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Urban real estate boom rolls on

Repeated warnings of an overheated market failed to deter home buyers in Canada’s largest cities in 2013, with the number of Toronto home sales up 2% over the previous year, Vancouver sales were up 14% and Calgary sales rose 11%

Homes in the Greater Toronto Area continued their robust rise in price, up 5.2% to an average price of $523,036 in December, compared to $497,130 in 2012, the Toronto Real Estate Board reports.

After a slow start to 2013, GTA housing sales picked up in the second half of the year. Total sales for 2013 were 87,111, compared to 85,496 transactions in 2012.

Even the condo market showed gains, with the average price in Toronto rising 7.6% to $367,376 compared to December 2012, while detached homes prices rose by nearly 19% to $864,351.

Although December sales tend to be slow, new listings were down almost 4% in December, which helped fuel frantic bidding wars in some Toronto neighbourhoods close to the downtown and transit lines.

For Metro Vancouver, total sales of detached, attached and apartment properties in 2013 reached 28,524, a 14% increase from the 25,032 sales recorded in 2012.

But the number of residential properties listed for sale on the MLS declined 6.2% in 2013 to 54,742, part of a trend in major cities as baby boomers hold onto their properties.

The average house price in the Greater Vancouver area was $603,400.

The price of a detached single family home rose 2.5% to $927,000, while condo prices were up 1.8% for the year to $367,800.

In Calgary, 16,302 single family homes changed hands, an 8% increase, and 4,007 condos were sold, a 14% rise.

The benchmark price for a single-family home was $472,200 in December, an 8.6% increase from the previous year.

How strong the housing market remains in 2014 depends on interest rates.

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