Canada Home Sales Rise 4.5% in December

By Paul VieiraFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

National home sales in Canada rose in December for a fifth straight month, with activity returning to levels from earlier this year before measures targeting foreign buyers in Toronto triggered a slump.

House prices rose on a one-year basis, but at their slowest pace in nearly two years.

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The Canadian Real Estate Association said Monday home sales climbed 4.5% in December from the previous month. Actual, or not seasonally adjusted, activity was 4.1% above year-over-year levels, "fully recovering" from a slump that took hold in the summer, the association said.

Gregory Klump, CREA's chief economist, said home sales in December likely reflected seasonal-adjustment factors, and that buyers who were hesitating decided to jump into the market before tougher mortgage-financing rules kicked in on Jan. 1.

"It will be interesting to see if monthly sales activity continues to rise despite tighter mortgage regulations," Mr. Klump said.

The Ottawa-based association represents the country's real-estate agents.

CREA's benchmark-price index rose 9.1% on a 12-month basis in December, or the smallest such increase since February, 2016. The group said this was the eighth straight deceleration in year-over-year gains, and reflects softness in single-family detached homes in the greater Toronto area. The Toronto market has softened since last spring after authorities in the province of Ontario introduced a series of new policies to curb housing-price inflation.

Meanwhile, benchmark prices in the Vancouver area rose 17.3% on a one-year basis to reach fresh highs.

The actual, or not seasonally adjusted national average price for homes sold in December 2017 was just nearly 497,000 Canadian dollars ($397,000), up 5.7% from one year earlier. The association said the national average price is heavily skewed by sales in Vancouver and Toronto, two of Canada's most active and expensive markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations trims almost C$116,000 from the national average price to just under C$381,000.

Write to Paul Vieira at paul.vieira@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 15, 2018 10:04 ET (15:04 GMT)