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GTA home sales down 13% between April and May but prices still rising: TRREB


TORONTO — The frenzied pace of home sales that appeared at the start of the year is continuing to slow as new figures from the Toronto Real Estate Board show 13 per cent fewer homes in the region changed hands between April and May.

The Ontario board revealed Thursday that 11,951 homes were sold in the area in May, down from 13,663 in April but up from 4,594 during the same period last year when the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning.

May sales have averaged 10,336 between 2010 and 2019 and the month is typically the strongest the region sees every year, but 2021 bucked the trend, said TRREB.

“There has been strong demand for ownership housing in all parts of the GTA … fuelled by confidence in economic recovery and low borrowing costs," said TRREB president Lisa Patel in a news release. 

"However, in the absence of a normal pace of population growth, we saw a pullback in sales over the past two months relative to the March peak."

In March, sales reached a record 15,652, up 97 per cent from 7,945 in 2020, when the health crisis was just getting underway in Canada.

COVID-19 has proved to be no match for Toronto's housing market, which has continued to see soaring prices and bidding wars even as lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were implemented.

Despite a slight ebb in sales over the last two months, TRREB said market conditions remained "tight" enough to push the average selling price to an all-time record in May.

The average home price was $1,108,453 compared with $1,090,992 in April and from $863,563 last May.

The increase in average selling prices amounted to a 28.4 per cent spike on a year-over-year basis and caused the MLS home price index composite benchmark to soar by about 19 per cent year-over-year, TRREB said.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the average price increased by 1.1 per cent between April and May.

Those on the hunt for a new home had much more supply to choose from than was available at the same time last year.

According to TRREB, May saw 18,586 new listings, down from 20,825 in April but up from 9,126 last May.

The listings, however, weren't enough to quell some of the market's heated conditions, said TRREB chief market analyst Jason Mercer.

"People actively looking to purchase a home continue to face a lot of competition from other buyers, which results in very strong upward pressure on selling prices," he said. 

"This competition is becoming more widespread with tighter market conditions in the condominium apartment segment as well."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2021.

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

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