Third-quarter sales via the Multiple Listing Service in Canada dropped 6 percent compared to third-quarter 2005 sales and fell 2.5 percent compared to second-quarter 2006 sales, The Canadian Real Estate Association trade group reported today.

Sales activity for the first nine months of the year remained slightly ahead of levels recorded during the same period in 2005, and remains on a record pace, the association also reported.

Seasonally adjusted home sales activity via the Canada’s major markets totaled 82,119 units in the third quarter of 2006, down 2.5 percent compared to the second quarter.

The quarterly decline in sales activity was biggest in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, but was partially offset by a quarterly increase in transactions in Edmonton and Hamilton, among other major markets, the association announced. Sales activity in Edmonton and Thunder Bay reached the highest quarterly level on record.

Transactions for the year to date in September were 0.7 percent ahead of levels recorded for the same period last year. New sales records for the year-to-date in September were set in a number of major markets, including Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal, according to the report.

The average price of homes jumped 10.1 percent from third-quarter 2005 to third-quarter 2006, from $234,866 (in U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate) to $258,654.

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, 27,220 homes traded hands via the MLS in September, which is 1.6 percent lower than for the previous month. Sales reached the highest monthly level on record in Edmonton.

Seasonally adjusted MLS residential new listings in Canada’s major markets reached 143,760 units in the third quarter — an increase of 3.8 percent compared to the previous quarter, according to the report, which was the highest level in more than 15 years and the second-highest level for any quarter on record.

New listings reached the highest level of any quarter on record in Calgary and Edmonton, and the second-highest level on record in Toronto and Montreal.

“The quarterly decline in sales combined with an increase in new listings caused the resale housing market to become more balanced than in any other quarter in the past 5.5 years,” the association reported.

Average price set new quarterly records in many major markets, including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, London, Kitchener, St. Catharines and Sudbury, according to the report.

“Canada’s housing market continues to head for a soft landing,” said Gregory Klump, CREA chief economist. “CREA’s October 2006 forecast indicates those trends will continue over the rest of the year and in 2007.”

The Canadian Real Estate Association represents about 86,000.

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