Toronto housing market starts buying season with a bang, sales up 17%

Toronto’s housing market entered the busy spring property season with a bang, as sales surged 17 per cent in April compared with a year earlier and prices also pushed higher.

The number of transactions totalled 9,042 units last month, compared with 7,744 units in April 2018, the Toronto Real Estate Board said Monday. On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales were up 11 per cent in April compared with March. The average selling price of a home climbed 1.9 per cent from a year ago, to $820,148.

The rise in sales is an another indication Canada’s biggest real estate market is stabilizing from a recent slump, though it’s off the dizzying heights of a few years ago. Toronto’s housing market cooled considerably last year as officials tightened mortgage regulations, imposed taxes on foreign buyers and took other measures designed to curb runaway prices — raising worries the steps had gone too far.

Yet economic fundamentals — everything from strong employment gains to a sharp increase in immigration — remain supportive, as has the dovish tilt globally from central banks that have helped bring down borrowing costs in recent months.

“The strong year-over-year growth in sales is obviously a good news story and likely represents some catchup from a slow start to the year,” Garry Bhaura, TREB president, said in the statement.

The improving sentiment is also bringing out more sellers, the data show, with new listings up 8 per cent from a year ago. Bhaura noted, however, demand still outpaced increased supply, pointing to the “ongoing housing supply issue” in Toronto that could fuel even more price gains.

“This suggests that market conditions continued to tighten,” he said.

Benchmark prices, which adjust for the type of home sold, are up 3.2 per cent from a year ago, the fastest appreciation in more than a year.

The sales gains in April were driven by the single-family home segment, while price increases were led by condos, according to the realtor group. Prices for condominiums were up 5.1 per cent in April from a year earlier.