Canada's largest housing market went into a deep freeze in the first half of this month as COVID-19 decimated homebuyer demand.

Home sales across the Greater Toronto Area fell 69 per cent year-over-year during the first 17 days of April as just 1,654 homes traded hands, according to data released Wednesday morning by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).

New listings nearly matched that decline, slumping 63.7 per cent from the same time last year.

Prices were relatively steady compared to the same period last year, according to TRREB, as the average slipped 1.5 per cent to $819,665. However, the average selling price was down approximately 12 per cent from the first half of March when the average was $931,788.

Prices were relatively steady in the month, according to TRREB, as the average slipped just 1.5 per cent from the same period in the year prior to $819,665.

"The state of emergency measures currently in place, including the necessary enforcement of social distancing, has impacted the real estate market in many ways,” TRREB president Michael Collins said in a release.

“Home buyers and sellers have concerns about the economy and indeed their own employment situations. On top of this, many buyers and sellers are avoiding any type of in-person interaction."

The pandemic is arresting momentum that had propelled Toronto's average home price above $900,000 in recent months as sales routinely posted double-digit gains, while inventory failed to keep pace with demand.

All the major home categories faced sharp declines in activity in the first half of this month, with the condo market hit hardest as sales sank 72 per cent year-over-year, according to TRREB. Meanwhile, prices fell most sharply in the detached property market, falling an average 4.6 per cent to $990,543.

In its mid-month update, TRREB said it expects sales activity will fall most sharply in the second quarter of this year due to social distancing, adding that a recovery will take hold in the fall if current public health forecasts unfold as currently anticipated.