There were signs that the Toronto real estate market is warming up in the spring after April figures released by the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) showed a large increase in home sales last month.
According to the TREB report, there were 9,042 home sales in the Greater Toronto Area in April. That marks a 16.8% year-over-year increase and is also the highest number of home sales seen in a single month in the GTA since May 2017. It should be noted that, while it is an encouraging sign, this increase is relative to a record low figure observed in April 2018 and the total for April 2019 was still below the 10-year average for home sales in the GTA (9,877).
Interestingly, the increase in sales was least pronounced in the City of Toronto where the total was 9.8% higher than a year earlier. In contrast, Halton Region saw a 23.9% increase, York Region saw a 27.8% increase and Durham Region saw a 15.6% increase. This suggests that demand is starting to return in the areas outside Toronto and we could start to see inventory drop in those areas as a result.
There was also a year-over-year increase in the average price of a home, albeit not as dramatic as the change in sales. The average price of a home was $820,148, which is 1.9% higher than the April 2018 figure of $804,926. In the City of Toronto, the increase was more dramatic – rising 4.2% year-over-year to $903,992.
However, price increases weren’t experienced everywhere, with York Region one of the most notable exceptions. The average sale price in York Region was $913,915 – a 2.9% decrease when compared to April 2018. That follows a regular pattern for the region, which has seen year-over-year decreases in the average price in 19 of the last 22 months.
The report also showed an increase in the number of new listings – rising 8% year-over-year to 17,205. While this is a decent increase, the rate of growth was considerably lower than the increase in sales, which means lower supply. That helps to explain the fact that the number of months inventory dropped month-over-month for the first time since January 2017, with the total reported as 2.6 months.
The tightening supply conditions were highlighted by TREB President Garry Bhaura when he gave his views on the market. Mr Bhaura said: “The strong year-over-year growth in sales is obviously a good news story and likely represents some catchup from a slow start to the year. TREB’s sales outlook for 2019 anticipates an increase relative to 2018. It should be noted, however, that growth in new listings is not keeping pace with sales. This points to the ongoing housing supply issue in the GTA.”
In a final sign that the market might be improving for sellers, the TREB report noted that the benchmark price of a GTA home had increased by 3.2% – the highest growth rate recorded in over a year. At $789,100, the benchmark price for April was the fourth highest ever recorded and the highest seen since June 2017.