Through the first few months of 2012, the real estate market in Canada has been hot and heavy, a new report indicates.
In the RE/MAX Market Trends Report, of the 15 metro areas surveyed, 12 of the 15 cities included saw an increase in home sales activity, with eight recording double-digit increases when comparing January and February sales with last year's.
Michael Polzler, executive vice president of RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic, said affordable mortgage rates led to the sales surge.
"Given the current economic climate, the strength of the country's housing market clearly reflects the value Canadians place on homeownership," said Polzler. "Existing homeowners have realized substantial equity gains, especially in recent years, and many are taking advantage of the combination of historically low interest rates and equity to upgrade."
Low mortgage rates has helped to offset average home price increases, as the Canadian Real Estate Association reports property values rose 5 per cent in February.
They're also changing people's minds when it comes to the type of loan they choose. When given the choice between a fixed or variable rate mortgage, most Canadians say they would prefer one with a fixed rate than one that left them with uncertain payments.
In a separate poll from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 50 per cent of Canadians polled said they would choose a fixed rate mortgage. That's way up from 39 per cent last year. There was no difference in the number of people - 32 per cent - who preferred a variable rate mortgage.
"The fixed or variable question is one of the biggest considerations for new homebuyers and for those holding an existing mortgage, and the low rate environment this year is one more factor Canadians will need to consider as they choose the mortgage that is right for them," said Colette Delaney, executive vice president of mortgage, lending, insurance and deposit products at CIBC.
Another big question homeowners have to consider is whether they want to move to a new place or renovate their current home. A separate survey conducted by the Royal Bank of Canada found that the overwhelming majority of Canadians - 83 per cent - would rather renovate than find a new place to live.