Photo: James Bombales

Even as COVID-19 was taking hold in Canada, Toronto’s new construction condo market posted above-average sales activity in March.

According to data released today by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), sourced from Altus Group, new construction condo sales were up 108 percent from March 2019 and 30 percent higher than the 10-year average for the month. A total of 2,840 new condo units sold in March, the second-strongest sales figure recorded in March in the last 20 years. Only in March 2017 did the market deliver a stronger sales figure.

Across all housing types, there were 3,730 new construction sales in March 2020, a 67 percent year-over-year increase and seven percent above the 10-year average. The majority of these sales took place in Toronto, which saw a combined total of 1,870 condo and single-family unit sales. York and Peel Regions followed behind, selling a total of 762 and 577 new homes in each municipality. With fewer development launches in March, new home remaining inventory decreased to 13,933 units from the previous month.

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Sales for single-family homes, including detached, semi-detached and townhouse units, were up two percent year-over-year, but fell 32 percent below the 10-year average, with a total of 890 homes sold. While benchmark prices increased for both single-family homes and condos from February to March, single-family home prices dipped slightly over the last 12 months, down 0.1 percent to $1,115,869. Meanwhile, benchmark condo prices experienced a 25.9 percent increase over a 12-month period, jumping to $983,133.

New home sales across the Greater Toronto Area were heading for a strong year, at least until the COVID-19 pandemic reared its head, according to Altus Group. As new data from the resale sector this week shows a steep decline in sales, April sales for the new construction market will likely follow suit thanks to strict social distancing and shutdown measures, delayed launches and buyer reluctance.

“New condominium apartment sales in March were boosted by the record number of new projects launched in February, many of which opened near month-end,” said Patricia Arsenault, Executive Vice President of Data Solutions at Altus Group, in a media release. “With dates for most planned launches now being pushed off, and buyer hesitation, sales in April are expected to be much more muted.”

In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep essential services running, the Ontario government has permitted some residential construction projects to continue building. This will spell delays in construction and completion for other future new construction projects.

“The Ontario government’s decisive measures during the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed our industry to continue work on new homes moving towards occupancy while pausing the balance of construction,” said David Wilkes, President and CEO of BILD in the release.

“When public health officials deem it safe for workplaces to return to more normal operations, the government must prioritize residential construction so we can continue to meet the region’s pressing housing needs.”

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