’m frustrated by the fact that it is impossible to match the numbers that VREB produces.
The problem of course is all of your insatiable thirsts for immediate information. Monthly stats are compiled the morning of the 1st of the following month, and the problem is that quite a lot of sales for the month have not been entered into the system yet. So what do they report for the month’s sales? Well all the sales that were reported during the month, minus the sales that were reported in previous months but collapsed. Problem is that means what gets reported as sales in a certain month are actually missing quite a few sales at the end of the month, and include several sales from the previous month. For example, as I write this, of the 280 single family sales that the database says were reported in October, 15 actually happened in September, and the total reported by the VREB is 294.
You’d think counting sales wouldn’t be so difficult.
Maybe it doesn’t matter, but fundamentally data that depends on how prompt agents are at entering their sales isn’t very reliable. Much better to just throw the whole reporting dates out the window and move to a model where everything goes by the date a sale actually happened. Collapsed sales are an insignificant number and can be tracked separately. As of now I can actually do that since I gained access to the raw data feed from the VREB and am using it to build out some better reporting tools for the market. Along with that I will at some point transition to statistics based on sales dates rather than reporting dates and thus will diverge from the published VREB stats somewhat. Stay tuned for that.
For now, we’ve got the stats as they come from the VREB. And this month is much the same as September. Overall sales down some 10% from last October with detached declining the most, and condos maintaining the feverish pace from last year.
Median prices have backed off a bit from the big jump in October, with detached median dropping some $30,000 to at $767,500 and condos down $20,000 to $370,500. The exception is townhouses where the median is up $10,000 to $510,000. As usual, monthly medians are mostly noise, what we want are the trends.
Months of inventory is ticking up but we’ll need this to go a lot higher to get back to properly balanced territory.
A positive sign is new listings which were higher in October than the 3 previous years.
The new listings combined with the frenzied pace of construction around here should be addressing some of the inventory challenges going into 2018.
Now that the stress test has been introduced, the government can back off of further interest rate increases. With the economy taking a breather, the Bank of Canada has already eased off the brakes and future uncertainty with NAFTA is not going to make them eager to get back on. The average mortgage rate paid by consumers has edged up barely a fifth of a percent from the low earlier in the year, but with the stress test (assuming people can’t find a workaround) what people have to qualify for will be more important than what they pay.