Canada’s largest real estate market “hit the brakes” in the last full week of March as sales plunged and sellers pulled listings in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, according to a Toronto-based realtor.

What had been a gradual softening in Greater Toronto Area sales after a strong February turned decidedly negative last week, with sales down 37 per cent compared to the same period last year, John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty, told BNN Bloomberg in email.

There was also a 27 per cent increase in cancelled listings as the economy absorbs record job losses as entire industries come to a near standstill in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

“The market has definitely hit the brakes,” said Pasalis. He added some of those cancelled listings may end up getting relisted at a different price.

Despite the plunge in sales, Pasalis notes “the market is still quite stable because new listings are also on the decline.”

Numbers compiled by Realosophy Realty show new listings for the region fell by 33 per cent last week.

While last week’s average Toronto home price of roughly $856,000 is up about nine per cent year over year, annual price appreciation had been running stronger at the end of February into early March when there were more high-end homes being sold.