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Toronto Home-Sales Decline Highlights Canadian Slowdown

The Toronto real estate market is showing signs of cooling to start the year as January sales dropped 2.2 percent to the lowest for that month since 2009.

Home sales in the nation’s largest housing market fell to 4,135 units from 4,229 units a year earlier, the Toronto Real Estate Board said today in a statement, citing a 17 percent drop in new listings. Average sales prices in the city rose 9.2 percent to C$526,528 ($475,000), the board said.

“It’s possible that strong price growth, and therefore an increase in home equity, will act as a trigger for more households to list their homes for sale,” Dianne Usher, president of Toronto’s real estate board, said in the statement.

Canada’s housing market has been slowing. National existing home sales dropped for three consecutive months to end 2013, fueling expectations that real estate has ceased to be a catalyst for economic growth. The Bank of Canada forecast last month housing won’t add to output in 2014. The nation’s statistics agency reported a surprise drop in building permits for December today, the second straight decline.

The total value of purchases in six major Canadian real estate markets rose 19 percent to C$5.09 billion in January compared with the same month a year earlier, and the number of homes sold rose 7.3 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News from regional real estate boards. In both cases, that’s less than half the annual pace in December.

Home sales in Vancouver, Canada’s second largest real estate market by value, grew 30 percent last month, the city’s real estate board reported yesterday. That compares with a 71 percent increase in December.

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