May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian home sales rose last month at the fastest pace since August as a surge in transactions in Vancouver and Toronto offset a cooling elsewhere.
The number of homes changing hands in April rose 2.7 percent from a month earlier, the Canadian Real Estate Association said today in a statement, as sales jumped 14 percent in Vancouver and 4.6 percent in Toronto. The national average price of a home sold was up 0.8 percent from March and 7.6 percent from a year earlier, it said.
Gains in Canada’s two largest real estate markets are masking softness in other parts of Canada, where government efforts to slow housing demand may be having more effect. From a year ago, national sales are down 0.3 percent.
“Outside a few lingering hotspots, Canada’s housing market is stable, if not boring, which is good in the face of dire warnings about a crash,” Sal Guatieri, senior economist at Bank of Montreal, said in a note to investors.
Excluding Toronto and Vancouver, home sales in Canada were up 1.3 percent in April and down 1.2 percent down from a year ago, based on Bloomberg calculations using CREA data. April transactions were below the 10-year average in more than 60 percent of markets, the association said.
Policy makers have been tightening mortgage-lending rules amid concern home prices rose too quickly and the balance sheet of the federal agency that backstops the loans has grown too large. At the same time, commercial banks are reducing mortgage rates in an effort to drum up business.
The data show “that tightened mortgage rules and guidelines are working as intended to keep activity in check despite mortgage interest rates remaining extraordinarily low,” Gregory Klump, the real estate association’s chief economist, said in today’s statement.
April’s sales gain was the third consecutive monthly increase after a four-month winter skid the agency suggested was partly due to severe weather.
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