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The number of homes sold in Toronto and the surrounding area fell in 2018, along with the number of new listings hitting the market, as homebuyers and sellers grappled with a new reality of higher interest rates and stricter mortgage rules.

The Toronto Real Estate Board says there were 77,426 residential transactions recorded through its Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system last year, down 16.1 per cent from 92,263 sales in 2017.

The board says the total number of new listings was also lower, pulling back 12.7 per cent to 155,823 in 2018.

Meanwhile, the average selling price for all property types in the Greater Toronto Area fell by 4.3 per cent to $787,300.

It says home prices were up slightly in Toronto but lower in the suburbs as the price of condominiums — which make up a large segment of the urban market — climbed 7.8 per cent year over year.

“After spiking in 2017, new listings receded markedly in 2018. In many neighbourhoods, despite fewer sales from a historic perspective, some buyers still struggled to find a home meeting their needs,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis and Service Channels in a statement.

“The result was a resumption of a moderate year-over-year pace of home price growth in the second half of the year. Price growth was strongest for less expensive home types, as many homebuyers sought more affordable home ownership options.”

The board, which represents more than 52,000 real estate agents across the region, says despite the fact that households are moving “to the sidelines to reassess their housing options,” it saw an improvement in sales and prices in the second half of the year.

TREB says the number of sales fell 22.5 per cent in December to 3,781, down from 4,876 in the same month a year earlier.

The average sale price in December rose slightly by 2.1 per cent to $750,180 from $734,847 when compared to December 2017.

The average price for a detached home in Toronto last month was down eight per cent year over year to $1.14 million, and down 2.2 per cent to $891,095 in the surrounding areas.

Other property types — semi-detached, townhouse and condo apartments — all saw price increases ranging from 3.2 to 9.9 per cent in December in both Toronto and the GTA.