The Canadian Real Estate Association has launched a new system for tracking home and condo sales prices aimed at giving buyers and sellers a more precise picture of what’s happening right in their neighbourhoods. The new system will track Canadian and regional home sales and price escalations based on “benchmark prices.” Those benchmarks are based on quantitative factors (the number of rooms, bathrooms, age of home) and qualitative factors (proximity to schools, parks) and are intended to shine a light on highly localized factors that may be skewing prices up or down but not necessarily reflect market conditions.
CREA has also established a new MLS Home Price Index — similar to the Consumer Price Index which measures price inflation — that tracks prices relative to January, 2005 based on house type, be it single-family homes with one or two storeys, townhouses, row homes or condo apartments.
As of January, the benchmark price of a single-family home in Toronto hit $606,600 — $100,000 more than the $499,800 benchmark price for a similar home in the rest of Canada. That Toronto home cost 50.3 per cent more than it would have in January, 2005.
Over time, far more localized data will become available for MLS districts that should paint a clearer picture of neighbourhood trends.
“One of the key goals is to take a little bit of volatility out of housing statistics,” says Jason Mercer, senior analyst for the Toronto Real Estate Board. “It’s going to provide a good tool for consumers to understand where their home fits into the market.”
CREA will continue to release its traditional Canada-wide and regional breakdowns of average and median home prices, which it claims are often “misinterpreted” and can swing significantly, as national prices did last year when there was a rush of foreign investors snapping up homes in high-end Vancouver neighbourhoods.
Right now, just five major real estate boards across Canada are part of the new system — the GTA, Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Calgary, and Greater Montreal.
Eight more boards will start using the new measures this year, and another eight boards next year.