Sales of existing homes in the Toronto, Canada, metro area climbed 5 percent in the first half of August compared to the same period a year ago, the Toronto Real Estate Board reported.

Areas outside Toronto’s city core showed some of the highest activity in the first half of August. East of the city, sales of detached homes in Whitby nearly doubled, pushing overall sales up 38 percent over the first half of August 2004.

In Toronto’s West end, detached home sales led the way as the Islington/Kingsway area of Etobicoke showed an increase of 55 percent over the same time frame.

North of Toronto, the number of transactions in Newmarket jumped 36 percent over the first half of August last year, fueled by significant increases in semi-detached and townhouse activity.

Ted Tsiakopoulos, Ontario regional economist for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., noted that affordability is helping to keep sales strong.

“First-time-buyer optimism continues to be fueled by near-record low interest rates. Strong year-to-date Central Toronto sales, particularly in the condominium sector, demonstrates that home ownership remains within reach for the average first-time buyer,” Tsiakopoulos said.

The average price of a home in the Greater Toronto Area is $323,344, 5 percent higher than midway through August 2004, when the average price was $307,329.

The Toronto Real Estate Board serves more than 22,000 Realtors throughout the Greater Toronto area.

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