(Adds details from report)
OTTAWA, March 9 Canadian new home prices edged
up at the start of the year, driven again by higher prices in
the hot Toronto market, data from Statistics Canada showed on
Prices rose 0.1 percent in January, keeping pace with
December's increase. On a year-over-year basis, prices climbed
3.1 percent. The new housing price index excludes apartments and
condominiums, which account for about one-third of new housing.
The major city of Toronto was the main contributor, rising
0.2 percent amid higher land prices. The rising cost of buying a
home in Toronto in recent years has prompted some economists to
fear a bubble may be forming.
Other cities in Ontario also saw prices rise in January,
including a 1.0 percent increase in the Kitchener and Waterloo
area. Overall, prices were up in 14 of the 27 cities covered in
the survey, while 7 saw a decline and 6 were unchanged.
Vancouver was one of the laggards, down 0.1 percent, though
prices were up 3.6 percent compared to the year before. Housing
activity in the once red-hot market began to cool last year,
even before the provincial government implemented a tax on
foreign homebuyers in the city.
Tighter mortgage lending rules put in place by the
government last year are anticipated to rein in Canada's housing
market, which has been robust since the financial crisis in the
midst of low interest rates.
But solid data earlier this week, including an increase in
February housing starts, suggests the country's long housing
boom continues to defy expectations of a slowdown.
(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Bernadette Baum)