April 27, 2013 8:27 am

March real estate index up from February

TORONTO – The Teranet-National Bank house price index broke a string of month-to-month declines in March, rising 0.4 per cent from February, with most of Canada’s biggest urban centres showing some improvement.

The national index had fallen in each of the previous six months, a period of minimal economic growth that coincided with tighter federal mortgage rules.

On a year-to-year basis, the index was up 2.6 per cent from March 2012 — the smallest annual increase since November 2009.

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Teranet compiles the index based on a selection of homes sold in major markets across Canada.

The national composite index based on 11 local markets was 153.31 in March, up from 152.72 in February.

There were increases in nine of the local markets — Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec, Halifax, Winnipeg and Ottawa-Gatineau. The declines were in Hamilton and Victoria.

Teranet said Victoria’s index fell 3.2 per cent in March, the biggest one-month drop for the city in nearly 23 years of data recording.

On a 12-month basis, Victoria and Vancouver were the only two markets showing declines. Seven of the 11 markets did better than the national index: Quebec City, Calgary, Hamilton, Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax and Edmonton. Ottawa-Gatineau and Montreal lagged the national index.

Many economists and industry groups have noted that Canadian housing prices have softened since the latest change to mortgage rules brought in by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty last July.

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