Snowfall cools Canadian home sales in February

Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:21pm EDT
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - A series of winter snowstorms that blanketed Eastern Canada through February cut into existing home sales for a third straight month, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Friday.

Sales in Canada's major markets fell 6.4 percent in February from January, to 26,588 units, according to CREA, an industry trade organization representing over 90,000 realtors.

The majority of the decline came in Toronto, which saw sales drop 11.2 percent. Canada's biggest city accounts for about one-quarter of the total for the country's major markets.

A series of winter storms brought record or near-record snowfall levels to Toronto and other major markets in Central and Eastern Canada, prompting many potential buyers to stay indoors.

"Snowfall in Toronto made it tough to show prospective buyers, and tough to process a listing," said Ann Bosley, president of CREA.

The number of listings on CREA's multiple listings service dipped by 2.8 percent, to 50,405 units, but was still the third-highest on record.

Average home prices climbed 5.3 percent year-over-year to C$327,477, the smallest such jump since November 2004.

"CREA's forecast calls for sales activity to fall short of last year's record, new listings to increase, a more balanced market, and smaller price gains," said Gregory Klump, chief economist at CREA.   Continued...

<p>A general view of the Quebec town of Herouxville, February 11, 2007. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>