The Canadian Real Estate Association's Annual general meeting was held in Ottawa this past weekend. I don't think you can gain a more front line, up to the minute, sense of the health and direction of the housing industry from one end of Canada to the other than by spending 3 days with more than 300 front line troops from literally every inhabitible part of the country.
To summarize the many dozens of conversations I had with representatives from this countries real estate boards, I can say that the activity in each of their respective markets attests to the fact that Canadians are still actively buying and selling homes. In Toronto and Vancouver those numbers have subsided from peaks reached in the past few years but are still well above the long term averages for their markets.
Never once did I hear anyone voice a concern that the real estate market has, is or will tank and the only bubbles to speak of were on the chins of some closest to the stage as Amanda Lange gave a perceptive address on how our education systems in North America stifle innovative thinking. (I was listining Amanda)
No one spoke of declining property values as some media has predicted. If anything there is underlying relief that we are smoothly returning to more sustainable levels of activity in most markets after more than a decade of year after year unprecedented growth in many major Canadian markets. The contrast with American real estate markets was evident in the speech given by NAR President Gary Thomas (the US National Association).
There was much dialog this past weekend about last week's federal budget and what it means for
people looking to buy a home for the first time in Canada. I have to concur with most I spoke with that we have a bigger problem with un-leveraged consumer debt and out of control credit card rates and fees than we do with our debt secured against real property in this country. I had the opportunity last fall to tell our Finance Minister Jim Flaherty my thoughts to his face (well not quite to his face as the picture shows). It appears my advice went over his head. Even with the tightening of lending rules Canadians have to contend with now, buyers are out in full force this spring.
On my return to Barrie this past monday morning I looked at the sales and new listing numbers for the past week which indicate that demand continues to outstrip the supply of good homes for sale in Barrie. This should balance out over the next few weeks but in the mean time sellers listing today have the edge and that edge should translate into getting top dollar for your home in a relatively short timeframe. I can also tell you the Canadian Real Estate industry is working on some amazing tools that will enhance the home buying and selling experience and bring more and better knowledge to the consumer. Stay tuned.