Buying a home in Canada will now cost an average of almost $367,000 -- and much higher than that if you live in the Toronto of Vancouver areas.

The Canadian Real Estate Association reports a record number of houses changed hands in March, pushing the average cost of a home to new highs.

The average selling price of a home in Canada surged a stunning 15.7 per cent in March from a year earlier, hitting an average of $508,567. When Canada's two most expensive real estate markets -- Toronto and Vancouver – are excluded, the national average price was $366,950.

Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley posted the largest gains in house prices, up 23.2 and 22.1 per cent respectively, followed by the Greater Toronto Area at 11.6 per cent.

In contrast, Calgary home prices were down 3.7 per cent from where they stood a year ago, while Saskatoon slipped by 2.7 per cent.

Actual sales activity (not seasonally adjusted) was up 12.2 per cent from a year ago, and set a new record for the month of March, with B.C.’s Lower Mainland and the GTA contributing most to the year-over-year increase.

Sales in a number of other markets in B.C. and Ontario also posted double-digit gains, with Chilliwack sales double what they were one year ago.

House sales were up in about 60 per cent of all local markets from the previous month, including in Victoria, Chilliwack, the Okanagan Region, Edmonton, Calgary, Woodstock-Ingersoll, Kingston, Barrie and Montreal.

But sales in Toronto were down 1.8 per cent in March from February, while sales in Vancouver also fell 0.3 per cent.

March was the first month new federal rules came into effect that are intended to cool the country’s red-hot real estate markets of Vancouver and Toronto. 

Under the changes, anyone buying a home between $500,000 and $1 million face a minimum down payment of 10 per cent, a move that has pushed many prospective homebuyers out of those markets. 

*Actual price, not seasonally adjusted

Source: Canadian Real Estate Association