row-houses-toronto Photo: Steve Harris/Flickr

By November, 2015 was already a record-setting year for home sales in the Greater Toronto Area, and activity remained strong in the final month of the year with December transactions hitting the second-highest level ever tracked for that month.

Last month, 4,945 GTA existing homes changed hands, pushing the 2015 year-end total of sales recorded through the MLS system to 101,299, well above the previous record of 93,193 set in 2007, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).

Last year’s sales tally represents a 9.2 per cent increase over 2014, which the board calls “substantial.” Meanwhile, there was a considerable boost in sales across all major housing types — detached, semi-detached, townhouse, and condo apartment.

The greatest annual sales increase was in the condo-apartment sector. Some 24,731 units of this type sold, good enough for a 12.9 per cent increase over 2014’s sales. Townhomes, including both freehold and condo units, followed as 15,834 of these units changed hands, 9.3 per cent more than the year before.

Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis, tells BuzzBuzzHome News the percentage jump in condo apartment sales is a matter of limited inventory options for consumers.

“On the low-rise side of the market generally speaking you’re seeing sales are stronger than inventory growth,” he says. “Obviously on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis that could be different but on the aggregate for the GTA, that’s certainly what’s the trend.”

However, when it comes to overall sales volume, detached homes were in front. Sales of this housing type were up 8.2 per cent in 2015 to a total of 48,657 homes. Meanwhile, semi-detached sales ticked up 5.4 per cent to 10,217 homes.

For all housing types in the GTA last year, the average sale price rose 9.8 per cent to $622,217. Limited low-rise inventory, particularly in the 416, was largely responsible for this increase, although TREB notes “condominium apartment price growth was generally well-above the rate of inflation.”

Year-over-year home sales climbed 11.9 in December, and the greatest activity increase was seen in the townhouse sector. Sales of this housing type were up 18.4 per cent over a 12-month period.

Detached homes remained the costliest in December, with the average price for one in the GTA reaching $825,470, up 11.9 per cent from a year ago, while condo apartments were most affordable going for an average of $378,249.

The market for detached homes got even more expensive in the 416 last month, as the average sale price hit $1,039,638. In November 2015 it was $1,018,621.

Although 2015 is the best year on record for home sales, Mark Maclean, TREB’s president outlined in a statement how previous years could have been further dwarfed.

“If the market had benefitted from more listings, the 2015 sales total would have been greater,” he points out. “As it stands, we begin 2016 with a substantial amount of pent-up demand.”

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