By Leah Schnurr
TORONTO Feb 14 Sales of existing homes in
Canada fell in January for the fifth month in a row as unusually
harsh winter weather discouraged potential house hunters, the
Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said on Friday.
Sales activity was down 3.3 percent last month from
December, data from the industry group for Canadian real estate
Activity was 9.1 percent below 2013's peak hit in August,
CREA said. Sales were down on a monthly basis in more than 60
percent of all local markets last month, including declines in
the greater Toronto and Vancouver areas.
The frigid temperatures brought on by the so-called "polar
vortex" dented both resale activity and new construction in
January as prospective buyers deferred home purchases, the
"A number of buyers likely waited out January's deep freeze
before going house hunting," CREA President Laura Leyser said in
Nonetheless, the report underscored the view that Canada's
housing market, which boomed coming out of the recession but
cooled after the federal government tightened mortgage rules,
should be softer but relatively stable this year as borrowing
"While weather may have constrained sales activity in
January, the slowdown is more emblematic of the broader theme of
a soft landing in the existing home sales market," said Mazen
Issa, senior Canada macro strategist at TD Securities in
Although mortgage rates have slipped lower recently, the
supply and demand fundamentals as well as stretched household
balance sheets point to further softness, Issa said. Mortgage
rates should also move higher as the U.S. Federal Reserve
continues to reduce its economic stimulus program, he said.
Actual sales for January, not seasonally adjusted, edged up
0.4 percent from a year earlier.
The number of newly listed homes edged up 0.2 percent on a
monthly basis. The number of months of inventory, which measures
how long it would take to sell all homes on the market at the
current activity pace, edged up to 6.4 months from 6.3 months in
The inventory measure indicates that the Canadian housing
market remains well balanced, the report said.
CREA's home price index rose 4.8 percent from January last
year, accelerating from December's 4.3 percent annual gain.
Price growth picked up in all property types tracked by the
index, though two-story single family homes led the pack with a
5.6 percent yearly gain.
Calgary and the greater Toronto area saw the biggest price
increases at nearly 9 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively.