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Buyer confidence remains high

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Buyer confidence remains high

In December 2019, residential sales reported through TREB’s MLS System by Greater Toronto Area realtors were up by 17.4 per cent year-over- year to 4,399. Total sales for calendar year 2019 amounted to 87,825 – up by 12.6 per cent compared to the decade low 78,015 sales reported in 2018. On an annual basis, 2019 sales were in line with the median annual sales result for the past decade.

We certainly saw a recovery in sales activity in 2019, particularly in the second half of the year. As anticipated, many homebuyers who were initially on the sidelines moved back into the market place starting in the spring. Buyer confidence was buoyed by a strong regional economy and declining contract mortgage rates over the course of the year.

While sales were up in 2019, the number of new listings entered into TREB’s MLS system was down by 2.4 per cent year-over-year. For the past decade, annual new listings have been largely in a holding pattern between 150,000 and 160,000, despite the upward trend in home prices over the same period.

I asked Jason Mercer, TREB’s chief market analyst, for his thoughts on the latest numbers.

“Over the last 10 years, TREB has been drawing attention to the housing supply issue in the GTA. Increasingly, policy makers, research groups of varying scope and other interested parties have acknowledged that the lack of a diverse supply of ownership and rental housing continues to hamper housing affordability in the GTA. Taking 2019 as an example, we experienced a strong sales increase up against a decline in supply. Tighter market conditions translated into accelerating price growth. Expect further acceleration in 2020 if there is no relief on the supply front.”

The MLS Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 7.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis in December 2019. From June 2019 onward, the annual growth rate in the MLS HPI Composite Benchmark accelerated. The average selling price in December 2019 was $837,788 – up almost 12 per cent year-over- year. For calendar year 2019, the average selling price was $819,319 – up by four per cent compared to $787,856 in 2018.

I asked TREB’s CEO John DiMichele what the new year has in store for the GTA real estate market.

“TREB is committed to conducting and sponsoring evidence based, empirical research on housing market and broader regional economic issues. We share this research in order to contribute to the policy debate. On February 6, 2020, TREB will be releasing its Market Year in Review and Outlook report, which will contain consumer polling results, market overviews and forecasts, and new third-party research on housing and the economy in the GTA.”

Michael Collins is president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 54,500 professional realtor members in the Greater Toronto Area. You can contact him at trebpres@trebnet.com. For updates on the real estate market, visit trebhome.com.

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