COVID-19 impacts April real estate numbers in GTA

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There was a dramatic reduction in the number of home sales and new listings in April as the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown started to impact the April real estate market.

According to a report released by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) today, there were 2,975 home sales in the Greater Toronto Area in April – 5,037 fewer than the previous month and a drop of 67% when compared to April 2019 (9,005 sales). Similarly, new listings dropped by 64.1% year-over-year, with a total of 6,174 last month.

The number of home sales was the lowest recorded in the Greater Toronto Area since January 2008 (2,670 sales) and the third lowest monthly total in the last decade and only the third time in that period that the number of sales has fallen below 3,600. In the City of Toronto there were only 1,036 home sales recorded, which is the lowest total in the last decade. That pattern was repeated in York Region and Peel Region. Meanwhile, Durham Region bucked the trend because, while sales numbers reduced by 53.4%, the drop wasn’t as dramatic as elsewhere and there were 10 other months in the last decade that recorded fewer sales.

A similar picture was presented for new listings and active listings, which both recorded large year-over-year trends. There were 6,174 new listings in the April real estate numbers and 10,561 active listings, which represented year-over-year decreases of 64.1% and 41.4% respectively.

These decreases in sales and listings were all expected considering the current lockdown status but, interestingly, demand remained relatively stable because inventory dropped at only a slightly lower rate than sales. This was reflected in the average inventory which only recorded a small increased form 1.5 months in March to 1.6 months in April. This helped to keep buyer demand relatively strong and, as such, the average time a listing remained on the market was just 19 days – exactly the same as it was a year earlier. This shows that there is still demand for properties, with buyer circumstances and preference meaning that there are still sales to be made.

While activity slowed down, prices remained stable across the GTA as a whole. The average sale price for a GTA home was $821,392 – 0.1% higher than a year earlier. In Toronto, the average price actually went down 2.5% year-over-year to $881,424. This drop was mainly caused by a drop in the average price of detached homes, from $1,355,764 to $1,249,730 (a 7.8% year-over-year decline). Care should be taken to draw conclusions from these numbers because it could be reflective of a price decrease but could equally be an indication of a change in the type of detached homes being bought, with fewer luxury sales.

While detached home prices decreased, condo apartments in Toronto continued their strong growth. The average sale price for a condo apartment in the city was $612,300, marking an impressive 9% year-over-year increase. It seems that, for the time being, the demand for condo units remains strong relative to supply and that is helping to maintain price levels.

Prices remained strong in other areas of the GTA as well. Durham Region matched the GTA with a 0.1% year-over-year increase, Halton region saw the price rise 21.8% year-over-year, York Region recorded an impressive 6.1% increase in the average price, and Peel region had the biggest gains thanks to a 6.6% year-over-year increase in the average price of a home.

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