Photo: James Bombales

A major Canadian home price index was flat in September, as strong figures from the Toronto market were levelled out by slower activity in Vancouver and Calgary.

The Teranet-National Bank Composite Price Index remained flat last month, following a 0.2 per cent rise in August.

“When seasonal effects are removed, the composite price index edged up in September, recovering some of the ground lost in previous months,” writes Marc Pinsonneault, a senior economist at National Bank. “While this applies in particular to Toronto, it is not the case for Vancouver and Calgary, where the seasonally adjusted indices extended a string of declines.”

The two cities’ falling home prices matches their low sales over the past few months, according to Pinsonneault. The benchmark price of a Metro Vancouver home fell 3.1 percent in the third quarter of 2018, while the average price of a home in Calgary dropped 2.7 percent in September.

“Calgary’s economy continues to struggle with unemployment, which rose again [in September] to over eight percent. Concerns in the employment market, higher lending rates and shaken confidence are weighing on housing demand,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist of the Calgary Real Estate Board, last month.

But it’s not all bad news for markets outside the GTA. Montreal and Ottawa both saw solid price increases, continuing a trend that began earlier in the year.

“This is consistent with the performance of the home resale market [in both cities],” writes Pinsonneault. “In Montreal, home sales in September were up 8 percent from a year ago and at their highest level for a month of September in nine years. In Ottawa-Gatineau, the market is almost in the ‘favourable to sellers’ territory judging from the new-listings-to-sales ratio.”

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