Canada’ home sales drop most since 2010

OTTAWA Homes sales declined at the start of 2012, while prices rose at the slowest pace in a year, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Sales were down 4.5% in January from the previous months, the industry group said Wednesday, adding that the number of newly listed homes edged down 1.4% for the month

This marks the first monthly decline in national activity since August 2011 and the biggest monthly decline since July 2010,’ CREA said. The monthly decline reversed a string of monthly increases over the closing months of last year, and returned national activity to where it stood at the end of the third quarter of 2011.

The national average home price was up less than 2% year-over-year in January, ranking it among the smallest increases of the past year.’

January’s sales declines were led by Greater Toronto and Montreal, as well as a softening in other major centres like the Fraser Valley in B.C., Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Greater Vancouver.

Still, unadjusted sales last month were up 4% from January 2011 and were even with the five-and-10-year averages for January sales, it said.

The national housing market is stabilizing and remains well balanced,’ said CREA president Gary Morse. 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.’