Canadian home sales dropped in December, but prices continued to rise as demand outstripped a dwindling supply of units available for purchase, particularly in Toronto.

Existing home sales fell 0.9 per cent from November, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported Wednesday, reflecting a 1.8-per-cent drop in new listings. Prices continued to march higher, with the national benchmark price index rising 0.8 per cent in December to bring gains over the past six months to 4.3 per cent.

The data reveal a tightening in a number of real estate markets across the country, including Toronto, over the past year as buyers took advantage of lower interest rates. A strong labor market and rising population has also been supporting demand, which has picked up even as the number of homes on the market has dropped.

Sales in Toronto dropped three per cent in December, with new listings in that market down 5.7 per cent. The city was easily the biggest contributor to the drop in transactions, along with Ottawa. Vancouver and Montreal recorded sales increases.

National home sales for all of 2019 totalled 488,828, up 6.5 per cent from 2018 levels. New listings were down 2.1 per cent for the year.

--With assistance from Erik Hertzberg.