As more Canadians worked from home during the pandemic, their priorities shifted, and the need for more space became stronger than ever. As a result, residents began relocating to cities outside of major urban centres -- a growing trend here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

To get a better understanding of which GTA regions experienced the highest and lowest changes in buyer demand, Zoocasa looked at home sales and average sold price data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) for the period between April 2020 -- the first full-month after COVID emergency measures were implemented -- and December 2020.

Zoocasa analyzed sales and sold home price data for houses (semi-detached and detached properties) and condo apartments for municipalities across the GTA during the aforementioned period and calculated the change in sales and average sold price compared to the same period in 2019.

The main takeaway? The data showed that there was a higher rate of sales and price growth for low-rise homes versus condo apartments in nearly every region.

When looking at the GTA as a whole, there was an 11% increase in detached and semi-detached house sales but also a 10% decrease in condo apartment sales between April and December 2020 compared to 2019.

As for pricing, the average GTA house price rose 13% ($132,736 to $1,123,618) year-over-year during this period, while the average condo apartment price rose just 4% ($26,056, to $621,637).

READ: Barrie is Now One of Ontario’s Most ‘Sought-After’ Real Estate Markets

The data also highlighted the trend of "urban flight," which occurs when residents opt to live outside of the GTA's urban centres.

Zoocasa noted that while there was an increase in sales and average sold detached and semi-detached house prices across every GTA region (other than Dufferin County) in 2020, the increase in sales and prices was most prominent in regions outside of Toronto.

What's more, condo-dense regions like Toronto and Peel Region experienced declines in condo apartment sales, however prices noted a slight year-over-year increase.

According to Zoocasa, Simcoe County had the highest growth in house sales among all GTA regions, with detached and semi-detached seeing a 21% year-over-year increase with 2,393 houses changing hands during the period. The average sold price grew 17% annually to $766,083. Within Simcoe County, Innisfil recorded a 36% increase in detached and semi-detached house sales – the highest for the region – with 829 sales.

Elsewhere in the GTA, smaller and less populous municipalities experienced a greater increase in detached and semi-detached house sales annually. For example, the York Region municipality of King recorded a 75% increase in house sales year-over-year and a 20% annual increase in the average home price to $1,798,590 between the period.

Here in Toronto, while sales growth for detached and semi-detached houses was relatively more subdued, with house sales growth staying relatively flat y-o-y, with just 99 more houses selling between April and December 2020 compared to the previous year, just a 1% increase. The average sold price during this period was $1,404,498, an 11% increase year-over-year.

Toronto, which is home to the highest concentration of condos across the GTA, saw sales dip 12% year-over-year to 11,634, though sold prices remained relatively steady with a slight 3% increase to $662,959.

As for the rest of the GTA regions, condo apartment sales noted the sharpest decline in Peel Region, declining 20% year-over-year, though, despite the drop in sales, the average home price for condo apartments grew 9% to $515,801.

You can see how buyer demand shifted in the rest of the regions in the GTA in the infographic below.

Gta house sales 2020 vs 2019 zoocasa

You can read the full report here