By: Brian Skrba



Toronto-area home sales plunge 54% in May, but prices continue to rise — what’s going on?

News Jun 03, 2020 by Tess Kalinowski Toronto Star

A house for sale in Toronto on June 2, where prices reportedly stayed steady in May despite economic tumult. - Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star

Toronto-area home prices are proving surprisingly sticky, rising three per cent year over year in May as sellers waiting out the COVID-19 crisis keep the number of new listings tight.

Resale home listings dropped 53.1 per cent annually last month, almost in lock-step with a 54 per cent reduction in sales in May, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) on Wednesday. It called the result a “marked improvement” over April, when sales plummeted 67.1 per cent year over year.

The number of new listings rose 47.5 per cent on a month-over-month basis, said the real estate board.


The average selling price of new homes — including single-family houses and condos — was $863,599, up 4.6 per cent from April. The benchmark price, considered the standard for comparing similar properties, rose 9.4 per cent year over year but remained virtually unchanged from April. The board chalks up the lack of a monthly rise to a bigger decline in detached-home sales in the (pricier) City of Toronto, relative to sales in the surrounding GTA.

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“With home sales and new listings continuing to trend in unison in May, market conditions remained balanced,” said TRREB’s chief market analyst Jason Mercer, citing year-over-year growth slightly above the Bank of Canada’s long-term target for inflation.

“If current market conditions are sustained during the gradual reopening of the GTA economy, a moderate pace of year-over-year price growth could continue as we move through the spring and summer months,” said Mercer.

Early in the year, the real-estate board had forecast price growth of about 10 per cent in 2020, with the year starting off in a market some feared would be a repeat of the frothy 2016 housing scenario.

But last month, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation CEO Evan Siddall suggested that Canadian home prices could fall as much as nine to 18 per cent in the pandemic-induced recession — and it might take until the end of 2022 for recovery to take hold.

The average price of a detached home in the City of Toronto rose 2.7 per cent to $1.42 million in May, compared to the regionwide average that fell 0.9 per cent to $1.03 million.

Condos continued to see price gains, up six per cent across the region to $625,445 on average and five per cent higher, to an average price of $674,028, within the City of Toronto.

The real-estate board also confirmed earlier reports that condo rents are falling, as tenants stay put during the pandemic shutdown and short-term rentals aimed at tourists migrate to the long-term market.

The price of a one-bedroom condo fell 5.1 per cent year over year in May to $2,086 on average, with the number of leases dropping 30.8 per cent annually across the GTA.

Rents for two-bedroom units fell 5.6 per cent to $2,740, with a 26.7 per cent year-over-year reduction in the number of new leases. However, like home sales, the rental sector showed increased activity in May compared to April, with nearly double the number of condos leased.