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House prices stay hot over holidays

Canadian house prices blasted through what is usually a holiday slowdown period at warp speed, but the big gains are unlikely to continue this year, according at a report by Royal LePage Real Estate Services.

While home sale prices typically moderate in the fourth quarter, last year the average price of a detached bungalow increased by 11.6 per cent to $337,555 from $302,497 the year before. The price of an average two-storey property rose 11.3 per cent to $399,738, and a condo unit 11.7 per cent to $240,395.

“The fourth quarter [of] 2007 was surprisingly strong, with unseasonably high price increases and unwavering demand,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive officer of Royal LePage, in a statement.

“As we move into the new year, activity levels are expected to wane from the frantic pace that many regions of the country experienced in 2007.”

Average prices are still expected to rise, but at a much more moderate pace, Mr. Soper added.

Much of the fourth quarter's strength was due to natural resources, which drove growth in markets such as Regina and Saskatoon, the report said. The market with the biggest year-over-year home price gain in the quarter was Saskatoon, where the price of a bungalow rose by 55.2 per cent to $292,500 and a two-storey home by 56.7 per cent to $321,250. The highest priced homes in the country were in Vancouver, where the average two-storey house would set you back $895,000, compared with $803,500 the year before.

The only market to experience a price decline was the condo market in Fredericton, where the price of a unit fell by $500 to $126,000. Price growth was also notably slower in Calgary, where double digit gains appear to be a thing of the past. The price of a detached bungalow in Calgary rose 5.2 per cent to $429,889, compared with $408,833 in 2006.

© The Globe and Mail
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