Despite the abrupt drop-off in housing demand this past spring due to COVID-19, real estate activity soared to record-breaking levels throughout the summer and fall to cap off what's now become the third-best year on record for home sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Further stoking the red hot year, Toronto-area realtors reported over 95,000 home sales in 2020, while the average selling price reached a new record of nearly $930,000, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board's (TRREB) December numbers.

While the GTA housing market followed an "unfamiliar path in 2020" in light of the pandemic, Lisa Patel, TRREB President, says housing market recovery was fuelled and sustained by the "strong economic rebound in many sectors of the economy, ultra-low borrowing costs, and the enhanced use of technology for virtual open houses and showings."

READ: From National Trends to Toronto Prices: 14 Real Estate Forecasts for 2021

Now that the December numbers are in, TRREB says 95,151 overall sales were reported in 2020 -- an 8.4% increase from 2019. This was boosted by a record result for the month of December, in which 7,180 homes exchanged hands -- an impressive 64.5% increase from the year prior.

The GTA regions surrounding Toronto had the strongest year-over-year sales growth, particularly for single-family home types.

The average selling price also reached a new record of $929,699 -- up 13.5% compared to 2019. This included an average price of $932,222 in December -- a year-over-year increase of 11.2%. The strongest average price growth was felt for single-family home types in the suburban regions of the GTA.

TRREB also noted that after a "pronounced dip" in market activity between mid-March and the end of May, market conditions did improve dramatically in the second half of the year, with multiple consecutive months of record sales and average selling prices.

However, while the housing market as a whole recovered strongly in 2020, Jason Mercer, TRREB Chief Market Analyst, says there was a dichotomy between the single-family market segments and the condominium apartment segment.

"The supply of single-family homes remained constrained resulting in strong competition between buyers and double-digit price increases. In contrast, growth in condo listings far-outstripped growth in sales. Increased choice for condo buyers ultimately led to more bargaining power and a year-over-year dip in average condo selling prices during the last few months of the year,” said Mercer.

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According to the December data, detached home prices, which rose 17.7% year-over-year to an average of $1,240,632 in the GTA, saw a 22.7% increase to $1,175,753 in the 905 communities surrounding the 416-area -- compared to an 8.1% increase in the City of Toronto, which reached an average of $1,475,758.

Sales of detached homes were also up 54.6% year-over-year across the GTA in December: 58.5% in the 905 areas and 41.9% in Toronto, while sales of semi-detached homes in the GTA were up 56.8%: 56.3% in the 905 and 57.6% in the 416.

Townhouse sales in the GTA were also up by 76.8% compared to 2019, with the 905 recording a year-over-year increase of 82.3% and Toronto seeing 60.9% growth.

It's also worth noting is that while the average selling price for condos in the GTA was down 2% in December, sales were up 75.4% annually (74.5% in the 905 and 75.9% in the 416).

Looking ahead, John DiMichele, TRREB CEO, says "the next 12 months will be critical as we chart our path through recovery. In particular, the impact of resumption in immigration and the re-opening of the economy will be key."

In the coming weeks, TRREB will once again be releasing its January results, Market Year in Review, and 2021 Outlook report.