Existing-home sales in Canada’s major markets set a monthly record in August, and year-to-date sales pulled farther ahead compared to last year, according to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association.

Seasonally adjusted sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service in Canada’s major markets reached its highest monthly level ever in August with 30,114 transactions, up 4.8 percent from July and 3 percent above its previous monthly peak in June 2005.

Seasonally adjusted sales also reached their highest monthly level on record in Edmonton, Hamilton and Burlington. Activity surpassed all previous records for the month of August in many major markets, including Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax and St. John’s.

Actual home sales in the first eight months of 2005 numbered 238,052 units, up 3.3 percent compared to activity over the same period last year. Year-to-date sales activity advanced in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal and Saint John.

MLS residential new listings rose by 3.3 percent to 46,175 units in August compared to the previous month. The monthly increase in sales was larger than for new listings, which caused the resale housing market to tighten in August.

The major-market MLS residential average price reached $262,609 in August, up 10.9 percent from the same month last year, and its largest year-over-year increase this year.

Average price reached its highest level ever in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Sudbury and Kitchener-Waterloo, and set new records for the month of August in almost all other major markets.

“According to the Conference Board of Canada, the psychological impact of higher gasoline dented consumer confidence in August,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. “Too much should not be read into the decline in confidence. Resale housing activity scaled new heights last month, so it is people do – not what they say – that matters most. The impact of higher gasoline prices on household budgets is more likely to lower discretionary spending rather than housing activity in the near term.”

“Housing activity has played a key role for Canadian economic growth,” said Klump. “A downshift in consumer spending could prompt the Bank of Canada to trim its near-term outlook for Canadian economic growth and the extent to which it needs to hike its trend-setting Bank rate next year.”

“With employment high and long term mortgage interest rates expected to remain within short reach of their current levels next year, housing markets will no doubt remain strong,” he added.

***

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