Canada home prices rise in March, but gains cooler

Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:59pm EDT
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By Jon Cook

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian home prices climbed 5.1 percent in March from a year earlier, boosted by strong gains in Toronto, but the annual increase was one of the weakest in the past year, suggesting the recently buoyant national market may be cooling.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said on Friday its recently launched MLS Home Price Index rose to 152.9 last month, a 1.3 percent rise from February and a 5.1 percent gain from March 2011.

The index had also risen at a 5.1 percent annual pace in February, the smallest increase since June.

"Overall price trends show that Canada's housing market continues to moderate," Wayne Moen, president of the CREA group of real estate agents, said in a statement.

"While that trend paused in March, it may in part reflect an early spring in many parts of the country, resulting in increased competition among buyers."

The index, which monitors housing prices in five major urban markets, did not provide actual prices. A separate CREA report released on April 16, which used a different methodology, had shown that prices fell in March from a year earlier.

Both reports, however, showed a slowdown in British Columbia's formerly red-hot housing market.

The latest data showed prices in March rose slightly from the previous month in Vancouver, and in British Columbia's Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley areas. But on an annual basis, the pace of price gains moderated.   Continued...

A builder works on the the roof of a new home under construction in the Montreal suburb of Brossard August 10, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best