Canada home prices rise in February, but pace slows

Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:59pm EDT
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By Jon Cook

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian housing prices rose for a second straight month in February, but the size of the increase continued to shrink from year-earlier levels, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Friday.

The recently launched MLS Home Price Index, which monitors housing prices in five major urban markets, rose 1.1 percent in February from January, and was up 5.1 percent from February 2011, the smallest year-over-year increase since last June. In January, prices were up 5.2 percent year-over-year.

The report did not provide any actual prices.

"MLS HPI trends for February show that home price growth is generally slowing," Gary Morse, the industry group's president, said in a statement.

February gains were strongest in Toronto, where a shortage of single-family homes pushed prices up 1.4 percent, outpacing January's modest 0.3 percent bump. Toronto prices climbed 7.3 percent from February 2011.

Prices rose in all five of the metropolitan centers covered by the index. Calgary was up 1.1 percent, Vancouver was 0.95 percent higher, and Fraser Valley, British Columbia, gained 0.7 percent. Montreal had the smallest increase, up 0.6 percent.

"The index typically rises in February from the previous month as demand ramps up leading into the spring housing market," Gregory Klump, the industry group's chief economist, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Statistics Canada data showed new home prices edged up 0.1 percent in January from December, the 10th consecutive monthly increase.   Continued...