Home prices slip in June

(QMI Agency File Photo)

(QMI Agency File Photo)

Jennifer Kwan, REUTERS

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Sales of existing homes in Canada slipped 1.3% in June from May, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said on Monday, in another sign the country’s long real estate boom is starting to cool down.

Sales were also down 4.4% from a year earlier, the first year-over-year decline since April 2011, the industry group for Canadian real estate agents said.

More than half of the local markets that CREA tracks across the country reported a year-on-year sales drop in June, with Vancouver and Toronto, which have been the hottest markets, both declining.

The national average price for homes sold in June was $369,339, down 0.8% from the same month last year. CREA said price gains accelerated in Calgary and remained strong in Toronto, while Vancouver prices fell 13.3% from a year earlier.

The number of newly listed homes climbed 1.4% in June from a month earlier.

“Canada’s housing market lost a little altitude in June, but it’s still flying pretty high,” said CREA president Wayne Moen.

Canada did not experience the housing market crash during the financial crisis that helped drive the United States and other Western countries into recession.

While the Canadian market did retreat in 2008, it rebounded swiftly on the back of the low interest rates. The boom, however, has worried policymakers, who have feared the formation of an asset bubble.

The latest statistics reflect activity before a government-mandated tightening of mortgage rules, aimed at cooling the market, came into effect last week.

Many economists and realtors believe the soft landing that policymakers have sought to engineer is starting to take shape. The slowdown comes after a robust, three-year climb in Canadian home prices and booming construction of condominiums.