Major cities post massive February sales growth

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Homebuyers in Canada’s larger city centres are wising up to the fact that home prices aren’t about to tumble, sending February sales through the roof.

In Toronto, 6,338 properties were sold through the MLS, representing an 11.3 per cent increase from the same month last year.

“Even with the record low temperatures last month, we still saw an increase in the number of people purchasing homes in the GTA,” said Paul Etherington, president for the Toronto Real Estate Board. “This speaks to the importance households place on home ownership and the fact that buyers continue to view ownership housing as a quality long-term investment in which they can live.”

Unlike last year, extreme weather – and the coldest February on record – didn’t keep buyers away from the Toronto market. Instead, would-be homeowners were eager to break into the market as soon as possible.

Sales of detached properties rose 13.9 per cent in February, making up about half of all Toronto sales that month. Most of those sales occurred outside the city proper, both demand for land in the City of Toronto drove prices up 8.9 per cent to $1.04 million – a first for a single calendar month.

Townhouse and condo sales also increased year-over-year, rising 13.6 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively. Average condo prices in the city’s core, however, fell almost one per cent in February to $369,655.

“The strong year-over-year price growth we experienced in February points to the robust demand for ownership housing in the GTA, coupled with a constrained supply of homes for sale in some market segments, especially where low-rise home types like singles, semis and townhouses are concerned,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis.

On the West Coast, Vancouver reported a staggering 21 per cent increase over the year-ago period, rising to 3,061 properties. February sales were also 60 per cent higher than in January, and 20.2 per cent above the city’s 10-year average.

Sales of detached properties rose 25.6 per cent over the year-ago period, while condo sales were up 20.5 per cent from February 2014.

“It’s an active and competitive marketplace today,” said Ray Harris, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. “Buyers are motivated and homes that are priced competitively are selling at a brisk pace right now…We’re seeing more multiple offer situations and generally more traffic at open houses today.”

Indeed, the average price of detached homes rose 9.7 per cent to $1.03 million in February, while condo prices were up three per cent to $386,500.

Those increases were in stark contrast to the severe declines the Calgary market is currently facing. In February, home sales fell 34.22 per cent from the year-ago period. Average prices in that city, however, were down less than two per cent, to $420,000.

Agents on the ground, meanwhile, have been calling for rational reactions to what is actually happening in the market.

“The world is not ending out here, but it is correcting itself and, depending on how long the prices stay where they are and how low they go, there will be a ripple,” Duane Ritter, a sales rep in Calgary, told our sister publication, REP. “We just don’t know how big the ripple is going to be.”

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