April 15, 2016 / 12:37 PM / a year ago

Canadian home prices rise 0.8 percent in March from February

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A "For Sale" sign stands in front of a home that has been sold in Toronto, Canada, June 29, 2015.Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian home prices rose in March, buoyed by strength in the Vancouver market, the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index showed on Friday.

The index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed national home prices rose 0.8 percent last month from February and increased 7.0 percent from a year earlier.

This was the largest annual increase since December 2011. The month-to-month rise was the sharpest for a March since 2008.

Prices were up on the month in six of the 11 metropolitan markets surveyed.

The gain came mostly from a 2.8 percent jump in Vancouver, where the region's Real Estate Board reported the highest-selling March since it began tracking this data, on the heels of a record February.

Prices were up 0.9 percent in Montreal and 0.3 percent in Toronto.

The biggest drop was 3.1 percent in Halifax. In Calgary, prices fell 0.3 percent, their sixth consecutive monthly decline.

For Vancouver, March was the 15th consecutive month without a decline.

Analysts have debated whether Vancouver's lofty price increases are sustainable or whether overseas buyers are boosting them.

Canada's housing market growth has been robust in the years since the global financial crisis, in part because of low borrowing costs. But a more varied market has emerged recently, with price gains continuing in the hot markets of Toronto and Vancouver, while the energy-sensitive regions have slowed and the rest of the country has plodded along.

Reporting by Ethan Lou and Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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