Vancouver’s housing market closed out a year marked by intervention with a whimper.

Home purchases in the once white-hot city sank 39.4 per cent year-over-year in December, according to data released by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver on Wednesday.

The sales erosion was even more severe for detached homes. Just 541 of those properties traded hands in Vancouver last month, marking a 52.4 per cent plunge compared to the same month in 2015.

The benchmark price of a detached home in Metro Vancouver was $1,483,500 in December – a 1.8 per cent drop from November. The board says the MLS Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver was $897,600 in December, a 17.8 per cent increase from the same month the previous year.

The total inventory of homes listed for sale rose 5.3 per cent year-over-year to reach 6,345 in December; new listings, however, were down 35.1 per cent. 

The figures wrap up a tumultuous year in one of the country's most watched housing markets.

Residential property sales in the city started the year off strong, sometimes hitting record highs.

But partway through the year the market started to cool, with sales and eventually prices declining.

A number of measures have been implemented in an effort to address home affordability concerns in Vancouver, including a 15 per cent tax for foreign buyers and a tax on homes left vacant.

“It was an eventful year for real estate in Metro Vancouver,” said REBGV President Dan Morrison in a statement. “As prices rose in the first half of the year, public debate waged about what was fuelling demand and what should be done to stop it. This led to multiple government interventions into the market. The long-term effects of these actions won’t be fully understood for some time.”

- with files from The Canadian Press

Correction: A previous version of this story indicated that benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver fell in 2016 when they, in fact, rose. BNN regrets the error.