VANCOUVER -- Even in the middle of a global pandemic, Metro Vancouver home sales stayed steady through March, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says.

In fact, last month, home sales in the area were about 46 per cent higher than sales in March 2019. As well, 374 more homes were sold in March than in February of this year. 

But many of the purchases were made in the first 10 business days of the month, REBGV says, with sales dipping in the last 10 days. 

"The first two weeks of the month were the busiest days of the year for our region with heightened demand and multiple offers becoming more common," Ashley Smith, REBGV president said in a news release. 

"Like other aspects of our lives, this changed as concerns over the COVID-19 situation in our province grew."

With those concerns about the novel coronavirus increasing and measures put in place by governments to stop its spread, Smith says many people have decided to put their home buying or selling plans on hold for the time being. 

"Many of the sales recorded in March were in process before the provincial government declared a state of emergency. We'll need more time to pass to fully understand the impact that the pandemic is having on the housing market," she said. 

"Other people have more urgent housing needs and we're trying to work with them to address these needs in the safest and most responsible way possible."

There were 4,436 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed in Metro Vancouver last month, which is a decrease of over 10 per cent compared to listings last year. 

Realtors have been added to the list of B.C.'s essential services, Smith said.

"This means that we have a responsibility to do what we can to help residents meet their housing and shelter needs while strictly following the most up-to-date public health orders and physical distancing requirements from our health officials and government agencies."

The benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is about $1.03 million. That's an increase of 2.1 per cent from March 2019 and a 1.3 per cent increase from February 2020.  

Earlier this week, a report by RBC suggested home sales could dip to a 20-year low in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.

A bank analyst predicted home prices could stay stable, but forecast a sales dip by as much as 30 per cent.