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For sale signs are seen outside homes for sale in the Kitsilano neighborhood in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday September 18, 2012.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Canadian home prices in September were 0.4 per cent lower than in August, though they remained 3.6 per cent higher than a year ago, according to the Teranet-National Bank National Composite House Price Index.

This marks just the third time that house prices have fallen in September in the 13 years that this index has data for. The other two were in 2010, and prior to that in 2008 when the country was entering a recession.

Six of the 11 markets that the index studies saw prices fall last month. The decline was highest in Victoria, where prices fell 1.3 per cent. Vancouver saw its prices drop by 1.2 per cent for the second month in a row.

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Prices were down 0.8 per cent in Ottawa-Gatineau, 0.6 per cent in Montreal and 0.2 per cent in Quebec City. All of those cities had registered sharp decreases in sales over the past year, according to the real estate boards. But Edmonton, which has seen an increase in sales, also saw prices drop, falling 0.7 per cent.

The cities that saw prices rise last month were Calgary and Halifax (each by 0.5 per cent), Winnipeg (0.4 per cent), Hamilton (0.3 per cent) and Toronto (0.1 per cent).

Nationally prices remain 3.6 per cent higher than they were a year ago. But the year-over-year price growth has been decelerating for 10 months now. Price growth has been decelerating in Vancouver for nine months, and in Toronto for five.

It was year-over-year price declines in Vancouver and Victoria that pulled down the national average in September. Prices in Halifax, on the flip side, were 8 per cent higher than a year ago. Toronto's were 7.8 per cent higher, Hamilton's 6.9 per cent, Winnipeg's 6.3 per cent, and both Montreal and Quebec City's 3.8 per cent. Calgary and Edmonton each saw price increases of 2.2 per cent from September, 2011. Prices in Ottawa-Gatineau were up 2.5 per cent.

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