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Already record home prices rise further 2.3%, but no bubble seen

Canadian home prices are at record highs as the real estate market rebounds, climbing 2.3 per cent in August from a year earlier.
On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.6 per cent in August from July, according to the Teranet –National Bank house price index released today.
As The Globe and Mail’s Tara Perkins has reported, Canada’s housing market has bounced back smartly since the government mortgage insurance restrictions cooled it off last summer. Sales have picked up across the country as the impact of Ottawa’s move fades and buyers rush to beat higher mortgage rates.
According to the Teranet-National Bank report, six cities beat the national average among the 11 municipalities measured, while three saw record levels.
Here’s how the cities fared: Prices rose 6.5 per cent from a year earlier in Calgary, 5.5 per cent in Hamilton, 3.8 per cent in Toronto, 3.5 per cent in Quebec City, 2.6 per cent in Edmonton and Winnipeg, 0.7 per cent in Montreal and 0.3 per cent in Ottawa-Gatineau.
Prices fell for the 13 consecutive month in Vancouver, though by just 0.1 per cent, and for the sixth month in a row in Victoria, by 2.5 per cent.
Halifax also registered a decline, of 0.6 per cent, marking the first drop since September of 1996.
National Bank economist Marc Pinsonneault sought to put this in perspective, suggesting there’s no bubble here despite that view held among some observers.
“Even if it exceeds CPI inflation … home price inflation in Canada remains subdued in August, especially if it is compared to the 12-per-cent rate registered by the U.S. Case-Shiller index,” he said.
“Note that the latest monthly rise is lower than the average change in the month of August in the last 12 years,” he said, adding in his research note that the August readings are not “indicative of an overheating market.”
Separately, Statistics Canada reported today that prices for new homes rose 0.2 per cent in July from June, and by 1.9 per cent from a year earlier.
Calgary led that charge, with an annual gain of 5.8 per cent, the fastest pace since December, 2007.
While August’s annual pace may seem fast, Derek Holt and Dov Zigler of Bank of Nova Scotia note that it has been easing since the 12-per-cent rates of mid-2010.
“No wonder Statistics Canada reported yesterday that a quarter of all mortgage borrowers are paying more than 30 per cent of income in housing affordability costs as housing affordability measured by actual – not artificially constructed – payments remains under elevated pressure,” they said.
"For that reason, we believe that the Canadian housing market will do better than what many observers, including The Economist, expect."


--Michael Babad, The Globe and Mail