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October a record breaking month for MLS(R) resale housing market

OTTAWA, Nov. 16 /CNW/ - According to The Canadian Real Estate Association, sales activity reached the highest level ever for the month of October.

Residential sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service(R) (MLS(R)) of Canadian real estate boards numbered 42,288 units. This is up 41.5 per cent compared to October 2008, when news of the global financial crisis hammered consumer confidence. New records for the month were reported in about one-fifth of local markets, including Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.

Seasonally adjusted national MLS(R) home sales totalled 45,818 units in October 2009. This is two per cent higher than the previous record set in May 2007, and 74 per cent above the recent low in January, when activity fell to the lowest level in a decade. New monthly records for activity were set in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, which reflect record level activity in Greater Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.

Since the beginning of 2009, some 401,124 homes have traded hands via the MLS(R) System. This is 1.6 per cent above the same period last year, but below levels for this period in each of the previous three years.

"Low interest rates and upbeat consumer confidence continue to release the pent-up demand that built late last year and earlier this year," said CREA President Dale Ripplinger. "The release of that pent-up demand has boosted national sales activity to new heights and is drawing down inventories."

The national MLS(R) residential average price also reached new heights in October 2009. At $341,079, the average sale price was up 20.7 per cent from the same month last year. The increase reflects the high degree to which the national average price was skewed downward last year by a significant decline in activity in Canada's priciest markets, and then upward by the rebound in activity.

The price trend is similar but less dramatic for the national MLS(R) weighted average price, which compensates for changes in provincial sales activity by taking into account provincial proportions of privately owned housing stock. It set a record in October, rising 14 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

October also saw the MLS(R) residential average price in Canada's major markets improve. At $373,095, the average sale price was up 22.1 per cent from the same month last year. As with the national counterpart, the price trend is similar but less dramatic for the major market MLS(R) weighted average price which rose 12 per cent on a year-over-year basis in October.

Seasonally adjusted new listings coming onto the MLS(R) Systems of real estate boards across Canada inched up on a month-over-month basis in October to 65,148 units. New listings peaked in May 2008 and declined sharply until March 2009. Since April 2009, new listings have held to within a range of 66,500 units, plus or minus 1,800 units.

The sharp rise in resale housing demand has increasingly shrunk inventories. There were 194,994 homes listed for sale on the MLS(R) Systems of real estate boards in Canada at the end of October 2009. This is 20.8 per cent below the peak reached in October of last year, and the sixth month in a row in which inventories are down from year-ago levels.

Nationally, there were 4.1 months of inventory in October 2009 on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest level in more than two years. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of months of inventory in October 2009 stood at 4.6 months, which is down slightly from the previous month (4.9 months), and among the lowest of levels this year. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

"New listings are still expected to rise in the coming months in response to headline average price increases," said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. "New supply dropped dramatically in December last year and earlier this year in response to a difficult pricing environment. Sellers who moved to the sidelines should be drawn back to the market as prices rise further over the rest of the year and in early 2010."