If you were looking to sell a condo in the early months of the pandemic, you likely had a tough time – like the rest of the Greater Toronto Area real estate market, unit sales plummeted 71.6% in April 2020 and prices by -1.7% as social distancing restrictions took hold. But unlike single-family homes, which experienced a roaring rebound in demand over the course of lockdown, condo unit sales and price growth lagged for the remainder of the year, as buyers sought greater space further from higher-density urban centres.
Today, that’s no longer the case; as vaccines roll out and pandemic restrictions ease, it’s clear buyers are once again interested in high-density living at the heart of it all. Condo sales led the market in terms of sales growth in May, up 170% year over year – 20% higher than that of single-family homes. Affordability is front and centre: the average unit in the GTA cost $682,280, compared to $1,415,698 for a detached home.
Related Read: GTA Home Sales Continue to Drop in May
It’s evident that following a year of unprecedented price growth in real estate – the national home price rose 38.4% last month – demand is hottest for the most affordable entry points to the market. And, according to analysis by Zoocasa, it’s the markets beyond big city limits that are seeing the most action. A recent study of average condo prices, sales, listings, and buying conditions between April 2020 (the depth of the pandemic sales slump) and May 2021 reveal the regions of Simcoe**, Durham, and Halton have experienced the strongest pace of price growth for condo units, outstripping that of the City of Toronto.
Condo Price Growth is Hottest in 905 Markets
The regional market with the fastest-appreciating condo values is Simcoe County; largely a rural market, limited supply and transactions (just 10 sold in the month of March 2020, and zero in April 2020) have led to a more volatile year-over-year 56% upswing in price to an average of $605,980 in May 2021. However, despite comparably fewer units available, buyers here will enjoy more balanced conditions – an increase of 18 listings last month brought the local sales-to-new-listings ratio to 56%.
The market with the second-largest price increase is Durham County, where a unit now fetches $531,222, marking an increase of 46% between April 2020 and May 2021. A total of 51 units sold last month, and while 77 new listings were brought to market, it wasn’t enough to offset steep sellers’ market conditions, with an SNLR of 77%.
Halton Region experienced the third-highest pace of price growth of 22% between April 2020 and May 2021, with the average unit now selling for $615,750. A total of 139 homes traded hands and 208 new listings came to market last month, leading to a balanced market with an SNLR of 67%.
While the most expensive region to buy a condo, the City of Toronto lies in the middle of the pack in terms of price growth, perhaps indicating that buyers are still keen to trade a big-city setting for greater affordability. The average unit cost $716,976 in the 416 in May 2021, marking a 17% increase from April 2020. As well, city buyers will also enjoy a more balanced market – a total of 3,351 new listings came to market, offsetting 1,881 sales, leading to an SNLR of 56%.
Average home prices, sales volumes, and new listings for March 2020, April 2020, and May 2021 were sourced from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
*Dufferin County had only one sale in April of 2020. Although this is not uncommon for the region, it is important to keep in mind that smaller sample sizes can make small trends appear larger than they truly are.
**As Simcoe County had no condo sales in April 2020, sales data from March 2020 was used as a comparison.