11/15/2012 10:30 EST | Updated 01/15/2013 05:12 EST

Canadian home prices flat in October

The average price of a Canadian home sold last month was essentially unchanged at $361,516.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said the figure is an increase of $80, or 0.02 per cent, compared to this time last year.

CREA said the number of homes that changed hands was also slightly lower, down 0.8 per cent to about 13,000 homes and condos.

"Led by Calgary, sales rose compared to levels one year ago in almost two-thirds of all local markets. Sales remained below year-ago levels in Greater Toronto, Greater Vancouver and Greater Montreal," the agency said in a release.

Although sales were down from recent highs, the number was well in line with historical averages of the last decade, CREA said.

"These results suggest that the Canadian housing market overall has returned to a more sustainable pace,” said CREA's chief economist, Gregory Klump.

In terms of sales, the Canadian housing market peaked in 2007, but has stayed relatively steady ever since, even as prices have fluctuated.

On the sales front, CREA again warned that the national average was skewed lower by slowdowns in the two largest local markets — Toronto and Vancouver.

Regional differences

"Excluding these two markets, from the national average price calculation yields a year-over-year increase of 2.5 per cent," CREA said.

There have been concerns raised by a wide range of observers including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty that certain local markets and certain types of housing — particularly condos — had become overpriced and at risk of a collapse.

Flaherty moved in July to tighten mortgage rules for the fourth time in as many years in order to discourage those most at risk of becoming over-leveraged.

A RBC Economics analysis by Robert Hogue said the September and October statistics suggest the recent cooling in market activity may have run its course.

"Going forward, we believe that the forces acting on the market will apply both upward and downward pressure, with the net effect being largely neutral," Hogue wrote.

"Accordingly, we expect home resales to remain mostly stable in the period ahead. The moderation in home prices, however, is likely to continue in the near term, reflecting greater choices now available to buyers."