About 42,379 homes were sold on CREA's Multiple Listing Services across the country, up 4.5 per cent from the 40,558 sold in December.
While sales were down 6.6 per cent last month from a record level reached last January, the national average price rose 4.5 per cent year-over-year to $343,675.
CREA suggested the figures indicate that buyers were willing to pay premium prices to snap up a house before a March 18 deadline that will put an end to the longest 35-year amortization mortgage periods, in an effort to curb consumer debt. The changes limit amortization periods to a maximum of 30 years, making mortgage payments more expensive each month.
This year's real estate market appears poised to reflect a slightly less distorted version of last year, when sales spiked in the early months of the year before dropping to a trough in the summer as a series of regulatory changes impacted the market.