Toronto housing prices up nearly 12 per cent despite pandemic

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Toronto housing prices up nearly 12 per cent despite pandemic

Tara Deschamps The Canadian Press  Published Tuesday, July 7, 2020 8:22AM EDT

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TORONTO -- Greater Toronto Area home sales are rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic and prices are on the rise, but completed transactions are still short of where they were last year, the area's real estate board reported Tuesday.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board said Tuesday that the number of homes sold in the region in June was just shy of the mark set a year ago as the average selling price rose nearly 12 per cent compared with June 2019.

"We are still in the early days of recovery, but barring any setbacks, we should continue to see stronger market conditions in the second half of 2020 as households look to satisfy their ownership housing needs," said Lisa Patel, TRREB's president, in a statement.

Home sales plunged earlier this year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced buyers to the sidelines, but they have picked up as businesses have started to reopen.

The real estate board said there were 8,701 homes sold in June, down 1.4 per cent compared with the same month last year.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales in June were up 84 per cent compared with May.

The average selling price was $930,869, up 11.9 per cent compared with June 2019.

Patel is optimistic about the real estate market rebounding further from COVID-19

"Before the onset of COVID-19, there was a great deal of pent-up demand in the market," she said.

"This pent-up demand arguably increased further over the past three months."

Bank of Montreal economist Priscilla Thiagamoorthy took the TRREB numbers as a sign that the Toronto housing market is roaring back to life.

"Low interest rates and thin inventories combined with still-strong demand should lead to higher prices as COVID-related restrictions continue to ease," she said in an note she sent to investors on Tuesday.

Across the entire region, TRREB said there were just over 16,150 new listings, a 2.1 per cent increase from last year.

However, active listings through TRREB were down at the end of June by 28.8 per cent compared to the prior year.

Growth in new listings will need to outstrip growth in sales for a number of months before active listings approach last year's levels, TRREB said.

The organization's chief executive John DiMichele believes it will be important to closely monitor such conditions as the COVID-19 recovery progresses.

"Policy makers should proceed cautiously with any demand-side stimulus," he said in a statement.

"The persistent lack of listing inventory in the GTA understandably took a back seat to COVID-related issues in the short term, but supply should once again be top-of-mind once the recovery takes hold, in order to ensure long-term affordability in the GTA."

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