Home sales via the Multiple Listing Service in Canada totaled 483,609 units in 2006, a drop of 0.04 percent compared to 2005, The Canadian Real Estate Association reported today.

Sales activity last year reached the second-highest level on record, the association reported, and was about 180 units shy of setting a fifth consecutive annual record.

Seasonally adjusted sales activity in the fourth quarter of 2006 rose by 1.3 percent compared to the previous quarter, reaching 199,769 units, the association also reported.

For the full year in 2006, sales activity increased 85.9 percent in the Northwest Territories compared to 2005, and rose 12.6 percent in Alberta, 10.8 percent in the Prairie provinces, 10.2 percent in Newfoundland and 10 percent in Saskatchewan. Sales shrank 9.1 percent in British Columbia, 3.3 percent in Nova Scotia and 1.1 percent in Ontario in 2006 compared to 2005 sales, the association reported.

Average home prices increased 30.8 percent in Alberta in 2006 compared to 2005, followed by the Prairie provinces at 28.4 percent, the Northwest Territories at 21.4 percent and British Columbia at 17.7 percent. The average home price fell 1.2 percent in Newfoundland in 2006 compared to 2005.

The dollar volume of home sales rose 125.6 percent in the Northwest Territories in 2006 compared to 2005 while rising 47.3 percent in Alberta and 42.3 percent in the Prairie provinces. Sales volume increases were slightest in Nova Scotia at 2.7 percent, Ontario at 4.7 percent and the Atlantic provinces at 5.8 percent.

“While national sales just missed setting a new record (in 2006), activity surpassed all previous annual records in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland,” the association reported.

Actual sales activity in fourth-quarter 2006 set quarterly records in Manitoba and New Brunswick and was the highest level for the fourth-quarter period nationally and in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, the association reported.

A seasonally adjusted total of 40,748 homes were sold via the MLS in December 2006, up 2.1 percent compared to December 2005. Ontario and Quebec fueled most of the monthly increase in national sales activity, in December 2006 compared to December 2005, the association reported, with sales declining 22.8 percent in British Columbia, 12.6 percent in Nova Scotia and 2.8 percent in Saskatchewan.

MLS residential new listings set a new annual record in 2006, up 5.8 percent compared to the previous record set in 2005. New listings eclipsed previous annual records in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, the association reported.

Residential new listings in Quebec also reached the highest seasonally adjusted quarterly level on record in the fourth quarter of 2006 and the highest monthly level on record in December.

The national MLS residential average price rose by 11.1 percent to $234,823 in 2006 (in U.S. dollars at the current conversion rate), a new annual record. The national MLS residential average price in the fourth quarter rose 9.5 percent compared to the same quarter in 2005.

Year-over-year monthly increases in average price have been shrinking, the association reported. The national MLS residential average price rose by 8.4 percent year-over-year in December 2006, which was the smallest increase of the year.

National MLS residential dollar volume set a new annual record in 2006, rising 11.1 percent year-over-year to $113.5 billion (in U.S. dollars at the current conversion rate). Annual MLS dollar volume set new records in every province in 2006.

The association noted that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time but does not indicate actual prices in areas with widely divergent neighborhoods or account for price differentials between geographical areas. MLS data is available from the Conference Board of Canada at www.conferenceboard.ca/Weblinx.

Gregory Klump, the association’s chief economist, said in a statement, “The housing market is forecast to remain tighter in western Canada than for other areas in Canada. Price increases this year are forecast to be smaller on a national basis, but will remain biggest in western markets.”

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