The rate of home sales via the Canadian multiple listing service dropped 3.1 percent from June to July and sales activity for the first seven months of the year is at a record pace, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported today.

A seasonally adjusted total of 39,319 homes were sold via MLS in July 2006. Unadjusted sales activity fell 3.7 percent in July compared to July 2005, but sales transactions from January through July were 3.1 percent ahead of levels for the same period in 2005.

Year-to-date sales activity remains above levels for the first seven months of any other year on record in all provinces except British Columbia and Ontario.

Monthly increases in sales activity in July in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were more than offset by fewer transactions in all other provinces — particularly in Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia. Despite posting fewer sales in July than during the previous month, transactions reached the highest levels on record for the month of July in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

Seasonally adjusted new MLS listings reached 67,292 units in July — an increase of 0.7 percent from June. This represents the second highest monthly level on record for new listings, and the highest level in more than 15 years, the association reported.

“The national residential market is now more balanced than it has been at any point in the past five years due to a marked increase in new listings in Alberta, and the return to more normal levels of sales activity in British Columbia and Alberta,” according to the announcement.

Seasonally adjusted MLS residential dollar volume totaled about $9.82 billion (in U.S. dollars) in July 2006, down 2.7 percent from levels posted in June. The total value of MLS home sales reached the highest level on record for the month of July in every province except British Columbia.

The national MLS residential average price rose 10.6 percent year-over-year to $249,720 (in U.S. dollars) in July — the seventh consecutive double-digit year-over-year increase. MLS residential average price reached the highest monthly level on record in Quebec and Newfoundland, and set new records for the month of July in every province, the association reported.

“Transactions continue to return to more normal levels of activity and new listings are still rising, so the resale housing market remains in a period of transition,” said Gregory Klump, chief economist for the association, in a statement. “The market for existing homes remains tightest in Western Canada, and is likely to stay that way over the rest of the year.”

He added, “Softer U.S. economic growth will either keep interest rates on hold or lead to lower interest rates, which is good news for the Canadian housing market. “Demand for resale homes is still historically strong. Prices are expected to continue to rise at a more normal pace over the rest of the year since the housing market is becoming more balanced as new listings increase.”

Statistical information reported by the association includes all housing types. MLS data is available from the Conference Board of Canada at www.conferenceboard.ca/Weblinx.

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