Gains in second-hand home sales in Vancouver and Toronto offset a faltering market elsewhere in Canada. Photo: Reuters

New | Canada sees increase in sales of existing homes

Sales of second-hand homes in Canada rose last month from January as gains in the biggest markets of Toronto and Vancouver offset a faltering market everywhere else, the Canadian Real Estate Association said.

The industry group said sales rose 1 per cent in the first monthly increase since October last year.

Actual sales, not seasonally adjusted, grew 2.7 per cent from February last year.

"Sales came in below the 10-year average for the month in two-thirds of all local markets," said Gregory Klump, the association's chief economist. "That said, the opposite was true in a few large urban markets in British Columbia and Ontario despite a shortage of listings there, which is fuelling prices higher."

Canada escaped the housing crisis that devastated financial markets and the United States economy in 2009, and prices have doubled in the past decade. While some analysts have said the market is poised for a crash, most predict a "soft landing".

The national sales-to-new-listings ratio was 52.2 per cent last month as the number of newly listed homes fell 2.5 per cent. New listings in oil-dependent Calgary have retreated in recent months as buyers take to the sidelines, hoping the steep decline in oil prices will soften housing prices as well.

There were 6.4 months of inventory nationally at the end of last month, against 6.5 in January, the association said.

The national average price, not seasonally adjusted, for homes sold last month was C$431,812, up 6.3 per cent from a year earlier.

The price remains skewed by robust sales in Vancouver and Toronto, the two most expensive markets. Excluding them, the average price is C$326,910 and the annual rise is just 1.5 per cent.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Canada sees sales jump in February