Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A real estate sale sign is shown in a west-end Toronto neighbourhood, on March 7, 2020.

Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press

Home sales across Canada slumped in the second half of March and deteriorated further in early April, as the coronavirus pandemic shut down activity and thousands of jobs disappeared.

Last month, 41,151 homes were sold on a seasonally adjusted basis. That was down 14 per cent from 48,240 in February, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), with activity declining sharply in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and the country’s other large markets.

The real estate association said preliminary data from the first week in April suggest both sales and new property listings were only about half of what would be normal for that time of the year.

Story continues below advertisement

“As we get further into this quarantine, we are seeing it wind down increasingly,” said Shaun Cathcart, the group’s senior economist.

Sales started plummeting in the second half of March when the federal and local governments restricted activity and warned Canadians to stay at home. In the weeks leading to mid-March, real estate markets in Southern Ontario, Montreal and Vancouver were overheating with buyers competing for properties and driving up prices.

“Home sales and listings were increasing heading into what was expected to be a busy spring," said CREA president Jason Stephen in a statement accompanying the results. "After Friday the 13th, everything went sideways.”

In Alberta, where the economy has struggled since the 2015 oil crash, sales plummeted by 27 per cent in Calgary. In Edmonton, sales dropped by 15 per cent.

In Ontario, it wasn’t just major cities that suffered. Smaller regions that had seen a surge in investor demand also took a hit. Sales in Niagara, which borders the United States, dropped 26 per cent; the Hamilton-Burlington area in Southern Ontario fell by one-quarter. Kitchener-Waterloo, London and St. Thomas also saw double-digit declines.

However, the average selling price of a home across the country rose slightly to $530,433 in March from $527,416 in the previous month. The real estate association said the price growth reflects what was occurring in the first half of March, not the current situation. Calgary and Toronto each recorded a tiny price decline month-to-month, while Saguenay and Sherbrooke in Quebec saw prices ease in the low single digits.

"The numbers that matter most for understanding what follows are those from mid-March on, and things didn’t really start to ratchet down until week four,” Mr. Cathcart said.

Story continues below advertisement

Although the Bank of Canada cut the benchmark interest rate from 1.75 per cent to 0.25 per cent in March, fixed-mortgage rates are not down as dramatically. This week, lenders started reducing those rates after raising borrowing costs at the end of March. The most popular type of mortgage in Canada, the five-year fixed-rate mortgage, is similar to what it was prior to the pandemic.

The cheaper loans are not encouraging potential home buyers to get into the market. At the same time, fewer homeowners are putting their properties up for sale. The number of newly listed homes declined by 13 per cent in March compared with February. The shortage of listings coupled with the lack of demand could keep prices from spiralling down.

“As much as sales are slowing, so are listings,” Mr. Cathcart said. “The market balance has not changed. It is still tight. It seems like everyone is putting activity on pause.”

With unemployment skyrocketing during the coronavirus pandemic, personal finance columnist Rob Carrick offers some tips on how to deal with creditors and make a bare-bones budget. The Globe and Mail

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies