OTTAWA - The number of homes sold in Canada last month was down 5.2 per cent from January 2012, although about half of the country's local markets saw an improvement from December, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Friday.

The January national average sales price compiled by the industry group was $354,754, up two per cent from a year earlier.

A composite price index, which CREA says is a better measure because it takes into account changes in the types of property sold, rose 3.1 per cent — the smallest increase since April 2011.

TD economist Derek Burleton said prices have been supported by "contained" supply, with the number of new listings last month about the same as in January 2012 and up modestly from December.

"The number of months of inventory at the end of January stood at a moderate 6.6, down slightly from 6.7 in December," Burleton wrote in a note.

He said there's "reasonably balanced market conditions, both overall and across most major metropolitan centres."

CREA said sales in the ultra-expensive Vancouver area were down year-to-year, skewing the national averages. Excluding Vancouver from the mix, CREA's national average price would have been up 3.3 per cent.

Vancouver and Toronto were among the local markets that saw improved sales activity last month, compared with December.

In the Greater Toronto area, there was a month-to-month increase of 5.6 per cent and in the Greater Vancouver area the increase was 4.7 per cent. On a national basis, the increase between December and January was 1.3 per cent.

Among the markets with softer sales were Ottawa, the Fraser Valley in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, Montreal, Regina, London and St. Thomas in southwestern Ontario and Calgary.

New listings were up 1.6 per cent month-to-month nationally with Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island showing increases.

CREA noted that house sales in the second half of 2012 felt the impact of tighter mortgage rules brought in last summer — a move that many observers have said discouraged first-time buyers by making it harder for them to get mortgages.

"Year-over-year declines in activity have received attention lately, and understandably so since they’re more exciting compared to the fairly steady month-over-month trend for national sales following changes made last year to mortgage regulations and lending guidelines," CREA chief economist Gregory Klump said in a statement.

"If national sales activity remains stable near the levels we’ve been seeing since last August, then year-over-year comparisons will begin fading after the crucial spring buying season."

Robert Kavcic, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said "the decline in home prices in recent months has been entirely consistent with the soft patches seen after prior episodes of mortgage rule tightening, and January’s results point in the direction of stabilizing sales and prices for most markets."

"The spring selling season will be key in determining if prices again find a floor, and with still-low mortgage rates, a four-year low jobless rate and surging equity markets, don’t be shocked if they do, at least in the vast majority of markets."

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  • Calgary: 3-bedroom house

    <strong>$1.08 million:</strong> Located in the trendy Altadore neighbourhood of Calgary, this as-yet-unbuilt modernist house features views of the downtown core as well as a personal elevator. Source: Keller Williams Realty

  • Calgary: 3-bedroom house

    <strong>$1.08 million:</strong> Located in the trendy Altadore neighbourhood of Calgary, this as-yet-unbuilt modernist house features views of the downtown core as well as a personal elevator. Source: Keller Williams Realty

  • Calgary: 3-bedroom house

    <strong>$1.08 million:</strong> Located in the trendy Altadore neighbourhood of Calgary, this as-yet-unbuilt modernist house features views of the downtown core as well as a personal elevator. Source: Keller Williams Realty

  • Toronto: 1-bedroom condo

    <strong>$988,000:</strong> Located in the posh Residences of the Ritz Carlton, in the heart of Toronto, this condo features one of only a handful of private terraces in the entire building. Source: Sotheby's International

  • Toronto: 1-bedroom condo

    <strong>$988,000:</strong> Located in the posh Residences of the Ritz Carlton, in the heart of Toronto, this condo features one of only a handful of private terraces in the entire building. Source: Sotheby's International

  • Toronto: 1-bedroom condo

    <strong>$988,000:</strong> Located in the posh Residences of the Ritz Carlton, in the heart of Toronto, this condo features one of only a handful of private terraces in the entire building. Source: Sotheby's International

  • Montreal: 4-bedroom rowhouse

    <strong>$998,000:</strong> This historic townhouse in the wealthy enclave of Westmount is "of historic interest," according to the realtor, and features its original glass doors and marble panels at the entrance. Source: Sotheby's International

  • Montreal: 4-bedroom rowhouse

    <strong>$998,000:</strong> This historic townhouse in the wealthy enclave of Westmount is "of historic interest," according to the realtor, and features its original glass doors and marble panels at the entrance. Source: Sotheby's International

  • Montreal: 4-bedroom rowhouse

    <strong>$998,000:</strong> This historic townhouse in the wealthy enclave of Westmount is "of historic interest," according to the realtor, and features its original glass doors and marble panels at the entrance. Source: Sotheby's International

  • West Vancouver: 1-bedroom condo

    <strong>$985,000:</strong> The real estate agent boasts that this property offers a "spectacular 180 degree view of the city, Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, Kitsilano, Point Grey and beyond to Vancouver Island." Source: Angell Hasman Realty

  • West Vancouver: 1-bedroom condo

    <strong>$985,000:</strong> The real estate agent boasts that this property offers a "spectacular 180 degree view of the city, Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, Kitsilano, Point Grey and beyond to Vancouver Island." Source: Angell Hasman Realty

  • West Vancouver: 1-bedroom condo

    <strong>$985,000:</strong> The real estate agent boasts that this property offers a "spectacular 180 degree view of the city, Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, Kitsilano, Point Grey and beyond to Vancouver Island." Source: Angell Hasman Realty

  • Charlottetown, P.E.I.: 8-bedroom house

    <strong>$998,700:</strong> This historic property was once the Edenhurst Inn and is now on sale as a private residence. "No expense was spared in the construction of this home using sycamore and oak for interior finishing," the realtor says. Source: Re/Max Charlottetown

  • Charlottetown, P.E.I.: 8-bedroom house

    <strong>$998,700:</strong> This historic property was once the Edenhurst Inn and is now on sale as a private residence. "No expense was spared in the construction of this home using sycamore and oak for interior finishing," the realtor says. Source: Re/Max Charlottetown

  • Charlottetown, P.E.I.: 8-bedroom house

    <strong>$998,700:</strong> This historic property was once the Edenhurst Inn and is now on sale as a private residence. "No expense was spared in the construction of this home using sycamore and oak for interior finishing," the realtor says. Source: Re/Max Charlottetown

  • Winnipeg: 4-bedroom house

    <strong>$989,900:</strong> This modernist mansion from custom home designers Artista Homes features three fireplaces, including a three-sided one, and ensuite bathrooms with heated floors. Source: Royal LePage Alliance

  • Winnipeg: 4-bedroom house

    <strong>$989,900:</strong> This modernist mansion from custom home designers Artista Homes features three fireplaces, including a three-sided one, and ensuite bathrooms with heated floors. Source: Royal LePage Alliance

  • Kamloops, B.C.: 2-bedroom ranch house

    <strong>$960,000:</strong> This ranch house inspired by the "pueblo" style of the U.S. southwest is located in one of the few places in Canada that look like the southwest U.S. — the B.C. interior. The house features foot-thick concrete walls, and is set into the hillside to look half-buried. Source: Royal LePage Kamloops

  • Kamloops, B.C.: 2-bedroom ranch house

    <strong>$960,000:</strong> This ranch house inspired by the "pueblo" style of the U.S. southwest is located in one of the few places in Canada that look like the southwest U.S. — the B.C. interior. The house features foot-thick concrete walls, and is set into the hillside to look half-buried. Source: Royal LePage Kamloops

  • Kamloops, B.C.: 2-bedroom ranch house

    <strong>$960,000:</strong> This ranch house inspired by the "pueblo" style of the U.S. southwest is located in one of the few places in Canada that look like the southwest U.S. — the B.C. interior. The house features foot-thick concrete walls, and is set into the hillside to look half-buried. Source: Royal LePage Kamloops

  • Montreal: 5-bedroom townhouse

    <strong>$985,000:</strong> The realtor humbly describes this property as a "cottage in Westmount," but with five bedrooms, four baths and parking for two, this "cottage" is pretty out-sized. Source: Profusion Realty

  • Montreal: 5-bedroom townhouse

    <strong>$985,000:</strong> The realtor humbly describes this property as a "cottage in Westmount," but with five bedrooms, four baths and parking for two, this "cottage" is pretty out-sized. Source: Profusion Realty

  • Montreal: 5-bedroom townhouse

    <strong>$985,000:</strong> The realtor humbly describes this property as a "cottage in Westmount," but with five bedrooms, four baths and parking for two, this "cottage" is pretty out-sized. Source: Profusion Realty

  • Toronto: 4-bedroom bungalow

    <strong>$989,000:</strong> Located in an area with lots of surrounding commercial properties, the seller notes that the zoning could easily be changed to allow for a business. But you can always just live in this property, if paying $1 million for a bungalow strikes you as reasonable. Source: Realty Way Corporation

  • Saskatoon: 3-bedroom house

    <strong>$970,000:</strong> Don't let your eyes deceive you: This isn't a historic property. Rather, this duplex is a recreation of the Todd House, a 19th-century home located in Toronto. It's so modern it even features an indoor garage. Source: Hallmark Realty

  • Saskatoon: 3-bedroom house

    <strong>$970,000:</strong> Don't let your eyes deceive you: This isn't a historic property. Rather, this duplex is a recreation of the Todd House, a 19th-century home located in Toronto. It's so modern it even features an indoor garage. Source: Hallmark Realty

  • Saskatoon: 3-bedroom house

    <strong>$970,000:</strong> Don't let your eyes deceive you: This isn't a historic property. Rather, this duplex is a recreation of the Todd House, a 19th-century home located in Toronto. It's so modern it even features an indoor garage. Source: Hallmark Realty

  • Port Medway, N.S.: 3-bedroom seaside estate

    <strong>$990,000:</strong> Originally meant to be occupied by the architect who designed this property, this property on Nova Scotia's South Shore is "designed to be self-sustaining," the realtor says, and was built partly using reclaimed and re-purposed materials. Source: Tradewinds Realty

  • Port Medway, N.S.: 3-bedroom seaside estate

    <strong>$990,000:</strong> Originally meant to be occupied by the architect who designed this property, this property on Nova Scotia's South Shore is "designed to be self-sustaining," the realtor says, and was built partly using reclaimed and re-purposed materials. Source: Tradewinds Realty

  • Port Medway, N.S.: 3-bedroom seaside estate

    <strong>$990,000:</strong> Originally meant to be occupied by the architect who designed this property, this property on Nova Scotia's South Shore is "designed to be self-sustaining," the realtor says, and was built partly using reclaimed and re-purposed materials. Source: Tradewinds Realty

  • An actual house in Vancouver!

    It may be a shock to some, but yes, it is possible to buy an actual house — not a condo — for under a million in Vancouver. Here's proof: A two-bedroom property in the city's desirable Kitsilano neighbourhood, for a mere <strong>$998,800!</strong> Source: Sutton Group - West Coast

  • An actual house in Vancouver!

    It may be a shock to some, but yes, it is possible to buy an actual house — not a condo — for under a million in Vancouver. Here's proof: A two-bedroom property in the city's desirable Kitsilano neighbourhood, for a mere <strong>$998,800!</strong> Source: Sutton Group - West Coast

  • An actual house in Vancouver!

    It may be a shock to some, but yes, it is possible to buy an actual house — not a condo — for under a million in Vancouver. Here's proof: A two-bedroom property in the city's desirable Kitsilano neighbourhood, for a mere <strong>$998,800!</strong> Source: Sutton Group - West Coast



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  • 8 [tie]: Richmond, British Columbia - 12 highrises

    As of Oct. 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.emporis.com/">Emporis</a> Photo: The Canadian Press

  • 8 [tie]: Ottawa, Ontario - 12 highrises

    As of Oct. 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.emporis.com/">Emporis</a> Photo: Alamy

  • 8 [tie]: Boston, Massachusetts - 12 highrises

    As of Oct. 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.emporis.com/">Emporis</a> Photo: Alamy

  • 7: Miami, Florida - 13 highrises

    As of Oct. 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.emporis.com/">Emporis</a> Photo: Shutterstock

  • 6: Calgary, Alberta - 13 highrises

    As of Oct. 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.emporis.com/">Emporis</a> Photo: Alamy

  • 5: Chicago, Illinois - 17 highrises

    As of Oct. 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.emporis.com/">Emporis</a> Photo: Shutterstock

  • 4: Montreal, Quebec - 20 highrises

    As of Oct. 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.emporis.com/">Emporis</a> Photo: Alamy

  • 3: Vancouver, British Columbia - 21 highrises

    As of Oct. 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.emporis.com/">Emporis</a> Photo: Alamy

  • 2: New York City - 72 highrises

    As of Oct. 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.emporis.com/">Emporis</a> Photo: Shutterstock

  • 1: Toronto - 147 highrises

    As of Oct. 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.emporis.com/">Emporis</a> Photo: The Canadian Press