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business briefing

The burbs

The Toronto and Vancouver suburbs may have a lot of things going for them, but not when you’re shopping for a home.

When you dig into the latest Royal LePage housing report, you find that costs in those areas are surging, eclipsing those of the city core in some cases.

“As homes in legacy central Toronto neighbourhoods move increasingly out of reach, we are observing that the more affordable areas in Southern Ontario, including the GTA suburbs, are experiencing substantial price appreciation and heightened sales activity levels,” LePage chief executive officer Phil Soper said in releasing the third-quarter report this week.

The areas around Vancouver, a city already hit by what some observers say is an affordability crisis, show the same phenomenon.

“As with Toronto, house price increases in some surrounding areas outpaced those in the city core,” Mr. Soper said.

“A notable difference is that these prices are now in excess of $1-million.”

Several groups report on home sales and prices, and they can differ, although the trend is the same: Toronto and Vancouver are awfully pricey and becoming pricier.

The LePage survey found that home prices in the Toronto area climbed 11.3 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier, to $612,261. In the city proper, the cost was almost $640,000.

But consider the median price of a two-storey Toronto home, up 17.1 per cent to $961,656. The price of a similar home in nearby Richmond Hill rose 18.6 per cent to $963,561 and in Vaughan by 18 per cent to $842,173.

Vancouver, of course, is sharply high, up 17.3 per cent at more than $1.9-million. The corresponding prices in Richmond and Burnaby surged 23.5 and 20.9 per cent, respectively, to about $1.2-million.

And if you’re interested, a two-storey in North Vancouver is $1.3-million, while those in West Vancouver are going for about $2.8-million.

Affordability in the Toronto and Vancouver areas, Mr. Soper said, is a challenge.

Across Canada, home prices rose 0.6 per cent in September from August, and 5.6 per cent from a year earlier, according to the Teranet-National Bank home price index released today.

Prices climbed 10.4 per cent in Vancouver and 8.6 per cent in Vancouver, the index showed.

And note this: “The Vancouver index, at 201.24 in September, is the first to top 200, meaning that prices in that market are slightly more than twice as high as in June 2005.”

Valeant sinks

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International tumbled today after its disclosure late yesterday that it’s being probed on pricing.

Valeant said that prosecutors in Massachusetts and New York have sent subpoenas seeking information on its “pricing decisions,” patient assistance programs and product distribution.

This comes amid a controversy over drug prices in general.

Valeant said it would co-operate, and that it is launching an “outreach to hospitals where the impact of a price change was significantly greater than the average."

The company also said it believes “we have operated our business in a fully compliant manner.”

Linamar strikes deal

Canada’s Linamar Corp. has struck a deal for a big French player in the auto parts industry.

The deal values Montupet SA at almost $1.2-billion.

Montupet management and major shareholders, who own about 37 per cent of the stock, are supporting the bid for the company, which makes aluminum castings.

Stat of the day

9.3 million cubic metres
Domestic sales of refined petroleum products in Canada, down 6.5 per cent from a year earlier: Statistics Canada

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