The mid-April market update was released from the Toronto Real Estate Board for the first 17 days of April and it provides the first comprehensive look at the state of our market during the government shutdowns. Sales were down 69% compared to the same time in 2019. Most affected were high end ($2 million+) detached homes and the condominium market where sales fell 72% year over year. Condos have traditionally attracted a high share of first-time buyers, who in times of uncertainty can put their decision to purchase on hold.
The number of new listings were also down on a year-over-year basis by 63.7%. Overall, the average selling price across all types of homes fell by 1.5% to $819,665 in the GTA and $885,371 in the City of Toronto. The fact that new listings trended in a similar fashion to sales during the first half of April means that market conditions remained tight enough to provide support for the average selling price to be in line with 2019 levels.
The state of emergency measures currently in place, including the necessary enforcement of social distancing, has impacted the real estate market in many ways. Home buyers and sellers have concerns about the economy and indeed their own employment situations. On top of this, many buyers and sellers are avoiding any type of in-person interaction. In the condo market, some condo corporations have prohibited entry for non-residents making it difficult to show.
All of the COVID-19 related issues and measures have translated into a temporary drop in the number of transactions – a drop that will persist until we experience a meaningful and sustained decline in the number of cases. There is an optimistic view among some industry players that sales will rebound once restrictions on physical distancing are lifted. As we recover from this temporary downturn, potentially later this year, home buyers will move off the sidelines as they satisfy pent-up demand for ownership housing.