May 15, 2020 / 1:25 PM / 16 days ago

Canadian home sales see record plunge in April as lockdowns bite

FILE PHOTO: A view of Yonge and Dundas Square, as the number of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continue to grow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 8, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian home sales fell by a record 56.8% in April from the previous month as lockdowns to help contain the coronavirus pandemic pushed buyers and sellers to the sidelines, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said on Friday.

Transactions were down across the country, including a 66.2% drop in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada’s most populous metropolitan area.

“Like so many other parts of normal daily life, a lot of buying and selling activity in housing markets across Canada has been put on pause,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist.

The industry group said actual sales, not seasonally adjusted, fell 57.6% from a year earlier, while the group’s Home Price Index was up 6.4% from April last year.

Economists expect sales activity to improve in May as Canadian provinces reopen parts of their economies, but they see a slow recovery.

“We do expect sales to remain depressed for a few months longer as job markets slowly improve and buyers remain cautious, but a normalization process is likely already underway,” said Brian DePratto, a senior economist at TD Bank Group.

Reporting by Fergal Smith

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