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Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales hit record last month

OTTAWA – The number of homes sold throughout the country last month hit a record for October, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Tuesday.

There were 42,473 residential properties sold last month through the association’s Multiple Listing Service, up two per cent year-over-year.

Sales were up from October 2015 levels in about 60 per cent of all Canadian markets, with gains in the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding communities, though that was offset by declines in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

The actual national average price for a home sold in October was $481,994, up 5.9 per cent compared with a year ago. Excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, the average price was $361,012.

The figures coincide with changes brought in by the federal government aimed at stabilizing hot housing markets.

New measures introduced last month require stress tests for all homebuyers in need of mortgage default insurance in order to ensure they can repay their loans if circumstances change, such as a job loss or an increase in interest rates. Previously, stress tests were not required for fixed-rate mortgages five years and longer.

“Early evidence suggests that the influence of tighter mortgage regulations on sales activity has been mixed,” said association chief economist Gregory Klump in a statement.

“The federal government will no doubt want to monitor the effect of new mortgage regulations on the many varied housing markets across Canada and on the economy, particularly given the recent rise in uncertainty about economic growth prospects following the U.S. presidential election.”