Canadian existing-home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service decreased slightly in April from their year-ago level, as home prices hit new highs, according to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association.

A total of 39,912 homes were sold through the MLS last month, down 0.5 percent compared with April 2005, CREA reported.

Sales activity set new records for the month of April in Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and surpassed all previous records for the first four months of the year in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.

Compared to March 2006, seasonally adjusted sales activity retreated by 3.6 percent in April, CREA reported. A monthly increase in sales activity in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland was offset by fewer transactions in other provinces, led by Ontario.

The national MLS residential average price rose 12.9 percent year-over-year to $280,740 in April. The represents the third consecutive monthly record on a national basis, and is the biggest year-over-year increase since April 2004. The MLS residential average price in April reached the highest monthly level on record in almost every province.

Seasonally adjusted new MLS listings slipped lower by 1 percent from the previous month to 64,935 units in April. A bigger monthly decline in sales activity than for new listings caused the national resale housing market to become more balanced.

“Resale housing demand is still very strong, and the market, while becoming more balanced, is still tight enough to support additional price increases,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. “Listings for higher-priced homes are rising the most, and have made that 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.”

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