TORONTO — Home sales in the Greater Toronto Area posted a record for August as they rose 40.3 per cent compared with a year ago and prices shot higher, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board said Thursday.
The real estate board reported 10,775 home sales through its MLS system for August, up from 7,682 in the same month a year ago. The average price of a home sold in the region was $951,404, up from $792,134 a year ago.
“Generally speaking, market conditions remained very tight in the GTA resale market in August. Competition between buyers was especially strong for low-rise home types, leading to robust annual rates of price growth,” said Jason Mercer, the board’s chief market analyst.
Home sales have been surging this summer after they came to a near halt in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(Fewer) households have chosen to go on vacation as a result of COVID-19 and instead have remained in the GTA and been active in the housing market, satisfying pent-up demand from the spring,” board president Lisa Patel said.
Real estate agents had predicted increased buyer interest in leaving the city centres or expanding space at home amid the lockdown.
The board’s August numbers indicated that at least some buyers are staying in the heart of Toronto — but are ditching high rises. The data showed stronger sales growth for detached and semi-detached homes in the City of Toronto compared with the rest of the GTA, although some areas outside of the city centre saw major price hikes, including a 18 per cent price rise for homes in Orangeville, Ont.
Condos are increasingly hitting the market as people move toward low-rise communities. Sales of detached homes rose 50.6 per cent and semi-detached houses climbed 66.8 per cent, townhouse sales gained 45.8 per cent.
However, condo apartment sales growth was slower, at 10.9 per cent, “with growth in condominium apartment listings well-outstripping condo sales growth,” said Mercer.
Patel attributed the market’s overall sales growth to “improving economic conditions” and “very low borrowing costs,” despite an 11.5 per cent drop in employment growth in Toronto in July. The board noted, however, that five-year mortgage rates were down in August.
In spite of the record-setting sales in July and August, the board said year-to-date sales have not caught up to this time in 2019, after sales plunged during the spring lockdown. Only sales of detached homes have surpassed 2019 levels so far this year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2020.
Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press