Toronto home sales up 97 per cent in March, prices up as demand outstrips new listings

TORONTO — Home prices in the Toronto area continued to climb in March while sales were almost double that of the same month a year earlier, when the rapid spread of COVID-19 led to widespread economic shutdowns, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board reported Tuesday.

Sales in the area reached a record 15,652 last month, up 97 per cent from 7,945 during the same time last year.

The sales growth was so dramatic because it compares with March 2020, when the first economic effects of the pandemic took hold and both buyers and sellers were wary of the market.

Those fears have long since dissipated. Realtors and housing agencies have reported a flurry of sales — surpassing many of their most optimistic predictions — since the start of the year.

They say the number of people willing to purchase now will likely more than make up for last year’s low periods.

“Confidence in economic recovery coupled with low borrowing costs supported a record pace of home sales last month,” TRREB president Lisa Patel said in a release.

In the first 14 days of March, there were 6,504 sales this year, up 41 per cent from how many were sold during that time period last year.

There were 9,148 sales reported between March 15 and March 31, 2021, an increase of 174 per cent compared to the COVID period of March 2020.

Splitting the month in two is significant: the first half of March 2020 looked relatively average, but restrictions enacted after the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11 rapidly sent home sales plummeting.

A year on, available inventory hasn’t caught up to the number of people seeking new homes, putting pressure on prices.

“While the robust market activity is indicative of widespread consumer optimism, it is also shedding light on the sustained lack of inventory in the GTA housing market, with implications for affordability,” she said.

The average price of a home in the region jumped 21.6 per cent to $1,097,565 from $902,787 last year, while listings shot up by about 57 per cent to reach 22,709 from 14,434.

The most dramatic price increases were seen in detached housing, where the average price was up by 26.6 per cent to hit $1,402,849.

The average semi-detached home was sold for $1,045,519, a 17.5 per cent hike, while townhouses spiked by 20.7 per cent at $870,553.

Condos saw the smallest growth in prices. The average condo price climbed by 2.6 per cent to $676,052.

“With sales growth outstripping listings growth by a large margin, including in the condo market segment, competition between buyers in some market segments and the potential for double-digit price growth could continue without a meaningful increase in the supply of homes available for sale,” said TRREB chief market analyst Jason Mercer in a release.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2021.

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