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Average Canadian house worth $548,517 in March, up 8.2% over previous year

Canadian home prices continue to march higher, with the average up to $548,517 last month. The national figure continues to be skewed higher by hot activity in and around Toronto.

Number of sales higher too, and nowhere more than in Toronto market

The price of the average Canadian home rose by more than 8 per cent in the past 12 months, CREA said Tuesday. (Jay LaPrete/Bloomberg News)

Canadian home prices continue to march higher, with the average up to $548,517 last month, according to figures released Tuesday.

The national figure continues to be skewed higher by hot activity in and around Toronto.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said that in addition to prices, the volume of home sales also rose during the month, hitting an all-time record.

But as was the case with prices, the sales spike can largely be traced back to feverish activity in the Greater Toronto Area.

"The current strength in national home sales mainly speaks to what's going on in and around Toronto," CREA president Andrew Peck said in a release. "Elsewhere, sales either remain slow or well below previous heights."

Vancouver had been a major factor in the run-up in the national average price for several months, until the government slapped a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers last year that caused prices in the city to drop back. That trend appears to have ended as annual figures are now in positive territory in both the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver area. 

But Toronto is still the biggest factor in the national figure. The red-hot market is spilling over into suburban communities around the city now, as well. Other places in southern Ontario as far from the GTA as London, Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo and St. Catharines are all clocking gains in excess of 20 per cent in the past 12 months, Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter noted on Tuesday after the numbers came out.

"Almost the entire province of Ontario's housing market is now on fire, while most of the rest of the country wonders what all the fuss is about," he said.

If both Vancouver and Toronto are stripped out of the data, the average Canadian house price would drop by more than $150,000, to $389,726.

Diana Petramala, an economist with TD Bank, says activity in Ontario is indeed clouding data from everywhere else in the country.

"All eyes appear focused on the Ontario housing market as prices continue to race ahead of underlying economic fundamentals, such as population and household incomes," she said. "The speed at which home prices are rising have become a cause for concern with unsustainable home price growth at least in part attributed to speculative activity."

"The key question is," she said, "what will stop it?"

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