Photo: James Bombales

Buyers searching for a family-sized home in the Greater Toronto Area should expect million-dollar price tags as dwindling supply and robust demand continue to drive up home values across the region.

This week, RE/MAX Canada released its 2021 GTA Hot Pocket Communities Report, which examines price and sales trends within 60 Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) districts from the first six months of the year. Detached single-family homes continue to be highly-sought after in the GTA, recording soaring price growth and sales volume between January and June.

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“The most daunting aspect of the current housing surge is that this period may actually be the calm before the storm,” said Christopher Alexander, senior vice president of RE/MAX Canada, in the report. “With the worst of the pandemic hopefully in the rear-view mirror and recovery on its way, economic expansion is likely.”

Lack of listings forced detached home prices upward

RE/MAX attributed inventory constraints as one of the driving factors behind the GTA market’s performance throughout the first half of 2021.

June recorded 11,297 active listings, 35 per cent fewer than the 10-year average of 17,260 listings and down from the previous low of 12,327 in June 2016.

Fewer listings drove the average price for detached single-family homes up — 97 per cent of TRREB communities have reported an increase in home values from a year ago. About half of these communities have experienced a price increase of 25 per cent or more compared to the same time period in 2020. The minority of districts that saw price declines were located in Central Toronto, where single-family detached home prices dropped by 0.9 per cent and 12.7 per cent annually in TRREB’s C03 and C08 areas.

Chart: RE/MAX Canada

Neighbourhoods in Durham and York regions dominated RE/MAX’s list of the top-10 GTA communities that recorded the most price appreciation for detached properties between January and June 2021. Ranking in first place, Uxbridge saw average prices jump by 46.6 per cent annually in the first half of the year, rising from $933,368 to $1,365,983. In the same six-month period, detached home prices in Scugog, King and Brock also soared by 43.9 per cent, 40.2 per cent and 39.9 per cent yearly, pushing average values to $986,878, $2,179,739 and $773,061.

Sales volume doubled in some GTA districts

The number of sales taking place throughout the GTA also soared in the first six months of 2021.

Home sales in York Region doubled compared to the same period in 2020, recording a 109.6 per cent growth in sales. Following closely behind, Central Toronto and Peel regions saw increases of 96.7 per cent and 98.2 per cent year-over-year, respectively.

“Halfway into 2021 and the Greater Toronto housing market continues to fire on all cylinders,” said Alexander in the report. “Overall home sales topped 70,000 between January and June, the strongest first half in the history of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, while values smashed through record levels set in previous years.”

Alexander added that without a “serious influx,” in new listings throughout the coming months, the market is likely to continue on its upward trajectory.

Photo: James Bombales

Affordability challenges persist for the 905’s first-time buyers

Although record-low interest rates have been driving first-time buyers to the 905 suburbs, lackluster home supply continues to create affordability challenges, RE/MAX explains.

Of the 60 TRREB districts analyzed in the report, only six communities with a 905 area code offered single-detached homes under $1 million. In 2020, 18 communities offered homes under this price point, and 28 districts in 2019.

Alexander said that hybrid work schedules and transit options are making the idea of relocating to the city’s outlying communities a more attractive option.

“First-time buyers are feeling the squeeze but are still determined to become homeowners, with many happily travelling further afield to make it happen while working from home,” said Alexander. “The beneficiaries of the trend have been suburban communities in Durham, Peel, Dufferin County and the most northern part of York Region.”

Move-up buyers drive Central Toronto’s market

In the 416, homebuyers who are “trading-up” were behind the push in sales between January and June this year.

Areas like Bathurst Manor and Clanton Park reported a year-over-year rise in sales by 169.8 per cent, jumping from 43 to 116 transactions. Similarly, sales increases of 120.3 per cent compared to a year ago were detected in TRREB’s C07 district (Lansing-Westgate, Newtonbrook West, Willowdale West and Westminster-Branson) and W05 (which includes areas such as York University Heights, Black Creek and Humbermede) where sales volume soared by 138.5 per cent annually.

The uptick in sales has also been noted in communities boarding the 416 area, such as Pickering, Mississauga and Vaughan.

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