Greater Toronto home sales drop nearly 15% in November, prices still climb

TORONTO — The number of homes sold across the Greater Toronto Area pulled back sharply in November, compared with a year ago, but prices continued to see moderate growth, suggesting that Canada’s largest city remains a seller’s market.

The Toronto Real Estate Board said Wednesday there were 6,251 residential transactions recorded last month through its Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system, down 14.7 per cent versus a year ago. On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales were down by 3.4 per cent compared with October 2018.

Despite the decline in the number of homes sold, the average sale price rose by 3.5 per cent year-over-year to $788,345. Adjusted seasonally, the average sale price was nearly flat, down by 0.8 per cent compared to October 2018.

The MLS HPI composite benchmark price jumped by 2.7 per cent last month, compared with last year, after making adjustments for different types of properties sold.

The Toronto area board, which represents more than 52,000 real estate agents across the region, blamed the November sales decline on a “temporary upward shift in demand” in November 2017 prior to new stress-test rules for federally regulated lenders that came into effect in January of this year.

It noted that the number of new listings hitting the market last month was also down sharply by 26.1 per cent to 10,534 from 14,260 when compared with the same month last year.

“Relatively tight market conditions over the past few months have provided the foundation for renewed price growth,” said TREB president Garry Bhaura in a release.

Meanwhile, TREB says sale prices for lower-priced housing options such as condos and semi-detached properties continued to show steady increases due to the stricter stress test restrictions and higher borrowing costs.

Semi-detached homes saw the most price growth in the Greater Toronto Area compared with other property types, with prices climbing 8.3 per cent year over year.

The average price for a semi-detached property in Toronto was $1.06 million, while the average price for a semi-detached property in the rest of the Greater Toronto Area was $655,504.

Condo prices also rose 7.5 per cent year over year last month, with the average price for a Toronto condominium coming in at $595,678. In the rest of the GTA, the average condo price was $454,288.

Townhouse prices climbed 3.1 per cent across the region in November, with the average price for a Toronto townhouse jumping to $739,837 and the average price elsewhere in the GTA at $613,846.

Detached homes saw only moderate price growth, up 1.3 per cent last month compared with a year ago.

A detached property in Toronto on average sold for $1.3 million in November. In the rest of the GTA, the average price for a detached home last month was $903,517.

“Given the impact of the OSFI-mandated mortgage stress test and higher borrowing costs on affordability, it makes sense that the condo apartment and semi-detached market segments experienced relatively stronger rates of price growth in November, as market conditions in these segments remained tight or tightened respectively over the past year,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis.

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