It was a banner year for home sales in Toronto – but an even better year in the suburbs.
Across the Greater Toronto Area, annual existing home sales rose above 100,000 for the first time last year, the Toronto Real Estate Board reported. Annual sales hit 101,299, up 9.4 per cent from 2014. Average prices rose 9.8 per cent.
But despite much public focus on the average price of detached homes in the city itself, which topped $1-million this year, many buyers continued to flock to the suburbs, creating fierce competition for more affordable homes and driving up prices in several of the region's bedroom communities.
Detached sales rose just 1.7 per cent in the City of Toronto in 2015, restricted by a shortage of listings, but soared 10.5 per cent in the 905 region. The suburbs even outperformed when it came to condo sales, which rose 15 per cent in the 905 region compared with 12 per cent in the city.
When it comes to resale prices for detached homes, the strongest growth was in the suburbs north of the city. Benchmark detached home prices rose an annualized 10 per cent in Toronto in December, but soared nearly 15 per cent in neighbouring York Region, north of the city.
Benchmark prices represent the price of a "typical" home and correct for the fact that averages can be skewed by the number of sales in the higher or lower ends of the market.
Father-flung and more affordable suburbs saw even bigger gains. In New Tecumseth, south of Barrie, the benchmark price for detached homes was $408,000 in December, a nearly 20-per-cent jump from the previous year. In Newmarket, benchmark detached home prices rose more than 17 per cent to $642,700. But prices also soared nearly 16 per cent in the less-affordable suburb of Richmond Hill, where the benchmark price of a detached home topped $1-million in December.
Some suburbs even outperformed the city when it came to condo prices. The benchmark price for a condo in Toronto rose 4.3 per cent compared with the previous December, but jumped 5.6 per cent in Peel Region and 6.5 per cent in York Region.
Within the City of Toronto, the biggest jump in detached home prices were in family-friendly neighbourhoods such as Danforth Village and Willowdale, where benchmark prices rose more than 16 per cent in 2015 to just over $1-million. The weakest growth came from detached homes in the downtown core, where prices grew by less than 1 per cent, although the numbers were skewed by the fact that there were only a handful of detached home sales in the area.
Among condos, prices rose by more than 15 per cent annualized in December in the neighbourhoods around York University, although to a still-modest benchmark of $187,500. Meanwhile, prices were 2.58 per cent lower in Mimico, in southwest Toronto. In the downtown core, the region's biggest condo market, benchmark prices rose less than 2 per cent, to $392,500.