April 14, 2015 / 12:38 PM / 2 years ago

Canada resale home prices hit new high in March

An empty lot ready for a newly built house is for sale in Calgary, Alberta, April 7, 2015. REUTERS/Todd Korol

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian home resale prices rose to a record high in March, paced by gains in the two biggest markets, the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index showed on Tuesday, but a correction appears underway in other regions.

The index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed national home prices rose 0.3 percent last month from February. Prices were up 4.7 percent from a year earlier. The index does not provide actual prices.

While prices were up in eight of the 11 markets surveyed, the broadest diffusion in seven months, only Toronto and Vancouver hit record highs.

Prices in Calgary, the largest city in oil-rich Alberta, increased 0.2 percent in March after declining with the prolonged fall in oil prices. The Calgary market is being watched for signs that oil’s fall could cause a housing market collapse.

Calgary home prices were down 2.1 percent from the peak seen in October 2014, but still up 4.4 percent from a year earlier.

Canada escaped the housing crisis that devastated the United States in 2009, and average prices have doubled in the past decade. But analysts have been expecting the market to cool, with some calling for a soft landing and others predicting a U.S.-style collapse when interest rates start to rise.

“Housing corrections appear to be underway in most regions. Among the 11 cities, house prices have peaked and appear to be declining in six: Victoria, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax,” David Madani, economist at Capital Economics in Toronto, wrote in a research note.

“In addition, judging by the slump in home sales and rise in properties listed for sale in Calgary and Edmonton (Alberta), it won’t be too long before house prices are falling in those markets as well.”

The Teranet report showed the Toronto and Vancouver markets, which account for 54.1 percent of the index’s weighting, both gained 0.3 percent in the month.

Only three cities had price declines in March from February. Ottawa and Hamilton were down 0.3 percent and Victoria edged 0.2 percent lower.

Compared with a year earlier, national prices were up 4.7 percent. The biggest gains were seen in Hamilton, up 8.4 percent; Toronto, up 7.6 percent; and Vancouver, up 5.3 percent.

House prices in Ottawa were down 0.9 percent on the year, while Winnipeg was 1.0 percent lower than a year earlier.

Additional reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama; and Peter Galloway

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