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A woman carrying an umbrella walks past homes for sale displayed in the windows of a realtor's office in Vancouver in this file photo. (DARRYL DYCK For The Globe and Mail)
A woman carrying an umbrella walks past homes for sale displayed in the windows of a realtor's office in Vancouver in this file photo. (DARRYL DYCK For The Globe and Mail)

Vancouver, Toronto pull Canadian home prices higher in March Add to ...

One of Canada's leading measures of home prices hit an all-time high in March as prices kept on rising in Toronto and Vancouver and rebounded in several slumping markets.

The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index rose 0.3 per cent in March compared to a month earlier, the third straight month of price gains.

Prices in the country's two hottest markets, Toronto and Vancouver, rose 0.3 per cent, helping to drive overall national price growth. But it was markets in Eastern Canada, where prices had been falling for several months, where prices rose the most. Having fallen 5 per cent over the past seven months, Montreal home prices rose 0.7 per cent last month. Home prices also jumped 1.5 per cent in Quebec City and 1.2 per cent in Halifax after months of declines.

Fears over falling oil prices looked to be subsiding in Alberta's major markets, with prices rising 0.4 per cent in Edmonton and 0.2 per cent in Calgary last month. Home prices fell in just three of Canada's 11 major markets. In Ottawa-Gatineau, which is in the midst of an ongoing housing slump, prices fell 0.2 per cent in March. Homes in the region are now what they were worth in 2011. Victoria and Hamilton saw prices fall between 0.2-0.3 per cent.

Nationally, prices are up 4.7 per cent from a year earlier, led by an annual 8.4 per cent jump in Hamilton, along with gains of 7.6 per cent in Toronto and 5.3 per cent in Vancouver. Prices were lower than the previous year in only two markets: Ottawa-Gatineau and Winnipeg.

Although prices were rising in most of the country's largest markets in March, the spring thaw “is no indication of general strength in the Canadian real estate market,” warned National Bank senior economist Marc Pinsonneault.

Toronto and Vancouver were the only two markets to hit record highs last month, with other markets simply bouncing back slightly from earlier price declines. Mr. Pinsonneault predicts prices will keep soaring in Toronto and Vancouver, with the two cities continuing to put “upward pressure” on the national price index over the next several months.

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