UPDATE 1-Canadian existing home sales rise in March - CREA

Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:55am EDT
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(Adds inventory and regional details, analyst comments)

By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO, April 15 (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada rose in March from February, led by gains in the big Toronto and Vancouver markets, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said on Wednesday.

The industry group for Canadian real estate agents said sales were up 4.1 percent last month from February. Actual sales for March, not seasonally adjusted, were up 9.5 percent from March 2014.

The spring rebound was hottest in Toronto and Vancouver, though sales were up in two-thirds of the markets surveyed, including Canada's oil industry capital, Calgary, where sales had slowed in recent months as oil prices plummeted.

"Greater Vancouver and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) are really the only two hot spots for home sales and prices in Canada," CREA chief economist Gregory Klump said in the report.

"Price gains in these two markets are being fueled by a shortage of single family homes for sale in the face of strong demand."

CREA's home price index rose 4.95 percent from March 2014.

Analysts have long expected Canada's prolonged housing boom to slow, but low Bank of Canada interest rates, international investment and lack of supply in Toronto and Vancouver have kept the market bubbling.   Continued...