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According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national resale housing activity was stable on a month-to-month basis in July following an uptick in June.

Highlights:

• Sales activity was stable from June to July, but posted a big year-over-year gain due to weakened demand in July 2010.

• Year-to-date sales continue to run in line with the ten-year average.

• The number of newly listed homes inched up by less than one per cent from June to July.

• The national housing market remains firmly entrenched in balanced territory.

• The national average price posted the largest year-over-year gain since April 2010, but was below where it stood in June.

• Upward skewing of the national average price is diminishing due to fewer expensive sales and a declining share of national activity in Vancouver and Toronto.

National home sales activity held steady in July 2011 compared to the previous month, with just over half of local markets posting month-over-month gains.

Major markets that saw gains compared to June include Edmonton, Montreal, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador. Activity also held steady in Toronto, while Vancouver recorded a small decline.

"The continued stability in national sales activity shows that homebuyers remain confident about the soundness of investing in a home," said Gary Morse, CREA's President. "Mortgage interest rates are low and keeping home affordability within reach, making it an excellent time for buyers to take advantage of very favourable financing. Prices and affordability evolve differently among local markets, so buyers and sellers should consult their local REALTOR® to better understand how the outlook for housing supply, demand, and prices is shaping up in their housing market."

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity came in 12.3 per cent above national levels reported one year earlier. This increase reflects weakened activity in July 2010, when levels for the month reached their lowest point since 2002.

A total of 284,537 homes have traded hands via Canadian MLS® Systems so far this year. This stands just 1.6 per cent below levels in the first seven months of last year, and continues to run in line with the ten-year average.

The number of newly listed homes edged up by less than one per cent from June to July. New listings were down in 60 per cent of local markets, but increased in many large urban centres including Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Ottawa.

The national housing market remains firmly planted in balanced territory. The national sales-to-new listings ratio, a measure of market balance, stood at 51.8 per cent in July, which is little changed from 52.3 per cent in June.

Based on a sales-to-new listings ratio of between 40 to 60 percent, about three in every five local markets in Canada were balanced in July. Half of the remaining markets may be classified as sellers' markets, with a sales-to-new listings ratio of above 60 per cent.

The number of months of inventory stood at 6.1 months at the end of July on a national basis, which is little changed from the end of June (6.0 months). The number of months of inventory represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, and is another measure of the balance between housing supply and demand.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in July 2011 stood at $361,181, which is the lowest level since January. While up 9.3 per cent from its year-ago level, the increase reflects a short-lived decline in the average price following the introduction of the HST in B.C. and Ontario, and tighter mortgage regulations earlier in 2010.

"Earlier this year, the national average price was being skewed upward by sales in some expensive Vancouver neighbourhoods, but this factor is now diminishing," said Gregory Klump, CREA's Chief Economist. "Upward skewing of the national average price is also shrinking due to overall sales trends in Vancouver, and most recently in Toronto. Their market shares as a percentage of provincial and national sales activity are declining from the elevated levels seen in the first half of the year.

"Changes in the national average home price are open to being misinterpreted," added Klump. "They often signify changes in the mix of sales activity across and within local markets, rather than a rising or falling price trend for typical homes in a specific market."

"The national share of sales activity in some of Canada's more expensive urban centres may retreat further from elevated levels recorded earlier this year, resulting in an easing trend for the national average home price," he added. "Even so, the stability of Canada's housing market will likely continue to stand in stark contrast to further expected volatility in financial markets."

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