TORONTO -- Toronto home sales were up 17.4 per cent in December compared with the same month last year, while the average price was up almost 12 per cent in the month from a year earlier, the city's real estate board said Tuesday.

The December jump in Greater Toronto Area sales capped a surge in activity in the second half of last year, while a slower first half meant that overall 2019 sales were in line with annual medians for the decade.

The increased sales over 2018, even as new listings dropped 2.4 per cent year-over-year, helped push the average selling price for the year up by four per cent to $819,319. The average selling price in December was $837,788, up 11.9 per cent from a year earlier.

The boost in activity in the second half of the year came as mortgage rates declined, while the economy remained healthy and the population continued to grow.

TREB chief market analyst Jason Mercer said prices will likely continue to rise this year on tight supply like they did in 2019.

"Tighter market conditions translated into accelerating price growth. Expect further acceleration in 2020 if there is no relief on the supply front," he said in a statement.

"Increasingly, policy-makers, research groups of varying scope and other interested parties have acknowledged that the lack of a diverse supply of ownership and rental housing continues to hamper housing affordability in the GTA."

For the year, condos saw the biggest price gains, up 6.4 per cent to an average of $587,959 compared with 2018, while detached home prices were up 0.9 per cent to an average of $1.02 million compared with the previous year. Condo sales activity was up only three per cent overall last year, while detached home sales were up 18.8 per cent.

For December, detached homes actually recorded higher price gains, up 11.6 per cent in the month to an average of $1.05 million as sales were up 26.2 per cent from a year earlier. The average condo price was up 10.4 per cent to $612,464, while sales were up 6.9 per cent.

The MLS home price index composite benchmark price, which is designed to represent the typical home, was up 7.3 per cent to $819,700.

New listings for December were down 18.1 per cent from a year earlier to 3,531, while the number of active listings was down 35.2 per cent to 7,406.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2020.