May 25, 2011 / 1:14 PM / 6 years ago

Home-resale price index up most in 9 months

TORONTO (Reuters) - Home resale prices rose in March for a fourth straight month, its biggest advance in nine, as prices rose in nearly all of the metropolitan markets tracked by the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index.

<p>A real estate sign is seen on front of a house in Toronto June 19, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Roussakis</p>

The index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes in six metropolitan areas, on Wednesday showed overall prices were up 0.6 percent in March from February. Five metropolitan areas reported increases in the month.

“This should calm those who were fearing a severe downward price correction,” said Marc Pinsonneault, senior economist at National Bank Financial.

“On the other hand, we do not think that the acceleration of home price inflation in March represents the start of a lasting trend.”

Analysts largely expect the housing market to ease up this year as interest rates are expected to rise.

The latest April data from the Canadian Real Estate Association showed sales of existing homes fell in the month from March as activity dropped off after a first-quarter rush to buy before the introduction of tighter mortgage regulations.

The largest monthly advance was in the Montreal market, up 1.2 percent, followed by 0.6 percent increases in both Toronto and Vancouver, the country’s most expensive cities.

Prices also rose in Ottawa and Halifax, up 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.

Calgary was the exception, trailing for a third straight month, but its 0.1 percent decline was the smallest of the seven decreases reported in the last eight months, the data showed.

Housing has been a resilient sector of the Canadian economy, rebounding quickly after a brief slump early in the financial crisis.

Overall prices were up 4.1 percent from a year earlier.

The index tracks home prices over time for repeat sales, so properties with at least two sales are required in the calculations. The report did not provide actual prices.

Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; Editing by James Dalgleish

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