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Toronto Real Estate Board says home prices hit record in 2020 as sales climbed

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TORONTO — The average price of a Toronto home sold last year hit a new record as the number of sales climbed 8.4 per cent compared with 2019, the Toronto Real Estate Board said.

The average selling price in Greater Toronto was $929,699 in 2020, up 13.5 per cent from $819,279 compared with 2019, the board’s report said on Wednesday.

The number of homes sold in 2020 in the Greater Toronto Area totalled 95,151, up from 87,751 in 2019, and the third-best year on record, according to the board.

The board said that after a steep drop in the spring due to the pandemic, the market took off in the second half of the year.

Read more: No summer slowdown in Toronto real estate as July shatters sales record

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Board president Lisa Patel said the Greater Toronto Area housing market followed an unfamiliar path in 2020.

“Following the steep COVID-induced drop-off in demand during the spring, home sales roared back to record levels throughout the summer and fall,” Patel said in a statement.

On top of shifting the homebuying season later into the year, the pandemic had other effects. Patel pointed to “ultra-low” borrowing costs and virtual open houses and showings as ways that the housing market adapted.

“The next 12 months will be critical as we chart our path through recovery. In particular, the impact of resumption in immigration and the re-opening of the economy will be key,” said Jason Mercer, the board’s chief market analyst.

The results for the full year came as the Toronto board reported home sales in December soared to 7,180 compared with 4,364 in the final month of 2019. The average price of a home sold in December was $932,222, up from $838,662 in Dec. 2019.

Read more: Greater Toronto Area home sales down 69% midway through April due to COVID-19

But the board also pointed to a widening divide between the markets for single-family homes and condos. Sales of detached homes were up 15.1 per cent last year and average prices were up 13.2 per cent from 2019. In the condo market, sales fell 5.5 per cent, with more modest annual price growth of 7.1 per cent.

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“The supply of single-family homes remained constrained, resulting in strong competition between buyers and double-digit price increases,” Mercer said.

In contrast, Mercer said, growth in condo listings “far outstripped” condo sales last year. Total new listings of all housing types was up 66.1 per cent year-over-year in December, compared with 64.5 per cent sales growth.

In December, condo sales were up 75.4 per cent from December 2019, but prices were down two per cent.

“Increased choice for condo buyers ultimately led to more bargaining power and a year-over-year dip in average condo selling prices during the last few months of the year,” Mercer said.

The split between condos and single-family homes was clear in the suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area.

While condo sales were down 2.6 per cent last year in the suburbs, they were down 6.7 per cent in the city. Detached home sales were up 18.3 per cent in the suburbs and only 4.4 per cent in the city.

Home prices showed a similar trend in December, with South Simcoe County showing the biggest price growth and the City of Toronto posting the most modest gains.

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