The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has released statistics for the month of March, and GTA home sales took a huge hit.

While real estate in 2020 had started off on fire, COVID-19 has brought a big fire hose to the party.

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“March 2020 will be remembered around the planet for a long time. Canadian home sales and listings were increasing heading into what was expected to be a busy spring for Canadian REALTORS®,” said Jason Stephen, president of CREA. “After Friday the 13th, everything went sideways."

According to CREA, home sales recorded over Canadian MLS® Systems dropped by 14.3% in March 2020 compared to February. The GTA was one of the hardest-hit markets, seeing a 20.8% decline. Montreal (-13.3%), Calgary (-26.3%), Edmonton (-13.2%), and Hamilton-Burlington (-24.9%) all saw double-digit declines as well.

Toronto already saw its homes prices drop for the first time in two years in March. Additionally, TRREB reported that while home sales were up 49% in the first half of March year-over-year, they were down 15.9% year-over-year compared to the same time period in 2019. Meanwhile, an RBC report released on April 1 suggested the possibility that homes sales in Canada could drop as much as 30% this year.

“Numbers for March 2020 are a reflection of two very different realities, with most of the stronger sales and price growth recorded during the pre-COVID-19 reality which we are no longer in,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist. “The numbers that matter most for understanding what follows are those from mid-March on, and things didn’t really start to ratchet down until week four. Preliminary data from the first week of April suggest both sales and new listings were only about half of what would be normal for that time of year.”

Nationally, the number of newly listed homes also declined by 12.5% in March compared to February. According to CREA, declines in new listings were recorded pretty much across the country.

March still saw year-over-year increases in sales in both the GTA (12.3%) and across Canada (7.8%); however, those numbers are misleading given how strong the first half of March was. The full month of April data will likely provide a much more complete understanding of just how much COVID-19 has impacted the real estate industry across the country.