House sales have softened across the country — Toronto included — although the average price of a home in the GTA continued to edge closer to $500,000 in January.
Sales activity was down in over half of Canada’s housing markets, led by an almost 3 per cent decline in sales across the GTA when adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, according to January housing statistics released Wednesday by the Canadian Real Estate Board (CREA.)
New listings were also down a seasonally adjusted 4.3 per cent across the GTA, as the low inventory of new resale properties on the market continues to be a problem, especially in the 416 regions of Toronto.
That helped drive up the average house price across the GTA by 3.8 per cent just from December to January to $486,654, according to CREA.
The average GTA home was worth about 8.5 per cent more in January than over the same period a year ago, the statistics show.
Across Canada as a whole, sales were down in January, which shifted the national market further into balanced territory. The average price of a Canadian home hit $348,178 in January, up just 1.2 per cent from a year earlier.
“The national housing market is stabilizing and remains well balanced,” said CREA president Gary Morse in a statement. “That said, forecasts for economic and job growth going forward vary widely for different parts of the country, suggesting a possible continuation of a softening trend in some markets, as well as the potential that demand will pick up based on strong fundamentals in others.”
CREA warned that average price comparisons could become “volatile and may turn negative” in the coming months. That’s because an unprecedented surge in sales in high-end Vancouver neighbourhoods, largely driven by Asian investors, pushed home prices there to such record-high levels at the beginning of 2011, they actually skewed the national house price average.
“A replay of this phenomenon is not expected this year,” said CREA chief economist Gregory Klump. “For this reason, year-over-year comparisons should be kept in perspective,” in the coming months, he warned.