British Columbia

Victoria, Toronto luxury homes among fastest-selling

Sales of Canadian homes priced $1 million or more increased 44% in 2016, and the sale pace for Toronto and Victoria was in the top five worldwide.

Toronto's increase of 20 per cent was the largest increase in the markets studied

Toronto, with a 20 per cent increase, posted the biggest gain in terms of luxury home sale prices. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Luxury home sales increased 44 percent in Canada in 2016 and the pace of sales in Toronto and Victoria were in the top five in the world.

A report released Wednesday by Christie's International Real Estate shows that sales of homes priced at $1 million or more edged up about one percent worldwide last year.

That represents a sharp slowdown from 2015, when luxury home sales climbed eight percent, and from 2014, when sales vaulted 16 percent.

Luxury home sales sank 67 per cent in the U.K. from a year earlier, while sales slipped four percent in the U.S. and slid 29 percent in markets in the Asia-Pacific region. In contrast, sales climbed 20 percent in Europe and 44 percent in Canada.

Sales prices rose in more than half of the markets in Christie's report. Toronto posted the biggest gain, 20 percent. Prices were flat in 26 percent of the markets. Another 21 percent of the markets posted declines in prices.

Toronto led a separate gauge of the hottest luxury markets, or those where the pace of sales was strongest, reflecting heightened demand. Its luxury home sales were nearly double what they were in 2015.

Low inventory and price increases spurred urgency among buyers. Luxury homes in Toronto took an average of 17 days to sell last year, down from 28 days the year before. That was the fastest sales pace of any market.

Rounding out the top five hottest luxury markets are Victoria, British Columbia; San Francisco; Austin, Texas; and, Charleston, South Carolina.

Even as the global economy strengthened and stock markets climbed to new highs, sales were likely held back as wealthy buyers and sellers opted to take a wait-and-see approach to the geopolitical uncertainty that shaped much of 2016, including Britain's vote to leave the European Union, new restrictions on Chinese capital outflows, the U.S. presidential election and Russian sanctions.

"If you look at some of the markets where there was uncertainty, it had an impact," Conn said. "People could afford to wait in the U.K. because there was uncertainty and prices have softened over the last couple of years."

The luxury brokerage based its report on an analysis of sales data and other factors for homes that sold for $1 million or more in 101 markets worldwide. Private luxury home sales were not included in the analysis.