Canada’s MLS residential home sales soared to a record-high of 456,503 closed transactions in 2004, a 4.8 percent gain over 2003, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. It was the fourth consecutive year in which national sales surpassed all previous annual records.

Annual sales records were set in Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

New listings reached their highest level on record on an annual basis, the association reported. At 716,201 units, new listings in 2004 surpassed their previous record set in 1990 by 1.1 percent.

The national MLS average price set a record in 2004, up 9.7 percent from 2003 to $244,304. This was the fifth consecutive year in which the national average price set an annual record.

For December, seasonally adjusted existing-home sales via Canada’s Multiple Listing Service slowed 1.3 percent from the previous month, but set monthly records in New Brunswick and Alberta.

The national MLS average residential price also set a monthly record in December, reaching $234,971. The year-over-year increase of 11.1 percent in average price in December was its largest since May 2004.

An increase in new listings and a return to a more normal pace of sales activity are expected to cause Canada’s resale housing market to become more balanced in 2005, which will keep the size of average price increases between 3 percent and 5 percent, the association reported.

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