August 15, 2009
Sales of existing homes this past June jumped 8.7 per cent higher than in May.  According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, this marked the fifth straight month of increased activity. Based on one year figures, sales were 17.9 per cent higher than the previous year. Re-sale activity jumped at a record pace in the second quarter by 31.5 per cent from the first quarter of 2009.

These numbers bode well for the landscape industry that always enjoys the after-effect of a housing boom.

Canada’s housing market has shown itself as one of the most resilient sectors during the economic downturn. Analysts contribute the rise to a combination of record low interest rates and government stimulus.

“The turnaround in Canadian housing this year might be the single most surprising turnabout we’ve seen in any economic indicator I can think of,” said Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. “The fact we saw a little bit of a rebound isn’t a total shock, but the extent of it is nothing short of amazing.”

Millan Mulraine, an economics strategist at TD Securities, is reported to have said that record low mortgage rates were a key difference between the real estate bust of the 1990s, when interest rates were on the increase.

Economists say the fact that the market’s relatively stable condition and health of Canada’s banking sector created an opportunity for homebuyers to take advantage of record low interest rates, more affordable prices and government stimulus.

The rise in sales activity and a drop in new listings have caused the inventory of unsold homes to fall to the lowest level since August 2007 and well below the peak hit at the beginning of the year.

Other sectors of the housing market have also registered improvements. Figures from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation show an increase, while Statistics Canada building permits figures reveal that construction intentions rose 14.8 per cent in May. Meanwhile, RE/Max data showed sales in Toronto set new record highs for June activity.