Luxury home sales are experiencing unprecedented growth in Canada. During the first half of the year, sales numbers in the high-end segment outpaced the growth of the overall market in most major cities. Toronto, Calgary and Winnipeg reported sales increases in their respective luxury segments of more than 40 per cent, according to a report just released by Royal LePage Real Estate Services in Toronto. At the same time, Canada's ongoing housing boom is excluding more and more Canadians from buying affordable homes. 'Increased sales of larger and more luxurious homes reflect the underlying strength of the Canadian economy' said Phil Soper, chief executive of the realty company. In Canada's oil business boomtown, Calgary, luxury home sales tripled year over year in the first six months with the number of units priced at C$900,000 ($5.9 million) or more reaching an astounding plus of 197 per cent. The most attractive houses are changing hands like hot potatoes. 'Listing periods for luxury homes in Calgary are regularly less than one month,' the report said. In the high-priced segment, location is of paramount importance. 'There is a trend for buyers to purchase a high-end property in a location they like, tear it down and build a new home made to their specifications.' In Toronto, sales of homes priced at C$1.5 million and more jumped 48 per cent in the first half of the year, with the upscale neighbourhoods of Rosedale, Forest Hill and the Bridal Path remaining most popular. In Winnipeg, sales of homes worth C$300,000 or more doubled. In Vancouver, homes priced at $1million and above increased by 18 per cent. One of the driving forces for the huge sales numbers in the high-end segment are baby boomers that downsize from luxury homes into luxury condominiums with a maintenance-free lifestyle. At the same time, well-paid executives migrating from eastern provinces to find jobs in British Columbia and Alberta are picking up many luxury homes. Canada's buoyant economy is fuelling many new business and company expansions. Record employment growth and wage increases in the western provinces are also adding to the demand for luxury homes. Meanwhile, the housing boom is pricing more and more Canadians out of the red-hot market. 'The middle class is finding it increasingly difficult to afford education and housing,' said Armine Yalnizyan, an economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Of the more than 1.7 million families that live on less than C$20,000 a year, most are precariously housed, stated a recently published report by Social Watch, a coalition of 400 non-government organisations from 50 countries, that just published a study on inequality and homelessness. In its sixth annual edition of the report 'Where's Home?', the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) stressed the importance of creating a larger inventory of permanently affordable non-profit housing in the country. 'Despite improvement in rental housing production, there is still insufficient affordable rental housing to meet the need,' said ONPHA executive director Sharad Kerur.