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Group predicts robust real estate markets next year

OTTAWA -- The Canadian housing market is expected to stay strong in 2014, while sales of previously owned homes now look to come in slightly better than expected this year, according to the country's largest real estate association.

The Canadian Real Estate Association's 2013 sales projections, released Monday, have risen slightly across Ontario and the four western provinces. And the group says prices have been generally firmer than originally forecast.

"Most housing markets are well-balanced, including many large urban centres," said Gregory Klump, CREA's chief economist.

"Housing-price gains are always stronger in places where supply is tight relative to demand, such as we're seeing in Calgary and in parts of southern Ontario including the low-rise market in Toronto.

"Prospects for price appreciation will be limited in parts of Quebec and some areas in the Maritimes, where competition among sellers has increased."

Nationally, CREA is projecting 458,200 homes will be sold through its members this year -- eight-tenths of a per cent more than in 2012 and up from the September forecast of 449,900.

CREA also anticipates sales next year will be even stronger, coming in at 475,000 homes nationally, up from the previous 2014 forecast of 465,600.

It attributes the gain to a weak start to 2013, which it does not expect to be repeated in early 2014.

The group projects the national average home price for 2013 will reach $382,200, a 5.2 per cent increase from last year. In the new year, it projected the national average price for 2014 will be $391,100, up 2.5 per cent from 2013.

Alberta is forecast to post the biggest rise in average price in 2014, with a 3.4 per cent gain. Increases in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador are forecast to run ahead of overall inflation, with the average increase in Ontario running just below it.

CREA says November's home sales dipped slightly from October but were up substantially from the same month last year, when the industry was going through a soft patch attributed to Ottawa's decision to tighten rules for mortgage lenders and borrowers.

Home sales edged 0.1 per cent lower from October on a seasonally adjusted basis. Actual activity was 5.9 per cent above November 2012 levels.

The national average sale price was up 9.8 per cent year over year in November while the MLS Home Price Index, which CREA says is a better indicator, rose 4.1 per cent year over year in November.

-- The Canadian Press

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