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Canada - Property Prices

Property prices in Canada have risen slightly during the first part of 2011. This is in response partly to a stronger employment situation and partly the stronger economy. Property values in some areas are rising faster than salaries and in some areas rose just under 4% in the first three months of 2011. House sales have been steady during the last quarter and the first part of 2011 and areas such as Newfoundland have a strong property market.

There are parts of the country in which the housing market is struggling due to prices which are too high for buyers. Vancouver is considered to be the least affordable area of the country since high demand caused prices to rise beyond reach. It is now estimated that the most affordable area of Canada is Alberta, following a drop in prices and rise in the average salary. Other very affordable areas include Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Low prices can be found in Prince Edward Island also. These areas have a lack of demand due to the remoteness of the locations.

It is expected that interest rates will rise during 2011, which will make home buying more expensive and the demand for homes is expected to decrease a little in response. However, Canada will still be an attractive prospect for expats as prices will still be more affordable than they are in the UK or the US. Buying a property in one of Canada’s cities is much more expensive than buying a property in the country.

In February 2011 the average house price in Vancouver was $792,000, an increase of 19.4% in 12 months. In Toronto the average house price was £454,000 which was an increase of 5.3% from February 2010. In Calgary the average price stood at $401,000, an increase of 2.3% from 2010. Ottawa, the country’s capital, had an average house price of $338,000, an increase of 5.9% from February 2010. In Montreal the average house price was $300,000, an increase of 4.6%. Lower prices could be found in Regina in Saskatchewan. The average price there in February 2011 was $273,000, which was still an increase of 3.4%. In Halifax the average price was $262,000, an increase of 4.2%. In Fredericton in New Brunswick the house prices are much lower at $153,000, although there was still a small increase of 2.5%.

When house prices are looked at by province there are very similar patterns. In British Columbia as a whole the average house price in February 2011 was $588,000. This was an increase from February 2010 of 18%. In Ontario the average house price was $360,000, an increase of 3.6%. Alberta had an average house price of $352,000 after an increase of 2.4% from February 2010. In Quebec the average price was $252,000 with an increase of 5%. In Saskatchewan the average house price was $251,000 which showed an increase of 2.8% from February 2010. In Newfoundland the average price was $240,000, a high increase of 9.7%. In Manitoba the average price of $222,000 was an increase of 4.8%. Nova Scotia bucked the trend with a drop of 4.8% to take the average house price down to $207,000. In New Brunswick the average house price rose just 1.9% to $151,000 and in Prince Edward Island this was an increase of 2.8% which took the average price to $134,000. Overall the average cost of a property in Canada was $365,000 in February 2011, an increase of 8.8% from 2010.

Despite the increase in house prices in recent months there has actually been a fall in sales, shown in a survey by the Canadian Real Estate Association. The actual number of sales in April 2011 showed a drop of 4.4% from the previous month. From the previous year this was a drop of 14.7%. The drop in actual sales has been attributed to new regulations regarding mortgage lending, which makes the process stricter and some lenders are not as willing to lend money. However, despite this, sales of homes in Vancouver and Toronto had one of their best sales periods.

There is no trend which shows that expats routinely pay more than locals for a property. The sales process means that estate agents can earn money selling properties listed with other agents so are keen to get the best prices possible in order to secure the sale.

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