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home sales

Real estate signs sit outside a condominium building on Lake Shore Blvd. West in Toronto.Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

Canadian house sales continued to be strong in October, and economists are watching to see if the strength persists through to the new year.

While national data from the Canadian Real Estate Association will not be available until mid-month, local real estate boards have been disclosing their October data and most are showing double-digit, year-over-year gains.

Sales were up 19.2 per cent in the Toronto area last month, 37.8 per cent in Vancouver, 18 per cent in Calgary, 37.27 per cent in Victoria, 15.6 per cent in Edmonton, and two per cent in Ottawa.

"Ho hum, another double-digit gain for Canadian home sales in October," Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter wrote in a research note.

"Sales may not quite match the knockout 18 per cent year-over-year national gain seen in September, but the comparison is a bit more challenging this month," he wrote. "Bottom line is that Canadian home sales remain quite resilient, and have put the weakness in late 2012 and early 2013 far into the rear-view mirror."

Dianne Usher, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, said in a press release that the city's "home ownership market has been broadly characterized by a rebound in sales since the summer."

There were 8,000 sales via Toronto's Multiple Listing Service last month, up from 6,713 in the same month of 2012.

The city's average selling price was $539,058, up by more than 7 per cent from $502,127 a year earlier.

Detached houses in the downtown 416 telephone area code saw their average selling price rise by 12.4 per cent, to $873,509. The average selling price of existing condos in the 416 area rose 7.2 per cent to $384,441. Price growth in the suburban 905 area code was softer.

The Greater Toronto MLS Home Price Index, which seeks to account for fluctuations in the type or size of houses that are selling, was up by 4.5 per cent.

Mr. Porter said that while sales are strong, "it's a much more restrained picture on the price side … which may help explain why the merchandise is moving.

"Half the cities reporting so far for October have recorded slight price dips, while gains in other cities are modest," he said.

Economists have been noting that price movements usually lag changes in sales. Sales plunged in the summer of 2012 and remained soft through to last spring.

The Toronto Real Estate Board said Wednesday that exactly 8,000 homes sold over the city's Multiple Listing Service in October, up from 6,713 in the same month of 2012.

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