Canadas housing sales take a sharp fall

The number of homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service dropped to 27,743 units in November - the lowest level recorded since January 2001, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Monday.

"These changes in the Canadian housing market reflect a broader and weakened picture of both the economy and buyer sentiment," CREA chief economist Gregory Klump said in a release.

"National sales activity and price trends will continue reflecting increased cautiousness on the part of lenders and buyers, as the economy works its way through and out of the current recession."

In monthly comparisons, November's sales represented a 12.3 per cent decline from October. The national average price of homes sold through the multiple listing service fell 9.8 per cent in yearly comparisons, as real estate activity declined in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

Major markets that observed yearly declines include Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Oshawa and Toronto, MLS said.

In British Columbia, the average residential price fell from $451,991 in November 2007 to $395,687 in November 2008.

Prices declined 4.2 per cent in Alberta, from $353,125 to $338,354 during the same time frame. Meanwhile, prices increased over 30 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador and the Yukon.

Recent market assessments have shown the real estate market in Canada appears to be waning.

Last week, Statistics Canada reported new home prices in October increased 1.5 per cent in yearly comparisons - the smallest increase recorded since October 1999.

At the same time, apartment vacancy rates slipped to 2.2 per cent from 2.6 per cent in October, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. figures.

The federal agency said demand for rental units appeared to be on the rise, particularly in Victoria, Vancouver and Regina.

In early December, CMHC reported that housing starts in November fell 21.6 per cent in year-over-year comparisons, in part owing to falling demand for condominiums.

CBC News

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