Home sales in Canada increased 2.8 per cent between July and August of this year.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reported the number of local markets where sales improved on a month-over-month basis ran roughly even with those where activity edged lower in August, with increases in major urban centres tipping the balance.

“All real estate is truly local, but sometimes sales trends can change similarly in a large number of markets at the same time due to factors that can affect all markets across Canada,” said Laura Leyser, CREA president. “The recent hike in fixed mortgage rates is one example of an influence that affects all markets, but it’s just one of many things that shape housing market trends.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity came in 11.1 per cent ahead of levels reported August of last year. Sales were led by double-digit gains in Calgary, Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Edmonton and Toronto.

“Sales activity dropped sharply around this time last year in the wake of tightened mortgage rules and has improved since then, so a sizable year-over-year increase this August was expected,” said Gregory Klump, chief economist, CREA. “Buyers who put off purchase decisions or who were otherwise sidelined by tighter mortgage rules and lending guidelines implemented last year were anticipated to return to the housing market. That said, the upward trend and levels for activity in recent months have been steeper than expected, but that may not last.

“Recent increases to fixed mortgage rates caused sales to be pulled forward as buyers with pre-approved financing at lower rates jumped into the market sooner than they might have otherwise.”

In Calgary, CREB® reported there were 2,194 total sales in August, a 27.41 per cent increase compared to August 2012. The average price of those sales increased 8.85 per cent from $414,753 in August to $453,957 last month.

CREA said 325,180 homes have traded hands across the nation so far this year, a 2.9 per cent decrease compared to levels recorded in the first eight months of last year. Newly listed homes increased 1.8 per cent on a month-over-month basis in August, with more than half of all local markets recording gains.

CREA said with a sales-to-new listing ratio of between 40 to 60 per cent, a record 73 per cent of all local markets were in balanced market territory in August.