* Home prices rise 0.27 pct in January from December
* Up 5.2 pct from January 2011
* Montreal leads price gains; Fraser Valley lags
* Data shows cooling in townhouse/apt prices
* Single-family home prices steady
By Jon Cook
TORONTO, Feb 6 Canadian house prices rose
in January on a monthly basis for the first time in three
months, led by gains in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver,
according to a report from the Canadian Real Estate Association.
The newly launched MLS Home Price Index, which monitors
housing prices in five major urban markets, rose 0.27 percent in
January to 149.3 from a month earlier. It was up 5.2 percent
from January 2011. The report did not provide any actual prices.
Last month's CREA data showed the average December sale
price was C$358,480.
"While home prices remain up compared to one year ago, price
growth from one month to the next has been slowing, causing
year-over-year gains to shrink, and prices are generally
expected to continue to stabilize this year," Gary Morse, the
industry group's president, said in a statement.
January price gains were strongest in Montreal, which edged
up 0.7 percent compared with a 0.14 percent dip in the Fraser
Valley, British Columbia market - the biggest decline of any of
the five metropolitan centers covered by the index.
Prices in Toronto and Vancouver rose 0.3 percent and 0.06
percent respectively, while Calgary slid 0.12 percent.
All markets reflected a trend of slowing townhouse and
apartment prices, while single-family dwellings remained steady.
In January, townhouse units fell 0.4 percent and apartment units
slumped 0.2 percent. Those declines were offset by a 0.5 percent
increase in prices for both one- and two-storey single family
A cooler property market would be welcomed by Canadian
policymakers, who fear the market's post-recession boom,
combined with a long run of low lending rates, could create a
fresh asset bubble.
Those fears intensified last month after the country's major
banks dropped their five-year fixed mortgage rates to a historic
low of 2.99 percent.