Home sales, prices continue to climb in Toronto, Vancouver

December 3, 2020 | Last updated on December 3, 2020
4 min read
Home For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of Beautiful New House.
© feverpitched / 123RF Stock Photo

The Greater Toronto and Vancouver areas continue to see strong home sale numbers this year, despite a slight cooling in the West Coast market.

November home sales in the Greater Toronto Area were up 24.3% compared with last year, as demand for single-family homes continued to surge ahead of condos, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board said on Thursday.

The board says there were 8,766 homes sold in the month, up from 7,054 in November 2019. The average price was $955,615, up 13.3% from $843,307 a year earlier.

Board president Lisa Patel says homebuyers continued to take advantage of very low borrowing costs in November, especially those looking to buy some form of single-family home.

While detached home prices rose to an average of $1,202,281, up 15.2% from November 2019, average condo prices fell 2% to $605,863.

Compared to November 2019, average prices were also rising more quickly in the suburbs than in the city’s core, with detached home prices up 19.2%, townhouse prices up 14.9%, and condo prices up 4.8% in the suburbs.

Low-rise, suburban homes have been increasingly popular since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as telecommuting and stay-at-home restrictions have left buyers seeking space over the convenience of downtown.

So far this year, sales of detached homes in the Toronto area are up 13.1% from 2019 despite a near-shutdown of sales this spring, while condo sales are down 10% so far this year.

Jason Mercer, the real estate board’s chief market analyst, noted that the condo market in Toronto is more balanced than in previous years, but called the trend temporary.

“Once we move into the post-Covid period, we will start to see a resumption of population growth, both from immigration and a return of non-permanent residents. This will lead to an increase in demand for condominium apartments in the ownership and rental markets,” said Mercer in a statement.

The number of condos that hit the market this November was almost double that of November of last year.

The board said 11,545 homes were listed for sale in November, up from 8,651 in November last year, as the market catches up from spring’s slowdown. Despite the high number of homes changing hands, there have been 150,913 listings in the Toronto area so far this year, compared with 149,241 at this time last year.

Homes are spending about 20% fewer days on the market this year compared to last year, the board said.

“Competition between buyers for ground-oriented homes has been extremely strong in many neighbourhoods throughout the GTA, which has continued to support double-digit annual rates of price growth,” said Patel in a statement.

On the West Coast, meanwhile, home sales saw a recent dip but remain strong compared to last year.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says November home sales were down from October — but still well above the same time last year, as the market catches up to the effects of Covid-19.

The board says real estate agents sold 3,064 homes last month, down 16.9% from October, but up 22.7% from November 2019.

The board’s report says the benchmark price of a Vancouver home hit $1,044,000, up 5.8% from November 2019.

Vancouver is a seller’s market, board chairwoman Colette Gerber said, as demand for detached houses and townhomes is pushing prices higher while the rate of new listings lags.

Although the number of homes listed for sale in November rose 36.2% year over year to 4,068, new listings were down 27% from October. That left the sales-to-active listings ratio — a closely watched figure in the industry — at 27.6%, still above the 20% level where prices tend to rise.

Meanwhile, November sales passed 3,000 for the first time since 2015, marking the second-best November in the past decade.

“The supply of homes for sale are a critical factor in understanding home price trends,” Gerber said in the report.

The Vancouver area has seen near-record home sales since the summer, said Gerber, after Covid-19 restrictions tamped down on the usual home buying season, which tends to peak in spring and slow down by winter.

The was a surge of sales in the far reaches of the metro area, such as the Sunshine Coast, Gulf Islands and Squamish, as homebuyers looked toward less dense neighbourhoods amid work-from-home arrangements and physical distancing policies, according to Gerber. The Sunshine Coast, in particular, saw home sales jump 82.8%.

The trend of buyers seeking space was also apparent in the type of homes sold. Detached home sales were up 28.6% during the month, with prices up 9.4% from a year ago. More than 40% more attached homes were sold this November than last, and prices for properties such as townhomes were up 5.6% from November 2019.

Apartment sales growth was slower, up 12.2%, as apartment prices rose 3.4% from last year.