TORONTO -- The Toronto Real Estate Board says red-hot property sales in Canada's largest city picked up in January where 2016 left off, with transactions up 11.8 per cent year-over-year despite a double-digit drop in new listings.

TREB reported 5,188 residential sales in the Greater Toronto Area through its MLS System last month, compared to 4,460 sales in January the year before.

That gain came despite a 17.6 per cent drop in the number of new GTA listings in January, down from 8,906 to 7,338 year-over-year. 

The board also reported that the MLS Home Price Index Composite Benchmark price for all residential properties in the GTA was up 21.8 per cent on a year-over-year basis in January.

Similarly, over the same period, the average selling price was up by 22.3 per cent to $770,745, with double-digit gains in the average prices for all major home types.

“So much for the new federal housing finance rules having a material dampening effect,” BMO Capital Markets Chief Economist Doug Porter, wrote in a note to clients. “Folks, you need to drive and downsize to qualify … and you better hurry before even these last affordable options become out of reach.” 

TREB said rates of sales growth were for higher condominium apartments than for low-rise home types.

Condo sales in the GTA increased 26.7 per cent year-over-year in January, compared to respective increases of 7.8 per cent and 7.2 per cent for detached homes and townhouses. Semi-detached home sales were down 5.8 per cent.

"As we move through 2017, we expect the demand for ownership housing to remain strong, including demand from first-time buyers," TREB president Larry Cerqua said in a statement.

"However, many of these would-be buyers will have problems finding a home that meets their needs in a market with very little inventory."

Jason Mercer, TREB's director of market analysis, said the number of active listings on the board's MLS System at the end of January was essentially half of what was reported as available at the same time last year.

"That statistic, on its own, tells us that there is a serious supply problem in the GTA," he said. "The result will be very strong price growth for all home types again this year."

Meanwhile in Metro Vancouver, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported Thursday that home sales dropped by almost 40 per cent in January from the year before.

Just over 1,500 residential properties sold last month, down 39.5 per cent from about 2,500 sales that were recorded in January 2016 -- with the sale of detached houses falling hardest.


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