After roller coaster ride, 2020 forecast to go down as “fairly middling year overall” for Canadian housing market

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      Well at least it’s been quite a hell of a ride.

      Following its ups and downs amid a pandemic, the 2020 housing market is predicted to finish as an average year.

      The outlook was expressed in a recent report by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

      “It will come as a surprise to many that as of the end of August, home sales in 2020 had fully caught up to where we were at that time last year,” CREA senior economist Shaun Cathcart said in a media release.

      However, Carthart continued, that is “somewhat of a low bar as the first half of 2019 wasn’t really anything to write home about”.

      “A more useful comparison would be to ask where are we now versus where we thought we’d be before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, and on that score there is still a lot of catching up to do,” the CREA economist noted.

      “Despite some record monthly highs and lows this year,” Carthart went on, “with eight months now in the books and activity showing signs of moderating in September, 2020 is looking like it will go down as a fairly middling year overall.”

      According to Carthart, 2020 is going to be “weaker than in a non-COVID world but quite a bit better than we would have given it back in April”.

      The apparent takeaway seems like this: one can’t really complain.

      It may end up a so-so year, but hey, no one saw COVID-19 coming.

      From January to August this year, some 341,463 homes sold across the country.

      In the media release on September 15 that quoted Carthart, the CREA noted that sales were up 0.8 percent from the first eight months of 2019.

      In August 2020, national home sales increased 6.2 percent compared to July.

      Home sales in July 2020 reached 62,355.

      In a previous media release, CREA noted that the July transactions represented the “highest monthly sales figure on record going back more than 40 years”.

      These were also the “highest level on record for the month of July”.

      The housing market started a rally in May following a huge drop in transactions in April.

      Sellers and buyers stayed away from the market in April, causing deals to fall a record 56.8 percent.

      Also on September 15, Brian DePratto of TD Economics released a report on the Canadian housing market.

      DePratto noted that the resale market “defied gravity again in August”.

      He wrote that sales activity were “not just exceeding, but rocketing past the pre-pandemic pace”.

      However, the TD Bank economist had a question: how long can this last?

      DePratto noted that “level of sales activity is now in line with historic norms, suggesting that much of this pent up demand has been satisfied”.

      “Indeed, assuming the level of sales remains flat at the current pace would make 2020 the strongest year on record for housing sales, despite weaker population growth and other headwinds,” DePratto wrote.

      “While Canadian housing markets have made a habit of mocking them in the past,” the economist added, “the fundamentals augur for at least a partial retrenchment of sales activity over the remainder of the year.”