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A sold sticker sits atop a real estate sign in Toronto on May 16, 2020.Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press

Toronto’s housing market is heating up, with resales climbing for the first time in five months as “fierce” competition for houses in the suburbs pushes prices higher.

There were 9,046 home resales in the Toronto region in September, down 18 per cent from the same period last year. But it was the first month-over-month increase in activity since March, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, or TRREB.

Across the Toronto area, the average selling price of a home was $1,136,280, an 18-per-cent jump over September of last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the average price was 1.8 per cent higher than in August.

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The board’s home price index, which calibrates for price volatility, reached $1,082,400 in September, a rise of 2 per cent over August, and the first month-over-month increase since May, with the regions surrounding the city of Toronto leading the way higher.

Although more homeowners put their properties up for sale last month, the total number of houses on the market was lower than in the fall of last year.

Realtors describe a return to the frenzied competition that characterized most of the pandemic’s real estate boom. “It is quite fierce,” said Michelle Plach, a realtor with Justo Brokerage.

Ms. Plach listed a semi-detached house in Mississauga on Thursday for $799,000 and was inundated with requests to see the property. The house sold a day later for $999,999. A week ago, Ms. Plach said another Mississauga house received 20 offers. She said over the summer, houses were getting between three to seven offers. Now, she said properties are “easily getting 10 to 20 offers.”

The home price index for the Peel region, which includes Mississauga, rose 2 per cent from August to September. In Halton, which is farther west and about an hour commute to downtown Toronto by train, the index jumped 4 per cent. Prices rose at a similar pace in the Simcoe region, which is north of Toronto, and to the east in Durham.

With more companies embracing a flexible work model and allowing staff to work from home part of the week, home buyers continue to seek bigger properties outside of the downtown core, according to realtors.

But with houses topping $1-million in the city and parts of Toronto’s suburbs, homebuyers are forced to look at condos, according to TRREB. Condo resales continue to climb with the average selling price of a condo in the city surpassing $744,000 in September, higher than prior to the start of the pandemic.

Jason Mercer, the board’s chief market analyst, said more first-time home buyers are entering the market and the competition has “led to an acceleration in price growth over the past few months.”

In Canada’s priciest real estate markets, such as the Vancouver region, resales were steady, but dropped 11 per cent in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, according to their local boards.

In the Vancouver area, the home price index for detached and semi-detached houses was up 1.2 per cent from August to September. The index for a detached house hit $1,828,200.

In the Fraser Valley, the index rose across all types of properties. Detached houses recorded the biggest gain, with prices up 1.9 per cent to $1,362,220 over the same period.

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