March, 2019: Toronto & GTA MLS® home sales: In a word, “Flat”

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March, 2019: Toronto & GTA MLS® home sales: In a word, “Flat”


April 3, 2019 - The March, 2019 MLS® home sales statistics were released today by the Toronto Real Estate Board showing zero change in the number of properties sold compared to last March. Alright - one less Chart - 2019-03 Toronto & GTA Home Sales YoY Summary.pngproperty, actually, at 7,187. The overall average selling price of those properties was up one half of one percent to $788,335 from $784,514. Talk about “flat”. Sales activity actually increased nicely in “The 905” areas of the GTA outside Metropolitan Toronto. The latter appears to still be feeling the constraint of high prices and the double MLTT [Municipal Land Transfer Tax]. The statistics - based on sales reported by Toronto & GTA Realtors through the Toronto Real Estate Board’s MLS System - were released this morning in the Board’s monthly MarketWatch publication.

Inventory overall - meaning all of TREB’s market area and all residential property types - dropped 2.5% to a total of 15,576 active listings. New listings were down 5.1% to 13,996 homes. All figures herein are year-over-year comparisons unless otherwise noted.

Compared to February 2019 and it’s lovely weather, the number of sales was up 43% in March. March’s average sale price was virtually unchanged from February’s $780,397 though.

Breaking down the numbers by Home Type

Sales of Detached homes in Metro Toronto - “The 416” [Area Code] - fell 4% to 671 units at an average sale price of $1,267,598, down 2.1%. In the balance of the Greater Toronto Area there were 2,559 Detached sales, up 6.8%, averaging $910,624, down 1.2%.

Condominium Apartment sales were negative to flat, off 14.1% to 1,349 units in T.O. at an average sale price of $603,969 and up 1.7% in the rest of the GTA to 616 units averaging $463,774, up 3.3%. The tight inventory situation in popular Toronto Condo neighbourhoods continues to constrict sales while giving some support to prices.

Chart - 2019-03 Toronto & GTA Home Sales & Average Price by Major Home Type

All one-storey homes - be they Bungalow, Condo, or a “hybrid” of those [e.g. Detached Condo Bungalow, etc.] remained in strong demand as the population ages and as younger buyers find them - in the case of the first two, at least - attractive from both a price entry point and a future expansion/potential standpoint. Bungalows also tend to be more easily adaptable to adding an additional living space such as a basement apartment or "Granny Flat" / In-law Flat. Where permitted, these additional living spaces may be rentable, thus offsetting carrying costs.

Townhome sales were also strong across the market area, up 15.2% in Toronto and up 11.1% in the rest of the GTA.

More on Inventory…

The Indicated Forward Inventory [Total Active Listings / Monthly Sales] stood at 2.17 months - relatively low by historical standards - particularly for residential real estate in the month of March - and no doubt responsible to some degree for the market’s stability in terms of prices. In February ’19 there were 2.64 months of inventory, Chart - 2019-03 Toronto & GTA Home Sales Historic Annual Statsand a year ago there were 2.21 months. The Absorption Rate - the rate at which the market “absorbed” new listings [Monthly Sales / New Listings] was .51 - unchanged from February ’19; .486 a year ago.

Homes took “5% longer to sell” this March averaging 21 Days on Market versus 20.


From TREB President Garry Bhaura in the report: “The OSFI stress test continues to impact home buyers’ ability to qualify for a mortgage. TREB is still arguing that the stress test provisions and mortgage lending guidelines generally, including allowable amortization periods for insured mortgages, should be reviewed. The supply of listings in the GTA also remains a problem. Bringing a greater diversity of ownership and rental housing online, including ‘missing middle’ home types, should be a priority of all levels of government. TREB is happy to be taking part in the City of Toronto’s consultations for the Housing TO – 2020-2030 Action Plan, and will certainly be raising the supply issue during these discussions.”

…and from “head quant”, Jason Mercer - TREB’s Chief Market Analyst: “Market conditions have remained tight enough to support a moderate pace of price growth. Despite sales being markedly lower than the record levels of 2016 and early 2017, the supply of listings has also receded. This means that in many neighbourhoods throughout the GTA, we continue to see competition between buyers for available listings, which provides a level of support for home prices.” a rare "cameo" by Board CEO, John Di Michele: “While the City of Toronto’s recently announced Housing TO – 2020-2030 Action Plan is exciting and commendable and TREB looks forward to contributing solutions as a Member of the External Advisory Committee, the recently proposed increase to the Municipal Land Transfer Tax on higher priced properties is problematic. As the recent City budget process showed, the MLTT is not a sustainable revenue source from which to fund municipal programs. On top of this, additional MLTT on higher priced homes could have a trickle-down effect on the supply of homes throughout the housing price continuum.”

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