Home sales fall in January from December

Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:43pm EST
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By Jon Cook

TORONTO (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada fell 4.5 percent in January from December, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Wednesday in the latest sign the once hot market is cooling.

The industry group also said the number of newly listed homes edged down 1.4 percent on a month-over-month basis.

On a year-on-year basis, however, sales (not seasonally adjusted) were up 4 percent from January 2011, and stood even with the five- and 10-year averages for the month.

Despite the drop from December in the number of sales, recent CREA data showed that Canadian home prices actually rose in January on a monthly basis for the first time in three months, led by gains in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

The average sale price was C$348,178, up 1.2 percent from a year earlier. The industry group said this was one of the smallest increases since late 2010.

"Year-over-year comparisons in the national average price are expected to become volatile and may turn negative, reflecting average price developments in the first half of 2011 in Vancouver," CREA's chief economist, Gregory Klump, said in a statement.

Klump added that a surge in sales in Vancouver's priciest neighborhoods in 2011 pushed up the average price nationally, but that a replay is not expected this year.

"The national housing market is stabilizing and remains well balanced," Gary Morse, CREA's president, said in a statement. "That said, forecasts for economic and job growth going forward vary widely for different parts of the country, suggesting a possible continuation of a softening trend in some markets."   Continued...

A real estate sign is seen on front of a house in Toronto June 19, 2009.  REUTERS/Chris Roussakis