Home / Ontario Real Estate / Ontario Real Estate Market Update: December 2020

Ontario Real Estate Market Update: December 2020

January 19, 2021

Despite the halting of real estate activity in the spring and the seasonal slowdown through the holidays, the Ontario real estate market ended 2020 on a strong note.

While all major markets experienced declining month-over-month sales ranging from 11-44%, year-over-year sales were exceptionally high: most regions saw increases of 40% or more, with Toronto and Peel sales ballooning by 62%.

Also typical of the winter months, new listings slowed from November to December across all major markets, with declines ranging from 38% to 55%. On a year-over-year basis, the numbers were less consistent: while some regions saw as many as 70% more listings coming onto the market this month than in December 2019, others saw single-digit increases, and still others experienced decreases. Despite the influx of listings in some markets, inventory levels across the province remain low. Except for Toronto, where year-over-year inventory increased slightly to two months, all reports are of diminishing inventory levels and competitive markets.

As month-over-month sales, new listings, and inventory decrease nearly in tandem, most regions are experiencing only slight upward pressure on prices – Peterborough alone reports a price gain larger than 8% – while two of the province’s most active markets, Toronto and Ottawa, have seen small price decreases. Of course, a different picture emerges from year-over-year comparisons: all major markets report price increases between 14% and 39% over December 2019, with Toronto being the only outlier at a 1% increase. With property value still heading upward, markets may continue to favour sellers well into 2021.

map of Ontario with purple 'pins' indicating real estate listings

Toronto  

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports1 2,713 residential sales in the City of Toronto for December, up a stunning 62% from the same month last year2 and down 11% from November.3 The average days on market for all home types continued climbing from 21 the previous month to 29, which is two days more than in December 2019. Despite a longer average selling time, inventory levels remain on par with November at two months (meaning it would take 2 months to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales), while new listings dropped 55% month over month. With ebbing market activity and buyer demand – consistent with typical seasonal slowdowns – prices have softened: the average price for all home types in the city is $894,576, up 1% year over year and down 9% month over month.

“While the housing market as a whole recovered strongly in 2020, there was a dichotomy between the single-family market segments and the condominium apartment segment,” notes Jason Mercer, TRREB Chief Market Analyst. “The supply of single-family homes remained constrained resulting in strong competition between buyers […]. In contrast, growth in condo listings far-outstripped growth in sales. Increased choice for condo buyers ultimately led to more bargaining power and a year-over-year dip in average condo selling prices during the last few months of the year.”

Indeed, single-family/detached homes accounted for 24% of all sales this month at 657 transactions, with an average price of $1,475,758 – up 8% year over year and down less than 1% since November. On the other hand, condo apartments accounted for 57% of all sales, but with more than double the number of new listings than in the detached category (1,343 condos vs. 554 detached homes), the average price fell to $625,828, down 5% year over year and 2% month over month. The semi-detached category fared better, with 197 sales and an average price of $1,160,108 (up 15% year over year and on par with November), while townhouses came in at 84 sales with an average price of $1,125,972 (up 18% year over year and 6% month over month).

Peel

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports4 1,486 residential sales in the Peel region in December, representing a stunning 62% increase year over year5 and a 20% drop in activity month over month.6 Brampton accounted for 49% of December’s residential sales. The average days on market, which has been edging upward since November, rose by two days to 19 (but still six days less than December 2019’s average). Despite longer selling times, inventory levels have dropped 8% from November to 1.2 months (meaning it would take just over a month to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales), which is likely the result of new listings coming in 42% below November’s number. The average selling price for a home in the Peel region is $894,581, for a year-over-year increase of 14% and a month-over-month increase of a little over half a percent.

Detached homes accounted for 41% of all residential sales, with an average selling price of $1,200,646, up 18% year over year and 6% month over month. Semi-detached homes sold for an average of $837,621 (up 17% year over year and 1% month over month), townhouses sold for an average of $771,001 (up 13% year over year and 3% month over month), while condo apartments sold for an average of $509,359 (up 3% year over year and 2% month over month).

Durham  

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports7 773 residential sales in the Durham region in December, representing a stunning 49% increase year over year8 and a 29% decrease month over month.9 Average days on market for all home types edged down by one day since November to 13, which is more than twice as fast as December 2019’s average of 28 days. Available listings have also been cut in half from a year ago: inventory is currently at 0.9 months, down from 2 months in December 2019 and one month in November (month’s inventory measures how long it would take to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales). The average selling price for a home in the Durham region is $778,037, up 22% year over year and 2% month over month.

Detached homes accounted for 64% of all residential sales, with an average selling price of $868,916, up 25% year over year and 4% month over month. Semi-detached homes sold for an average of $667,938 (up 31% year over year and 6% month over month), townhouses sold for an average of $706,152 (up 26% year over year and 6% month over month), while condo apartments sold for an average of $441,927 (up 20% year over year and 4% month over month).

Halton   

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports10 584 residential sales in the Halton region in December, representing a year-over-year increase of 53% and a month-over-month decrease of 31%.11 New listings are up a stunning 70% year over year at 475, but down by almost half since November. Despite an easing of month-over-month sales and an average selling time that has crept up by three days to 21, inventory has edged down from 1.4 months in November to 1.3 months (meaning it would take 1.3 months to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales). The average selling price for all home types in Halton is $1,095,250 – an increase of 22% year over year and 3% month over month.

Detached, single-family homes accounted for 52% of all residential sales, with an average price of $1,429,635, up 28% year over year and 4% month over month. Semi-detached homes sold for an average of $880,514 (up 20% year over year and 2% month over month), townhouses sold for an average of $837,825 (up 11% year over year and 4% month over month), while condo apartments sold for an average of $638,375 (up 20% year over year and 9% month over month).

Ottawa   

The Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) reports12 1,002 residential properties sold in December, representing a year-over-year increase of 32% and a month-over-month decrease of 38%.13 Total residential sales for 2020 came in at 18,971, 2% higher than in 2019 despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

According to Ottawa Real Estate Board’s 2021 President Debra Wright, “When analyzing the year-end figures, what clearly stood out was that although the number of units sold was only slightly higher than last year, the total sales volume [the sum of all selling prices for the year] topped a record-breaking $10 billion compared to $8.2 billion at the end of 2019. This is, in effect, a stark illustration of the increase in Ottawa property values over the course of the year.”

In December, residential-class homes (including detached homes, semi-detached homes, townhouses, and duplexes) accounted for 71% of sales with an average price of $603,880 (up 21% year over year and up less than half a percent month over month). Condominium-class homes accounted for 29% of sales with an average price of $355,982 (up 14% year over year and down 2% month over month). The average selling price for all residential properties is $531,638, for a year-over-year increase of 20% and a month-over-month decrease of 2%. The average residential price for all of 2020 is $529,675, an impressive 20% gain from 2019.

Hamilton

The REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB) reports14 913 sales across the region, representing an increase of 42% over December 2019 and a decrease of 26% from last November.15

“We can see that the market has slowed from November, which is normal due to the holiday season, as well as increasing COVID-19 cases throughout the province,” notes RAHB President Donna Bacher. "Despite being in either the Red Zone (Control) or Grey Zone (Lockdown) throughout December, we do not see the effects on the number of sales and new listings that we did in the spring lockdown.” New listings for the region totalled 639, up 34% year over year and down 48% month over month.

The Hamilton region comprises an array of cities with varying home prices, though price trends in December were generally consistent across the region. In Niagara North, the average selling price for all residential property types is $757,979, an increase of 25% year over year and 3% month over month. In Haldimand County, the average selling price is $597,881, an increase of 22% year over year and 2% month over month. In Burlington, the average selling price is $961,908, an increase of 19% year over year and 4% month over month. In Hamilton, the average selling price is $661,783, an increase of 23% year over year and 2% month over month. The average selling price for all residential properties rose by a substantial 25% year over year and continued a slow upward trajectory, rising 1% from November to $729,853.

Niagara   

The Niagara Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports16 566 residential sales across the region, representing a 56% increase over December 2019 and an 18% decrease since November 2020. With new listings coming in at just 397 (up 7% year over year and down 40% month over month), the sales-to-new-listings ratio is 143%, meaning sales are outpacing new listings by a hefty margin. As such, the average days on market is 30 – on par with November but down 23 days from a year ago.

“We are in a seller’s market with multiple offers, due to lower supply and higher demand from buyers seeking home ownership and investments,” notes Terri McCallum, President of the Niagara Association of REALTORS®. “We anticipate a healthy spring market.”

The Niagara Region comprises several larger cities with varying activity and benchmark prices (the benchmark price is based on an ‘average’ home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms). St. Catharines saw the most buyer activity with 144 sales and a benchmark price of $504,700; Niagara Falls followed with 112 sales and a benchmark price of $482,200. At 59 sales, Fort Erie came in third and saw the biggest increase in buyer activity (55% year over year), with a benchmark price of $420,500. Welland followed closely at 56 sales, and with its benchmark price increasing 27% year over year to $435,000, it saw the biggest price gains of the four cities. Across the region, the benchmark residential price is $532,400, rising 23% compared to last December and 4% from November.

Kitchener-Waterloo

The Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS® (KWAR) reports17 a sixth consecutive month of record-breaking sales with 351 residential homes sold, for a year-over-year increase of 42% and a month-over-month decrease of 39%.18 Total residential sales for 2020 came in at 6,492 – a 9% increase over 2019 despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

According to Nicole Pohl, President of KWAR, the region’s strong sales are the result of people leaving the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in preference for the space offered by Kitchener-Waterloo: “Even well before the pandemic we had noted a trend of consumers migrating out of the GTA to our region. […] With more people working from home, some permanently, space has become a greater concern than ever before. When you combine this with all the other great attributes of our region, it is no surprise this occurred.”

High buyer demand has held inventory at one month’s supply since October, meaning it would take only one month to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales. While market activity has eased since November – typical for the time of year – prices across all categories save condominiums have held firm. Detached homes accounted for 58% of total sales with an average price of $755,618, up 12% year over year and up less than half a per cent month over month. Semi-detached homes sold for an average price of $574,659 (up 20% year over year and 2% month over month), townhouses sold for an average of $514,760 (up 28% year over year and 7% month over month), while condos sold for an average of $383,196 (up 5% year over year and down 4% month over month).

The average selling price for all residential properties in December grew 14% from the same month last year to $634,545 (dropping less than a per cent from November), and for all of 2020, the average price rose by 16% over 2019 to $612,521.

London   

The London and St. Thomas Association of REALTORS® (LSTAR) reports19 596 homes sold across the region, representing a 36% increase over December 2019 and a 30% decrease over November 2020.20 Despite the month-over-month pullback, this December is the best on record for the Association, capping off its second-best year ever for sales with 9,976 homes changing hands.

“This year, people were forced to spend much more time in their homes with their families, which made them re-evaluate their housing choices,” notes LSTAR President Blair Campbell. “Some of the trends that emerged saw a higher demand for moving to rural neighbourhoods, owning a house with more rooms for separate work and learning spaces, and having a good-sized backyard with a pool. Because all of these might feel out of reach in the bigger cities, many Ontarians have decided to relocate in smaller urban areas, such as London and St. Thomas, thus contributing to the local market’s frenzy."

Fast sales continue to be the norm in the region: with new listings down a whopping 38% from November, the sales-to-new-listings ratio has grown to 123% from last month’s 108%, meaning that sales are outpacing the number of homes being added to the market. Inventory remains unchanged from November at 0.7 months (meaning it would take less than one month to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales), down from 2.2 months in December 2019. The median days on market is 10, down eight days from the previous December and up one day since November.

Detached homes accounted for 74% of total sales with an average price of $615,174 (up 33% year over year), townhouses sold for an average of $430,438 (up 24% year over year), while apartments sold for an average of $311,166 (down 7% year over year). In December, the average selling price for homes of all types was $555,324, growing 30% year over year, and for the whole of 2020, the average price came in at $487,501, rising a substantial 19% from 2019.

Windsor

The Windsor-Essex County Association of REALTORS® reports21 402 home sales in December, representing a 23% increase from December 2019 and a 23% decrease from November of this year.22Sales for all of 2020 grew 2% compared to 2019, with 6,691 properties changing hands.

New listings numbered 366, up 27% year over year and down a substantial 42% month over month. With a sales-to-new-listings ratio of 110% (meaning sales are outpacing the listings being added to the market), inventory levels have fallen 31% year over year23 and 29% month over month to 429 available listings.

The average price for all home types in 2020 grew 22% from the preceding year to $410,840; for December, the average price grew 36% year over year and 8% month over month to $453,479. As in November, the most active price range was $420,000-$549,999 (accounting for 25% of all sales), followed by $300,000-$359,999 (accounting for 16% of sales).

Brantford

The Brantford Regional Real Estate Association (BRREA) reports24 135 residential properties sold in December, representing a 21% increase from December 2019 and a 36% decrease from November. For all of 2020, there were 3,032 homes sold, up 12% from the previous year.

New listings for December matched sales at 135, down 14% year over year and 38% month over month. As sales kept pace with new listings, inventory dwindled to 102 available homes, dropping a stunning 76% below last December’s inventory and 35% below the level from just one month ago.

The average price for all home types increased 32% year over year and 8% month over month to $600,008, while the average price for a detached home rose 35% year over year and 7% month over month to $635,940. For all of 2020, the average residential price rose to $549,144 and the average detached price rose to $591,615, increasing 21% and 32%, respectively, compared to 2019.

Barrie and Simcoe County

The Barrie & District Association of REALTORS® Inc. (BDAR) reports25 515 homes sold in Barrie and the surrounding Simcoe County in December, up 46% from December 2019 and down 28% from November of this year. The average selling price across the region grew 36% year over year and 8% month over month to $697,353. For all of 2020, sales totalled 9,169 for a 25% increase compared to 2019, while the average price came in at $600,571 for an 18% increase over the same period.

Simcoe County comprises several diverse cities and towns with varying price levels. Barrie accounted for 35% of all sales in the region with 179 transactions at an average price of $662,096. Innisfil saw the second-highest sales in the region with 49 homes sold (up an astonishing 96% year over year26) at an average price of $697,659. Orillia saw 38 sales at an average price of $500,720, followed by Collingwood and Wasaga Beach, which both had 36 sales at an average price of $864,862 and $624,803, respectively. The largest month-over-month price gain occurred in Severn, where 12 properties sold at an average of $941,875 for a growth of 61%.

Grey County

The REALTORS® Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound (RAGBOS) reports27 that the region saw a record-breaking 203 sales for the month of December, representing a 50% increase over December 2019 and a 23% decrease from November 2020.28 For all of 2020, there were 3,379 residential sales for a growth of 14% over 2019.

New listings in December totalled 144 (up 6% year over year and down 45% month over month), bringing the number of available homes to 294 – well beneath November’s all-time low of 411 and 58% below December 2019. Accordingly, inventory has fallen further from 1.6 months in November to 1.4 months (meaning it would take less than eight weeks to sell all available homes at the current rate of sales), while the long-run seasonal average is 8.4 months.

Low inventory and strong sales continue to push the region into seller’s market territory, which is putting upward pressure on prices. Detached homes accounted for 85% of all residential sales with 172 transactions at a benchmark price of $385,700 (up 26% year over year). There were 16 townhouses sold at a benchmark price of $327,500 (up 2% year over year), while there were nine sales of condo apartments, bringing the benchmark price to $286,700 (up 33% year over year).29 The average price for all homes sold in December was $555,846 – a year-over-year increase of 39% and a month-over-month increase of 2% – whereas the average price for all of 2020 was $481,441, a substantial 23% above 2019.

Peterborough and the Kawarthas

The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Association of REALTORS® Inc. (PKAR) reports30 115 home sales in December, the highest sales for the month in five years and a 29% increase over December 2019. Annual sales reached 2,416 for 2020, a growth of 7% compared to 2019.

The region saw 100 new listings added to the market in December, coming in 32% above 2019 and making it the highest number of new listings for the month in five years. Even with new listings up substantially year over year, Jon Maxwell, President of PKAR, notes, “New listings haven’t kept pace with demand, so right now we’re seeing the lowest overall inventories on record. Without any sustained increase in supply returning to the market we’ll likely continue to see strong double-digit price growth into early 2021." Active listings (i.e., available homes on the market) are down a stunning 71% year over year at only 83, bringing inventory to a mere 0.7 months (meaning it would take less than one month to sell all active listings at the current rate of sales). In December 2019, inventory was at 3.2 months, while the seasonal average is 4.2 months.

Across the region, the average price of a home is up 31% year over year and 13% month over month31 at $595,670. For all of 2020, the average price rose 19% to $555,727.

Huron and Perth Counties

The Huron Perth Association of REALTORS® (HPAR) reports32 112 residential sales in December, representing a 12% increase over the same month last year and the highest December sales in five years. Annually, sales grew 11% over 2019 with 2,173 homes changing hands.

New listings came to just 79 in December, decreasing 14% year over year and 55% month over month,33 bringing active listings (available homes on the market) to their lowest point in more than 30 years at just 106 – a stunning 64% below last December’s total and 40% below November’s. Inventory levels are holding at 0.9 months since November (meaning it would take less than a month to sell all available homes at the current rate of sales), down from last December’s 2.9 months and well below the seasonal long-run average of 6.6 months.

“2020 was a banner year for real estate in our region," notes Kathy Dawson, President of HPAR. "The strength of demand combined with dwindling active listings continue to be a concern moving into 2021. Having said that, I think it is safe to say that when the pandemic started back in the spring, very few people would have agreed that this year would turn out to be the best year our region has ever recorded, yet here we are.”

 The benchmark price for detached homes rose 21% year over year and 1% month over month to $420,700, while the benchmark price for apartments/condos decreased 4% year over year and 7% month over month to $383,500. For all home types, the benchmark sale price rose 21% over December 2019 and 1% over November to $419,400.

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Headshot of Randall Weese, Broker of Record for Ontario, Broker for Alberta and Associate Broker for Manitoba for Purplebricks Canada

Randall Weese is the Director of Compliance and Brokerage Services at Purplebricks, where he is also the licensed Broker of Record for Ontario, Broker for Alberta, and Associate Broker for Manitoba. A REALTOR® with 14 years’ experience in Ontario, Randall has worked in a variety of business models within the real estate industry. He has been a REALTOR® at one of the largest brokerages in Canada, managed a boutique brokerage, and founded and operated his own brokerage in the Greater Toronto Area. Throughout his career, he has acted as a listing agent on thousands of homes across the country.

Sources
1. TRREB December 2020 Market Report
2. TRREB December 2019 Market Report
3. TRREB November 2020 Market Report
4. TRREB December 2020 Market Report
5. TRREB December 2019 Market Report
6. TRREB November 2020 Market Report
7. TRREB December 2020 Market Report
8. TRREB December 2019 Market Report
9. TRREB November 2020 Market Report
10. TRREB December 2020 Market Report
11. TRREB December 2019 Market Report
12. OREB December 2020 Market Report
13. OREB November 2020 Market Report
14. RAHB December 2020 Market Report
15. RAHB November 2020 Market Report
16. NAR December 2020 Market Report
17. KWAR December 2020 Market Report
18. KWAR November 2020 Market Report
19. LSTAR December 2020 Market Update & LSTAR December 2020 Market Report
20. LSTAR November 2020 Market Report
21. WECAR December 2020 Market Report
22. WECAR November 2020 Market Report
23. WECAR December 2019 Market Report
24. BRREA December 2020 Market Report
25. BDAR December 2020 Market Report
26. BDAR December 2020 Market Statistics
27. RAGBOS December 2020 Market Report
28. RAGBOS November 2020 Market Report
29. RAGBOS December 2020 Housing Type Chart
30. CREA: PKAR December 2020 Market Report, retrieved Jan.12, 2021
31. PKAR November 2020 Market Report
32. CREA: HPAR December 2020 Market Report, retrieved Jan. 12, 2021
33. Purplebricks November 2020 State of the Market, referencing CREA: HPAR November 2020 Market Report, retrieved Dec. 13, 2020 

Statistics presented herein are rounded to the nearest whole number for readability. Exact statistics can be found using the references provided.