Until the Ontario Provincial Government declared a state of emergency, the Toronto and area residential resale market was on course to produce one of the strongest, most robust markets on record, including the establishment of a record-breaking monthly average sale price. All that changed around the middle of the month as people began following provincial health authorities directives: stay home, maintain social distancing, no large gatherings, and of course, wash your hands frequently. When many of Ontario’s businesses were ordered closed, the real estate market didn’t stop but stalled dramatically.
Even with the collapse of the resale market in the second half of the month, March’s results were still substantially stronger than March 2019. This March 8,012 residential properties were reported sold by Toronto and area realtors, a 12.3 per cent increase compared to the 7,132 sales reported last year. Similarly, the average sale price for March came in at $902,680, almost matching April 2017’s record of $920,000. By comparison, last March the average sale price came in at $788,133, 14.5 per cent less than March 2020. What makes these numbers even more remarkable, is that all the properties that were reported sold took only 13 days (on average) to go from listing to sale.
What is so disappointing, particularly for buyers, is that March appeared to be the first month in sometime when more much-needed listings would come to market. Even with the abrupt hault in the market after March 15th, 14,424 properties came to market, a 3 per cent increase compared to the 14,004 that came to market last year. In the second half of the month, listings were being cancelled, suspended or moved from the multiple listing service to exclusive listings. By the end of the month, buyers were reluctant to visit properties as open houses became outlawed and real estate brokerages established rigid showing protocols. In order to protect the health and safety of its clients, agents, staff and the greater community, Chestnut Park put into place rigid showing restrictions, only allowing the showing of properties in emergency or exceptional circumstances.
But at the end of the day, March can be differentiated as the pre-COVID-19 and the post-COVID-19 markets. Effectively the date that demarcates these two markets is March 15. Here is what happened in those two markets.
So what does all this data tell us? Firstly, March’s numbers clearly indicate how strong the Toronto and area residential resale market is today. Even with everything that transpired, sales and average sale prices were still substantially stronger than March of 2019. The data also indicates that when we have dealt with COVID-19 the market should rebound exponentially. We can only hope that we have enough available properties to meet the pent up demand.
Secondly, the numbers for the second half of March point to a dismal April market. The slide that began after March 15 can not only be expected for April, but will likely be even more pronounced, given that we will only be hitting the virus’ peak late in the month.
Please everyone, stay safe and follow the directions of the Province’s health authorities.