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More people bought homes over $3 million in Toronto last year than ever before

While the pandemic destroyed countless Toronto businesses and put millions of Canadians out of work, the wealthiest among us have remained essentially unaffected, with many of the rich actually getting far richer during the course of the health crisis.

Toronto's real estate was likewise unfazed by months of lockdowns and financial precarity, with sales volumes and prices continuing to skyrocket to reach new record highs over 2020.

Property in the city has become so overvalued that experts think we're on the verge of a housing bubble and assert that homes here are now more expensive, on average, that in notoriously pricey locales like San Francisco, New York and London.

But ridiculously high costs aren't enough to stop those with money to blow, even during a pandemic, apparently, seeing as more ultra-expensive homes sold in T.O. last year than ever before.

According to new data from real estate giant RE/MAX, 2020 set a new record for sales of residential properties over $3 million in the city. A total of 1,062 sales of homes over that price point sold in Greater Toronto from January to December, which is 56 per cent more than the number that sold in 2019.

Given that the average cost of a detached home in Toronto now over $1.5 million, this is a little shocking, but not unbelievable.

Surrounding regions saw the same phenomenon to an even greater extent — Halton experienced a nearly 190 per cent increase in sales over $3 million, while Peel likewise saw more than double the number of sales in that price range than 2019.

"The housing bounce-back during one of the most tumultuous periods in recent history has been nothing short of remarkable," the executive vice-president of the company's Ontario-Atlantic Canada arm said in a statement that also called the health crisis itself the "true catalyst" of the trend.

"With renewed focus on personal space, and the ability to work from home, luxury buyers doubled down on larger homes and less densely populated neighbourhoods, with some choosing to relocate entirely out of the 416 to the 905 and beyond," it notes.

The desire for more space amid lockdown and work-from-home orders was not something exclusively reserved for those who can afford luxe multi-million-dollar mansions, either: the city saw an exodus of people leaving for surrounding suburbs and an uptick of available rental units thanks to a number of other factors that included new rules for Airbnbs.

This also meant cheaper rents and a soft condo market while owners tried to get rid of small, less expensive investment properties that were no longer providing as much profit as they'd hoped.

The market for more extravagant condos, though, did not experience such an impact, with RE/MAX finding that "the number of condominium apartments and townhomes that have changed hands at the $3 million, $4 million and $5 million price points have all set new records."

With the housing market in the city set to keep on heating up in 2021, we'll have to see how long it takes for many of us to be priced out of the idea of home ownership completely, if we haven't already been.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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