The temperatures may have been dropping but real estate in the Durham Region continued to heat up in December, closing out the year with a nearly 50% increase in residential transactions.
In December, during what’s typically a quiet month for homebuyer activity, the Durham Region -- which spans Ajax, Brock, Clarington, Oshawa, Pickering, Scugog, Uxbridge, and Whitby -- saw 773 home sales representing a 49% increase from the same time last year, while the number of new listings last month reached 624, a 46% increase from December 2019.
Detached homes accounted for the majority of the sales, with 498 transactions, with an average price of $868,916.
During the same period, the average selling price in the region for all home types -- which includes detached, semi-detached, condo/townhouses, condo apartments, link, and attached row -- rose 22% year-over-year, reaching $778,037.
Oshawa recorded 213 residential transactions in December, the highest number of sales in the region, while Uxbridge had the highest average price of $1,012,895.
“The strong demand during the spring market pushed a fast recovery for Durham’s housing market. Record residential sales were reported on a monthly basis," said the Durham Region Association of REALTORS (DRAR) President Michael Watson.
Watson noted that digital marketing tools and virtual open houses allowed for safe interactions as the demand for homeownership remained strong. He added that low borrowing costs will continue to fuel the housing market recovery in the months to come.
Looking at 2020 as a whole, the region recorded 12,917 residential transactions, representing a significant 21% increase from the previous year. When looking at the past ten years, 2020 saw the highest number of sales, surpassing the previous record set in 2016, when 12,654 transactions were recorded.
And yet, despite the unprecedented year and uncertainty surrounding the economy, Durham's housing market has shown that it managed to recover quickly following the initial lockdown announcement and market slowdown in April.
"The Durham Region real estate market has been heavily undervalued for many years when compared to other markets in the Greater Toronto Area, and in 2020, Durham became one of the hot spots for buyers looking to purchase a home whilst staying in the GTA," says Zain Jafrey, a real estate agent with Re/Max Impact. "Because of comparatively high home prices in the Peel Region, York Region, and Toronto, many buyers turned to Durham for their future home."
And while winter is usually a slow month for real estate, Jafrey says the demand for properties has been immense since COVID- 19 restrictions were lifted back in August. "That demand has definitely flowed over into the early parts of 2021 as well. Inventory was an issue in 2020, and with the lack of inventory available now along with the added demand, we have seen properties sell for record-breaking prices, and in record-breaking time," says Jafrey.
"In December, we had an average price of $778,037 which was up 22% from December of 2019. This shows us that there is an extensive demand for properties in the region and that buyers are willing to pay top dollar to live in our communities, and it may be some time until this demand is satisfied as low inventory will continue to create competition between home buyers and raise prices."
Watson also noted the region's market will slow down through this winter, as many homebuyers and sellers are waiting for the spring and summer markets. Case in point: the number of listings in the region decreased by 40% in December when compared to the number of listings reported in November 2020.
Though, for those reconsidering their housing options, Durham remains an ideal location for homebuyers as it offers a wide variety of areas and housing options. And it's worth noting that the low inventory in the area will continue to drive competition between buyers in the months to come, as the months of inventory reported in December was 0.4.