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TORONTO (Reuters) - Sales and prices of existing homes in Canada rose in August from a year ago, but broke their monthly streak of gains, data from the Canadian Real Estate Association showed on Tuesday.
The industry group said a total of 42,483 homes changed hands in August, up 18.5 percent from the same month last year. The average price rose 11.3 percent nationally from a year earlier to C$324,779 ($300,721), CREA said.
But sales fell 0.6 percent from July when they topped a record 50,000 units, snapping six consecutive monthly gains. August prices were also a touch lower than a month earlier.
Still, economists were unfazed by the month's dips in an otherwise unexpectedly quick rebound in the housing market this year, with the balance of 2009 expected to see a more modest pace of recovery. Last month, CREA revised its 2009 residential property outlook, saying home prices will rise and sales will stabilize. [ID:nN27100908]
"On balance, given the recent unbelievable strength in the Canadian housing market, the modest down-shift in sales in August should not be seen as anything other that a brief respite in what has been a remarkable recovery in the sector," said Millan Mulraine, an economics strategist at TD Securities.
"Even so, we believe that Canadian housing market activity in the coming months will be relatively tepid as the sector consolidates the gains made since January.
As in previous months, CREA said the national average price was skewed by gains in the country's priciest markets, such as Vancouver, British Columbia, and Toronto.
Nineteen of the 25 major markets that CREA tracks showed increased sales activity, led by a stunning 117 percent jump in year-over-year sales in the Greater Vancouver area, where the price increases were also third highest in the month.
New residential listings were down 8.9 percent year-over-year to 64,167 units, the lowest level for the month of August in five years.
Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson