(Adds regional details, analyst comment)
TORONTO May 14 Canadian resale home prices rose
in April, but the start of the hotly anticipated spring selling
season appeared milder than usual, the Teranet-National Bank
Composite House Price Index showed on Wednesday.
The index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of
single-family homes, showed home prices were up 0.5 percent
from March, when month-on-month prices were flat.
Canada's housing market has risen strongly if unsteadily in
the past five years, and economists have been waiting for the
spring data to gauge whether it is cooling or heating up again.
"Though (April's) gain might appear robust, it must be said
that apart from the recession in 2009, the composite index
always advanced in April, the average monthly increase having
been 0.9 percent," Teranet said in the report. "Last month's
advance is indeed the third weakest for April, outside a
recession, since 1999."
Prices were up 4.9 percent from a year earlier, an
acceleration from March's 4.6 percent price gain.
Home prices have marched mostly higher since 2009, straining
affordability, but mortgage rates have remained low, and have
fallen in recent days, which could extend the market's strength.
Some economists have predicted the market will crash, but
most have said they expect sales and new construction to level
off in 2014 and 2015, when many see the Bank of Canada raising
interest rates, dampening demand.
"From a fundamental perspective, we do not see much scope
for prices to rise further as the housing market has shifted
into lower gear compared to previous years," Mazen Issa, senior
Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, said in a research
"We continue to see this year as benign for the housing
market and expect prices to edge lower in 2015, when we expect
the Bank of Canada to recommence tightening," he added.
The Teranet data showed that prices rose in nine of 11
markets in April from March, led by a 1.5 percent gain in
Calgary. Prices were up 0.8 percent in Montreal, 0.7 percent in
Halifax, Hamilton and Ottawa, 0.6 percent in Edmonton, 0.5
percent in Vancouver, 0.4 percent in Winnipeg and 0.3 percent in
Prices fell 1.0 percent in Victoria and 0.5 percent in
Year-over-year price gains were seen in just six of the 11
markets surveyed. The Teranet data once again showed big
regional disparities among Canada's 11 major urban markets, with
several cities in Western Canada benefiting from a resource boom
and cities east of Toronto seeing declines.
Prices were up 10.0 percent in Calgary, 9.0 percent in
Vancouver, 5.8 percent in Toronto, 5.3 percent in Hamilton, 4.0
percent in Edmonton and 2.5 percent in Winnipeg.
Compared with a year earlier, prices fell 3.5 percent in
Halifax, 2.4 percent in Quebec City, 0.7 percent in Victoria,
and 0.4 percent in Ottawa and Montreal.
(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins Editing by W Simon and Peter