Residential real estate sales across the greater Vancouver area and in the Fraser Valley took a nosedive in July, dropping by more than 45 per cent compared to 2009.

Only 2,255 homes were sold in July in greater Vancouver, little more than half of the 4,114 sold in the same month last year, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

Numbers from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board mirror that trend, with a 47-per-cent drop in sales from July of last year to 1,101 in the same month in 2010.

The Fraser Valley board said the drop in sales might be related to a number of factors, including "beautiful weather" and the controversial new harmonized sales tax, introduced at the beginning of July.

"Although the HST does not apply to resale housing, not everyone knows that," board President Deanna Horn said in a press release.

Both real estate boards spun the drop in sales as good news for those in the market for a new home.

"Activity in today's marketplace is clearly trending in favour of buyers," Jake Moldowan, the greater Vancouver board's president, said in a press release.

However, home prices in both regions have increased slightly over July of last year -- up by 9.1 per cent in greater Vancouver and 6.9 per cent in the Fraser Valley.

On the other hand, housing prices have been falling since the spring, when they reached an all-time high in greater Vancouver.

The benchmark housing price for July in greater Vancouver was $577,074, compared to April's price of $593,419.

In the same three months, the Fraser Valley benchmark price for a detached home fell to $510,470 from $520,423.