How COVID-19 Changed the North York Real Estate Market

  • Sharon Soltanian
  • 09/13/21

The real estate market in various North York neighbourhoods, including Willowdale and the rest of the Toronto area, continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. As it does, we’re seeing some interesting trends.

In short, home sales took a dip between April and May, but prices are still shooting up. The average sale price of a detached home in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) reached a record $1,108,453, according to a report issued by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).

TRREB said the fast-paced market for single-family homes that greeted the new year began to slow from April to May, with 13% fewer dwellings being sold.

The board said 11,951 homes were sold in the area in May, down from 13,663 in April. But the May number was still way up from 4,594 during the same period last year when the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning.

May sales averaged 10,336 between 2010 and 2019, and the month is typically the strongest the region sees every year, but 2021 bucked the trend, said TRREB.

Despite the dip in sales from April to May, prices remain strong, which is good news for sellers of Willowdale real estate.

“There has been strong demand for ownership housing in all parts of the GTA for both ground-oriented home types and condominium apartments. This was fueled by confidence in the economic recovery and low borrowing costs," TRREB president Lisa Patel said in a report.

"However, in the absence of a normal pace of population growth, we saw a pullback in sales over the past two months relative to the March peak."


Moving Forward

Still, the numbers make it clear that sellers and buyers are eager to move beyond the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions.

Even though the May numbers were down a bit, TRREB revealed that the supply of residences remained tight enough that the average selling price surged to a record of $1,108,453 in May. That was in comparison to $1,090,992 in April and well up from May 2020.

TRREB said that increase amounted to a 28.4% surge over one year and raised the MLS home price index composite benchmark by approximately 19%.

While prices are up, at least house hunters had a better inventory to pick from than a year ago, according to TRREB. There were 18,586 new listings in May, down from 20,825 in April but up from 9,126 a year earlier.

"People actively looking to purchase a home continue to face a lot of competition from other buyers, which results in very strong upward pressure on selling prices," TRREB chief market analyst Jason Mercer said in the press release. “This competition is becoming more widespread with tighter market conditions in the condominium apartment segment as well.”

Market Looks Strong 

People buying or selling Willowdale real estate should know that the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) feels the current trend suggests that activity will remain strong through 2021, resulting in a record number of sales despite the recent slowdown that began in April. By 2022, sales activity is forecast to return toward more typical levels with significantly fewer transactions than this year.

The CREA said COVID-19 “supercharged” the real estate trends that were already present, including stronger activity among first-time buyers, primarily millennials, and a movement by existing owners to sell their homes and find another residence in which to ride out the pandemic shutdown. That caused supplies to hit all-time lows and drive prices sharply higher.

But with more and more people getting vaccinated, the urgency to find housing to ride out the pandemic is fading. While the market may be leveling out, there remains a high starting point for home prices, the CREA said.

“The mass vaccination of society and reopening of our lives and economies along with the associated migration and international immigration introduce a considerable amount of uncertainty to the outlook over the balance of 2021 and into 2022,” the group said. “Still, it is hard to see how these factors will not act as tailwinds to both housing demand and prices, particularly as inventories are still stuck at record lows.”

The Condo Market

Meanwhile, the condo market reversed course and went from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. The number of available units went up after the pandemic struck, and prices dropped, allowing many first-time buyers to finally get into the market. Some prices have dropped substantially, which has helped sales as many buyers try to get into the action. Buying a condo is a perfect first step into the market.

Experts say buyers should try to buy a unit now and not wait any longer and risk having prices start to move up.

Get Ready to Deal

Whether you want to buy a condo or move up to a large single-family home when shopping for Willowdale real estate, the first step is to hire an experienced real estate agent who knows the neighborhoods you are interested in. Your agent knows when new properties are listed and will help you negotiate the best possible deal.

Next, find out from a mortgage lender how big of a loan you qualify for and get pre-approved. That lets sellers know you are serious, and you’ll stand a much better chance of getting an offer accepted if you are pre-approved.

On the flip side, if you are selling Willowdale real estate, you should sit down with your agent to set a realistic price for your property. You don’t want to set it so high that it languishes on the market or so low that it costs you money. Your agent will help you find an excellent middle ground. You should also talk with your agent about how you will handle a multiple-offer scenario. Your agent will have plenty of information regarding the selling price for comparable properties.


For 100% satisfaction in buying and selling Willowdale real estate in 2021, contact your local Willowdale agent & North York real estate agent, Sharon Soltanian, for assistance.

 

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