Photo: Marcos Paulo Prado / Unsplash

The fall market is a historically active period for buying and selling homes following the quieter summer season. Even though it’s been weeks since Labour Day — the unofficial end of summer ​​— condo sales in the Greater Toronto Area have yet to take off during this typically-busy time of year, according to a new research report published this week by Strata.ca.

The week of September 13th logged 767 transactions, but sales trended downwards in the following days. This indicates that the red-hot fall market hasn’t happened quite yet, the Toronto-based brokerage explained.

With September now concluded, the GTA has recorded approximately 2,480 sales so far according to Strata.ca, 25 per cent fewer than the 3,113 transactions that took place in August. This month is also 20 per cent below September 2020, when 3,101 sales occurred.

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Downtown Toronto condo sales have also yet to pick up traction since March’s market peak, which recorded 1,033 condo sales.

“Those who were looking to make big real estate moves this year already did so during the spring market,” said Alex Hood, a real estate agent with Strata.ca. “But monthly sales have been declining ever since with barely 500 transactions so far in September.”

The GTA suburbs have recorded a similar phenomenon, where the exodus of Torontonians to outer communities has levelled off. For example, Oshawa and Hamilton recorded 29 and 39 condo sales this month. This marks a 52 per cent drop from March’s peak for Oshawa, and a decline from an average of 72 sales every month since March for Hamilton.

However, condo prices have never been higher, Strata.ca said. The average cost per square foot is currently $797, or $703,000, in the GTA. Prices have levelled out since reaching their peak in March. Although this can be a benefit to sellers, buyers haven’t gotten on board.

Photo: Sidekix Media / Unsplash

“The fall market hasn’t happened yet because housing prices are simply out of reach for most people,” said Cliff Liu, a broker with Strata.ca. “You have no choice but to bury your plans if it doesn’t make sense to spend 1.1 million on a two-bedroom townhome.”

Liu added that sellers often have “unrealistic expectations,” which is pricing out buyers. Even after some of his clients have placed low-ball offers on properties that have sat on the market for almost 200 days, some sellers are still not flinching, but may eventually be “forced to re-adjust their prices regardless if the fall market refuses to kick in,” Liu explained.

Hood noted in the report that this September appears to be quieter than usual compared to its “generally bustling” pace in previous years. Hood attributed the slowdown to Ontarians continuing to adjust to post-lockdown life.

“We basically entered a beautiful summer with the lifting of many COVID restrictions, allowing people to embrace some of the joys we had all missed,” said Hood. “As we keep climbing out of lockdown, lots of real estate priorities are being put on hold, and we’re seeing the impact of that well into the fall.”

Photo: Patrick Tomasso / Unsplash

Fellow Strata.ca agent Sam Massoudi commented that emerging from lockdown has also translated to post-pandemic career uncertainty for some people. Massoudi explained that some of his clients are still deciding whether they need to include space for an office or move closer to their workplace.

“If my clients have to coordinate with their spouse or they have kids, that decision gets even more complicated and can take much longer,” he said.

Hood believes that there is still time for the fall market to take off, it is just “happening a few weeks later than usual.”

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