Canadian home prices post record February increase

The price jump was fuelled by markets in Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver

(Jonathan Hayward/CP)

(Jonathan Hayward/CP)

TORONTO – Canadian home prices posted a record jump for the month of February, fuelled by the Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver markets.

The Teranet-National Bank national composite house price index gained 1.0 per cent for the month, the largest February increase in the 18-year history of the index.

Toronto soared a record 1.9 per cent, while Hamilton gained 1.4 per cent, also a record increase. Vancouver added 1.4 per cent.

However the story wasn’t the same across the country as seven of the 11 major cities tracked posted a drop for February. Halifax slipped 1.9 per cent, while Calgary fell 1.3 per cent.

Compared with a year earlier, the index was up 13.4 per cent, the largest 12-month increase since 2006.

MORE: How Canada’s big banks pumped up the housing bubble

The year-over-year jump was due to a record 23.0 per cent increase in Toronto and a 19.7 per cent gain in Hamilton, also a record.

National Bank senior economist Marc Pinsonneault said the Toronto market was “especially worrisome.”

“In a city where apartments account for only 26 per cent of home sales, affordability of other types of dwellings has become an acute problem,” he wrote in a note.

However, he noted that there are regional differences.

“In order to accurately assess the Canadian home resale market, it is essential to recognize the dichotomy between markets like Toronto, Hamilton and Victoria, where price growth is in the double digits, and other markets where the progression of home prices has been much more moderate, if not negative,” Pinsonneault wrote.

A red-hot housing market in Toronto has raised concerns in recent months and prompted talk about a foreign buyers tax like the one instituted in Vancouver.

The B.C. government brought in a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers last August.

Prices in Vancouver, while up in February compared with a year ago, are off their highs set in September as measured by the Teranet-National Bank index. The number of sales in the city has also decreased.

The price index came one day ahead of the latest home sales figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association expected Wednesday.

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