Toronto’s housing market last month posted the sharpest drop since the early weeks of the Covid-19 crisis, as buyers and sellers took a breather from a frenetic pace amid surging infections and renewed lockdown measures.
The number of properties changing hands in Canada’s largest city declined 20% in April on an annualized basis from the month before, while the average price for a home fell 3.6% to $855,000, according to data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board. Both declines were the steepest since April 2020, the month after the
WHO declared the coronavirus
outbreak a global pandemic.
“It makes sense that we had a pullback in market activity compared to March,” Lisa Patel, president of Toronto’s real estate board, said in a statement. “We’ve experienced a torrid pace of home sales since the summer of 2020 while seeing little in the way of population growth. We may be starting to exhaust the pool of potential buyers.”
The slowdown comes after months of ever-more frenzied activity in real estate markets in Toronto and across Canada. Surging demand prompted warnings from the government’s own national housing agency that risks of a bubble were growing, and prominent economists have called for
policy makers to step in to slow
Since then, a renewed wave of infections has swept parts of the country, causing Toronto and the rest of the province of Ontario to be placed under a stay-at-home order. Last month’s slowdown in home sales could strengthen voices arguing that market forces preclude the need for government action.
Even so, almost 10,800 homes changed hands in the Toronto region — a record for the month of April.
A similar dynamic appeared in Vancouver, where the number of sales last month fell 14% from March, according to a release Tuesday from that city’s real estate board.
Vancouver has been contending with its own wave of coronavirus infections, though not as severe as Toronto’s. Activity in both markets was still well above the depressed levels of last April, and elevated from the long-term averages for this time of year.
“While the pace of price growth could moderate in the coming months, home prices will likely continue on the upward trend,” Jason Mercer, the Toronto real estate board’s chief market analyst, said in a statement. “Renewed population growth over the next year coupled with a persistent lack of new inventory will underpin home-price appreciation.”