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business briefing

Home prices surge

The average price of a detached house in Toronto is nearing the $1.2-million mark.

Across the Greater Toronto Area, according to statistics released today, average prices for all types of homes surged 12.1 per cent in March from a year earlier, bringing first-quarter gains to 13.6 per cent.

The MLS home price index, considered a better gauge, rose 11.6 per cent in March, the Toronto Real Estate Board said.

The numbers come amid growing concern that the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets appear frothy, and recent statistics showing mounting household debt, particularly on the mortgage side.

At the same time, though, some observers say that the pace of both employment and household formation in Toronto should ease those fears.

Affordability is clearly an issue, with bidding wars and fewer listings driving prices ever higher.

“Demand was clearly not an issue in the first three months of 2016, regardless of the housing market segment being considered,” Jason Mercer, the group’s director of market analysis, said in unveiling the March numbers.

“The supply of listings, however, continued to aggravate many would-be home buyers,” he added.

“We could have experienced even stronger sales growth were not for the constrained supply of listings, especially in the low-rise market segments. The resulting strong competition between buyers has underpinned the double-digit rates of price growth experienced so far this year.”

Indeed, new listings across the area fell in March by 3.7 per cent, and active listings by a sharp 20.7 per cent. Sales surged 16.2 per cent in the month, and 15.8 per cent in the quarter.

The average price of a detached home now stands at $910,375.

It differs across the greater area, of course.

In the 416 telephone area code region, the average price of a detached home is now $1.17-million, while that in the 905 is $837,217.

A scene I'd love to see ...

“This is my friend Tom. I’m teaching him how not to appear conservative.”

Photo illustration

Trade deficit swells

Canada’s trade deficit is getting fatter again as exports decline from record levels.

The deficit widened to hefty $1.9-billion in February from January’s $628-million, Statistics Canada said today.

Exports fell 5.4 per cent, retreating from January’s record and outpacing the 2.6-per-cent drop in imports.

Export prices fell 3.2 per cent, and volumes a lower 2.2 per cent. On the import side, prices dipped 1.4 per cent, and volumes 1.2 per cent.

Exports to the United States, Canada’s biggest market, tumbled 5.6 per cent.

“After a string of stronger-than-expected Canadian data releases, Canadian trade for February spoiled the party,” said CIBC World Markets economist Nick Exarhos.

“And the deterioration points to a significant GDP impact for the month, as well,” he added.

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