Resale housing activity in Canada’s major markets edged down slightly in April compared to the previous month, according to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association.

Seasonally adjusted home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service in Canada’s major markets numbered 27,746 units in April 2006 — a decline of 3.2 percent compared to March. The monthly decline in sales activity was largely due to fewer transactions in Vancouver and Toronto, which more than offset a small monthly increase in activity in Montreal and a number of other markets.

Actual (unadjusted) sales activity in April was down 4 percent compared to the month last year. Supported by record sales activity in the first quarter of 2006, transactions for the year-to-date in April were 5.1 percent ahead of levels posted for the first four months of last year.

Seasonally adjusted sales surpassed all previous records for the month of April in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Saint John. On a year-to-date basis, activity also reached its highest level on record nationally, and in Calgary and Edmonton.

Seasonally adjusted MLS residential new listings in April inched down by less than 1 percent compared to March, to 45,654 listings. The monthly decline in new listings was smaller than the decline in sales activity, which caused the market to become slightly more balanced.

The MLS residential average price climbed by 11.9 percent year-over-year in April to $297,609 – the highest level on record and the fourth consecutive month in which the year-over-year increase in average price was above 10 percent. Average price also topped all previous monthly records in a number of markets including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.

“Consumers continue to have a high interest in resale housing across Canada’s major markets,” said Alan Tennant, president of The Canadian Real Estate Association. “Even though sales were down in April, they remain near historical highs and national MLS home sales are on track to set a sixth consecutive annual record in 2006.” A forecast prepared by CREA expects national resale housing activity to inch higher by 1 percent to 488,160 units in 2006.

“Resale housing demand is still very strong and the market remains tight, and this is reflected in rising prices,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. “Additional listings are helping the resale housing market to become more balanced. There aren’t enough new listings coming onto the market to meet consumer demand in many urban areas, so prices will continue to rise over the rest of the year and the next.”

“Listings for higher priced homes are rising the most, and have made this segment of the market more balanced than it is for lower-priced homes. A more balanced market for high-end homes may cause price increases to become more modest in the months ahead,” Klump added.

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