The February real estate market has come to a close, and the weather is warming quickly. Snow has for the most part disappeared for the 2019 winter season, and spring is now officially here. I apologize for the delay in getting my February market update out, but things here have been extremely busy, to say the least.

As far as Hamilton is concerned, we had a fairly balanced month. Sales were down about 4 percent vs. last February. Last year, 490 homes sold, but this year we had 473 sales. February 2018 was a month where we saw heightened levels of activity due to the new mortgage rules that had come into effect in January.

People who still had mortgage pre-approvals (of which there were many) were fighting to get into the market before the approvals expired. Consequently, we saw a very busy fall and holiday season. So we’re comparing this February to a bit of an abnormally busy February, due to those events.

We should see things moving into positive territory in the coming months. But, up or down a few percent, things remain fairly balanced.

New listings are up 9 percent. More sellers are putting their homes on the market. Last year we had 709 homes hit the market. This year, we had 770. Sellers appear very optimisitic. Active listings are up 48 percent. We’ve got 1,197 in February versus 810 last year.

Active listings are up, partly because a lot of new listings are hitting the market and also because we’ve had inventory in some areas sitting a bit longer over the winter months. Seasonally, things are a bit slower. Again, this varies drastically from community to community; if you remove the suburbs from the equation, I’d venture to say that sales activity was up and active listings numbers are probably much tighter when you venture into the city. The numbers for Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough and others definitely inflate the averages, as there are more homes sitting on the market in the suburbs. Again, price point is a factor. Homes that are in the higher brackets are taking longer to sell than homes in the $0 to $500,000 range. Things in Hamilton proper are definitely moving faster.

Average sales prices are up 2 percent. Last year, the average price for a home was $505,351. This year, it is up to $517,439. Again, this number can vary quite wildly depending on the area. If you eliminate the suburbs, Hamilton proper is up a lot more. For the mountain and downtown, we’re seeing significantly higher average sales price growth, and really the suburbs are dragging the averages down, as we’re seeing less growth in the more expensive suburban areas.

The city of Hamilton is faring quite well. Through some of the different changes that we’ve seen over the last few years, Hamilton proper really has remained quite robust. The market is moving, with very a tight supply of homes in those areas. Each community varies, with Hamilton leading the way with percentages much greater than 2 percent. It’s important to look at these numbers on an individual community basis, and even within each community, certain neighbourhoods can vary wildly.

Average days on market went down 0.4 percent. Last year, it took 34.2 days to sell a home; this year it was 33.8 days. We’ve seen over the past few years in and around a 30-day average. Things are moving very consistently, though the market has tamed versus 2017.  If you zero in on Hamilton, I would venture to say average days on market is still quite a bit lower than these averages.

We’ve been hovering around 30 days through most months. We’re seeing that things are a bit over the 30-day mark, but again that’s seasonal. During the winter, we saw it peak over 30, as we get into the busier months, it’ll trickle down. Looking at each community individually is going to be very important here. In certain communities, things are selling much faster.

We have more new listings, more active inventory, yet average days on market is down. Despite the increased level of inventory, homes are still selling faster, which I think really speaks to the strength of the market going into March.

Breaking things down on a community basis, Hamilton West, Center and Mountain are really leading the way. Prices are up significantly there. Communities like Dundas and Ancaster are a bit down on average over the course of the month, but again, these things really fluctuate. Average sales prices aren’t a great indicator as to where things are heading month by month.

Sometimes, in these smaller communities, where few homes trade hands, it can sometimes boil down to a few less expensive homes selling in a community and dragging the value down. It’s not that homes are down on average because average sales prices went down one month; it could just be the type of homes that ended up selling in February versus the year before. A couple of expensive sales could swing the numbers up or down quite easily.

Values are moving forward in all our communities here, but looking at things this month, the subruban communities are dragging the averages down. Overall, it was a very busy month, with lots of buyers entering into the market and lots of new listings becoming available.

Even with everything that the weather threw at us, we had a fairly positive February. Moving into March, things will obviously pick up now that the weather has improved. I look forward to giving you a quick update in only a couple of weeks’ time, when the real estate association releases our March numbers.