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Condominiums under construction near Simcoe Street and Lakeshore Boulevard in downtown Toronto in December 2012. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has shown concern over Toronto’s condo market.

Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

21.8% – Decline in Toronto's home sales in December from a year ago.

How 2012 shaped up

The growth in Toronto's home prices has been slowing. The average selling price in December was up by 6.5 per cent from a year ago, to $478,739. The average selling price for the whole year was up by almost 7 per cent to $497,298.

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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has been particularly concerned about the condo market in this city. Sales of condos have now fallen by much more than detached homes. Sales of condos in the downtown area covered by the 416 area code fell 26.9 per cent in December from a year ago, while detached home sales in the same area fell 12.3 per cent.

The average price of condos sold in the 416 area fell 1.8 per cent in December from a year ago, to $342,847, while the average price of detached homes rose 2.4 per cent to $722,393. Price growth has been stronger in the suburban areas covered by the 905 area code.

The number of people newly listing their home for sale in Greater Toronto fell significantly in December, compared with both November and a year ago.

Local perspectives

In Toronto on Tuesday afternoon, Chander Chaddah was escorting a young couple through houses for sale in the west end.

Mr. Chaddah, a broker with Sutton Group-Associates Brokerage Inc., says the pair have just returned from living abroad.

Prospective buyers, he says, are more measured right now, but they haven't vanished. "I've got a bunch of buyers on the go," he says.

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Mr. Chaddah adds there's a continuing shortage of listings for single-family houses in Toronto, but he encourages buyers to look anyway so that they are up to speed when the spring market kicks off. Meanwhile, condo units are in good supply.

"There's tons to see in the condo market. Tons and tons."

Real-estate broker Caroline Bokar of Forest Hill Real Estate Inc. has just listed a five-bedroom house backing onto the Beltline Trail for an asking price of $3.48-million.

She says she urged the homeowners to post the "For Sale" sign now rather than wait for spring. With so much uncertainty surrounding the market at present, both buyers and sellers are cautious.

"In this type of market, you want to be ahead of the game."

Ms. Bokar says she has witnessed past market cycles: She recalls starting out in the business in 1990, which was "the worst time" for real estate.

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She points to the past seven or eight years of rising sales, with only two brief setbacks in the Toronto market, and says she's not surprised to see a pause in that hectic pace.

"It is cyclical," Ms. Bokar says. "We're going more toward a balanced market."

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