Canadian home sales plunged 17.4 per cent in December compared to the month before, but prices managed to eke out a small, 1.6-per-cent increase, according to the latest report from the Canadian Real Estate Association.

On a month-to-month basis, sales continued sliding, dropping 0.5 per cent from November.

“National sales activity continues to hold fairly steady at lower levels since mortgage rules were changed earlier in 2012, but there are still some real differences in trends between and within local housing markets,” said CREA President Wayne Moen.

CREA noted that, despite the large drop-off in sales, slightly more than half of local housing markets saw a sales increase during the period.

From The Canadian Press:

OTTAWA - The number of Canadian homes sold in December fell 17.4 per cent compared with a year ago, but the average price crept higher as the number of new listings continued to decline, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Tuesday.

The industry association reports 20,538 homes were sold across the country through its MLS system last month, down from 24,850 in December 2011.

Sales were down 0.5 per cent compared with November but the national average price compiled by CREA was up year-to-year — continuing a trend that began last summer.

"National sales activity continues to hold fairly steady at lower levels since mortgage rules were changed earlier in 2012, but there are still some real differences in trends between and within local housing markets," CREA president Wayne Moen said in a statement.

A total of 453,372 homes were sold through the MLS system last year, down 1.1 per cent from 2011.

The national average sales price for December was up 1.6 per cent compared with a year ago at $352,800. However, excluding the large and high-priced markets in Vancouver and Toronto, the average price was up 3.3 per cent.

New listings were down in half of all local markets in December, CREA said.

Other industry observers have said some home owners have decided to delay sales to await better conditions, keeping the supply of properties low and supporting prices.

Nationally, the number of newly listed homes fell 1.3 per cent month-over-month in December following a 1.1 per cent drop in November and 4.1 per cent in October.

CREA's national sales-to-new listings ratio was 50.8 per cent in December compared with 50.4 per cent in November.

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