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A realtor sign advertises the sale of a residential property on the west island of Montreal in this file photo from Nov. 4, 2017.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Home sales in Montreal dropped in the second half of March, as the Quebec government suspended work in non-essential sectors, including real estate, to stop the spread of COVID-19.

In the first part of March, 3,079 homes sold in the Montreal area, compared with 2,828 in the latter half of the month, according to the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers.

The activity mirrors the two most expensive markets in the country, Toronto and Vancouver, where sales fell notably in the last two weeks of March.

As sales dropped in Montreal, so did home prices. The average selling price across all types of homes was $402,414 in the second half of the month, compared with $412,126 in the first half.

Unlike Ontario and British Columbia, Quebec considers work in the real estate industry to be non-essential.

Over all, 5,907 homes sold in March in Montreal despite the industry showdown. That was a 4 per cent increase over March, 2019, and the 61st straight month of sales increases.

The association said the relatively high level of sales was owing to activity that occurred earlier in the year. As home prices decline, the association predicted greater “price stability over the medium term as we emerge from the crisis."

Montreal’s real estate market has been booming over the past few years, with investors pouring money into new condo developments.

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