Photo: Michael Gil/Flickr
In April 2020, the full weight of the COVID-19 crisis came crashing down on Toronto’s housing market.
Sales fell 67 percent annually that month as unprecedented job losses, economic volatility and strict physical distancing measures sapped the momentum behind what would have likely been the region’s busiest home buying stretch of the year.
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While some predicted the calamitous impacts on the market would drag down prices and cause a prolonged collapse in demand, we now know that buyers began to flock in droves to socially distant open houses and virtual showings only months later.
Now, after many consecutive months of record-breaking housing activity, comparing sales volume and price growth recorded in April 2021 with what Toronto experienced one year ago is like looking at two different markets entirely.
Last month, sales rose a mind-boggling 362 percent over April 2020’s pandemic-depressed transaction total, according to new data published today by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
There were 13,663 sales recorded across the Toronto region at an average price of $1,090,992, up 33 percent from a year ago.
Despite the still clearly searing temperature of the market in April, TRREB said in a statement accompanying its data that the market appeared to be on a cooling trajectory after the colossal run-up observed since last summer. Indeed, sales in April were down nearly 13 percent on a monthly basis while new listings also fell from the month before.
“While sales remained very strong last month, many REALTORS® noted a marked slowing in both the number of transactions and the number of new listings. It makes sense that we had a pullback in market activity compared to March,” said TRREB President Lisa Patel in a media release.
“We’ve experienced a torrid pace of home sales since the summer of 2020 while seeing little in the way of population growth. We may be starting to exhaust the pool of potential buyers within the existing GTA population. Over the long term, sustained growth in sales requires sustained growth in population,” she continued.
It’s early days yet, but a sustained cooldown in Toronto’s housing market would have many economists — not to mention bidding war weary buyers — breathing a sigh of relief.
Over the last several months, economists from a number of Canada’s largest banks have been publicly voicing their views that government intervention would be necessary if already overheated markets across the country continued on a tear through the spring.
Where the Toronto market heads next will likely influence how strenuously those calls for new market-cooling policies will be voiced in the months ahead.