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business briefing

Briefing highlights

  • Toronto area home sales at fresh high
  • Value of homes sold almost $83-billion
  • Analysts expect price gains to ease
2016 dollar volume of Toronto area home sales

Toronto’s residential real estate industry has capped a second straight record year of dramatic price gains across the city and its surrounding areas.

Those sharp price increases show no signs of slowing at this point, something that’s sure to catch the eye of policy makers, though analysts believe the pace will ease over the next several months.

In the wake of Vancouver’s slump, the latest Toronto numbers cement the region’s showing as Canada’s hottest market, and them some.

And here’s a fascinating statistic: The dollar volume of sales in Toronto and the surrounding areas hit $82.6-billion in 2016, up big time from 2015’s $63-billion.

The report from the Toronto Real Estate Board, which takes in a wide area including Durham, Halton, Peel and York regions and Dufferin and Simcoe counties, showed 113,133 home sales last year, up 11.8 per cent from a year earlier.

December alone saw a jump of 8.6 per cent.

Average prices surged at an even faster pace, up 23.1 per cent in December from a year earlier for a detached home, 18.3 per cent for a semi-detached, 23.7 per cent for a townhouse and 16.5 per cent for a condo.

For the year, the overall average surged 17.3 per cent.

Prices differ by region, of course, with a detached home now at $1.3-million in the 416 area and $934,055 in the 905 neighbourhoods.

These gains show a stunning rise over the past 10 years. Consider that the average price of a home across the area now stands at $729,922, compared with $335,907 in 2005.

This comes as supply dwindles, with active listings now at their lowest in 15 years and new listings for 2016 declining by almost 4 per cent.

“If we want to see a sustained moderation in the pace of price growth, what we really need is more policy focus on issues impacting the lack of homes available for sale,” Jason Mercer, the Toronto board’s director of market analysis, said in a statement releasing the latest numbers.

Both the federal and B.C. governments have moved aggressively to cool the Canadian markets, largely those of Vancouver and Toronto, through tax and mortgage changes.

As The Globe and Mail’s Brent Jang reports, Vancouver is now slumping, with sales tumbling by 39.4 per cent in December from a year earlier.

Economists believe the pace of price growth in Toronto will slow given the policy measures and the fact that so many potential buyers are now priced out of the market, but that there won’t be an outright contraction.

“Not much sign of cooling in the Toronto market heading into year-end, quite contrary to what we’re seeing in Vancouver,” BMO Nesbitt Burns senior economist Robert Kavcic said on the latest report.

“That’s making it more clear that the non-resident buyer tax (unique to Vancouver) is having a much bigger impact than Ottawa’s mortgage rule changes (which applied to both cities),” he added.

Mr. Kavcic also noted that the rise in Toronto’s benchmark price is the fastest since at least 2001, and probably the late 1980s, though the board’s index doesn’t go back that far.