VANCOUVER - Vancouver home sales fell sharply in December and new listings plummeted as the cooling of what was once the country's hottest real estate market continued.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said Thursday home sales in December totalled 1,142, down 31.1 per cent compared with a year ago and down 32 per cent from November 2012.
The MLS home price index composite benchmark price for residential properties in the region was also lower, down 2.3 per cent from a year ago.
"We saw home prices come down a bit during the latter half of the year. During the same period, we saw fewer home sales and listings," board president Eugen Klein said in a statement.
New listings fell 15.3 per cent compared with a year ago and were half those seen in November.
For the full year, the board reported 25,032 home sales for 2012, down 22.7 per cent from 2011 and 25.7 per cent below the 10-year average for the region.
The number of homes for sale on the MLS system in the Vancouver region was down two per cent in 2012 at 58,379 compared with the previous year.
Housing sales in Canada have cooled since changes in the borrowing rules by the federal government, aimed at discouraging homebuyers from borrowing too much, kicked in last summer.
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions also tightened its lending guidelines.
The easing on the housing market also comes as concerns about the economy continue.
Last month, the Canadian Real Estate Association cut its sales forecast for 2012 and 2013.
The industry association said it expected home sales for 2012 to slip 0.5 per cent compared with 2011 to about 456,300, while sales for 2013 are expected to drop two per cent to 447,400.