The rate of Canadian home sales via the country’s multiple listing service dropped 7.1 percent in August compared to the same month in the prior year, though year-to-date home sales are still on a record pace, The Canadian Real Estate Association reported today.

Seasonally adjusted home sales numbered 39,725 units in August 2006, which was up 0.7 percent from July. Monthly increases were reported in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, while sales slowed in British Columbia and Alberta.

MLS home sales in Saskatchewan set a record for the highest number of units sold in any month this decade, the association reported, and transactions also set records for the month of August in Alberta and Newfoundland.

Sales activity in the first eight months of this year was 2 percent higher than the same period in 2005, with all provinces except British Columbia and Ontario experiencing year-to-date gains in transactions compared with last year.

Seasonally adjusted new MLS listings totaled 67,099 units in August – the third-highest level on record but down 0.8 percent from July. New listings reached their second highest monthly levels on record in Alberta and Quebec, and set new records for the month of August in Ontario and Newfoundland.

“The monthly increase in sales and decline in new listings caused the national resale housing market to tighten slightly in August, but conditions remain more balanced than at almost any other time in the past five years. It remains a seller’s market in the Western provinces and a balanced market in the Central and Atlantic regions,” the association reported.

Seasonally adjusted MLS residential dollar volume was valued at $9.8 billion (in U.S. dollars at the current conversion rate) in August 2006 — which roughly matched the July volume. MLS dollar volume set a new monthly record in Saskatchewan, and reached the highest level on record for the month of August in Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland, the association reported.

The national MLS residential average price rose 11.9 percent year-over-year to $247,857 (in U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate) in August — the eighth consecutive double-digit increase. MLS residential average price reached the highest monthly level on record in British Columbia and Alberta, and set new records for the month of August in every province except Prince Edward Island.

CREA chief economist Gregory Klump stated, “Important regional differences remain intact — it is still a seller’s market in the Western provinces and a balanced market in the Central and Atlantic regions. While it’s a seller’s market in British Columbia and Alberta, new listings are on the rise while sales activity is easing back to more normal levels. Average prices in these provinces are beginning to show signs of stabilizing, but year-over-year comparisons will remain outsized in those provinces over the rest of the year and in early 2007.

“If current trends remain intact, it will be late spring 2007 before year-over-year increases in average price in British Columbia and Alberta retreat to below 10 percent,” he added.

“The gradual return of sales activity to more normal levels and an increase in new listings will cause housing markets across the country to become more balanced over the rest of the year and in 2007,” said CREA president Alan Tennant in a statement. “More balanced market conditions present some excellent opportunities for both buyers and sellers.”

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