The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost every sector of the economy and real estate is no exception.
While there were 8,012 home sales in the Greater Toronto Area for March 2020 — up by 12.3% compared to 7,132 sales reported in March 2019 — there was a noticeable house sale decline post-coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), “there was a clear break in market activity between the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 periods.”
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For the report, the board started the post-coronavirus period the week beginning Sunday, March 15.
The average selling price for March 2020 as a whole was $902,680 — up 14.5% compared to March 2019.
The average selling price for sales reported between March 15 and March 31, was $862,563 — down from the first half of March 2020, but still up by 10.5% compared to the same period last year.
The listing also went down from 7,756 from the first two weeks of the month to 6,668 for the last two weeks of March.
“While COVID-19 has clearly had an impact on the housing market, the late March numbers still suggest that there is activity in the marketplace. TRREB continues to strongly recommend stopping in-person open houses and has provided its members with guidelines for social distancing.” TRREB CEO John DiMichele said.
The report indicates that the overall March sales result was driven by the first two weeks of the month.
There were 4,643 sales reported in the pre-coronavirus period, accounting for 58% of total transactions and representing a 49% increase compared to the first 14 days of March 2019.
But for the post-coronavirus period, there were 3,369 sales reported — down by 15.9% compared to the same period in March 2019.
For March as a whole, new listings were up by 3% year-over-year to 14,424.
However, similar to sales, new listings dropped on a year-over-year basis during the second half of the month by 18.4%.
The report projects that if a peak in virus infections happens in the spring followed by a loosening of social distancing measures starting in the mid-to-late summer, there could be a “strengthening” in the demand for ownership housing throughout the fall and into the winter.
“News of employees returning to work coupled with the continuation of extremely low mortgage rates could fuel this recovery.”
While the City of Toronto declared that physical distancing will be in place until the end of June, now might be the time for potential homeowners to keep looking for property, but at a safe distance.