BMO Financial Group
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BMO Financial Group

April 15, 2013 14:42 ET

Canadian Housing Market Remains Balanced-BMO

- Home sales decline but prices holding up

- Sales expected to firm up later in 2013

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 15, 2013) - Canada's housing market remains relatively balanced, with home sales down from a year ago but prices remaining firm, according to a BMO Economics commentary on today's release of Canadian home sales figures for March.

"It's official: Canadian home prices are boring, and that's a good thing," said Doug Porter, Chief Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "All major home price measures are displaying unusual uniformity - the average and median price are both up between two per cent to three per cent, as is the MLS Home Price Index, and the new home price index. Shutting out the noise in the monthly data, the main story is that home sales have taken a big step back since last spring but prices are holding up."

For later in the year, Mr. Porter stated that headline figures would turn less negative, although he still expects a seven per cent drop in annual sales for 2013.

With respect to the various markets across the country, Vancouver is no longer a stand-out in terms of either sales or price declines, but underlying softness persists. Meanwhile, 19 of 26 cities saw double-digit sales declines in March, with the losses sprinkled across much of the country.

The only two cities with sales gains were Edmonton and Trois-Rivières, as even Calgary dipped below a year ago. Toronto's performance is fairly close to the national average, with weak sales but steady prices. The price-leading cities - Hamilton, Winnipeg and Regina - are all up by more than nine per cent year-over-year.

Laura Parsons, Mortgage Expert, BMO Bank of Montreal, noted that it's essential for both buyers and sellers to be aware of any changing conditions on the local level. "If planning to buy or sell a property, consider working with an expert who can help you make decisions that are appropriate to the health of your local market, and more importantly, that responsibly fit within your particular financial situation."

Ms. Parsons added that home buyers should stress-test their mortgage against a higher interest rate to ensure they could handle any potential increases in interest rates down the road and choose a mortgage with a shorter amortization, which can help them become mortgage-free sooner.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $542 billion as at January 31, 2013, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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