Early 2005 sales up 18 per cent over last year.
Beaches, Bloor West Village push price hikes.
The new year is off to a good start for home sales, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.
In the first two weeks of January, there was an 18 per cent increase in sales of existing, single-family homes to 1,310, compared to the same period last year.
The price of homes during that time jumped to $301,372 from $295,989.
"We're off to a great start. I expected it would be good, but not this good," said Ron Abraham, president of the board.
Areas pushing the price hikes include the Beaches, Bloor West Village, King Township and Oakville.
Abraham said the early numbers are a good indicator of what to expect for the rest of the year.
"Strong early numbers in January bode well for a good start to 2005 as the market begins to gear up following the holiday season," he said.
Supporting the strong sales is a healthy economy, the board said.
The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that the national unemployment level fell 0.3 percentage points in December to 7 per cent.
That was the lowest level since 2001.
In Toronto, 1,000 jobs were added over that time.
"A positive economic climate continues to exist, keeping home ownership a realistic goal," Abraham said.
Most analysts expect the Bank of Canada to moderately raise interest rates.
They will likely rise by about 50 basis points over the course of 2005, due at least in part to the rising dollar.
"The prospect of a slight rise ... will not be likely to scare off consumers," Abraham said.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Real Estate Association is celebrating a record number of home sales for 2004.
There were more than 25,000 sales for the eleventh month in a row, including December last year.
This is the longest monthly run above that level ever.
Sales by real estate agents on the multiple listing service came in at a record 316,386, up 2.7 per cent from the 307,971 sold in 2003.