The Canadian real-estate market is heating back up, posting the strongest increase in sales since the beginning of the pandemic housing boom.

Home sales surged 8.6 per cent in October from the month before, the biggest increase since July 2020 when the country was emerging from its first pandemic lockdown and the housing market was getting started on its record run, according to data released Monday by the Canadian Real Estate Association. 

It was the second best October on record for sales. Benchmark prices surged 2.7 per cent on the month, the data show.

“After a summer where it looked like housing markets might be calming down a bit, October’s numbers suggest we might be moving back towards what we saw this spring, with regards to current market demand and supply conditions,” Cliff Stevenson, chair of the real estate board, said in a press release accompanying the report. 

In Canada, the surge in demand for bigger living spaces driven by the pandemic has met a historic dearth of supply, helping make its housing market one of the hottest in the world and deteriorating affordability a top political issue. Though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has made addressing the supply shortage a priority after being re-elected in September, much of the power over housing policy lies with local governments, limiting the speed with which the issue can be addressed.

Though the number of new listings climbed 3.2 per cent in October, continued strong demand meant Canada still had only 1.9 months of inventory available, the data show. That’s near the all-time lows the market hit when it was at its hottest earlier this year.