December 2019 Market Review

The Toronto real estate market had a decent December to close out 2019. There were 4,399 sales, up 17.4% over December 2018. It’s worth noting, though, that 2018 was a very slow year and December of that year saw only 3,781 sales. For reference, December 2017 saw 4,876 sales, and 2016 saw 5,305 sales, so 2019 was more in line with those years, and did not represent significant net growth. So, a relatively busy December rounded out a year that saw total sales for the calendar year hit 87,825 – up 12.6% over the decade-low 78,015 sales that were reported in 2018. All good!

At the same time, the increase in prices *was* rather significant: up 11.9%, to $837,788, over $749,014 at the end of 2018. Again, I attribute this mostly to the supply issue. New listings were down 18.1%, to 3,531, and total listings at the end of the month were down 35.2% to just 7,406. At a time when sales activity was up over the previous year, reduced availability of homes to buy (down 2.4% for the whole year) caused prices to surge.

I also like to reference the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark from time to time. It weights sale prices by home type (e.g. detached, semi-detached, townhouse, etc.), so it helps to smooth out the impact of, for example, super-high-end sales. That measure was up by 7.3% year-over-year basis in December 2019. TRREB* has pointed out, though, that from June 2019 onward, the annual growth rate in the MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark accelerated.

Note also that there will be price fluctuations throughout any given year, so the end-of-year price could be higher than the average price for a whole year, which may seem confusing at first, but it makes sense. 😉 So, as noted above, the average selling price in December 2019 was up almost 12% year-over-year, but for the entire calendar year 2019, the average selling price was $819,319, up a much more modest 4% over $787,856 in 2018. The ‘affordability’ issue is often exaggerated, but I think that a 4% annual increase is manageable for most potential buyers.

So, what to expect in 2020?! The economy is still pretty good (especially in Toronto), interest rates remain low, and I think there’s still a lot of pent-up demand for owned housing in the GTA. It’s still relatively quiet out there now but, based on the sale prices being reported this month, I think that we are in for another busy year in the Toronto real estate market!

*TRREB is not a type-o! The Toronto Board is now called the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, which better reflects the territory covered by the Board.

simonmilberry