Home sales edge downwards in Canada, latest data shows

National average home price slipped 0.8% on a year on year basis in June

Residential property sales in Canada edged downwards in June and price growth varied considerably, the latest statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show.

Home sales were down 1.3% compared to May and while price gains remained strong in Toronto and accelerated in Calgary they continued slowing in Greater Vancouver.

But overall the national average home price slipped 0.8% on a year on year basis in June. Actual, not seasonally adjusted, activity stood 4.4% below levels in June 2011, marking the first year on year decline since April 2011.

The number of newly listed homes climbed 1.4% from May to June. CREA said that fewer sales and a rise in new listings resulted in a more balanced national housing market.

National activity was down from the previous month in slightly more than half of all local markets, with Greater Toronto and Vancouver contributing most to the small decline.

‘Canada’s housing market lost a little altitude in June, but it’s still flying pretty high. That said, sales activity and average prices bucked the national easing trend in a number of markets, which underscores that all real estate is local,’ said CREA president Wayne Moen.

Boosted by strong activity in March and April, a total of 257,193 homes traded hands over Canadian MLS® Systems in the first half of 2012. This is up 4.7% from levels reported over the same period in 2011, and marks the strongest sales for the first half of any year since 2007.

‘Home buyers didn’t rush their purchases before the most recently announced changes to mortgage regulations came into effect,’ said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

‘That’s a big change compared to what we saw as a response to previously announced changes. It will take some time before the compound effect of previous and recent changes to regulations on Canada’s housing market becomes apparent,’ he added.

The number of newly listed homes rose 1.4% in June compared to May. The uptick was led by a second consecutive increase of new supply in Toronto. Some 42 local markets, out of 100 markets across the country, registered a monthly increase in new listings of at least 1%.

The actual, not seasonally adjusted, national average price for homes sold in June 2012 was $369,339, down 0.8% from the same month last year. While average sale prices in June were up year on year in about seven out of every 10 local markets, the national average price continued to be skewed downward by compositional factors, most notably by fewer sales in Vancouver in recent months compared to stronger levels last year.

The year on year increase was highest in Greater Toronto at 7.9%, followed by Calgary at 5.6%, Greater Montreal at 2.7%, the Fraser Valley at 2.6% and Greater Vancouver at 1.7%.

Among Benchmark housing types tracked by the index, two storey single family homes continued to post the strongest year on year growth in June at 6.6%. Gains for one storey single family homes at 6% also surpassed the rise in the overall index, while townhouses and apartments saw more modest gains at 3.1% and 2.7% respectively.

Year on year gains have moderated in all Benchmark housing categories except one storey single family homes. Driven by increases in Greater Toronto and Calgary, prices in this category rose at the fastest pace in nearly two years in June.

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