March 2020: Toronto & GTA MLS® home sales:


March 2020: Toronto & GTA MLS® home sales: "How did we not see this...?"


Greater Toronto, Ontario - Friday April 3, 2020 –  The president of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, Michael Collins, today released the March, 2020 residential MLS® sales figures via the board’s monthly Chart - 2020-03 Toronto & GTA Home Sales & Average Price by Major Home Type“MarketWatch” publication and, while many were predicting a “parallel” to some degree of the infamous “Spring of ‘17” type market - extremely tight inventory and year-over-year price increases in the thirty percent range - what we actually got was - obviously - extremely different. Particularly the second half of the month as the global health crisis deepened.

While we’re committed to posting these updates, this post will be “minimalist” out of respect for the fact that there are far more important concerns at this moment than what the Toronto & GTA real estate market did last month. On that note, many - myself included... at first - scoffed at the notion that the job of Realtor® was deemed “essential” by the powers that be these days. On closer thought - as with many industries - there are actually scenarios that can be considered essential in the present climate. A family home has been sold, but it’s Chart - 2020-03 Toronto & GTA Home Sales YoY Summaryreplacement not yet purchased, for example. Or vice versa… There are actually several scenarios and, with the proper precautions, it’s probably safer than a trip to the store. Still… generally “essential”? Probably not.

On more than one level it comes down to risk versus reward. Low interest rates. COVID-19. The prospect of price softening [e.g. buying a home now versus “waiting and seeing”...]. A drop in “competitive buyer activity” after a prolonged period of unusually tight inventory levels has likely helped sales levels... 

Speaking of interest rates, while the Bank of Canada has adjusted rates to soften the economic impact of the pandemic, mortgage rates have bounded around but ended up - to this point - higher "due to risk premium".


Overall sales - meaning TRREB‘s entire trading area and all types of homes - came in at 8,012 in March representing a 12.3% increase over the adjusted 7,132 sales reported the prior March. The average price of those sales was $902,680, up 14.5%. All figures herein are year-over-year comparisons unless specifically noted otherwise.

What’s interesting is that that average sale price for March is actually down a little from the previous month’s $910,290 - virtually unheard of going into the Spring market...unless, of course, there’s something else going on like a global health pandemic.


New listings were up three percent versus last March. More importantly, Total Active Listings - a much better barometer of actual inventory - were down 31.5% to 10,676.

What will be interesting is to see a comparison of the first half of March versus the second half. We’ll try to get that organized in the coming days…

Months of “Forward Inventory” is calculated by dividing that Total Active Listings figure by total sales. That results in 1.33 months...which will likely rise significantly in the weeks ahead as buyer interest falls off. Then Chart - 2020-03 Toronto & GTA Home Sales Historic Annual & Monthly Statsagain, if sellers don't want people wandering through their homes, well... “Absorption Rate” is the rate at which the market is currently “absorbing” newly listed inventory, calculated by dividing the month’s sales by new listings. That was .555 for February.

The Major Home “Types”

Sales of Detached homes in Metropolitan Toronto were up 25.1% to 833 at an average sale price of $1,465,826, a healthy 15.4% increase. In the balance of the GTA, the Detached group saw 2,927 sales, up 15.4%, averaging $1,005,999, up 10.6%.

Condo Apartment sales were relatively flat year over year, though sale prices showed strength: In Toronto,1,402 units were reported sold, up 4.2%, averaging $712,746, an 18.1% jump. “The 905” saw 612 sales on the month, down two tenths of a percent, averaging $$535,189, up 15.4%.

While we have not yet examined the numbers closely, a couple of things are apparent: 

  1. The first half of March was stronger than the second half as it was March 11th, 2020, that the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 situation a pandemic.
  2. Specifically affecting Apartment buildings was the elevator situation where many people avoided them for obvious reasons.

Naturally we’ll be monitoring the situation closely. If time permits, we’re even considering some weekly year-over-year “statistical snapshots” beginning in April for those who are interested, have put plans on hold, etcetera. 

Quotes from the report:

Michael Collins, TRREB President: “The overall sales result for March was strong relative to last year, but the impact of COVID-19 was certainly evident in the number of sales reported in the second half of March. Uncertainty surrounding the outbreak's impact on the broader economy and the onset of the necessary social distancing measures resulted in the decline in sales since March 15. Sales figures for April will give us a better sense as to the trajectory of the market while all levels of government take the required action to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

Jason Mercer, Director, TRREB Market Analysis: “Despite sales and listings trending lower in the second half of March, demand for ownership housing remained strong enough relative to listings to see the average selling price remain above last year's levels, including during the last few days of the month. As we move through April, we will have a clearer view on how social distancing measures and broader economic conditions will influence sales and ultimately the pace of price growth.”

Homes were sold “38.1% faster” in March at just 13 “Listing Days on Market” [versus 21]. “Property Days on Market” - which is a better barometer - stood at 17 days this year, an incredible “43.3% faster” [30days]. [“LDOM” versus “PDOM”: Listing Days on Market= average number of days sold listings were on the market. Average Property Days on Market = average number of days property was on market before selling regardless of whether the property was listed more than once by the same combination of seller and brokerage.

For “Bungalow-specific” average prices and other statistics broken down by Toronto, GTA, and South-Central Ontario Region, please click here.

All the very best to you and yours. Let’s focus on gratitude as best we can, and truly look after each other in these trying times. Bye the way...that title, “How did we not see this…?”, refers to a comment my wife made multiple times in the latter half of March. We first started hearing about this coronavirus toward the end of 2019. We then heard about it spreading to multiple regions relatively quickly. But still we waited… human nature? Optimism? Not pointing fingers here at all. Merely musing… #StaySafe

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Chart - 2020-03 Toronto & GTA Home Sales Volume by Price & Type