The latest monthly sales report from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) shows a continued decline in the Greater Toronto Area's resale housing market in February. 5,025 home sales represented a 2.4% year-over-year decline in homes sold, while a month-over-month decline was also felt from January 2019's figure. While the 416 submarket took a more noticeable hit, the 905 region actually recorded a slight increase in sales measured year-over-year.

Condominium construction in Toronto, image by Forum contributor Razz

New listings also declined in February, falling from a GTA-wide 10,473 in February 2018 to last month's 9,828. Listings within the 416 remained fairly steady, dropping slightly year-over-year from 3,365 to 3,301. A steeper dropoff was recorded in the 905, falling year over year from 7,108 listings down to 6,527. This points to tightening market conditions compared to last year, which continues to translate to price growth.

Both the MLS Home Price Index Composite Benchmark and the average selling price increased on a year-over-year basis in February 2019, rising 2.4% and 1.6% respectively, though the numbers fell when measured month-over-month. Price growth was driven by growth in the condo apartment and high-density low-rise market segments. The GTA-wide average price now sits at  $766,197, while the price of a home within the 416 averages at $812,982.

Declining home sales have triggered TREB to put pressure on candidates in the upcoming federal election, underlining the housing market's importance to the Canadian economy. A statement from Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis and Service Channels, reads “A study conducted by Altus for TREB found that, on average, each home sale reported through TREB resulted in $68,000 in spin-off expenditures accruing to the economy. With sales substantially lower than the 2016 record peak over the last two years, we have experienced a hit to the economy in the billions of dollars, in the GTA alone. This hit has also translated into lower government revenues and, if sustained, could impact the employment picture as well.” 

Rising home prices continue to drive growth in the rental market, which saw year-over-year gains in both the volume of rentals leased and the price of rent. 2,316 one-bedroom apartments were leased last month, rising 3.8% from February 2018, while the average one-bedroom rent was up by 8.1% to $2,145. 1,383 two-bedroom apartments were leased in the same period, rising 9.3% from the 1,265 recorded last February. The average two-bedroom rent increased by 7.4% to $2,810.

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