screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-3-45-48-pmSales of existing homes in Canada fell 5.3% in November from the prior month, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Thursday, marking the biggest monthly decline in activity in over four years.

“The government’s newly tightened mortgage regulations have dampened a wide swath of housing markets, including places not targeted directly by the government’s latest regulatory measures,” CREA President Cliff Iverson said in a release. “The extent to which they pushed first-time home buyers to the sidelines varies among housing markets.”

The Canadian government has now tightened mortgage regulations six times in eight years. The province of British Columbia also imposed a 15% surtax on foreign-led housing purchases in August.

Diana Petramala, an economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, said there may be a shift in foreign buying from Vancouver to Toronto, which has limited the immediate impact of the new mortgage rules in the Toronto area.

“As new mortgage regulation and higher interest rates cool activity next year we expect price growth to decelerate to a sub-1.0% pace nationally, but prices in the hot markets in Ontario should continue to grow at a high- single digit pace,” Ms. Petramala said.

The agency also updated its forecast for Canadian home sales activity for this year and next. Canadian home sales are expected to rise by 6.2% to 536,700 units this year, compared with a previous forecast of a 6% increase, it said. In 2017, sales are forecast to decline by 3.3%.

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