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In Canada’s housing slowdown, Vancouver proves to be the weakest link

By Greg Quinn for Financial Post

Vancouver’s housing market is looking more fragile than Toronto a year after policy makers tightened mortgage lending to slow a boom.

While the country’s two most expensive real estate markets have both been hit hard by higher interest rates and tougher mortgage regulations, the data suggest Toronto is faring better and showing signs of stabilizing, while Vancouver continues its slide.

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Sales in the west coast city plunged 32 per cent last year, driving benchmark prices down 6.5 per cent over the past six months, according to Canadian Real Estate Association data released Tuesday. Toronto also saw sales fall sharply, but by half as much as Vancouver and with prices in Canada’s biggest city little changed in recent months.

“I’m not worried about Toronto, I’m worried more about Vancouver at this stage,” said Sebastien Lavoie, chief economist at Laurentian Bank Securities in Montreal. “The biggest worry I have for Vancouver really is the expectations that could turn a lot more downbeat because of the downward trend we are seeing now.”

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