The average price of a home sold in Canada hit $324,928 in August, roughly in line with the same month a year ago, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Wednesday.


A real estate agent puts up a sold sign in front of a house in Toronto. Home sales increased in August, only the second time that's happened in calendar 2010. ((CBC))

The average price was higher or stable on a yearly basis in two-thirds of the cities where CREA tracks data. On a monthly basis, the average price was slightly lower than the average selling price of $330,351 in July 2010.

It is also the third consecutive month that average sale prices have dropped after increasing at a torrid pace for the previous year.

The number of new listings on the agency's Multiple Listings Service was more than double than the number of sales. A 2-1 ratio of listings to sales is generally viewed as a "balanced" housing market, BMO economist Doug Porter noted.

"Rising interest rates and a projected slowdown in job growth mean that the Canadian housing market is expected to continue to cool," CREA president Georges Pahud said.

"A further tightening of regulations could negatively impact Canada’s softening housing market and consumer confidence."

In terms of sales, activity was 4.1 per cent higher, on a monthly basis, in August. It's the first monthly increase since March and only the second monthly gain of the 2010 calendar year.

Activity was up most in Ontario and British Columbia, with monthly gains in these two provinces accounting for most of the improvement in national sales activity.

Canada's real estate market was abnormally active in late 2009 as buyers rushed to take advantage of low interest rates, so yearly comparisons are likely to be negative for the rest of 2010, the agency warned.

"High sales activity late last year and earlier this year borrowed from sales this summer and will continue do so over the coming months," CREA economist Gregory Klump said.

"This makes the return to more normal levels of sales activity look like a steep downward trend.… The hangover from accelerated home purchases is likely to persist over the rest of the year."

MLS listings were 1.9 per cent higher during the month compared to July, which pushed inventory to 6.9 months at the end of August 2010 on a national basis, down slightly from the seven months of inventory at the end of July 2010.

Inventory is the term used to describe how long it would take to sell the entire available housing stock at the current sales.

"While home sales are still nursing a bit of a hangover from the real estate party in the first half of the year, it looks like conditions are stabilizing," Porter said.