Sales of existing homes via the Multiple Listing Service set annual records in 2005, according to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association.

Annual sales via the Multiple Listing Service in Canada totaled 483,250 units in 2005, up 4.9 percent from the 460,791 sales posted in 2004. Led by double-digit gains in British Columbia and Alberta, it was the fifth consecutive year in which unit sales set an annual record.

Annual sales records were set in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Annual activity in Ontario was just two-tenths of a percentage point shy of the record set in 2004.

A seasonally adjusted total of 40,226 homes traded hands in December 2005, representing a decline of 2.4 percent compared to the previous month. A monthly decline in sales activity in Alberta and Ontario more than offset an increase in transactions in British Columbia and Quebec.

Seasonally adjusted activity also declined by 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005 compared to their highest quarterly level on record, which was reached during the third quarter. Sales remained strong in the fourth quarter despite the quarterly decline and reached their third highest quarterly level on record. New quarterly records for seasonally adjusted sales activity were set in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

MLS residential new listings totaled 758,376 units in 2005, compared with 725,175 in 2004. This represents a year-over-year increase of 4.6 percent and is the highest annual level on record.

The value of MLS home sales also reached a new high in 2005. Dollar volume totaled $120.5 billion in 2005 – an increase of 15.5 percent from levels recorded in 2004. Annual dollar volume set records in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The national MLS residential average price reached $249,311 in 2005, representing an annual increase of 10.2 percent. This was the seventh consecutive annual record for average residential price and the largest annual increase on record since 1989.

MLS residential average prices hit their highest annual level on record in every province in 2005. The national MLS residential average price rose 9.8 percent in December compared to the same month in 2004. Average residential price was also up 10.5 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same quarter in 2004.

CREA’s November 2005 forecast calls for a 5.4 percent decline in national MLS home sales activity and a 5 percent increase in MLS residential average price in 2006. An update of this forecast will be published in February 2006.

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