Photo: Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage

As Toronto enters its second week under Stage Two of the province’s reopening plan, there’s much to reflect on from these last few months. Since mid-March, homebuyers, sellers and real estate professionals alike have endured unprecedented circumstances, from strict social distancing practices to unusual market conditions.

While Ontario continues to gradually lift pandemic restrictions, activity within the resale market has been ramping up in some segments.

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“We were bombarded with showings, literally bombarded,” said Josie Stern, a sales representative with Sutton Group-Associated Realty’s Josie Stern Team, who recently sold her two-storey listing in Moore Park.

“The market went from a market that was pretty dead in April, to pretty slow in May for luxury homes. It took a turn in June, and luxury homes are selling very quickly. And we had a lot of showings on this property.”

Situated on a treed lot just north of St. Clair Avenue East, the charming white detach at 22 Rose Park Drive didn’t hang around on the market for long. The sizable property, home to a leafy five-foot-wide tree near the driveway and a lush backyard, presented potential for a new construction home.

Listed at $2,395,000 in mid-June, the three-bedroom listing attracted 12 showings and two offers. The winning bid, which included no conditions, was accepted at $2,550,000, selling the home within two days at $155,000 over the list price. While 22 Rose Park Drive enticed many builders who contemplated replacing the original home, the new owners plan to renovate and restore the property.

Photo: Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage

“We had a lot of showings and many of them were from builders, and the tree came up often. Many of them wanted to certainly take down the house,” said Stern. “The people that actually bought it are not going to tear down the house at all. They’re going to work within the space that they have, which is great.”

In in the middle of March, when the coronavirus pandemic started to take off throughout Canada, Stern noticed a shift in market activity. Homes were no longer moving and then in April, activity ground to a halt as lockdowns set in. Stern says that property prices dropped by as much as 10 to 15 percent in some areas of the city during April, meanwhile, sellers who had already purchased a home before lockdown listed their property that month.

By early May, clients began to pick up the phone and call again, she says.

Photo: Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage

“They put off their moving plans for two months now, and they needed to move on,” said Stern, “Many clients had a lot of time to think in two months, from the middle of March to the middle of May, and what we’re finding is a huge shift in why people are selling their home.”

Stern explains that many buyers are now choosing to leave the city. Some clients who would have otherwise upgraded to a larger home have now purchased cottages instead, or are moving to cottages permanently.

She attributes this trend to a few causes — homeowners have concluded that they won’t be returning to the office anytime soon and need room to work at home, or are seeking larger outdoor spaces after staying inside for weeks. The demand for laneway housing has seen a spike too as buyers explore the options for extra office space or an on-site family suite, a sign that dynamics within real estate are shifting, Stern notes.

“People are changing just the way that they view homes because of the needs that they have now that are different from before,” she said.

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