04/15/2016 11:31 EDT | Updated 04/16/2017 05:12 EDT

Liberals' New Mortgage Rules May Be Working As Toronto, Vancouver Cool Off

Average house price hits $506,567.

Abdolhamid Ebrahimi via Getty Images
Beautiful shot of North Shore mountains from North Burnaby in Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

TORONTO — A record number of homes across the country were sold in March, although the Vancouver and Toronto markets saw declines from the previous month, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Friday.

The Ottawa-based group said about 60 per cent of all local markets showed an increase in transactions from February, including Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal and Victoria.

But sales in the Toronto area were down 1.8 per cent from February. The situation was slightly similar in Vancouver, where sales fell a more modest 0.3 per cent, but that contrasted with a national increase of 1.5 per cent.

March was the first full month where new federal rules intended to cool overheated markets were in effect. Under the changes, anyone buying a home with an insured mortgage has to put a minimum down payment of 10 per cent on any part of the value of the house above $500,000, up from 5 per cent down.

The changes were aimed at slowing the torrid rise in prices in the red-hot markets of Toronto and Vancouver without hurting sales in other markets.

Home sales in Toronto and Vancouver were down in March, but they have outstripped sales in recent years. (Chart: Canadian Real Estate Association)

The national average price for homes sold through CREA members was $508,567, up 15.7 per cent from a year earlier — with a disproportionate impact from the Toronto and Vancouver area.

Excluding Canada's two most expensive real estate markets, the national average price would be $366,950, up 10.4 per cent from March 2015.

The number of properties available for purchase fell 1.4 per cent in March compared with February — mostly because of the Greater Toronto Area and nearby Hamilton-Burlington.

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