To say that Toronto's condo market has come a long way since the onslaught of COVID might just be the real estate understatement of the year.
Just 12 months ago, Toronto's real estate market was notably quiet during what is typically a busy time for the industry, with home sales, prices, and new listings all down dramatically. Sales were down 67.8% year-over-year, while the average sold price of a home was down slightly at 2.5% to $881,424. In the uncertainty of the market, homeowners were also hesitant to sell, with active listings in Toronto falling 61.2% year-over-year to just 2,223.
As for the condo market, just 482 condos exchanged hands in April 2020, a sharp 69.9% year-over-year decline, while the average price also fell 4% year-over-year to $612,300.
Over the next several months of 2020, condo activity continued to take the biggest COVID hit. However, since the announcement of several successful vaccine candidates in November 2020, Toronto's condo market began to make its steady comeback.
Now, the market is suddenly roaring with life.
This April, condo sales soared 373.4% year-over-year with 2,277 transactions (remember, April 2020 was not a good time for anybody), while average prices climbed out of their 2020 slump, up 18.7% to $727,137. Simultaneously, the median price of a condo in Toronto reached $645,000, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
New listings were also up in April, with a total of 3,518 condos hitting the market, while 2,351 active condo listings remained at the end of the month.
Toronto's condo market closed out the month with a total dollar volume of $1,655,691,451.
While the year-over-year numbers for April are impressive, you have to remember where we were a year ago -- when the impacts of COVID began, and sales activity in the condo market plummeted.
In comparison, month-over-month, condo sales declined 12% from the 2,614 transactions recorded in March, while the average selling price rose 2.72% from March's $707,835 average.
Condominium industry expert and President of Urbanation Shaun Hildebrand has said that low borrowing costs, renewed optimism in the housing market, and a partial chain reaction after suburban home prices climbed 30% over the past year have put the spotlight back on urban properties.
Given that the average price of a home in the region is now $1,090,992 -- up 33% year-over-year -- Navid Rashid, Sales Representative, Ferrow Real Estate, told STOREYS that buyers are looking for more affordable options and are turning to the condo segment.
"We are seeing the heat of the market shift into condos as they are a lot more affordable. Buyers are looking for lower prices and the condo market is offering a great variety of inventory at a big discount compared to everything else available," said Rashid, who added that condos are also a much easier purchase for first-time home buyers and investors to make.
Rashid says as freehold homes have reached pricing that "is an area of uncomfort for many," and condo prices have been "stagnant prior to the spring market," buyers have started to shift their focus to the condo market, as their starting prices are almost half of a typical freehold home on the market today.
"Buyers also want to lock in these all-time low-interest rates, which is making the commitment much easier," added Rashid.
The growth in the condo market comes as Toronto's overall red-hot housing market showed signs of slowing down. ‘Bucking’ the regular seasonal trend, April home sales in the GTA declined 12.7% month-over-month with 13,663 sales recorded. However, GTA home sales still managed to set a new record for April and amounted to more than quadruple April 2020 sales — the first full month of the pandemic in 2020, according to TRREB.
The local board says new listings followed a similar path — declining 8.4% month-over-month. However, this is still more than triple the number of new listings reported in April 2020.
While overall home sales might be showing signs of slowing, Rashid says he doesn't see the condo market cooling down anytime soon.
"The demand will continue to grow bigger as our economy opens. Commercial sectors, entertainment, and corporate sectors have not made an impact on the market yet."
"Once the doors open in these sectors, condo living will be very high in demand," said Rashid.