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Canada's key housing markets diverge as Toronto booms, Vancouver falls

A real estate sold sign hangs in front of a west-end Toronto property Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Original Publication Date February 03, 2017 - 3:10 AM

TORONTO - Real estate sales figures in January are reinforcing suggestions that Canada's two most widely watched housing markets will take divergent paths this year, with Toronto set to continue its boom while Vancouver faces a possible correction.

Sales in the Greater Toronto Area picked up last month where 2016 left off, with 5,188 transactions compared to 4,460 in January 2016, an increase of 11.8 per cent, the Toronto Real Estate Board said Friday.

Toronto's sales gain came despite a 17.6 per cent drop in the number of new GTA listings, down from 8,906 to 7,338 year-over-year.

Jason Mercer, TREB's director of market analysis, said the number of active listings on the board's MLS system at the end of January was essentially half of what was reported as available at the same time last year.

"That statistic, on its own, tells us that there is a serious supply problem in the GTA," Mercer said in a statement.

"The result will be very strong price growth for all home types again this year."

In Vancouver, there have been signs that the city may be in the grips of a housing price correction following several federal, provincial and municipal measures aimed at reining in housing prices that were among the most expensive in North America.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported Thursday that home sales in January in Metro Vancouver dropped by 39.5 per cent year-over-year, from 2,519 to 1,523.

B.C. government data has shown a steep drop in real estate transactions in the Vancouver area after the provincial government brought in a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers last August. The market had been showing signs of softening prior to the tax after months of scorching sales.

Royal LePage recently forecasted an 8.5 per cent price correction in Greater Vancouver this year.

TREB also reported that the average selling price in the GTA was up by 22.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis in January to $770,745, with double-digit gains in the average prices for all major home types. Rates of sales growth were higher for condominium apartments than for low-rise home types, according to the data.

Condo sales in the GTA increased 26.7 per cent year-over-year in January, compared to respective increases of 7.8 per cent and 7.2 per cent for detached homes and townhouses. Semi-detached home sales were down 5.8 per cent.

January sales prices in the City of Toronto averaged $727,928 while the rest of the GTA saw higher sales prices of $795,569, a reversal of trends seen in January 2016.

That's not the first time within the last year that GTA housing sales prices outside of the downtown have outpaced those within the city, Mercer said.

He said half of the transactions last month in downtown Toronto involved condos with an average sales price of $471,409 versus detached and semi-detached homes which averaged $1,336,640 and $902,688, respectively.

"You don't have a lot of inventory of low-rise listings in the city," Mercer said in an interview.

The MLS composite benchmark price for all types of homes in the GTA was $681,400. In Metro Vancouver, it was $896,000.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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