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A for sale sign sits in front of a Mississauga residential home, April 16, 2012.

J.P. MOCZULSKI

Home prices crept higher in March as a slowing Vancouver market was offset by an acceleration in prices in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, according to a report by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The MLS home price index was up 1.3 per cent in March on an month-over-month basis and up 5.1 per cent per cent compared with a year ago.

"Overall price trends show that Canada's housing market continues to moderate," association president Wayne Moen said.

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"Price increases have been shrinking since last fall. While that trend paused in March, it may in part reflect an early spring in many parts of the country, resulting in increased competition among buyers."

The index is based on prices for one- and two-storey single family homes, townhouses and apartments in several key markets across the country.

The report found that price gains for single family homes were 6.4 per cent, roughly that for townhouses or apartments, that came in a 2.6 per cent and three per cent respectively.

Prices were up in all of the markets tracked, led by Toronto which saw a 7.3 per cent gain compared with a year ago, well ahead of Vancouver, which was second at 5.27 per cent from a year ago.

On a month-over-month basis, Toronto was up 1.65 per cent for March, traditionally a busy month for real estate sales, compared with Vancouver at 1.06 per cent.

Montreal gained 1.49 per cent and Calgary climbed 1.41 per cent in March.

The rise in the index followed a CREA report earlier this month that the average price of a Canadian home sold in March fell for the first time since January, a move attributed to an unusually large number of luxury properties sold in Vancouver last year.

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The national average home resale price in March was $369,677, down from just under $373,000 in February and $371,591 in March 2011.

The decrease came as the number of sales conducted through the industry's MLS system was up 2.5 per cent from February, making last month the busiest sales month since April 2010.

Toronto's average residential price last month was $504,117 — up from $456,147 in March 2011. Vancouver's average residential price in March was $761,742, down from $786,311 in the same month last year.

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