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Moderate gain in Canadian housing market values

CBJ - May 4 - The MLS Home Price Index (HPI), the leading measure of Canadian home prices, stayed above year-ago levels in March according to statistics released by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

Year-over-year gains have been moderating. The increase in March was the smallest since last June.

The MLS Home Price Index rose 5.1 per cent in March compared to the same month last year. The increase was on par with February's gain, which was the smallest since last June.

"Overall price trends show that Canada's housing market continues to moderate," said Wayne Moen, CREA President. "Price increases have been shrinking since last fall. While that trend paused in March, it may in part reflect an early spring in many parts of the country, resulting in increased competition among buyers.”

The MLS HPI remained above its year-ago level in all five of the markets tracked, led by Toronto (7.3). It also held above year-ago levels in all housing categories tracked, led by two-storey single family homes (6.8). The MLS HPI rose 1.3 per cent from to February to March.

"The index typically experiences these types of month-over-month gains in the spring, which coincides with when the balance of supply to demand is tightest," said Gregory Klump, CREA's Chief Economist. "With that in mind, it's important to look at month-to-month movements in the context of how they compare to the same period in previous years.

“While the overall monthly price increase was on par with last year's figure, it masks slowing price momentum in the Lower Mainland area of British Columbia. Slower price gains there were offset in March by a modest acceleration of price gains in Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal."

Momentum in the overall MLS HPI held steady between February and March, with equal year-over-year gains of 5.1 per cent. However, because the MLS HPI is composed of four benchmark housing types and more than 1,600 subareas spread among five housing markets, the overall index can mask price trend variations among benchmark housing categories within a single housing market and between different parts of the country.

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