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Fewer homes changed hands in July but Canadian real estate remains out of reach for many first-time buyers.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) says national home sales fell 3.5 per cent compared to June, for the fourth straight monthly decline. Sales are down a cumulative 28 per cent from the March peak.

Despite the slowdown, it was the second-busiest July on record.

In two-thirds of all local markets, sales were down, led by Edmonton and Calgary. CREA says that might be because sales just started falling in those two cities. Montreal sales ticked up after moderating at the start of the year.