After years of a booming Greater Toronto Area (GTA) housing market, 2020 marked the first real obstacle for the real estate business since the late 2000s recession. COVID-19 brought on unprecedented challenges that saw staggering declines in market activity starting in the second quarter of the year. Despite all of the hurdles encountered last year, a new report from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reveals that 2020 ended up being the third-best year on record for the GTA market, with a total of over 95,000 home sales and a new record average selling price of $930K.

Mix of housing types in Toronto, image by Forum contributor Jasonzed

“The Greater Toronto Area housing market followed an unfamiliar path in 2020. Following the steep COVID-induced drop-off in demand during the spring, home sales roared back to record levels throughout the summer and fall. A strong economic rebound in many sectors of the economy, ultra-low borrowing costs, and the enhanced use of technology for virtual open houses and showings, fuelled and sustained the housing market recovery,” reads a statement issued by Lisa Patel, TRREB President.

Even with the pandemic's hit to the economy, job losses, and other associated challenges, the 95,151 sales recorded last year actually marked an 8.4% increase over 2019's sales figures. After the initial wave of public health restrictions was rolled back, the housing market saw an unprecedented bounce-back that included multiple record-breaking months. Most recently, the month of December broke records with 7,180 sales marking a year-over-year increase of 64.5% While sales growth was pronounced overall, it was strongest in the 905 regions, most notably in the single-family home submarket. 

“While the housing market as a whole recovered strongly in 2020, there was a dichotomy between the single-family market segments and the condominium apartment segment. The supply of single-family homes remained constrained resulting in strong competition between buyers and double-digit price increases. In contrast, growth in condo listings far-outstripped growth in sales. Increased choice for condo buyers ultimately led to more bargaining power and a year-over-year dip in average condo selling prices during the last few months of the year,” stated Jason Mercer, TRREB Chief Market Analyst.

2020 average home prices climbed to an all-time high of $929,699, a 13.5% jump over 2019. In December, the average was up to $932,222, marking an 11.2% year-over-year climb. As with sales, the average home price increase was most pronounced in the 905 single-family home submarket.

“The next 12 months will be critical as we chart our path through recovery. In particular, the impact of resumption in immigration and the re-opening of the economy will be key. TRREB will once again be releasing its January results, Market Year in Review and 2021 Outlook report on February 8th. This will include a forecast for home sales and selling prices, the latest Ipsos consumer polling on the GTA housing market and new research related to innovative ways to bring on more housing supply,” stated John DiMichele, TRREB CEO.

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