(Adds regional details, inventory and supply)
By Andrea Hopkins
TORONTO, May 15 (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada rose in April from March as home buyers were encouraged by low mortgage rates and a spring surge in listings, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Friday.
The industry group for Canadian real estate agents said sales activity grew 2.3 percent last month from March, the third consecutive monthly gain. Actual sales for April, not seasonally adjusted, jumped 10 percent from April 2014.
CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump said sellers in and around Toronto, Canada’s largest housing market, had increasingly delayed listing their homes until spring.
“The busy spring home buying and selling season has become that much busier as a result of sellers waiting until winter has faded before listing,” he said.
Prices continued to increase compared to a year earlier in most markets, with CREA’s home price index up 4.97 percent from April 2014.
Prices fell, however, compared to a month ago and six months ago in the energy heartland of Calgary, where low oil prices have sideswiped the economy.
Canada escaped the U.S. housing market crash of six years ago, but analysts have fretted about the length of its housing boom and are divided over whether an eventual slowdown will be a U.S.-style collapse or a soft landing.
The number of newly listed homes was up just 0.1 percent nationally as declining listings in Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary offset much of the rising supply elsewhere.
The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 55.3 percent in April, up from 50.4 percent three months earlier, as the ratio has steadily risen along with sales so far this year, CREA said. That remains within what is considered balanced territory between 40 and 60 percent.
There were 5.9 months of inventory at the end of April, down from 6.1 months in March and 6.5 months at the end of January, when it was at its highest in nearly two years.
Editing by Bernadette Baum