The rate of existing-home sales fell 6.6 percent in August compared to August 2005 but rose 1.4 percent in the first eight months of the year compared to the same period in 2005, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported.

Year-to-date sales activity reached the highest level on record in Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal, among other markets, the association reported.

According to seasonally adjusted MLS data, there were 47,117 new residential listings in August — nearly the highest level in about 15 years. “While additional listings are helping many local markets to become more balanced, listings remain in short supply in a number of markets in western Canada,” according to the report.

The MLS residential average price in Canada’s major markets was about $261,434 (in current U.S. dollars) in August 2006, an 11.6 percent rise from August 2005 levels. Year-over-year price increases have remained in the double-digits for each of the first eight months of this year, the association announced.

Average price also set new monthly records in Vancouver and Edmonton.

“Economic fundamentals underlying the housing market remain supportive for housing activity,” said CREA chief economist Gregory Klump. “Weakening U.S. economic growth is a good news for Canadian interest rates, as slowing economic growth in Canada will keep mortgage interest rates low and the housing market on a solid footing. If the Bank of Canada cuts interest rates to shore up Canadian economic growth, its warning that economic growth might be pushed higher by momentum in household spending may become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

CREA president Alan Tennant said in a statement, “Now that the market is becoming more balanced, realistic pricing will become increasingly important.”

The Canadian Real Estate Association represents about 86,000 Realtors working through 99 real estate boards, 10 provincial associations and one territorial association.

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