Million-dollar and more home sales up in Toronto and Vancouver, down in Calgary

TORONTO -- Sales of homes worth $1 million or more heated up in Toronto and Vancouver last year as the low loonie fuelled demand from foreign buyers, a new report released Thursday says.

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The report from Sotheby's International Realty Canada says 11,112 homes worth $1 million or more were sold in the Greater Toronto Area last year -- an increase of 48 per cent over 2014.

In Vancouver, 4,578 homes over the $1 million mark were sold in 2015, up 46 per cent from the previous year.

The realtor says sales of homes worth more than $4 million grew the most -- in Vancouver by 67 per cent, and in Toronto by 71 per cent.

But after years of growth, Calgary's high-end housing market declined last year as the downturn in the oilpatch hurt consumer confidence.

The Sotheby's report says sales of homes over $1 million fell 41 per cent in Alberta's largest city in 2015 compared with the previous year.

Elaine Hung, vice-president of marketing for Sotheby's International Realty Canada, said low interest rates, high levels of immigration and a limited supply of homes heated up the high-end housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver.

"We had a lot of buyers who were very eager to enter the market, and they were bidding on a limited number of homes, particularly in premier neighbourhoods," said Hung.

In many instances, that resulted in bidding wars, she said.

The luxury segment -- comprised of homes worth $4 million or more -- benefited from all of those factors, as well as weakness in the Canadian dollar.

"We did see increased interest from international buyers, so that was definitely a factor," said Hung, referring to the $4-million-plus segment in Toronto and Vancouver.

In Montreal, sales of homes worth over $1 million grew by 15 per cent from a year ago.

Looking ahead to 2016, Hung predicts more of the same -- continued sales growth in Toronto and Vancouver, a further slowdown in Calgary and a balanced market in Montreal.


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