Canadian home sales declined by 3.1% (sa m/m) in February, while new listings increased by 1.6%. The decline in sales and increase in listings eased the sales-to-new listings ratio, an indicator of how tight the market is, for the first time in 5 months. After increasing each month since September, the ratio eased to 55.6% in February, down from 58.3% in January. This put it on par with its long-term average of 55% and indicated the national market remained in balanced territory, at least relative to historical standards. There were 3.8 months of inventory—a slight improvement from January’s 3.7 but still over a month below its long-term average of around five months.

Sales declined in two thirds of the 31 local markets we track. Peterborough and Kelowna led the declines, with sales there falling by about 15% (sa m/m), followed by St. Catharines, Toronto, Moncton, Brantford, and Kitchener-Waterloo, all recording monthly declines north of 10%. Thunder Bay’s 24% increase, Saint John’s 12%, and relatively smaller increases elsewhere were more than offset resulting in a national decline. At a provincial level, it is worth noting Quebec’s 6.3% monthly sales increase, which stands in contrast to other provinces and is more than 3 times the next largest increase of 1.9% in Manitoba. February’s level of sales was 3% below the 2010–19 average level observed for this month.

Listings increased in over half (17) of the local markets we track. The number of newly listed properties increased by 14% (sa m/m) in Kelowna and 12% in Moncton, followed by 9% in each of St. Catharines, Lethbridge and Thunder Bay. The resulting national increase put February’s level of listings around 4% below the 2010–19 average level observed for this month. Given the movements in sales and listings, 19 markets were in balanced territory in February relative to 22 in January, while 8 were in sellers’ territory relative to 9 in January. St. Catharines, Barrie, Victoria and Kelowna, which were in balanced territory in January, moved to buyers’ territory in February.

Prices, as measured by the MLS Home Price Index (HPI), were flat in February relative to January, after 5 months of consecutive monthly declines. February’s flat reading reflects no change in the single family home segment, despite small declines of 0.3% and 0.7% (sa m/m) in townhouses and apartments.


After what seemed to be a surprisingly early rebound in housing market activity that started in December of last year, February’s home sales were lower than they were in January. Just as we were hesitant to declare December’s and January’s jumps as the start of continuous monthly increases to come, we hesitate to declare February’s decline as anything other than that, a monthly decline in sales activity.

In focusing on monthly changes in home sales, a change in sign from one month to the other can, at times, be over-interpreted. While February’s sales were less than January’s, registering a monthly decline, in levels, the number of sales in February was still above December’s. In fact, it was above each of the three preceding months. In other words, more homes were sold per month in February compared to September, October, November, and December. This is to say, it is important to remember that switching between positive and negative monthly changes is a regular feature of an oscillating market like the housing market. A feature that perhaps was forgotten during the period that saw back to back increases that shot up the level of monthly sales to unsustainable and unprecedented levels, which was naturally followed by a period of back to back declines towards a sales per month level that is more in line with historical standards.

In fact, out of the 21 markets where monthly sales declined in February, 17 experienced a monthly sales increase in January, and the remaining four had experienced a sales increase December. In 16 of them, the prior two months increases was larger than February’s decline.

A return to ups and downs might be a sign of more normal times, or not; only time and data can tell. Monitoring incoming data and maintaining a large picture perspective can help navigate a coverage-saturated market when making a sale or purchase decision.

Having said this, it is important to remember that ‘normal times’ does not mean balanced, affordable, or healthy, by any stretch of the imagination. Normal here refers to a naturally volatile variable that measures sales per month, rather than a cumulative variable over time that trends with persistence. In reality, the housing market continues to feature significant imbalances between demand and supply, prices that have long disconnected from incomes and Canadians’ ability to afford them, and, so far, a not so promising set of actionable solutions by governments. 

Table 1: Sales, New Listings, Average Price, MLS HPI, Sales-to-new Listings Ratio, Months Inventory; Chart 1: Home Sales for Select Cities
Scotiabank Housing Market Watch—February 2024
MLS Home Price Indices — Western Canada
MLS Home Price Indices (cont.) — Eastern Canada
MLS Home Price Indices (cont.) — Eastern Canada and Canadian Aggregate