Hamilton and Burlington home sales were down 20 per cent in June from the same month a year earlier, new numbers from the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington released Thursday show.

Sales were also about 6 per cent lower than the 10-year average for June. But prices were still up by 14 per cent compared to a year ago.

The June numbers are the second month of data since the Ontario government announced measures try to help cool the housing market around Toronto and the Greater Golden Horseshoe. 

And they provided a learning curve for agents, buyers and sellers trying to figure out what the current market will bear.

Realtors, sellers and buyers who were expecting the market to look like its frenzied state of a few months ago, are now forced to adjust their tactics and expectations. 

"We have to reeducate ourselves, the sellers and even the buyers that it's a different market." - Daniela Tofano, realtor, Coldwell Banker Community Brokerage

The average number of days a property was on the market before selling crept up to 18 in June, from 16 in May and 14 in April.

But despite the slowdown in sales, the median price of all houses and condos sold in June was still up 14 per cent compared to June 2016. 

The median price of detached homes rose 11.5 per cent to $525,000, from $471,000 in June 2016.

And for condos, the price gain was even steeper: A median price of $399,000 for the condos sold last month, up 17 per cent from $341,125.

'Longer than we expected' to sell

Jessica Bowers listed her house near Centre Mall in the east end for sale in May, expecting the hot market she'd been hearing about.

"The market was crazy, it was on fire, we were hearing through friends, 'Your house, it's gonna sell within a week or two,'" Bowers said. "That's the impression that we had."

Jessica Bowers

Jessica Bowers posed with her family after her home near Centre Mall in Hamilton's east end sold after five weeks on the market. (Jessica Bowers)

They listed, and it took five weeks to sell. Five agonizing weeks of keeping a house occupied by a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old spotless, she said.

Still, they got $272,500, almost twice what they'd paid four years ago.

On the buying side, Bowers said she still lost four bidding wars while she had the condition for her house to sell in order to buy.

But once hers had sold, she came in just slightly over asking price on a $449,000 listing near Gage Park. Now that she knows what neighbourhood she'll be living in, she said she's relieved she can register her daughter for kindergarten.

"It was longer than we expected," she said. "Luckily, it did all fall into place."

'The tap turning down'

'People during May were adjusting, they were thinking they were in that market in February and March.' - Conrad Zurini, broker, Re/Max Escarpment

Conrad Zurini, broker with Re/Max Escarpment said his team's analysis of the May stats shows a "little bit of the tap turning down" after the third week of May.

Realtors started to see the strategy not working of telling buyers to wait until a particular date to all file their offers at one time, which had become the norm across entire neighbourhoods and price points in the hot market of recent years.

"People during May were adjusting, they were thinking they were in that market in February and March, where they held off offers," he said.

That led to many cancelling their listing if they didn't get any or enough offers, and relist it the more conventional way, where buyers make an offer when they want to.

But, he said, things may be heating up again. He said his team saw as many sales in the last week of June as they had in a typical week last June, which was a near-record-breaking sales month.

Buyers 'have the ability to actually think and decide'

Daniela Tofano is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Community Professionals, and she said the market is "leaning a little closer to the buyers' side of things, which is good."

The respite from the utter frenzy has allowed buyers more choice, more time to consider their options, less fighting with other buyers on limited inventory of houses for sale, she said.

"They have the ability to actually think and decide on a property," she said.

But it has been a bit challenging to get used to. Especially when she tells sellers they may have to wait longer than four or five days to see if their house will sell.

House for sale sign

A realtor's sign points the way to a house for sale on Ferrie Street in Hamilton's North End, where home prices have been rising rapidly for several years. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

"We have to reeducate ourselves, the sellers and even the buyers that it's a different market," she said.

"It's back to a more conventional regular market that I'm totally fine with," she said. "This is not bad; this is still a very good market."

Another segment of the market that might be affected is the flipper/investors. Tofano said she knows an investor who is sitting out a deal at the moment while he sees what the market will do.

"Only because everything for the last couple of years had a pattern and had a rhythm and had what you needed to provide that (security); he didn't feel as confident," she said.

kelly.bennett@cbc.ca