Toronto brokers in tough

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By Christopher Myrick

Brokers in Canada's largest market now have tangible proof of what they've long suspected, with the local Realtors association reporting a 15 per cent year-on-year decline in home sales for February, even as the average sales price rose 2 per cent over the same year-ago period.

Adjusting for the 2012 leap year, and one less day for dealing this year, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) said Tuesday that the year-on-year sales drop was slightly slimmer at 10.5 per cent.

Still the market slump is real and likely a reflection of slumping demand and fencesitting buyers waiting for the kind of 10 per cent price correction Fitch ratings is now predicting.

"The share of sales and dollar volume accounted for by luxury detached homes in the City of Toronto was lower this February compared to last," said TREB President Ann Hannah. "This contributed to a more modest pace of overall average price growth for the GTA as a whole."

That change meant an average sold price came in at $510,580 for February.

Hannah added that the stricter mortgage lending guidelines and the city's additional upfront land transfer tax likely played roles in a slower pace of luxury detached home sales.

TREB senior manager of market analysis Jason Mercer said the board expects volatility in price growth for some market segments in 2013, but low inventory in the low-rise market segment should sustain average price growth above three per cent for the market this year.

In fact, TREB is forecasting an average price of $515,000 for all home types combined in 2013.