toronto real estate

Home sales in Toronto are falling off a cliff this month

Given everything that's going on right now — like, you know, a deadly pandemic and consequent global economic fallout — buying a new home isn't really a top priority for most people.

Though experts say COVID-19 won't have a long-term effect on housing markets in Canada, things like job loss, financial precarity, general uncertainty, and a lack of tools that the real estate market relies on (like open houses) mean that buyers are understandably more hesitant than usual and may be willing to put shopping for a house off for the foreseeable future.

Toronto's housing market stats for March were a mixed bag, averaging out better than March of last year, but Toronto property sales have fallen drastically ever since — April's home sales so far are only 16 per cent of what they were last month, and we are nearly two-thirds of the way through.

But, as realtor Gord Collins notes, "everyone knows demand is there, which keeps prices from dropping too much."

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board said that home sales in the GTA were up 12.3 per cent last month compared to March 2019, but that there was "a clear break in market activity" after the 2019 novel coronavirus crisis began mid-month.

While sales in the city skyrocketed in the first half of March 2020 — up nearly 50 per cent from the same time last year — they dropped down a staggering 15.9 per cent from March 2019 in the second half of the month.

The early-month sales ended up accounting for 58 per cent of all homebuying transactions in March 2020.

New listings in the city were likewise significantly down in the second half of last month, though home prices were fairly unaffected and still higher than last year (but did drop, on average, $40,000 from the beginning on March to the end).

"Clearly, uncertainty surrounding the outbreak's impact on the broader economy and the onset of the necessary social distancing measures resulting in declining sales and listings since March 15," the board said.

Gord Collins echoes this, saying in his market forecast based on TREB figures that "we can predict these prices will drop much further as the full impact of growing unemployment and work shutdowns."

A report from Toronto real estate brokerage Zolo similarly anticipates property prices will plummet.

Many real estate groups like Zoocasa and Royal LePage have speculated that despite a temporary hit due to COVID-19, the market will end up recovering later in the year, as " the fundamentals of the housing market generally don't change" in big cities such as Toronto.

Despite the fact that most young people in Toronto have come to terms with the fact that they will never be able to become homeowners, we'll have to wait and see if low prime lending rates and COVID-19 pricing ends up bringing property ownership anywhere within our reach (if you're even into that sort of thing).

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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