April 12, 2018 / 12:34 PM / 6 months ago

Canada home prices flat in March as Toronto market pauses

OTTAWA, April 12 (Reuters) - Canadian home prices were unchanged in March as the closely watched Toronto market showed signs of stabilizing, while prices in Vancouver climbed to a new high, data showed on Thursday.

The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed prices were flat on a monthly basis after dipping 0.1 percent in February.

Price gains also continued to decelerate on an annual basis, up 6.6 percent from March 2017 in the smallest 12-month increase since May 2016.

Prices in Toronto were similarly unchanged on a monthly basis, suggesting the situation in the country’s biggest city was stabilizing after recent declines following last year’s provincial government measures to rein in the market, as well as tighter mortgage rules that took effect at the start of 2018.

Economists are also watching to see how potential home buyers react to the three interest rate hikes taken by the Bank of Canada since July after years of low borrowing costs helped boost Canada’s housing market.

Toronto prices were down 7.3 percent from the peak hit last July, Teranet said.

Prices rose on a monthly basis in just four of the 11 cities surveyed, with Vancouver up 0.5 percent. Still, Vancouver’s price gains have been smaller in recent months, consistent with weaker sales activity, the report said.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Cooney

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