Luxury real estate stays hot

Real estate markets remained supercharged in Vancouver and Toronto over the first half of 2016 but a new report from Sotheby's International Realty Canada shows even Calgary's struggling market perked up between January and June.

Compared to the same period last year, the study shows bidding wars and a lack of inventory fuelled a 65-per-cent hike in sales of residential real estate over $1 million in the Greater Toronto Area, while sales climbed 26 per cent in Vancouver.

In Vancouver, the report says there was a 100-per-cent increase in the sale of homes over $4 million, as 439 properties in that price range changed hands over the first six months of the year.

Ongoing uncertainty in the oil patch and rising unemployment continued the buyer's market in Calgary, but price adjustments helped move some of the 318 listings over $1 million between January and June, a nine-per-cent increase over 2015.

The real estate company also says 317 high-end properties in Montreal sold in the first six months of 2016, a 16 per cent increase Sotheby's credits to that city's continued political stability and measured consumer confidence.

The report says the real estate market in Montreal will remain balanced through the fall. More price declines in Calgary are expected to boost sales there and no end is anticipated to sales of multi-million-dollar homes across Toronto and Vancouver.

"Demand for luxury real estate in Toronto and Vancouver remains unrelenting, far exceeding supply in the higher price spectrums of the market," says Brad Henderson, president and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty Canada.

A price tag above $1 million is now typical for conventional detached homes in both markets and he flags growing signs of gridlock for sales of homes in that range.

"The options for real estate consumers are slim, and this is beginning to reflect in market activity," Henderson says.

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