National house prices rise 9.4 per cent

House prices continue to climb to new heights in Canada's biggest cities, according to new figures.

The latest numbers from the Canadian Real Estate Association show that national average home prices rose by 9.4 per cent year-over-year, to $439,144, helped significantly by the country's hottest markets: Toronto and Vancouver.

In Toronto, prices rose 10.1 per cent to $613,933, as condo prices increased 4.3 per cent to $372,827. While total prices were up 11.2 per cent in Vancouver, at $891,652, they were dampened by a 0.9 per cent slip in condo prices, at $465,658.
Excluding Toronto and Vancouver, the national average home sales price was up just 2.4 per cent over last year, at $332,711.

During the month of March, CREA also recorded a 9.5 per cent increase in the number of transactions, compared to the year-ago period. Again, much of that boost came from two of the country’s largest cities, where the condo market remains extremely active.
Greater Vancouver and the GTA are really the only two hotspots for home sales and prices in Canada,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

“Price gains in these two markets are being fuelled by a shortage of single-family homes for sale in the face of strong demand. Meanwhile, supply and demand for homes is well balanced among the vast majority of housing markets elsewhere across Canada.”
In Vancouver, that number of real estate transactions rose 53.2 per cent as condo sales jumped 12.7 per cent over March 2014. Total March sales were up 10.6 per cent in Toronto, with condo sales skyrocketing 46.8 per cent from the year-ago period.
Newfoundland & Labrador also recorded a strong March for sales, which rose 24 per cent, while sales in Manitoba were up 11.5 per cent.
Alberta, however, faced a 20.5 per cent year-over-year drop in total March sales, as lower oil values continue to put pressure on the local real estate market.

Fort McMurray, Lloydminster and Calgary faced the greatest drop-offs in sales – down 39.3 per cent, 42.3 per cent and 30.1 per cent, respectively. However, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat each recorded an increase in sales compared to March 2014.
“Low mortgage interest rates are good news for affordability as we head into the spring homebuying season,” said CREA president Pauline Aunger.

“This spring should see buyers coming off the sidelines in places where winter was anything but mild.”
New listings were up 7.6 per cent across the country, compared to March last year. Manitoba and Saskatchewan posted the greatest gains – up 34.7 per cent and 15.5 per cent, respectively – which were offset by steep declines Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island as homebuyers increasingly take advantage of historically low interest rates.
Compared to February, new listings were up just 1.8 per cent.

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