Canadian million-dollar home sales booming

Canada's conventional housing market is showing signs of a slowdown, but the action at the high end of the market continues to be red hot.

That's the conclusion of a report from Sotheby's International Realty Canada, a real estate agency that caters to people wanting luxury homes in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

Sales of homes worth more than $1 million in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary ended 2012 with positive year-over-year sales growth. In Calgary alone, sales of luxury mansions were 20 per cent higher in 2012 compared to 2011. Sales in Toronto and Montreal were not quite as strong, but still in positive territory.

"As we enter 2013, the market for homes over $1 million is expected to gain momentum and to generate increasing demand from both local and international buyers," Sotheby's said in the report.

The Vancouver market, however, did fall back, with sales of homes valued at over $1 million declining by 34 per cent on the year, falling back from the stratospheric highs in 2011.

Even in Vancouver, though, in the first half of the year, 22 per cent of homes listed at more than $1 million ended up selling over asking. By the latter half of the year, that dropped to five per cent.

Comparing 2012 to the previous year, the Calgary market saw almost two-thirds more luxury homes come up for sale. From that, actual sales ended up coming in 20 per cent higher.

In Canada's largest city, Toronto, the action on the high end of the market remained brisk. Listings rose 25 per cent and sales increased by a "healthy" 13 per cent, Sotheby's said.

"Real estate in high-end neighbourhoods like Rosedale and Bridle Path remained particularly sought after," the agency noted.

In Montreal, luxury real estate wasn't in quite as much demand, but the numbers were still in positive territory.

The second half of 2012 saw listings of homes over $1 million increase by 19 per cent over the same period in 2011, Sotheby's said. And in each of the last two years, the percentage of high-end homes that sold over asking price has remained steady, at between three and five per cent.

Sotheby's says it is so confident in Canada's high-end housing market that it plans to expand to two new cities this year, Edmonton and Quebec City.

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