Friday, May 15, 2009

Resale of homes strong in April: real estate association

Home sales in April rose 11.2 per cent from March, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Thursday.

Seasonally adjusted sales made through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) rose to 34,838 units, the association said. The increase in resales is the largest month-to-month gain in more than five years, and the highest in seven months.

Prices are also rebounding, with the $306,366 average in April just 3.2 per cent below the pre-recession peak of $316,438 touched in April 2008.

However, actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales of 43,473 units are down 11.8 per cent from April 2008, and year-to-date sales of 120,316 units are down 22 per cent from the first four months of 2008.

But the association said even that is an improvement over previous months.

"Year-over-year declines have been shrinking since dropping a record 42.2 per cent in November 2008."

Pascal Gauthier, economist at TD Bank Financial Group, expressed some reservations.

"Despite some surprising strength in April … one cannot preclude further softness in sales over the next few quarters" because of the severity of the recession.

Seasonally adjusted sales posted strong gains in most markets, with some major markets doing very well: Vancouver was up 30 per cent, Calgary 31 per cent, Montreal 15 per cent and Toronto 10 per cent, the association said.

The April increase follows gains of 10.3 per cent in February and 7.7 per cent in March.

Dale Ripplinger, president of the association, said price drops, lenders willing to make loans and increased consumer confidence are helping sales.

The MLS dollar value hit $10.2 billion in April, the first time since September 2008 that it passed $10 billion.