Canadian home prices rise in February, boosted by Vancouver

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OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian home prices rose in February, driven by a surge in the already-strong Vancouver market, data showed on Monday in the latest sign of a growing divide in the country’s real estate sectors.

Prices gained 0.6 percent from January, according to data from the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, the largest increase for the month of February since the 2008-09 recession.

Compared to a year ago, prices were up 6.5 percent, making for the largest annual increase since January 2012. The index measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes.

Although prices climbed on a monthly basis in six of the 11 metropolitan areas covered in the survey, it was the 3.2 percent jump in Vancouver that lifted the overall index, the report said.

Price fluctuations in the other markets essentially canceled each other out, the report said.

It was the fourteenth month in a row that prices in Vancouver have gained, while the region’s Real Estate Board said it was the highest selling February on record.

The west coast city has been the focus of debate over whether such lofty price increases are sustainable or whether costs are being boosted by overseas buyers.

Canada’s housing market growth has been robust in the years since the global financial crisis, partly boosted by cheap borrowing costs. But a more varied market has emerged recently, with price gains continuing in the hot markets of Toronto and Vancouver, with the energy-sensitive regions slowing, and the rest of the country plodding along.

Indeed, in Calgary, prices fell 0.9 percent in February and were 3.3 percent lower than a year ago. Home prices in the city are down 5.4 percent from their peak in October 2014.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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