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Resale home price index edges up in February

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Canadian home resale prices edged up for a third consecutive month in February, according to a report on Wednesday.

The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes in six metropolitan areas, showed overall prices were up 0.1 percent in February from January. Half the cities surveyed showed increases, while half declined.

Analysts expect the housing market to soften a bit this year as interest rates are expected to rise. It slumped briefly early in the financial crisis, but bounced back quickly and avoided the extreme weakness seen in the United States and other Western countries. Lately, analysts have been describing the residential housing market as moving toward balanced conditions.

"Over the last six months, Canadian home price growth has cooled significantly from the double-digit gains experienced through the last half of 2009 and first half of 2010," TD Bank economist Diana Petramala wrote in a research note.

"In particular, growth in markets that have experienced the largest run-up in home prices over the last decade—Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary—are the cities exhibiting the most weakness."

Still, Vancouver added to its status as one of the country's most expensive markets in February, rising 0.3 percent after a 0.9 percent jump in January. Home resale data for March recently showed Vancouver had a record number of multimillion-dollar sales.

Prices also rose in Montreal and Ottawa in February, up 0.5 percent each, the Teranet data showed.

Those increases were offset by a 0.5-percent fall in Calgary and a 0.4-percent decline in Halifax. Toronto dipped 0.1 percent.

Overall prices were up 3.8 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.

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