House prices in Canada declined in March

The average price of a Canadian resale home was $369,677 in March, a slight decline from the same month last year.
Canadian home prices continued their streak of outsized gains in March, the Canadian Real Estate Association says.

The average price of a Canadian resale home was $369,677 in March, a slight decline from the same month last year, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

That's the first time the average price has declined since September 2010, the agency said in releasing its monthly sales figures Monday.

The number of home sales rose slightly, by 1.6 per cent over the previous 12 months, the smallest annual increase since last April.

"Average prices are up from year-ago levels in most large urban centres," CREA chief economist Gregory Klump said. 

Klump noted that the overall number was dragged lower because of a slowdown in the influential Vancouver market.

"The national average price was skewed higher last spring by record-level high-end home sales in some of Vancouver’s priciest neighbourhoods. It was expected that this would not recur this spring, which the latest sales figures confirm.

The decline in average price reflects the change in Vancouver’s sales mix, not housing price deflation," Klump added.

BMO economist Doug Porter agreed that certain key markets are skewing the numbers. "Nineteen of the 26 largest markets reported single-digit price increases from year-ago levels, hardly consistent with an out-of-control market," Porter said in a note after the CREA data was released Monday.

Only three cities posted double-digit price gains over the past 12 months, one of which happens to be Toronto.

"We would again assert that with a big share of Canadian analysts and media located in Toronto, the perception of the national housing market is being dominated by a sizzling local market," Porter dryly noted.

"For most cities, the market looks well-balanced, and is broadly moderating on its own accord," he said.