condo-windows Photo: Sam Xu/Flickr

New condo sales across the Greater Toronto Area soared in 2015, reaching the second-highest level ever recorded, as buyers faced an increasingly competitive market for low-rise homes.

In all, buyers snapped up 20,753 recently constructed suites in the GTA last year, a performance strong enough to beat out the previous second-best year, which was 2014, by 82 units, according to Urbanation’s Q4 and annual 2015 market results.

The 25,992 condo apartments sold in 2011 remains the highest number of sales tracked throughout a calendar year. The Toronto-based real estate firm forecasts sales to reach 21,500 this year, surpassing this year’s total but falling short of the record.

A strong finish to 2015 provided a boost to the year’s overall transaction tally, with 6,366 units purchased in the fourth quarter alone. This accounted for a year-over-year increase in activity of 18 per cent, and Urbanation expects this sales trend will bleed into 2016.

“Interest among investors and demand from end-user buyers is heating up, which we expect will lead to higher sales and increased price growth this year” said Shaun Hildebrand, Urbanation’s senior vice president.

Square-footage prices rose at levels in line with the three-year trend, the Urbanation said.

For condo projects currently being developed, Urbanation’s index selling price was $579 per square foot in the final quarter of 2015, up three per cent year-over-year. Meanwhile, the average price of an unsold unit was $598, also a three per cent increase from the same time a year earlier.

In the resale market, GTA condo sales hit an all-time high of 20,709 units, rising 16 per cent over 2014’s totals, as did condo lease signings, which reached 27,164.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recently flagged overbuilding as a problem that could arise in Toronto’s housing market in coming years. For now, however, Urbanation data suggests a vast majority of units are selling by the time they are registered as completed.

Of the 19,702 condo units that were finished in 2015, a 9.5 decrease from the 2014 completion record, 94 per cent had sold by the time the development they were located in had been completed.

The number of unsold suites found in condo projects currently underway was 17,741. At the recent rate of sales, it would take 10 months for that inventory to sell out, signalling “a level representative of a balanced market,” said Urbanation.

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