OTTAWA -- Home sales dropped by more than 50 per cent in Ottawa last month as the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on the real estate market.

The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales dropped 51.5 per cent in April compared to March.

Across Canada, the CREA says home sales dropped 56.8 per cent, “with a majority of sellers and buyers having seemingly moved off to the sidelines during the COVID-19 lockdown."

In Toronto, month-over-month home sales were down 66.2 per cent, while Montreal saw a 64 per cent drop in home sales.

“Never in our recent history have we dealt with such widespread effects of a pandemic that limit everyone’s day to day life and have forced all of us to pivot and adjust to our new reality,”  said Costa Poulopoulos, Chair of the Canadian Real Estate Association.

CREA’s Senior Economist Shaun Cathcart said “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.”

“That said, preliminary data for May suggests things may have already started to pick-up a bit for both sales and new listings.”

Across Canada, the number of newly listed homes declined by 55.7 per cent compared to March.

Last week, the Ottawa Real Estate Board reported a 55 per cent decrease in residential properties sold in April compared to the year before.

The board says its members sold 913 residential properties in April, compared to 2,025 in April 2019.

The five-year average for April unit sales is 1,692.