Property sales pick up in Canada, latest figures show

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Increased sales in September

National resale housing activity in Canada picked up in September 2011 with sales up 2.7% over the previous month, according to the latest figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

It means that activity during the first nine months of this year pulled ahead of sales over the same period last year and the number of newly listed homes held steady when compared to the previous month.

But the national average property price was the smallest year on year rise since January and overall the national housing market tightened in September from the month before, but remains firmly entrenched in balanced territory.

September’s increase in sales reflects strengthened activity in a number of major markets, led by Toronto. The monthly increase pushed national sales to its highest level since recently tightened mortgage regulations dampened sales earlier this year.

Actual, not seasonally adjusted, national sales activity came in 11% above levels in September 2010. As was the case over the summer, the year on year increase reflects weakened activity a year ago.

‘The Canadian housing market remains a bright spot against a backdrop of mixed headline news about the global economy. Low mortgage rates continue to draw buyers to the housing market, while recently tightened mortgage regulations are working as intended,’ said Gary Morse, CREA president.

The number of newly listed homes nationally was little changed from each of the previous two months. New listings were up from the previous month in a number of major markets including Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Oakville and Vancouver, offset by fewer new listings in other markets including Edmonton and the Fraser Valley.

The number of months of inventory stood at 6.1 months at the end of September on a national basis, little changed from the end of August which was 6.2 months. It represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, and is another measure of balance between housing supply and demand. Months of inventory have held steady at about six months since April.

The actual, not seasonally adjusted, national average price for homes sold in September 2011 stood at just under $352,600, remaining below record level heights reached earlier this year. While up 6.5% from September 2010, the year on year increase is the smallest since January.

‘Canada’s housing market remains stable amid continuing financial market volatility, contributing to Canadians’ confidence in the economy and providing support for Canadian economic growth,’ said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

‘Interest rates are expected to remain low for longer, and evidence suggests that recent changes to mortgage regulations are preventing the kind of excesses they were designed to avert. Both of these developments are good news for the housing market,’ he added.

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