Canadian home sales climb in July on Toronto gains

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Increases in Toronto pushed Canadian housing sales higher for a third month, further evidence the country's real estate market is regaining strength after it stumbled at the start of this year.

Transactions nationwide rose 1.9% from June to 38,612, bringing them back toward the 10-year average, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Wednesday from Ottawa. Sales in Toronto advanced 7.7%, while they climbed 5.6% in the Fraser Valley area near Vancouver.

Benchmark home prices in the country were mixed, showing a 0.4% decline on the month and a 2.1% increase over the last 12 months.

Prices in Toronto fell by 0.5% in July from the prior month. In Vancouver they fell 0.6%. It was the first time since 2013 that benchmark prices in Toronto and Vancouver fell concurrently for two straight months.

Homebuyers this year faced tougher qualification rules designed to curb excessive speculation in Toronto and Vancouver, while the Bank of Canada has raised its trend-setting interest rate four times over the last year. That combination led to some steep declines in housing sales at the start of the year.

"This year's new stress-test on mortgage applicants continues to weigh on home sales but its effect may be starting to fade slightly in Toronto and nearby markets," CREA President Barb Sukkau said in a statement.

Bloomberg News