2021 NAR Real Estate Forecast Summit: Global Update
2021 NAR Real Estate Forecast Summit: Global Update
Hello. I'm Charlie Oppler, 2021 President of the National Association of REALTORS®. Welcome to NAR's first global real estate forecast summit. We're honored to have so many colleagues from around the world with us. At NAR, we work alongside more than a hundred global partners in 74 countries. Although our partners span countless borders, we share the same commitment to expand international opportunities for REALTORS®, enhance professionalism through education, and uphold the highest standards of real estate practice. All three are super important to us. Thank you for being here.
I'd also like to welcome the representatives from NAR's 130 global councils who do the important work of building awareness for global business opportunities in the local U.S. markets and, finally, a special thank you to those of you who are missing a good night's sleep to be with us today or tomorrow, in the case of our speakers from Australia and Malaysia.
The COVID-19 pandemic dragged the global economy into the deepest economic contractions since the 1960s with travel bans and business stoppages. Global economic output shrunk by 3.3%, according to the International Monetary Fund, but the swift massive monetary stimulus injected by governments and regional central banks has led us to a quick recovery. Now the IMF predicts the global economy will expand by 6% in 2021.
This summit, which brings together some of the most respected leaders in real estate, will help position REALTORS® and their clients to take advantage of the growth here and abroad. From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where it's 2 a.m, we're honored to have Georg Chmiel, co-founder and executive chairman of Juwai IQI Holdings, one of the largest real estate technology groups in Asia. From Australia, where it's not even dawn on Tuesday, we're grateful to welcome Nerida Conisbee, chief economist with Ray White, which operates more than 1 000 real estate offices across Australia and Asia. Nerida is one of Australia's leading real estate residential and commercial experts and is the most-quoted property market commentator. From the Canadian Real Estate Association we welcome Senior Economist Shaun Cathcart, who oversees the production analysis of housing market intelligence. But first we'll hear from NAR's own chief economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun, who heads our Research group. Lawrence is one of the most respected forecasters in the United States, and he will now present the findings from NAR's just-released 2021 International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate report. Please welcome Lawrence Yun.
Thank you, President Charlie, for, uh, organizing the event, and what a great opportunity to be here. I hope everyone is enjoying the Olympics. And Olympics reminds us of how big the business opportunity across the globe can be and also how small the world is, where we can make connections, instant communication, find real estate across the globe, and certainly the United States has attracted many foreign buyers. So I am here to present the latest 2021 international transactions here in the U.S., and it declined, and that should be no surprise given the pandemic travel restrictions and hence that it declined in the past year. But what will happen going forward? Now the vaccination is being rolled out, there's still a great deal of international restrictions, but perhaps there will be some degree of some passport acceptance based upon the vaccination status and let's just hope that the virus situation steadily diminishes over time so we can get back to more normal functioning life. Now let me get my remote control up so I can advance the slides.
So let's see what we have. So the the map of the world, as we can see, there was only very few countries which actually came out positive economically in 2020. Overall, China, you know, they had a major shutdown in the first months of the virus but then they reopened the economy and they surged towards the year-end and they actually came out positive. The blue-collar countries they're all down, so, as you can see, most countries were down in 2020 and many people anticipate that many countries will turn positive in 2021. It was, at least officially, one of the shortest recessions, but the depth of the recession was quite steep, so it's going to take some time to get us back up to normal. On the right-hand side, one can see the number of tourists arriving in the U.S. simply collapsed, and with this collapse, certainly, a major expenditure like real estate will not occur because people want to actually make a physical visit before deciding to purchase a home.
Now, the U.S. housing market, interestingly, even with the absence of the international buyers or major reduction in international buyers, was, we recorded the best housing market in 13 years because domestic buyers remained very strong. Once the lockdown was lifted, the economy reopened, consumers were eyeballing record-low mortgage rates and home sales not only got back up to the pre-pandemic [levels], but went way beyond that. Recent months' data is indicating that it is no longer that huge surge, but it is still above pre-pandemic conditions. This morning's data on new home sales, which plunged, is implying that there could be some concern that some buyers are saying home prices are simply too high. They're becoming cautious, and also other buyers, who are simply saying they can afford a home at one price, but not when prices are rising at 23%, so rising prices are simply squeezing away some of the affordability for the first-time buyers and, consequently, a reduction in sales.
Now let's turn towards the international numbers. So this is the dollar volume of foreigners buying in the U.S. We have two categories: dark blue and light blue. Dark blue represents non-residents, so you can visualize a British [citizen] wants to buy a vacation home in Orlando. So that is the dark blue: foreigners based in other countries but [who] want to use U.S. real estate for vacation or maybe they buy a rental property to get some rate of return, while the light blue is recent immigrants, people who came to the country within the past two years. And generally, [for] many immigrants, it takes multiple years to accumulate down [payment] savings before buying a home, but there are some recent immigrants who are financially well off, and they want to buy a home immediately. So the light blue reflects the recent immigrants who are purchasing here in the U.S. But both recent immigrants, along with the pure foreigners, you can see the reduction latest, 54 billion, compared to 74 billion the year before, and just four years ago it was 150 billion so, essentially, you can say today's activity is about one-third level of what it happened four years ago. The presence of the foreign buyers overall given the large size of the U.S. market, so I know in Australia, we have a speaker, where the foreign buyers are a much larger presence, but in the U.S., it makes up essentially about 2% of all overall transactions. 1.8 in terms of the actual number of sales, while 2.8 in terms of the dollar volume. The dollar volume is a little higher because foreigners tends to buy more expensive properties.
If we look at which countries are coming in, our neighboring countries, Canada and Mexico, were the two most important countries in terms of sending buyers to the U.S. China was a major force last year or the year prior but came in third place in the latest. India, many technology companies are hiring the software engineers and, uh, presence of India is at fourth place, while Britain they are coming in at fifth. In fact, Britain is the only country to actually see a slight increase, uh, from last year. But the dollar volume, that big swing that you see on the red graph, red represents China, both mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and one can see that China was a major force a few years ago but steadily declining and essentially now coming in third place among the foreign buyers here in the U.S. Where are they buying? Well, Florida consistently ranked number one in terms of attracting foreign buyers. We know that many Germans actually like to go to southwest Florida near Marco Island, Naples that area. British like to go to Orlando region. And then you have many people from South America wanting to go to Miami. I'm generalizing, but generally, you know, you see a sort of larger market share on that trend. California draws many Asian buyers, whether from Korea, Japan, China, because of the more closer destination and larger Asian population along the western states. Texas ranked number three, and no change in position. Texas gets many new business entrepreneurs like a Toyota plant, uh, in the Dallas region, so they naturally bring some Japanese business executives who need to buy a property, and also given the close proximity from Mexico, there are many recent immigrants who purchase property. In Arizona, many Canadians wanting that contrasting weather so that from cold Canada to warm or hot uh Arizona. New Jersey, New York: the commercial centers are drawing international buyers from all across the globe.
This is a little harder to see, but as you can peruse it at the end of the this session because we will have all the PowerPoints available to the audience, but by country, like Canada, where they're buying. Florida and Arizona, again, warm-weather states. Then you go to where the Mexicans are buying, they're buying in Texas, California, and Colorado. When I was in Aspen, people were saying there are many people from Mexico, super-wealthy people buying ski resort property out in Colorado. From China, the close destination of California is a big force, but they're going all over the U.S., from Indiana uh to Nevada to Tennessee, where Chinese buyers are looking at. India, they're going to California, Texas, Florida, and from Britain you see that is principally for vacation property out in Florida.
If we look at the price points, generally foreigners buy more expensive property compared to the U.S., so comparing from one year to the next because of the overall more expensive property in the U.S., you see that the pure foreigners, their typical price was at $331,000, or I should say the recent immigrants, but the pure foreigners tend to be mostly all cash uh they're buying more expensive properties. And then if you look at the very right bar uh these are the total buyers of all properties in the U.S., essentially the domestic buyers, and you see the price points compared now before, but uh all more expensive in 2021 versus 2020. The cash transactions, the foreigners certainly are more cash than the domestic buyers, but the recent immigrants, which represent the first part of the graph, has been steadily trending down. So I guess in the past recent immigrants, about half of the transactions were all-cash but now many are taking out a mortgage. Maybe the interest rates are simply too good to give up, so they want to take the advantage of the low interest rates. But if you look at the pure foreigners, not recent immigrants but foreigners, if they need to buy in the U.S., you would assume they are wealthy or super-wealthy and essentially a majority are paying all cash.
Some people did not buy in the U.S. We have many REALTORS® who work closely with counterparts in foreign countries or they have many referrals from foreign countries and some did not buy. We know the principal reason, which is travel restrictions and COVID, but what were more long-term reasons? So this is the question that we post every year, even before COVID, and interesting development is that the key reason, outside of COVID and travel restrictions, is lack of inventory. When we ask the domestic buyers they say the same: lack of inventory has been the reason why they are unable to buy. So among people who were not successful, they had an interest in buying, but not succeeding in purchasing is simply lack of inventory. So if we had more inventory we can get more transactions.
The cost of property. Some people are concerned. You know, prices have risen better than 20% so that is also holding back. Some people may be needing finance and, as a foreigner, maybe it's a little difficult to get a mortgage, as I've shown before, large degree of cash transactions.
Let me, for the sake of time, just move ahead, and if we look at the, some of the U.S. clients who are looking to buy abroad, it's a small percentage, but people are looking to buy property in Mexico. Maybe the retirees look at the more affordable areas to retire. People are looking to Canada. Also, maybe just the family affinity, you know, we have many Chinese buyers buying here, and maybe some, maybe after university study wants to return to China so you see the interest in China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, again a very, more resort retirement destination. Spain, Argentina, certainly provided affordability. Uh, and to just wrap it up, the outlook for 2022 is that the IMF is anticipating the economic recovery. In the U.S., more home building is expected to take place, which means more inventory choices steadily appearing as we proceed through the month, and in 2022 we don't anticipate super-heated market. We hope that price appreciation matches people's income growth, so it could be about 3% growth in the price appreciation. Right now, the dollar has been slightly weakening recently and maybe this was an attractive draw for many foreigners who wants to buy here in the U.S.
Now I'm going to turn it over to our next speaker representing Juwai IQI, Georg Chmiel, who will go into what he is seeing among the Chinese buyers looking to buy abroad.
Thank you. Thank you so much, Lawrence, and uh thank you also to NAR for having me uh today or tonight uh and uh I want to jump straight into the presentation. Brief introduction, at Juwai IQI are our aim is to empower Asian consumers to be global residents, so we've historically uh started as a portal as juwai.com is the number one portal for overseas properties uh in China, and I've extended now with a greater reach to cover other parts of, of Asia. We also have our own REALTOR® group across the Asian markets with 21,000 agents at this moment.
As for the buyer group of the Chinese buyers, specifically, who are overseas buyers from a U.S. perspective, what are they looking for? They're looking for four things. One is education for themselves or for their kids, purchases for investments, purchases for a lifestyle, that's where the second home comes into play as well as immigration, and there's various segments that the ultra-high net worth Chinese buyers, about 6 million, are high net worth buyers, 57 millions, which are quite staggering numbers, are affluent buyers, and these affluent buyers already buy between one or two overseas properties, and there's a very, very large middle class in China emerging which are a target for more affordable investment options, including REITs.
GDP growth has certainly increased the demand for property, and among Asians, real estate is the preferred asset class for investing the gained wealth and as a result of that, with the growth of China and the growth of other Asian countries, the outbound overseas real estate investment has grown.
Now, looking at the map, how has this changed over the years before COVID to now? The U.S. has bounced back to a very high rank among the overseas purchase destinations. In 2019 it was only number four, which had uh political reasons to the trade war, and has now come back to number two. When we are talking about the value of the acquisitions, when we talk about the number of the inquiries for properties, it's already number one again, and that is true for Chinese buyers as well as all other Asian buyers which we which we can track. Some other countries had also some smaller changes maybe to only point out that Canada has also moved up. Canada has benefited from the trade war between the U.S. and China on the real estate side and attracted uh quite a lot of buyers who invested into Canada rather than into the U.S.
Now, talking briefly also about the U.S. in a slightly deeper dive, so as we heard earlier from Lawrence, historically every year the Chinese buyers have been the largest overseas buyer group in the U.S. and have dropped down due to COVID and other factors over the last 12 months ending March 21. However, what we are seeing is, we are seeing an increased demand among those Chinese buyers, increase in inquiries among those Chinese buyers which will lead to further transactions in the future. If you just track where those people are searching, we have to split it into two parts: the high net where individuals are very keen on purchasing a secondary home, and for them the classic American gateway cities remain the most popular destination, and you can see them on the right side; it's this circle or this u-shaped form around the borders of of of of the U.S.
For the non-high net worth individuals, they are also looking more and more into smaller, less congested cities, which is a trend which we're seeing in other countries especially during and post-COVID where people are moving towards more the regional areas of countries. Also, inquiries as I said have increased, you see, with the red line a steep increase in the number of inquiries compared to the previous period so we do believe that in the quarters to come we will also see more transactions uh happening from Chinese buyers as well as from other Asian buyers. Certainly, the change in the presidency had a positive factor. We've noticed it with the inquiries and we we also feel that because student visas seem to be easier to obtain now that there's a greater demand now for high net worth Asians seeking also second homes and that number has grown strongly.
Uh, the Florida condo collapse had a bit of an impact because people are now cautious in looking towards buildings of, of that nature of that age group because they are facing, uh, potential renovation costs.
I spoke earlier about Canada and the demand shift towards Canada, which is the fourth most popular destination for Chinese cross-border buyers over the last year and up to now, and what we have seen is there was a strong price appreciation in the Canadian domestic market, which we probably will hear uh sooner, soon about and that has actually further fueled the demand in kind of a fear of, of missing out now the, the interest is very strong in Toronto and Vancouver and, to a lesser extent, in the Montreal area.
Finally, maybe some tips on how you can attract those Chinese and other Asian buyers. I mean, the internet is definitely the primary research channel, and don't worry if you can't read all, all these slides are available afterward. It's important to note in order to get access to Chinese buyers, you need to be on the other side of the great technological firewall, so you need to operate with players who can get, get you access there. Language barriers are very, very important uh because they then sometimes lead to domestic leads being preferred over, over cross-border leads and they're missing out on opportunities. The purchase process with overseas buyers can be a bit longer and slightly more protected, so my advice is create a presence on Chinese social media. Market yourself on Chinese-accessible platforms. Use technology, virtual events and technology. Also read up or hire people who understand Chinese cultures and beliefs, which is important during the marketing process, and really think and take an open thought on how to market those properties to this very, very important buyer group.
If you have any further questions you can also contact us. So thank you very, very much at this stage for having me. I now hand over to Nerida Conisbee, who is from Ray White, the number one real estate group in Australia and the region.
Thanks, Georg, and thank you everyone for having me today. It's, very, very early in Sydney. It's about 4:30, but it's such a pleasure to be invited. So today I'm just going to give you a bit of an update on the Australian property market and talk specifically about what we're seeing with foreign buyer activity, and also really what's happening with pricing, because like the rest of the world, we have seen a very, very sharp acceleration in pricing since COVID came about last year.
Starting with a little bit about Sydney's pricing, according to demographics, Australia is the second least affordable country in the world. It's based on a multiple of income to house prices. It comes in second after Hong Kong, so it is a, is a hugely expensive country. In terms of, I was going to give you a chart and just show you on a chart, but I thought maybe just giving you some examples of how expensive Sydney is. If you have a look there, a property, both of these are derelict properties. One of them, in Freshwater in Sydney, so a pretty nice suburb just north of Manly for those of you familiar with Sydney. That sold recently for 3.2 million in Blacktown, really far from the city, 43 kilometers from the city. It is Sydney's highest-crime suburb and you can see there, a very run-down property, for a million dollars. So it's, you know, there's no doubt that trying to, there's a lot of affordability issues that really come about and these have become particularly pronounced over, over the past 12 months in terms of pricing and what's happened with COVID.
COVID has turbocharged house prices. They have increased by 15.6% across Australia uh over the past 12 months. Not as strong as New Zealand. We also are the biggest agents, real estate agency in New Zealand we're probably, in New Zealand, prices have increased by 22%, so that market is very similar to Australia in terms of what's happened with pricing, but far more accelerated than what we're currently, what we're currently seeing. Some of the drivers, you know, these are again pretty consistent with what's happened elsewhere around the world, we do have record-low interest rates. We've got very, very high household savings rates. Household savings rates actually doubled during the COVID period, during particularly 2020. We've had a lot of government incentives put in place and these have been really, really generous, particularly [to] first-home buyers, and then of course we have had that incredibly strong rebound in the economy and Australia's GDP is now back to where it was prior to prior to March 2020, and we are continuing to see very, very strong growth. The cities most impacted, you can see there, Sydney hit a 1.26 million median. It jumped, prices jumped by nearly 20%. Hobart, the very small city down south also saw very strong increases, and then Perth and Darwin started to see increases primarily because we have seen a very sharp rebound in iron ore, and that is being driven by the Chinese economy seeing very, very strong growth, so Australia's economic growth is highly dependent on Chinese economic growth, and at the moment, in particular, iron ore exports are contributing significantly to our, to our economy.
In terms of some of the trends that have occurred during COVID, one of the big ones, really, was a shift to regional Australia. We did see the biggest shift that had ever been recorded. There has been, you know, decades of policy design to try and get people out of expensive capital cities and into regional areas. It hasn't been that successful, and it took COVID, really, to get people to move away from capital cities to regional areas. There's a few reasons that, a few things that are driving it. Part of it is lifestyle. People have changed the way that they've worked, they've saved a lot of money, that we have seen very strong demands for second homes. Byron Bay has been the strongest performer in Australia. We have seen that jump by 71%, prices jumped by 71% to hit a 2.5 million median. Mining, as I mentioned before, has, is leading to some very strong conditions in Perth and also Darwin. Both bigger cities, but when you have a look at some of the smaller, regional towns we've also seen some pretty major jumps, and then of course agriculture has also done well. So, it is obviously a major part of the Australian economy. It has done well because we did see breaking of, a break of the drought, particularly in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, but also adverse conditions elsewhere. Wheat, in particular, I think our major competitor is Russia, and I think they were hit by some pretty bad weather last year, so that was good news for our wheat production. So there's lots of factors, but that's probably one of the biggest outcomes from what's happened to COVID, very strong price growth. We've also seen some very strong pricing at the luxury end of the market, so when we have a look at how many suburbs here have now exceeded 3 million over over the past 12 months, that's increased significantly. What's quite interesting about the luxury market in Australia at the moment is that it has changed. The bias demographic has changed quite significantly, so it was driven by primarily people with employing mining or with mining businesses.
Also property, a lot of the really high net worths in Australia have been, are in the property industry. This time around, though, a lot of the buyers are a lot younger, so we are seeing a lot of younger millennial buyers being able to purchase some of the ultra-luxury properties, but also tech industries, so, you know, again, pretty similar to elsewhere, tech has done very well through COVID and has allowed some of our best-performing tech company owners to purchase some of these very, very expensive properties in Sydney.
In terms of foreign buyers, Australia is highly restrictive as to what foreign buyers can can purchase. We only allow foreign buyers to buy new property. It is designed to try and create more housing supply. So we do have very big restrictions on foreign buyers purchasing existing property. A little bit different from New Zealand. In New Zealand they have put a complete ban on foreign buyers, and a lot of it was really driven by what happened in 2015 and 2017. We did see this enormous flood of money coming out of Asia. It did a lot for housing supply and I think that's something that a lot of people miss, is that it actually did create an enormous number of apartments, particularly in Melbourne, in Sydney and in the Brisbane, but it did create a little bit of angst as to what it did to pricing and not only do we have a big foreign investment boom at this time, but we also saw a local investment boom as well. So it did hit record highs in 2015, 2017. A lot of buyer activity coming out of China, and a lot of the purchases were in high-development areas, CBDs, and particularly located close to universities, so we do find that when Asian buyers look to Australia, they do tend to focus more on education, particularly places like Carleton in Melbourne, Clayton in Melbourne, close, you know, places close to, say, Lucia, near Brisbane University, so that is quite unique.
What we're finding now is that the level of investment coming from China is a lot lower. I mean, it is partly to do with the fact that people can't get into Australia at the moment. You know, we do have locked borders at the moment, but also because of a lot of restrictions that were put in place after 2015 2017. Additional taxes were put in place by a lot of state governments, so it became far more expensive for offshore buyers to buy property over that 2016-2017 period. Hong Kong buyers are still very active and also expat buyers are also active, so we have seen a lot of expat activity, particularly people came to come back to Australia because of, I guess, because we have had so few COVID cases and because the economy is doing pretty well. And when we have a look at where overseas buyers outside of Asia look, we do tend to see people looking at places where there are already a lot of people from that country, so UK buyers are looking in Manly. U.S. buyers looking in Byron Bay. That's been a bit of a change; that was previously Mossman, but that that has changed, and it is a very consistent link, so you can pretty much look at the census and see that, you know, whatever suburb has a very high proportion of people born in that country we do tend to see a lot of activity follow through from that.
In terms of just, the final slide, in terms of the outlook, we are continuing to, continue to see price growth accelerate. One of the interesting things that's happened over the past three weeks or so, about probably the past month, is a lot of our cities have gone into lockdown. So here in Sydney, we're now five weeks into a lockdown. It is harder to buy and sell property. We have to restrict open transactions to one person. We can't do auctions. Auction is a big way of selling property in Australia, so we've had to move to online options. In Melbourne you can't even do an open for inspection so you do have to, the only way to inspect the property is to look at it through, you know, digital video of the property.
So there was, you know, a little bit of hope that price growth would start to calm a little with a lot more property for sale, but what we are seeing is, because it's harder to transact, the number of properties is starting to reduce again, which will probably lead to an even sharper acceleration of pricing over coming months. Interest rates, everyone's watching our inflation number that comes out on Thursday very closely. We have started to see mortgage rates creep up a little bit, so that again, you know, with the hope that it would start to calm the market but they're not moving quickly. We're not seeing variable rates really change, but we are, you know, fixed rates which have a five-year time period, they have crept up a little bit. There are a lot of challenges now, or a lot of concerns about fortress Australia. We, you know, we are a country that does rely on international migration. We have a lot of problems with rolling lockdowns and, you know, these can happen very quickly that, you know, business as usual and then suddenly we're all locked down and, you know, every, people have to, have to adjust themselves personally, but also we, you know, we do find it's quite challenging for buying and selling property as well because a lot of the legislation does change. So migration is a problem. Also, foreign buyers, you know, they, we don't really expect them to come back anytime soon, primarily because it is very difficult to get into Australia. So thank you for having me. It was really a pleasure, and I'm going to now pass on to Shaun Cathcart and he's going to run you through what's happening in Canada.
Thank you very much, Nerida, and thank you, NAR, for hosting this and for giving me the opportunity. One of the things about foreign buyer activity in Canada is we have a bit of a data problem. We don't track it very well um and so it's sort of a mix of what Nerida was just saying is that we don't have a lot of restrictions on foreign buyers right now it's often used as a bit of a political boogeyman, and I'll come back to that at the end.
I think, to begin with, I'd like to just do a quick overview of what's going on in the market, how we came into COVID, what happened during COVID, and what to maybe expect coming out of it. I've learned my lesson in the past from following U.S. and Australian presentations, because of course what's going on in Canada is very similar, so I'm going to try to focus on things that are a little bit different. I like to keep things simple, and I think that the biggest driver of what's going on in Canadian housing markets right now is domestic demand, but that domestic demand is coming from new Canadians who are arriving via international immigration and we've spent a lot of time in the country bickering about whether or not to, you know, the political parties want to stimulate demand to help millennial buyers, but they also are worried about financial stability, so we've got a stress test that forces you to qualify for a mortgage at a much higher rate than you're actually getting. That was controversial but, ultimately, while all that was going on, there's suggestions about tax policy changes, what the big demand, stimulative policy change that happened was around 2016, we had a massive increase to our international immigration targets, so you can see with my red line there this is quarterly seasonally adjusted net international immigration to Canada. Huge increase, I mean, from 60,000 or so a quarter to just before COVID, you know, hundred and twenty, hundred and thirty, hundred and forty, it's double. That's a big deal.
And so where do we go from here? You can see that we had a break during COVID, briefly, and it's already, coming back quite strongly, and now all of our population growth comes from international immigration in Canada, and this is the annual population change, year-over-year. The numbers may not look big compared to the U.S., but, you know, this is 50 years of data, you know, 300, 325 thousand, increase a year was pretty standard, and just before COVID we're into the five hundreds. That's a 40%t increase in the households coming in, and we're still operating on some of these old rules of thumb about how many units to build and, you know, over and above that you've got the millennials under there who all have gone from their 20s to their 30s, immigration filling that same demographic space, and the units we're building are increasingly high-rise condos and so we've got a mismatch of housing stock to people and probably a shortage of housing stock as well.
It's been one of our big um advocacy asks is let's do something about, let's stop talking about, tinkering with demand policies and start building more homes if we're going to have record population growth as far as the eye can see, and I believe that is the plan coming out of COVID. So what happens when you've got all these millennials and new Canadians that are buying their first homes? People who buy first homes in the ownership space absorb inventory. They don't put a unit back on, and so this is the overall number of active listings on every MLS system in Canada, at the end of every month, seasonally adjusted over 25 years, and we are currently at an all-time low. That's for the record population, record housing stock, but a record low number of those for sale amid record demand for those, and that's how you get 10 and 15 and 20 offers on these places and the price growth that I'm going to show you has been happening in a moment.
What I find interesting about this chart is to point out when COVID happened in most time series, charts of data, it's pretty obvious when COVID happened, but on this one, we just kept trucking along. This trend was well underway before COVID. It was a problem before COVID but it's going to be a problem after it more so, as you can see, and if anything all that happened was COVID caused a bunch of people to take their homes off the market because they didn't want to sell during a pandemic. Now that might benefit us a year from now if some of those sellers come back, but the other thing that happened was sales were so strong that it just kept drawing that inventory number down. How strong were they? Well it looks, oh, and of course, that's our record low now. This is seasonally adjusted sales activity on an annualized basis very similar to the chart that Dr. Yun showed for the U.S.
We had a brief, you know, we had pretty steady sales of about 500,000 a year for a decade heading into this, a two-month lockdown where everything stopped, and then a massive rebound where we were hitting numbers that I just would have never thought possible, you know, from 500 to 600 to 700 to 800 thousand plus annualized sales in March. Now as you can see, that number has since has come off a little bit. We're here currently, as of June, but that's still above basically everything else in history and so from red-hot before COVID to white-hot during back to red-hot again, this is not a Goldilocks market and that's with that international immigration piece having not come back yet, as it's likely to do any time now.
So this is another chart that Dr. Yun showed, and the Canadian context very similar. That's the number of months of inventory, overall inventory, divided by sales on a monthly basis, and you can see, as I was saying before, from 2015 to 2020 we were watching this move from a buyer's market to a seller's market, so we were going to have a year of double-digit price growth in 2020 no matter what. We were calling for it back in 2019 but, you know, obviously those double-digits have been a lot larger because of COVID. As Nerida pointed out, and I've used this term many times, COVID turbo-charged a lot of trends that were already there and just supercharged them and, you know, coming out of COVID, you know, we've got to think about how many of them are still going to be hanging around. Maybe just not as extreme. Of course, you can see where we are today, you know, almost off the charts in terms of how tight market conditions are and, you know, I, everyone sort of has an incentive to say, oh, things are finally cooling off on their own but, boy, that's a long way to go even to get back to a regular seller's market with 10 price growth year-over-year, you know, and where we are now, as I'll show you in a moment, is more like 25% year-over-year in Canada, but I want to break this out regionally a little bit. I know that's hard to do in a short time frame.
This is just the Canadian months of inventory, how we measure a buyers' or a sellers' market from west to east by province. On the far left, that dark blue bar's Canada overall, and this is actually in February 2020. So I just want to set the stage of what things look like before COVID, where, you know, most of central Canada and the eastern part of Canada, the maritime provinces, Ontario and Quebec and, increasingly, British Columbia, a lot of the big provinces, we're already into sellers' market territory are very close nationally, we are very close to, you know, flashing red as a national sellers' market for the first time.
The last time we had gone down into a sellers' market like that was 2002, and so it's been a very long time since we've seen a market condition like that. I see those ones that are way up in buyers' market territory, that's the oil patch in Canada, a lot of inventory overhang, price, places not selling since the oil patch. If you look now at June 2021, everywhere has tightened in the wake of COVID. Supply is down everywhere, sales are up everywhere, the synchronous movement regionally has been amazing. Even those places that were buyers' markets are now seeing 10% price growth, and that's the smallest in Canada, but these are places where prices have been falling for five years following the oil price collapse.
So this has really been a synchronous, massive tightening of the market across Canada, and, you know, how do you achieve big sales numbers like that? Well a lot of people are just moving around because of COVID, but people who've owned their homes for 20 years who weren't going anywhere who suddenly move have a lot of equity to play with, and that's one of the reasons we've been able to see some of the competition and, you know, some of the price growth we have, this is our MLS home price index, very proud of, covers almost all of Canada now. You also seasonally adjust it with our national stats agency and you can see that in the last year we're up 25% nationally, which is completely off the charts. It's never happened before and, but similar to what we've already seen in the previous presentations, but if I can break it out regionally, there's a point that was made in one of the previous presentations that I'd like to key on here and I realize it's a bit of a messy chart. Don't try to read it, again, it's west to east all of the markets that we cover with this index. On the far left, that's British Columbia out on the west coast. Those lower bars are the oil patch.
Like I said, you know, 10% price growth in places where prices have been falling for five years, and then those ones that are up around forty, fifty, sixty percent year-over-year, that's in Ontario where I live, where we don't talk about months of inventory, we talk about weeks of inventory, but what's really interesting is if I highlight two bars here, these two red bars, that's Vancouver and Toronto, and so historically what you would have seen is Vancouver and Toronto leading the charge here. These were the really worrisome cities, where prices were just out of control and in the COVID era what's happening is they're dragging way behind some of these other nearby markets that are outside of that commuter ring. Why is that? Well, big cities. People didn't want to be in big cities. They're already expensive, so less scope for price growth. Lots of condo apartments that weren't so popular up until recently and, meanwhile, these other places where are they? They're far away. They're where we go on vacation. It's where there's oceans, mountains, skiing, and lakes, cottages, rivers, places you want to be if you don't have to be near a building you don't commute to anymore, and so part of it's that, part of it is just the fact that we haven't been able to travel anywhere else, and so vacation areas within the country have been very popular, but, and a lot of scope for price growth, too.
If you sell a home for two million dollars in Toronto and go up north to cottage country, it's easy to bid a $700,000 cottage up to you know 1.2 or whatever it takes to get it in the midst of a pandemic. Now more recently the conversation is turned to the supply side and the idea that we've underbuilt for our population. Like I say, it's not just the population growth, but also, also the the millennial demographics under, underneath that, you know, we've been building all kinds of condo apartments, not nearly enough, and nobody wants them. I think that probably that trend was in play beforehand just with an aging population, but certainly COVID is, and one more thing, that's one more reason to turbo-charge that trend over and above, you know, turning 30 and having kids and all the rest of it.
Just to wrap it up here, this is our deputy prime minister and minister of finance, who's recently said, you know, what we get it, it's a supply problem. We need to figure out a way to build more. We're the federal government. We have levers that control the demand side and municipalities control zoning and all that, so how do we link those things together? How do we get these government agencies, levels of government to cooperate to get more housing built? The missing middle. You know, in '46 everyone came back from the war and we built homes for the returning vets. In the 70s and 80s we made the suburbs for the baby boomers. We now have another housing crisis, uh, we've been calling it "the missing middle" for 10 years.
I would think we'd just be calling it medium density housing by this point, but it's still missing. That, now, for anyone that doesn't know, there is going to be a federal election called in Canada, probably within the next two weeks, and so in August and September, this is going to be a major policy issue in this election, with the federal government courting the big block of millennial voters who are all very frustrated at how expensive and difficult it is to buy a home. And so I guess I'll leave my presentation there.
I hope I didn't go over time and, for the closing remarks, I'm going to throw it over to Bob Goldberg, who is the CEO of the National Association of REALTORS®. Bob Goldberg.
Well thank you, Shaun, and I really want to, in closing, thank all of our great panelists today. Wonderful information for sure, and certainly all the participants, there were nearly 2,000 of you engaged real-time on this, and these sessions that we've been doing over the last three years, mainly live, certainly before the pandemic, certainly helped give a gauge as to what's happening not only in the United States but different worldwide data points.
Clearly real estate is a driver, certainly, of the economies around the world. I'll give you one data point that I always find very interesting. You know, after the pandemic, and I shouldn't say "after," but certainly as we're coming through this, this tube of this horrific time period over the last year and a half, still not out of the woods yet, but NAR reached an all-time high in membership, which is not what we predicted a year ago March, so we, our membership just topped 1.5 million members, by far our largest ever. What's really an interesting data point is that there's only about 1.25 million active listings in the United States, so there are more of our members trying to sell inventory than there is inventory out there. It just plays this to, like what you just heard Shaun and all of our panelists saying today, that, you know, that's a key driver as to why there's multiple, multiple offers on properties, low inventory, not enough building, record low interest rates, all of that contributing and we see that still somewhat happening in the, in the near term.
I would also thank NAR's leadership team, our president Charlie Oppler who you saw at the beginning of this session, and all of our great staff under Dr. Lawrence Yun and Dr. Jessica Lautz from our research team, working hard, really, with all of our counterparts around the world, to put these sessions together, and I want to thank them. You know, as we come through this, and I referenced it before, I think what we've really entered into is what I call the "now normal." It is no longer the "new normal." It is what we're going to be living with, where there'll be a combination of live events, virtual events, and it will therefore engage more people and more participants than all of us have experienced before, and that's a good thing. That's the silver lining that's coming out of this. More people participating.
We hope that you will consider, NAR has some pretty significant events coming up. In August we have our Innovation Opportunity Investment summit. It's a high-tech summit with startup companies from all around the world. It's a global event that'll be held in Dallas. The exact date will be on August 17th and 18th, with billions of dollars of technology investors there in the prop-tech sector, so a great place to be. Our C5 summit, it is a commercial real estate summit, again, where deals can be made. It will be held in New York City live, September 27th through the 29th at the Marriott Marquis, and certainly the NAR annual conference and convention that will be in San Diego live November 12th through the 14th. All of these meetings that are in person will also have a virtual component. For those that can't make it, you can certainly go to nar.realtor to find out more specifics on any of those, but again, we want to thank all of you for your participation and look forward to joining us either live or in a virtual event coming soon. Thank you, everyone.