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As outlook debated, home buyers comb meager late-year listings Add to ...

One Toronto couple recently sold their house for $3.6-million in less than 60 days. They saw another property they liked and called on their real estate agent, James Warren, to put in an offer only to find the house had already sold.

“We went out to buy and we couldn’t find anything,” says Mr. Warren, who says he could sell two or three houses right now if only the listings were available.

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“If there’s something tasty out there it well get bought.”

He’s recommending that sellers who are thinking of pulling their listings off the market over Christmas wait at least another week because there are people out there who have sold and need to find a new place.

But in this waning market of fall, 2012, buyers are not in a hurry to pay full price and they are definitely skittish about multiple offers, agents say.

Mr. Warren says that Canadian ex-pats returning from Europe are looking for houses near good schools.

“There’s no question Europe’s in a recession,” he says. “Ireland’s a disaster, Italy’s a disaster – and Greece and Spain are disasters. Canada continues on.”

Meanwhile, economists generally agree that Toronto’s housing market is weakening but there is a range of opinion on whether it will land gently or with a thud. At Capital Economics, economist David Madani says the slump in sales of condo units before construction points to a hard landing and he expects some hefty discounting in condo prices over the next year or two.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that condo developers slashed the number of project launches in Toronto to five in the third quarter, he adds. Guided by the recent past, Mr. Madani would have expected to see 13 projects unveiled in the quarter.

“Over all, the evidence suggests that Canada’s housing market is unlikely to enjoy a soft landing,” says Mr. Madani in a note to clients.

At BMO Nesbitt Burns, economist Robert Kavcic says the modest decline in Canadian housing starts in November does point to a softly-landing housing market.

“If anything, the recent cooling is a welcome phenomenon,” he says.

Follow on Twitter: @CarolynIreland

 

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