Is Confidence Returning to Toronto Real Estate?

GTA home sales rise again on monthly basis as flurry of new home listings hits fall market
Joannah Connolly
October 4, 2017

Having risen on a monthly basis in August for the first time since the GTA foreign buyer tax was launched this spring, home sales in Toronto increased slightly again, rising 0.3% compared with August, according to a Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) market report published October 4.

The Greater Toronto Area’s (GTA’s) 6,379 home sales was 35% lower than September 2016, and the lowest September transactions in five years, but it surpassed 2012’s activity for the first time since the province’s housing measures took hold this spring (see graph below).


The TREB region’s benchmark home price slid downwards again on a month-over-month basis, with the price of a typical home (all property types as a composite) now at $750,800. This is 0.7% lower than in August, but 12.2% higher than September last year.

This price movement differs from the GTA’s average home sale price, which is skewed by market activity at the extreme ends of the market. This was $755,546 in September – up 3.2% since August, as the higher-end market started to recover, but a relatively muted 2.6% increase from September 2016.

The TREB report noted, “A key reason for the difference in annual growth rates between the average price and the MLS® HPI composite is the fact that detached homes – the most expensive market segment on average – accounted for a smaller share of overall transactions this year compared to last.”

Sellers also seemed to find fresh confidence in the market for the fall season. New listings on TREB’s MLS® totalled 16,469 homes in September – an increase of 9.4% year over year and a huge jump of 42.9% compared with the weak amounts of new inventory in August.

TREB president Tim Syrianos said, “The improvement in listings… suggests that home owners are anticipating an uptick in sales activity as we move through the fall. Consumer polling undertaken for TREB in the spring suggested that buying intentions over the next year remain strong. As we move through the fourth quarter we could see some buyers moving off the sidelines, taking advantage of a better-supplied marketplace.”

Sales and Prices by Property Type

Still mirroring Greater Vancouver’s pattern following its own earlier foreign buyer tax implementation, the annual decline in sales was driven by single-family homes. The 2,780 detached home sales total is 40.4% lower than that of September 2016, but up 7.8% over August’s 2,578 single-family home sales.

A typical detached home in the TREB region is priced at a benchmark of $930,500 –0.6% lower than August’s $936,100, and up 8.6% from one year ago.

There were 639 semi-detached homes such as half-duplexes (also called single-family attached) exchanging hands in the GTA in September, up 8.7% over August and down 30.2% year over year.

The benchmark price of a “single-family attached” home is now $707,500, which is 7.8% higher than September 2016 – the lowest annual price rise of all four home types – and a 0.6% month-over-month decline.

After a strong August performance, attached houses such as townhouses and row homes racked up 998 sales in September, which is down 8.4% from August’s 1,090 sales, and 34.4% lower than one year previously.

The price of a typical GTA townhome or similar attached unit is now $552,200. This is up 16.5% year over year but 1.5% lower than August’s benchmark of $560,800.

It was the turn of GTA’s condo units to register the lowest annual decline in sales, although they also saw a monthly transaction drop, after a hot August this year. September’s 1,860 condo sales total was 27.5% lower than one year previously, and 6.8% lower than the 1,996 units exchanging hands in the GTA in August.

Condo prices in the GTA stayed strong, up 24.2% year over year to $460,200 – only $400, or less than 0.1%, lower than August’s $460,600.

Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis, said, “With more balanced market conditions, the [overall] pace of year-over-year price growth was more moderate in September compared to a year ago. However, the exception was the condominium apartment market segment, where average and benchmark sales prices were up by more than 20 per cent compared to last year. Tighter market conditions for condominium apartments follows consumer polling results from the spring that pointed toward a shift to condos in terms of buyer intentions.”

As ever, it should be noted there are wide variations in benchmark prices and price changes throughout the GTA region. The annual composite benchmark price rise in September ranged from 5% to 23% depending on the neighbourhood, with individual home types in different areas also varying wildly.

To see the full breakdown of prices and sales by region and neighbourhood, click on TREB’s September Market Watch report.

Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.