Teranet house price index unusually flat in March, western cities see advances

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TORONTO – The Teranet–National Bank index of Canadian house prices was unchanged last month, the first time in 15 years that there hasn’t been an increase between February and March.

A TD Bank commentary says the Teranet index for March was slightly below expectations and adds there will likely be a bounce back for the short run as the spring sales season progresses.

The bank also noted that mortgage rates have recently fallen — a trend that will make the overall cost of ownership less expensive for buyers.

Teranet noted that prices in major Western cities tended to do better than those in Ontario and further east last month compared with February. On a year-over-year basis, the national index was up 4.6 per cent from March 2013 and four of the 11 cities had declines.

Teranet also noted that several cities have seen several monthly declines over the past year — seven in a row in Ottawa-Gatineau, four of seven in Hamilton, six of the past eight months in Montreal and Quebec.

“Markets experiencing a decline in home prices are facing a rising inventory of homes for sale on the market, following what appears to have been a number of years of over building. Meanwhile, home price pressures remain the strongest in cities facing tighter conditions — as a low number of homes for sale on the market has put the bargaining power in the hands of the seller, ” TD Economics analyst Sonny Scarfone wrote.

“This is particularly true in Calgary and the single-family home market in Toronto. However, these cities also have a record number of new homes currently under construction, which should help alleviate some supply pressures in the coming months.”

Montreal had the biggest month-over-month decline in March. Its index was down 1.8 per cent from February and down 0.7 per cent from March 2013. Calgary had the best showing, with its price index rising 1.4 per cent from February and 9.7 per cent from a year earlier.

For the other cities tracked by Teranet’s index:

— Halifax’s index was up 0.8 per cent from February but down 4.2 per cent from March 2013;

— Quebec: unchanged month-month, down 2.4 per cent year-year;

— Ottawa: down 0.6 per cent month-month, down 1.2 per cent year-year;

— Toronto: unchanged month-month, up 5.8 per cent year-year;

— Hamilton: down 0.7 per cent month-month, up 5.2 per cent year-year;

— Winnipeg: up 0.2 per cent month-month, up 3.4 per cent year-year;

— Edmonton: up 0.4 per cent month-month, up 4.7 per cent year-year;

— Vancouver: up 0.6 per cent month-month, up 7.6 year-year;

— Victoria: up 0.4 per cent month-month, up 0.2 per cent year-year.

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