07 January 2021
Melanie Wright

2020 Market Review

We are not sad to say goodbye to 2020! The COVID-19 virus did not slow the growth of sales or housing prices in the GTA and surrounding areas. However, it certainly changed the way we do business. Last year started strong out of the gate with big gains early on. From January to March in the GTA, we saw jam packed open houses, buyers lined up to walk through already crowded houses and condos, and lots of multiple offer situations. That activity resulted in a significant increase in property values and a lack of inventory before the pandemic hit. In March as the city locked down, buyers took a step back. Real estate was deemed an essential service, but the market didn’t pick back up until April.

We upped our game in terms of digital and virtual marketing to create buyer confidence and excitement; clearly, we had to adapt quickly to the new conditions within our market. Showing houses to qualified buyers, one at a time, wearing masks and adhering to strict safety protocols became the new normal. Open houses became a thing of the past and we watched as homes sold quickly without them.

According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, by mid-December 2020, housing prices in Toronto had risen almost 15%. CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association) states that the largest year over year gains – between 25-30% – were recorded in Quinte & District, Tillsonburg District, Woodstock-Ingersoll and a number of Ontario cottage country areas. Year over year price increases in the 20-25% range were seen in Barrie, Bancroft and Area, Brantford, Huron Perth, London & St. Thomas, North Bay, Simcoe & District, Southern Georgian Bay and Ottawa. We saw a trend of clients wanting to move out of the city, as their jobs allowed them to work remotely and larger city centres faced strict shut downs of businesses.

In CREA Magazine, Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist said, “if I had to sum up the Canadian housing story in 2020, I would say it’s gone from weakness because of COVID to strength despite COVID...It will be a photo finish, but it’s looking like 2020 will be a record year for home sales in Canada despite historically low supply.” 

As for the next year, we believe record sales will continue to be set despite lockdown restrictions extending in much of the province. Cathcart said, “Much like this virus, I don’t see it all turning into a pumpkin on New Year’s Eve, but at least vaccination is a light at the end of the tunnel. Immigration and population growth will ramp back up, mortgage rates are expected to continue to remain very low, and a place to call home is more important than ever. On top of that, the COVID-related shake-up to so much of daily life will likely continue to result in more people choosing to pull up stakes and move around.”

Real estate has again proven to be a solid reliable investment, even in an unpredictable year. People invested heavily in real estate in 2020 and confidence remained very high. We expect this trend to continue well into 2021.