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Housing market "balanced": CREA

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The Canadian housing market remains “balanced” according to new sales figures from the country’s real estate association.

National sales climbed 2.7 percent in September compared to the previous month, led by sales in Toronto, the Canadian Real Estate Association said in a report on Monday.

The average, seasonally adjusted home price fell 0.4 percent in September from August to $361,145 from $362,569.

The housing market remains “balanced”, according to CREA, with the national sales-to-new listings ratio -- a measure of market balance -- stood at 52.8 percent in September from 51.6 percent the previous month.

Actual sales -- not including a seasonal adjustment -- were 11 percent higher than a year ago in September. A total of 361,749 homes have been sold via CREA’s listing service in the year to date. 

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

But Sonya Gulati, economist at TD Economics, said in a note on Monday that while month-over-month housing activity increased in September, it’s down for the year.

“So far in 2011, sales hit their peak in January.  If we use this as a benchmark, sales are down by 2.6 percent in September,” she said.

Gulati says that while sales are declining, prices have yet to follow in a similar fashion -- but that might be about to change as “there is usually a lag between sales weakness and the corresponding price adjustment.”

“Still, it is important to stress that the significant price gains being recorded in British Columbia are skewing the national statistic. If we strip away this province’s outsized performance from the national total, the year-to-date price gain becomes more moderate at 4-5 percent.”
 

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