OTTAWA — Sales of existing homes rose 2.5 per cent in March from the previous month, while prices declined 0.5 per cent year over year, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Monday.
On a seasonally unadjusted basis, sales were up 1.6 per cent from March 2011 levels, the smallest increase since April last year. “It reflects moderate gains in a number of major centres, including Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City,” CREA said. “Increases in these housing markets offset larger declines in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, where activity last year ran at unusually strong levels.”
The number of newly listed homes were down 0.3 per cent in March from February. “Activity in March was up from the previous month in two-thirds of all local markets, with Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton contributing most to the national increase,” CREA said. The national average home price declined 0.5 per cent in March from a year earlier to $369,677.
“The slight decline in the national average price points to a tug of war between Toronto and Vancouver from the standpoint of their sales mix compared to last year,” said CREA chief economist Gregory Klump. “Average prices are up from year-ago levels in most large urban centres.”
Sonya Gulati, at TD Economics, said that “if we step back from the monthly gyrations seen in this data release, we see that price and sales’ gains are coming in fairly flat (between minus two per cent and plus two per cetn. This profile is in line with our expectations for the year.”
“This pace captures increased activity from low-cost borrowing conditions, but also negative headwinds from households beginning to curb their spending in light of interest rate hikes to come and record-high household indebtedness.”