The March, 2020 monthly report from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) shows continued strength in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) housing market, along with the initial signs of turbulence due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic challenges.

Toronto skyline, image by Forum contributor skycandy

A total of 8,012 home sales were recorded in the GTA in March, 2020, increasing 12.3% over the 7,132 sales reported in March, 2019. Due to the circumstances, this number better reflects sales trends when broken down into pre- and post-COVID-19 periods. The first two weeks of the month, when businesses remained open, saw 4,643 sales. This accounts for 58% of the month's transactions, and marks a 49% jump over the same two-week period last year. There were declines in the second half of the month though, with 3,369 sales representing a 15.9% drop versus last year.

“The overall sales result for March was strong relative to last year, but the impact of COVID-19 was certainly evident in the number of sales reported in the second half of March. Uncertainty surrounding the outbreak’s impact on the broader economy and the onset of the necessary social distancing measures resulted in the decline in sales since March 15. Sales figures for April will give us a better sense as to the trajectory of the market while all levels of government take the required action to contain the spread of COVID-19,” reads a statement from TRREB President Michael Collins.

New listings increased overall year-over-year in March, rising 3% to 14,424. Like the number of the sales, this figure paints a different picture when the month is broken into halves, with new listings dropping 18.4% year-over-year in the second half of the month.

“Despite sales and listings trending lower in the second half of March, demand for ownership housing remained strong enough relative to listings to see the average selling price remain above last year’s levels, including during the last few days of the month. As we move through April, we will have a clearer view on how social distancing measures and broader economic conditions will influence sales and ultimately the pace of price growth,” reads a statement from Jason Mercer, TRREB’s Chief Market Analyst.

The average selling price for March, 2020 managed to increase 14.5% year-over-year to $902,680 for the entire month. Like other statistics, the month broken in half reveals an average selling price of $862,563 for the last two weeks of March, though still up 10.5% year-over-year.

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