No summer slowdown in Toronto real estate as July shatters sales record

TORONTO — July was a record-breaking month for Toronto real estate sales, as 11,081 homes changed hands.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board says existing home sales in the Greater Toronto Area jumped 29.5 per cent compared with July 2019, hitting a new high for the month.

Average home prices are also up 16.9 per cent from a year ago, at $943,710.

TRREB says low-rise homes, especially outside the downtown core, led the upward trend, with overall prices jumping most in Durham, Orangeville and South Simcoe county.

The board’s president, Lisa Patel, said there is evidence the home market is tightening — with buyers competing as homes are being sold faster than new listings are added to the market.

“Competition between buyers continued to increase in many segments of the GTA ownership housing market in July, which fuelled a further acceleration in year-over-year price growth in July compared to June,” said the board’s chief market analyst, Jason Mercer.

Patel suggested in a report that homebuyers and sellers have put off summer travel and are playing catch-up on their housing plans, after the City of Toronto entered Stage 3 of reopening from COVID-19 restrictions.

“Sales activity was extremely strong for the first full month of summer. Normally we would see sales dip in July relative to June as more households take vacation, especially with children out of school,” Patel said in a statement.

The bulk of sales for July were detached homes (5,633 sold) and condo apartments (2,423 sold), but the real estate board reiterated support for building more “missing middle” housing, such as low-rise apartments and townhouses.

While TRREB lauded the recently approved “missing middle” plan from Toronto city council — as well as a provincial push for transit-oriented communities — the board did decry any policy suggestion that capital gains tax should be applied to the sale of a principal residence.

Even as home prices climbed higher again in July, a tax would not help bridge the wealth-creation gap between renters and owners, the board suggested.

“The long-term solution to housing affordability in Canada, for both ownership and rental, is to ensure that there are adequate and appropriate types and tenures of housing available in the market,” said TRREB chief executive John DiMichele.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2020.

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