'Hot' spring season ahead for investors

The report found 12 of 15 of Canada’s major metropolitan centres reported year-over-year increases in sales activity in the first two months of 2012, and more than half had double-digit increases. Low interest rates and consumer confidence, along with the recent mild weather, will push an early start to an expected strong spring market, said RE/Max. Average price climbed in 14 of the 15 markets.

“Major Canadian real estate markets continued to show exceptional resiliency throughout the first quarter of the year, with strong demand and diminished supply setting the stage for a heated spring 2012,” according to the Re/Max report.

The tight conditions have recently sparked bidding wars, said Re/Max, noting such trends in Winnipeg, Toronto, Saskatoon, Regina, London-St. Thomas, Hamilton-Burlington, Ottawa, St. John’s, and Halifax-Dartmouth.

In Halifax-Dartmouth, sales activity has been up 35% since the same time last year, bolstered by the announcement of a $25 billion shipbuilding contract late last year.

Sales activity was also up 21% in Saskatoon and 20% in Saint John. Sales were down 16% in Vancouver, however, which has an average price of $786,695 – well more than $300,000 higher than any other Canadian major city.

Victoria was the only one of the 15 markets to see a price decline in the first two months of this year compared to the same time in 2011, down 1% to reach $469,399. St. John’s, the Greater Toronto Area and Winnipeg all saw 10% average price increases over last year. Kitchener-Waterloo wasn’t far behind at 9%.

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