Canadian home sales climb higher in April, boosted by Toronto and Montreal

OTTAWA — Home sales in April posted their first year-over-year increase since December 2017 as gains in Montreal and the Toronto region outweighed a decline in the B.C. Lower Mainland.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said Wednesday that home sales last month were up 4.2 per cent compared with a year ago, when they hit a seven-year low for the month.

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On a month-over-month basis, sales through the Multiple Listing Service rose 3.6 per cent in April.

"Canadian housing activity appears to be broadly stabilizing, as there are signs that the market has largely digested the many policy changes," Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter wrote in a report.

"And while the regional divide is wide, fundamentals look to be a bit more supportive in the year ahead, with the policy tightening likely having run its course, job growth surprisingly solid and borrowing costs ebbing."

The national average price for homes sold in April was $494,978, up 0.3 per cent from the same month in 2018.

Excluding the Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto Area, two of the country's most expensive markets, the average price was just over $391,000.

Canadian home sales softened in the wake of new mortgage stress test rules introduced last year and a rise in mortgage rates.

However, mortgage rates have started to come back down in recent months as expectations that the Bank of Canada will raise its key interest rate have also cooled.

The Canadian Real Estate Association noted that the number of newly listed homes rose 2.7 per cent in April, following an increase of 3.4 per cent in March.

However, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 54.8 per cent compared with 54.3 per cent in March.

The association noted that sales activity was stabilizing among Canada’s five most active urban housing markets, which no longer includes Greater Vancouver for the first time since the recession as sales in that city continue to trend lower.

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