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Canada home resales fall in April as market cooling begins

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Resales of Canadian homes fell 1.7 per cent in April from record highs in March as new listings spiked, the Canadian Real Estate Association (Crea) said on Monday in a report that suggested a long-awaited slowdown in housing had begun.

[OTTAWA] Resales of Canadian homes fell 1.7 per cent in April from record highs in March as new listings spiked, the Canadian Real Estate Association (Crea) said on Monday in a report that suggested a long-awaited slowdown in housing had begun.

The industry group said actual sales, not seasonally adjusted, were down 7.5 per cent from April 2016, while home prices surged 19.8 per cent from a year ago, according to the group's home price index.

Sales declined in close to 70 per cent of markets, led by Toronto, where skyrocketing home prices had sparked fears of a bubble and prompted the provincial government to introduce new measures in April to rein in the market.

"Homebuyers and sellers both reacted to the recent Ontario government policy announcement aimed at cooling housing markets in and around Toronto," Crea chief economist Gregory Klump said in a statement.

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He said the number of new listings spiked to record levels in and around Toronto and far-flung suburbs, where a severe shortage of listings had helped drive prices higher.

"It suggests these housing markets have started to cool," Mr Klump said.

New listings rose 36 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area and were up 10 per cent nationally, the report showed, helping to ease the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 60.1 per cent in April from 67.3 per cent in March.

A ratio between 40 and 60 per cent is considered balanced, and Canada's housing market had been firmly in seller's market territory for months.

There were 4.2 months of inventory at the end of April, up slightly from 4.1 months in March, Crea said.

Sales rose in Vancouver, which has mostly cooled since a foreign buyers tax was introduced last August, but remained down from record levels before the tax.

While sales slowed, prices continued to rise at a double-digit pace, according to the group's Home Price Index, which is used to ease the distortion caused by the expensive Toronto and Vancouver markets compared to the rest of the country.

The actual national average price was up 10.4 per cent at C$559,317 (S$572,053) compared to a year earlier, the report showed.

REUTERS

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