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166 Crescent Rd. in Toronto's Rosedale neighbourhood on May 10, 2018.

Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

Sales of homes worth more than $3-million hit a record in the Toronto region last year, with purchases more than doubling in the suburbs as buyers sought bigger spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall in the Greater Toronto Area, there were 1,068 luxury house and condo sales, a 56-per-cent increase over 2019, according to a new report from Re/Max.

The demand for more room and green space drove sales of low-rise properties at all price points across the country as remote work became a necessity for office workers. That trend was also strong among affluent homebuyers.

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“People were looking at their living arrangements and they found out very quickly if it was working for them or not,” said Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president with Re/Max. “It is different if you leave every day to go to work. When you are at home every single day, you notice these things,” he said.

In the city of Toronto, luxury home sales rose 30 per cent, year over year, to 652 transactions, according to Re/Max. The highest number of luxury home sales were in the wealthy northern part of the city – the Bridle Path, Sunnybrook and Hoggs Hollow areas – as well as just west in the Bedford Park, Lawrence Park and Forest Hill neighbourhoods.

In the Toronto suburbs, also called the 905 for their area code, sales of expensive houses jumped 112 per cent to 416 transactions. The highest number of $3-million-plus sales were just west of the city of Toronto in Mississauga and Oakville, as well as just north of the city in Richmond Hill.

Luxury home sales slowed in 2018 and 2019 after the foreign buyers’ real estate tax was imposed in an attempt to curb speculation. With the pandemic slowing immigration and travel to Canada, the numbers suggest that domestic buyers were responsible for the increase in luxury home sales.

Mr. Alexander said domestic buyers offset a decline in purchases by international buyers.

The record number of luxury home sales is reflected in the higher average selling price across all types of properties in the Toronto region. Last year, it hit a record $929,699, according to the local real estate board.

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