Newspaper article The Canadian Press

October Home Sales Continue at Slower Pace on Back of Mortgage Reforms, Debt

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

October Home Sales Continue at Slower Pace on Back of Mortgage Reforms, Debt

Article excerpt

Canadian home sales maintain slower pace


Home resales across Canada last month were down slightly from September, continuing a mild housing market slowdown in the face of mortgage reforms, a weakening economy, high consumer debt and elevated property prices.

The Canadian Real Estate Association reported Thursday that 13,004 residential properties were sold in October through the industry-run Multiple Listing Service, down about 0.1 per cent from September on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

The national average home price through MLS was also virtually unchanged from October of last year at $361,516, an increase of just $80.

However, the number of new listings across Canada fell by 3.8 per cent to 71,735 in October from 74,618 in September, keeping the market balanced in terms of supply and demand -- at least nationally.

"While Canada's market continues to look balanced overall, there are clear pockets of strength and weakness," BMO Capital economist Robert Kavcic observes in his analysis of the CREA results.

The BMO report described Vancouver, Victoria, Regina and Saskatoon as buyers' markets -- where supply markedly outstrips demand and dampens asking prices -- and Winnipeg, Saint John, N.B. and the Ontario cities of Hamilton-Burlington, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Windsor as sellers' markets.

Despite the typical variation of local market conditions, Kavcic concluded that the national scene is "quite balanced" and "it looks at this point like the elusive soft landing is taking shape."

CREA said sales transactions in October were up compared with levels one year ago in almost two-thirds of all local markets, with Calgary leading the advances. Sales were below October 2011 levels in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

CREA says there are signs of diverging trends among local housing markets, with Alberta and Saskatchewan gaining strength and other traditionally hot areas cooling.

"Little has changed since national activity geared down in the wake of mortgage rules that came into force in July," said Gregory Klump, CREA's chief economist.

"Opinions differ about how sharply sales have slowed depending on the local housing market. …

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