The GTA’s late fall housing market has been anything but normal; while activity typically tapers this time of year due to cooling weather and the impending holiday season, buyers remained in full force, driving sales to a new record for the month and exceeding 2020 levels for the first time since June. Home prices, meanwhile, continued their stratospheric climb due to a crucial lack of available properties for sale, as listings dropped again for the sixth month in a row.
According to the latest data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, sales rose 3.3% compared to the same period last year with a total of 9,017 homes trading hands, largely fueled by a considerable uptick in condo sales within the City of Toronto and surrounding municipalities.
Meanwhile, new listings plunged by -13.2%, cranking up the pressure on an already turbulent market, and fueling a vicious cycle of rampant price growth; the average GTA home now costs $1,163,323, an increase of 21.7%. The MLS Home Price Index, which measures the value of a typical home in a given market, rose 28.3% year over year.
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Hesitant Sellers Lead to Buyer Gridlock, Lack of Listings
The high cost of moving is contributing significantly to the scarcity of available listings. Many would-be sellers are hesitant to jump into the fray, despite what equity they may have built, as the challenges of trying to move up in their current market outweigh the benefits of cashing in. Dissolving affordability in once comparably cheaper markets throughout the GTA is also rationale to stay put.
Buyers who are actively searching for properties are facing tight sellers’ markets across the region; GTA-wide, the sales-to-new-listings ratio (SNLR) sits at 89%. This ratio, which measures the level of competition in the market, is calculated by dividing the number of sales by the number of new listings over the course of the month. A range between 40 – 60% indicates a balanced market, with below and above that threshold indicating buyers and sellers’ markets, respectively.
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However, the SNLR is even more acute in the most in-demand markets, exceeding 95% in most of the 905-area markets.
This underscores how the need for increased housing supply is more urgent than ever, says TRREB President Kevin Crigger. In the board’s release, he stated, “Governments at all levels must take coordinated action to increase supply in the immediate term to begin addressing the supply challenges of today, and to work towards satisfying growing demand in the future. The GTA remains the primary destination for new immigrants and is at the centre of the Canadian economy. For far too long, governments have focused on short-term bandaid policies to artificially suppress demand. Current market activity highlights decisively that these policies do not work, and unless governments work together to cut red tape, streamline the approval processes, and incentivize mid-density housing, ongoing housing affordability challenges will escalate.”
Condos Fly Off Shelves as First-Time Buyers Re-emerge as Market Force
While market conditions are extraordinarily competitive for all home types, demand has exploded for abodes at the most affordable price points. Condo sales surged 41% from 2020 – the only segment to experience a year-over-year increase – with the average price of a unit rising 18% to $715,105. In comparison, the average detached home now sets buyers back a cool $1,567,832.
That demand has so strongly rebounded for units marks just how conditions have evolved in 2021 from 2020, says TRREB’s senior analyst Jason Mercer, as the impact of COVID lockdowns dissipate and the economy recovers.
“A key difference this year compared to last year, is how the condo segment continues to tighten and experience an acceleration in price growth, particularly in suburban areas,” he states. “This speaks to the broadening of economic recovery, with first-time buyers moving back into the market in a big way this year. The condo and townhouse segments, with lower price points on average, will remain popular as population growth picks up over the next two years.
Regional Market Snapshot:
City of Toronto
Sales rose 18% in the GTA’s largest urban centre, with a total of 3,587 transactions. The average price rose 12% to $1,096,736, fueled by a -17% drop in new listings. With just 4,249 homes brought to market, new supply barely exceeded sales activity, with an SNLR of 84%.
As is the trend throughout the TRREB markets, the largest number of sales occurred in the condo segment, with 1,981 units trading hands, a 44% increase from 2020, at an average price of $745,951 (+17%). However, demand remains strong for single-family detached houses, despite a price tag of nearly $2 million; a total of 918 sold in November at an average of $1,807,983.
The Peel Region remains ensnared in an extremely tight sellers’ market, boasting an SNLR of 95%. That’s helped push the average price up 25% to $1,114,138. While sales were down -8% with 1,716 transactions, that’s largely due to a -15% drop in new inventory, with just 1,810 homes brought to market in November.
While competition is tight across all home types in the region, townhouses and condos are flying off the shelves particularly fast, as buyers are drawn to city units that are still priced several hundred thousand dollars lower than in the 416, at $823,390 and $605,968, respectively.
Featuring the steepest SNLR of all the GTA regions at a whopping 98%, sales are booming across the Halton region. A total of 798 sales occurred in November, down -5% year over year, but due to a -11% drop in new listings, rather than a lag in demand. These communities continue to draw buyers with bigger budgets, with one of the highest average price points at $1,356,591, and with detached houses making up the bulk of sales, at an average of $1,766,215.
However, condos are in high demand here too, with a total of 129 sales (a 39% increase), offering a considerably more affordable option at $688,489.
With a steep SNLR of 88%, York Region features the highest average price point of all the TRREB markets, with the average home selling for $1,394,713, up 27% year over year. A -12% drop in new listings – just 1,796 came online in November – narrowly outnumbered a total of 1,583 sales, down -2% year over year.
Once considered the last remaining bastion of affordability in the GTA, Durham is poised to join the club of markets with an average price tag above $1 million. Prices have soared 31% year over year to $998,594. A lack of fresh inventory is only fueling the frenzy, as new listings remained flat year over year. Sales, meanwhile, dipped -7% from 2020, with 1,013 transitions.
This smaller, more rural, market has been busy – a total of 51 homes sold in November, up a brisk 28% year over year, marking the largest sales increase in the GTA. Prices have soared 47% to $862,575. While the local market did enjoy an increase of 44 new listings (up 47%), they didn’t stick around for long and were fully outpaced by sales; the area’s SNLR sits at 116%, indicating demand is insatiable for any available property.
Extremely tight conditions set the stage for buyers across Simcoe County with an SNLR of 97%. With a total of 269 sales and just 278 new listings, that extremely narrow gap (-6% year over year, respectively), continues to fuel price growth, which rose 38% to an average of $1,107,332.