It was a fitting end to what was the best year on record for home sales in the Greater Toronto Area. Some 4,945 homes changed hands in December, the second-highest sales level ever recorded through the Toronto Real Estate Board’s (TREB) MLS in the final month of any calendar year. This put further distance between the activity that was tracked in 2015 — December’s performance lifted the total to 101,299 — and the previous best year of 2007, when transactions numbered 91,193.
“A relatively strong regional economy in the GTA coupled with low borrowing costs kept a record number of households — first-time buyers and existing homeowners alike — confident in their ability to purchase and pay for a home over the long term,” said Mark McLean, TREB’s president, in a statement.
Detached homes led the way for sales among all major housing types, which also include condo apartments, semi-detached homes, and townhouses. Last year, 48,657 detached homes sold across the GTA, an 8.2 per cent increase over 2014’s tally, and nearly double the second-most-purchased choice — condo apartments. However, the greatest percentage leap in sales between 2014 and 2015 was seen in the condo-apartment sector. Transactions for this housing type jumped 12.9 per cent last year to a total of 24,731 units.
Strong sales gains were recorded for townhouses as well, as annual transactions involving these low-rise homes shot up 9.3 per cent compared to 2014’s numbers, reaching a total of 15,834 sales. As for semi-detached homes, the 10,217 sales throughout this past year represent a more modest 5.4 per cent increase in activity compared to 2014.
While all these homes were selling, prices were rising. In fact, the average sale price for a home in the GTA rose to $622,217 in 2015, 9.8 per cent more expensive than it was in 2014. “GTA home price growth was driven by the low-rise segments of the market, but condominium apartment price growth was generally well-above the rate of inflation as well through 2015,” according to TREB.
Illustrating TREB’s point, the average price of a detached home sold in the GTA last month was $825,470, up 11.9 per cent from the same point in 2014; looking at just the 416, that number climbs to $1,039,638, an 11.8 per cent year-over-year increase. Meanwhile, condo apartments were the cheapest of all the main housing types in the GTA with an average price of $378,249 in December, up 4.2 per cent from a year ago.
“Suffice to say, I think it’s been a strong handoff from 2015 into 2016,” says Jason Mercer, TREB’s market analysis director.