Home / Ontario Real Estate / Ontario Real Estate Market Update: January 2021

Ontario Real Estate Market Update: January 2021

Updated February 22, 2021

Sales this January started 2021 on a high note, with a similar story emerging across most of Ontario’s major real estate markets this January: despite a mid-month pandemic lockdown, sales were strong, inventory was low, and selling prices were up compared to the same month a year ago – a perfect combination for homeowners planning to sell their homes!

As in December, nearly all major markets experienced declining month-over-month sales, in-keeping with trends for the time of year. However, year-over-year sales were exceptionally high, with many regions posting increases above 24%. Those with lower rates of growth or declines can attribute slower sales to shortages of inventory in the price ranges where buyers are looking.

While new listings across the province climbed steeply compared to December – likely due in part to homeowners waiting until after the holidays to enter the market – they fell between 7% and 30% from year-ago levels in all major markets outside the GTA. This, combined with high buyer demand and already-low inventory levels, led to active listings hitting record lows in many parts of the province and overall inventory averaging just one month.[1]

Inside the GTA, new listings rose between 0.1% and 35% year over year (the largest growth occurring in Toronto), which was possibly the result of homeowners still looking to relocate to less-dense urban areas or simply cashing in on high buyer demand. But because sales are growing at a faster rate than new listings, markets are still considerably tighter than they were a year ago. 

Across the province, current conditions have boosted total residential average selling prices by 21-41% year over year, with growth mainly driven by the low-rise sector. The only major market to post a year-over-year decrease was Toronto, where the residential average price dropped 2% owing to a high proportion of condo sales at an 8% decrease from last January. However, in all other categories in Toronto, prices followed suit with the rest of the province in an upward climb.

The seller’s market conditions in so many parts of the province make it an excellent time to list a property. Given the unpredictability of the pandemic and the possibility that an influx of new listings in the spring could balance out the market, we highly recommend speaking to a local Purplebricks REALTOR® about the current trends in your neighbourhood.

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

Toronto

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports2 2,665 residential sales in the City of Toronto for January, representing a stunning 66% increase from the same month last year.3 New listings came in at 3,547, up 35% from the same period.

Despite heightened year-over-year market activity, month-over-month numbers4 suggest the city could be regaining some balance between supply and demand: sales were 2% lower than they were a month ago, while new listings were up 56%, bringing the sales-to-new-listings ratio down from 119% in December to 75% (meaning three quarters of all new listings were sold in January). The slight shift in the market is putting less demand on inventory levels, which have remained at 2 months since December (up from 1.7 months in January 2020), while the average days on market for all home types climbed from 29 to 31.

The single-family/detached home category saw 522 sales (up 28% year over year) with the average selling price growing 15% year over year and 7% month over month to $1,581,400. Despite a massive increase in sales of condo apartments (1,703 sales amounting to an 86% year over year change), new listings were also high (2,158 for a year-over-year growth of 53%), bringing the average price down 8% year over year and 0.2% month over month to $624,886. However, the TRREB market report suggests that if the growth rate of sales continues to outpace the growth rate of new listings, we could see condo prices going up in the future.5 Meanwhile, the semi-detached category saw 162 sales at an average price of $1,204,857 (up 20% year over year and 4% month over month), while townhouses came in at 65 sales with an average price of $1,096,956 (up 11% year over year and down 3% month over month). The average price for all home types in the city is $866,331, down 2% year over year and 3% month over month,6 likely the result of a vast majority of sales occurring in the condo apartment category.

Peel

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports7 1,453 residential sales in the Peel region in January, representing a 45% increase year over year8 and a 2% drop in activity month over month.9 Brampton accounted for 52% of January’s residential sales.

The average days on market in the region dropped from 19 in December to 16 (well below last January’s 22 days), while months of inventory – that is, how many months it would take to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales – remain unchanged at 1.2 months. A similar number of sales compared to December, coupled with a 56% month-over-month growth in new listings, is welcomed in the region after months of falling inventory levels. Despite the increase in new listings, prices are still going up: the average selling price for a home in the Peel region is $952,183 for a year-over-year increase of 21% and a month-over-month increase of 6%.

Detached homes accounted for 43% of all residential sales with an average selling price of $1,282,558 (up 30% year over year and 7% month over month). Semi-detached homes sold for an average of $903,410 (up 21% year over year and 8% month over month), townhouses sold for an average of $838,429 (up 19% year over year and 9% month over month), while condo apartments sold for an average of $521,580 (down 1% year over year and up 2% month over month).

Durham

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports10 651 residential sales in the Durham region in January, representing an 11% increase year over year11 and a 16% decrease since December.12 With ebbing month-over-month sales and a 51% growth in new listings, the sales-to-new-listings ratio has dropped from 124% to 69% in the span of a month. Easing market pressure is helping inventory to stabilize at 0.9 months since December, down considerably from 1.9 months in January 2020 (months of inventory measure how long it would take to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales). Still, competition is high: the average days on market for all home types edged down from 13 in December to 12, well below the 31 days seen in January 2020. The average selling price for a home in the Durham region grew 34% year over year and 13% month over month to $876,133.

Detached homes accounted for 65% of all residential sales with an average selling price of $988,372 (up 37% year over year and 14% month over month). Semi-detached homes sold for an average of $743,784 (up a stunning 43% year over year and 11% month over month), townhouses sold for an average of $758,232 (up 31% year over year and 7% month over month), while condo apartments sold for an average of $459,370 (up 17% year over year and 4% month over month).

Halton

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports13 637 residential sales in the Halton region in January, representing a year-over-year increase of 40%14 and a month-over-month increase of 9%.15 At 855, new listings are up 6% year over year and a stunning 80% month over month. Despite the increase in new listings, strong buyer demand has kept inventory at 1.3 months since December (months of inventory measures how long it would take to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales), which is well below January 2020’s 2.1 months. Likewise, the average days on market came in at 19, down from 21 days last month and 29 days in January of last year. The average selling price for all home types in Halton is $1,160,059 – an increase of 25% year over year and 6% month over month.

Detached, single-family homes accounted for 52% of all residential sales, with an average price of $1,539,760 (up 35% year over year and 8% month over month). Semi-detached homes sold for an average of $938,211 (up 23% year over year and 7% month over month), townhouses sold for an average of $938,724 (up 25% year over year and 12% month over month), while condo apartments sold for an average of $554,217 (up 13% year over year and down 13% month over month).

York

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports16 1,288 residential sales in the York region in January, representing a stunning 72% increase year over year17 and a 6% drop in activity month over month.18

The average time it took to sell was three days shorter than in December at 26 days (down from last January’s 33 days), while months of inventory – that is, how many months it would take to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales – edged down from 2 to 1.9 months over the same period. The relative stability of inventory levels is likely the result of fewer month-over-month sales combined with a 74% month-over-month growth in new listings. Despite all this, the markets remain competitive and prices are on their way up: the average selling price for a home in the York region is $1,168,623, for a year-over-year increase of 23% and a month-over-month increase of 8%.

Detached homes accounted for 52% of all residential sales with an average selling price of $1,534,566 (up 35% year over year and 14% month over month). Semi-detached homes sold for an average of $982,962 (up 25% year over year and 9% month over month), townhouses sold for an average of $990,346 (up 16% year over year and 4% month over month), while condo apartments sold for an average of $584,968 (up 3% year over year and 4% month over month).

Ottawa

The Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) reports19 964 residential properties sold in January, representing a year-over-year increase of 24%.20 Demand in the region remains high, though a 43% drop in new listings compared to January 2020 could indicate some homeowners’ reluctance to sell during the lockdown.

“This inventory shortage coupled with strong demand triggered a brisk pace to the market,” says OREB President Debra Wright. “We would have certainly seen higher sales numbers if there were more properties available because the demand is definitely there.”

In January, residential-class homes (including detached homes, semi-detached homes, townhouses, and duplexes) accounted for 70% of sales, with the average price rising 31% year over year and 12% month over month to $677,197. Condominium-class homes accounted for 30% of sales, with the average price rising 13% year over year and 7% month over month to $380,336. The average selling price for all residential properties rose a substantial 26% over January 2020 to $587,892 (up 11% over December). While home prices are indeed rising, Wright cautions against interpreting the steep year-over-year change as an indication that home values in the region are rising at the same rate; she notes that a higher-than-usual number of sales in the $1M+ range affected January’s average selling price.

Hamilton

The REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB) reports21 825 sales across the region, representing a 7% increase over January 2020 and a 10% decrease from last December.22

“We saw an increase in sales activity last month, compared to January 2020, despite a decline in new listings,” notes RAHB President Donna Bacher. "Our sales-to-listings ratio of 81.6 per cent, second only to January 2017, tells us that the RAHB market area is firmly in a seller’s market. This year’s decline in new listings builds off the back of the pre-pandemic drop in new listings and inventory levels we experienced in January 2020.” New listings for the region totalled 1,011, down 16% year over year and a stunning increase of 47% month over month.

 The combination of high demand and low inventory is continuing to put upward pressure on prices. In January, the average selling price for all residential properties rose by a substantial 28% year over year and 8% month over month to $787,840.

The Hamilton region comprises an array of cities with varying home prices, though price trends in January were consistent across the region. In Niagara North, the average selling price for all residential property types is $767,314, an increase of 31% year over year and 1% month over month. In Haldimand County, the average selling price is $652,625, an increase of 36% year over year and 9% month over month. In Burlington, the average selling price is $982,519, an increase of 18% year over year and 2% month over month. In Hamilton, the average selling price is $722,628, an increase of 29% year over year and 9% month over month.

Niagara 

The Niagara Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports23 508 residential sales across the region, representing an 11% increase year over year and a 10% decrease month over month. New listings came in at 624 – a 24% drop since January 2020, but a 57% increase compared to December 2020. The boost in new listings has helped bring the sales-to-new-listings ratio down from 143% to 81% in the span of a month; nevertheless, the average time it took to sell dropped by one day from December to 29 days, well below the 56 days seen in January 2020.

“Continued interest from buyers and an ongoing lack of inventory continues to put upward pressure on home prices in the Niagara region,” notes Terri McCallum, President of NAR. Across the region, the benchmark residential price is $553,200, rising a hefty 27% year over year and continuing a month-over-month climb of 4%.

The Niagara region comprises several larger cities with varying activity and benchmark prices. St. Catharines saw the most buyer activity with 143 sales and the benchmark price rising 28% year over year to $529,200; Niagara Falls followed with 107 sales and the benchmark price rising 28% to $501,800. At 54 sales, Fort Erie came in third with the benchmark price rising 26% year over year to $438,700, while Welland saw 53 sales with the benchmark price rising 31% to $450,800.

Kitchener-Waterloo

The Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS® (KWAR) reports24 351 residential homes sold in January for an increase of 25% year over year and 1% month-over-month. New listings decreased 7% from the same month last year, the average days on market dropped from 22 to 16 (the five-year average is 30 days), and inventory came in at less than one month as it has since October (months of inventory measure how long it would take to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales). As expected, limited supply and strong sales are putting upward pressure on prices: the average sale price for all home types in January rose 24% year over year and 10% month over month25 to $695,582.

“January’s home sales were more active than what we typically see this time of year,” notes KWAR President Nicole Pohl. “With demand for homes unabated and consumer preferences leaning predominantly toward single detached homes, in January we saw buyers paying a premium for this property type.”

Indeed, detached homes accounted for 57% of total sales with an average price of $853,945 – up a substantial 27% year over year and 13% month over month, making it the first time in KWAR’s history that the average price exceeded $800,000. Meanwhile, semi-detached homes sold for an average price of $626,512 (up 29% year over year and 9% month over month), townhouses for an average of $566,345 (also up 29% year over year and 10% month over month), and condos for an average of $383,196 (down 1% year over year and on par with last month).

Guelph

The Guelph and District Association of REALTORS® (GDAR) reports26 253 residential homes sold in January – an increase of 9% year over year and the fourth-best January in the region’s history. Conversely, new listings were the lowest they’ve been in 15 years at 344, amounting to a 7% decrease year over year. Inventory is down from 1.6 months last January to 0.9 months, while the long-run average for the time of year is 2.2 months (months of inventory measure how long it would take to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales).

“Inventories are essentially sitting at record lows and there hasn’t been a rebound in new listings to the same extent that sales activity has come roaring back,” notes Sabrina Essery, President of the GDAR. “With the tightest market conditions on record and a very limited pool of available supply, it’s understandable that price growth across all major housing types continues to accelerate even further into the double digits.

Indeed, the benchmark sale price for all home types in January rose 22% year over year to $694,200, and substantial price gains were seen in all housing categories. The benchmark price for detached houses rose 22% year over year to $719,100; for townhouses, it rose 26% to $515,100; and for condo apartments, it rose 18% to $404,000.

London

The London and St. Thomas Association of REALTORS® (LSTAR) reports27 547 homes sold across the region, representing a 2% increase over January 2020 and an 8% decrease compared to last month.28 Despite modest-sounding numbers, these are the highest January sales since LSTAR began tracking data in 1978.

“2021 came in like a lion for the LSTAR housing market, which continues to see very low inventories and record home prices in all its main areas,” says LSTAR President Jack Lane. “At the end of January, there were 0.8 months of inventory across the entire LSTAR area, slightly higher than in December, but still at one of the lowest levels in the past 10 years.”

Low inventory levels across the region have been intensified by a 25% drop in new listings compared to last January, bringing the sales-to-new-listings ratio to 82%. While the ratio has eased from last month’s 123%, LSTAR’s report notes that anything over 60% is a clear sign of a seller’s market. The time it’s taking to sell a property suggests the same: the median days on market is a mere eight, down from 13 days in January 2020 and down from 10 days compared to previous month.

So much demand and so little inventory are putting upward pressure on prices in all home categories. Detached homes accounted for 76% of total sales with an average price of $675,457 (up 42% year over year), townhouses sold for an average of $483,495 (up 32% year over year), while apartments sold for an average of $304,084 (up 2% year over year). The average selling price for homes of all types was $607,431, a stunning increase of 41% year over year and 9% month over month.

Windsor

The Windsor-Essex County Association of REALTORS® reports29 401 home sales in January, representing a 27% increase from the same month a year ago and a decrease of only one listing since December.30

New listings grew 13% year over year and 30% month over month to 475 – an increase that helped bring the sales-to-new-listings ratio down from 110% last month to 84% (meaning 84 of every 100 new listings was sold). With only 414 available listings at the close of January, the region’s inventory shrank by a stunning 46% year over year and 4% month over month.31

In January, the average price for all residential homes came in at $510,716, rising 35% year over year and 13% month over month. As in the two months prior, the most active price range was $420,000-$549,999 with 25% of all sales. While the $300,000-$359,999 range took second place in December, January saw the lower category cede to the higher $550,000-$699,999 range with 22% of sales.

Brantford

The Brantford Regional Real Estate Association (BRREA) reports32 112 residential properties sold in January, representing a 16% decrease from January 2020 and a 17% decrease from December.33 However, weakening sales numbers aren’t bad news for sellers this month: according to Ray Petro, President of BRREA, buyer demand is “far outstripping supply,” which “is starting to negatively impact the number of sales, as buyers cannot buy what is not for sale.”

Indeed, new listings came in 27% below the same month last year at 142, the lowest number for January in BRREA’s history. At the close of the month, there were only 78 active listings on the market – a stunning 70% decrease year over year and the number of lowest active listings in three decades. The combination of strong sales and low active listings has brought inventory to a mere 0.7 months (well below the long-run average of 3.1 months for this time of year), meaning it would take a little under three weeks to sell all available homes at the current rate of sales.

With so few options for buyers, prices are on their way up: the benchmark price for all home types rose 25% year over year to $536,200; for detached homes (in very high demand since the early days of the pandemic) it rose 26% year over year to $558,500; for townhouses, it rose 19% year over year to $364,900; and for condos, it rose less than half a per cent year over year to $275,000.

Barrie & Simcoe County

The Barrie & District Association of REALTORS® Inc. (BDAR) reports34 302 homes sold in Barrie and the surrounding Simcoe County in January, up 27% from the same month last year and a sales record for the month of January. In the city of Barrie, residential sales totalled 154 for a year-over-year increase of 19%, while in surrounding Simcoe County, there were 148 sales for an impressive year-over-year growth of 36%.

"2021 is picking up right where 2020 left off for the real estate market," notes Chantal Godard, BDAR President. "A record number of sales is perhaps being held back by a lack of available listings. The statistic to watch through the spring market is new listings. The demand is there and REALTORS® are looking to sell everything that comes on the market."

New listings for January came in at 365 for a year-over-year decrease of 28%, making the sales-to-new-listings ratio a tight 83%. With active listings 69% lower than a year ago at 226, inventory is also down: where last January saw 3 months of inventory, it’s now only 0.7 months, meaning it would take just under three weeks to sell all available listings at the current rate of sales.

Low inventory and record-breaking sales are putting upward pressure on prices throughout the region. In Barrie, which accounted for 51% of Simcoe County’s residential sales, the average selling price for all home types grew a hefty 37% year over year to $694,664; the rest of the county saw the average selling price grow by an equally impressive 36% to $826,702 over the same period.

Grey County

The REALTORS® Association of Grey Bruce Owen Sound (RAGBOS) reports35 149 sales for the month of January, representing a 1% year-over-year increase and making it the best January for sales in five years this despite falling 27% from December.36

New listings numbered 174 (down 22% year over year and up 3% month over month), bringing the number of active listings to 285 – the lowest number for January in more than three decades. Accordingly, the average days on market have fallen from 48 last January to 26, while months of inventory (that is, how long it would take to sell all available homes at the current rate of sales) is a low 1.9 months – a far cry from the long-run average of 8.8 months for this time of year.

Strong demand and low inventory are maintaining a seller’s market across the region, particularly in the detached home category. Detached sales accounted for 91% of all residential transactions at an average price of $566,180 (up 34% year over year), townhouses accounted for 3% of sales at an average price of $370,268 (up 1% year over year), while condo apartments accounted for 2% of sales at an average price of $375,059 (up 28% year over year). The average price for all homes sold in January was $549,056 – a year-over-year increase of 34%.

Peterborough and the Kawarthas

The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Association of REALTORS® Inc. (PKAR) reports37 100 home sales in January, well above the five- and ten-year averages for the month of January and a 12% year-over-year growth.

According to PKAR President Jon Maxwell, the strength of sales “is quite remarkable given how few listings are available now,” going on to note, “new listings posted their lowest January reading on record, providing no relief to a market that is already at its lowest inventory levels on record and is seeing the tightest conditions ever.”

Indeed, while new listings were up 31% since December, they’re down 30% from last January at just 131. The number of active listings is down a stunning 69% year over year at just 99 – the lowest for January in more than three decades. Accordingly, months of inventory (that is, how long it would take to sell all available homes at the current rate of sales) is currently only one month – well below last January’s 3.6 months and the long-run average of 4.8 months for this time of year.

Strong demand and low inventory continues to put the region firmly in a seller’s market, which is pushing prices higher: the average price for all homes sold in January grew 31% year over year and 5% month over month38 to $626,414 – a new record for the month of January.

Huron and Perth Counties

The Huron Perth Association of REALTORS® (HPAR) reports39 91 residential sales in January, representing a decrease of 15% year over year and 19% month over month.40

“Home sales pulled back compared with the breakneck pace of the previous several months, as the influx of new supply coming onto the market also stepped down in January,” explains Kathy Dawson, President of HPAR. “However, with listings down more than sales, the market continues to see unprecedented tightness.”

Indeed, despite increasing 29% from last month, new listings were 30% lower compared to January of last year at 102 – a record low for the month. The number of active listings is down a stunning 63% year over year at just 114 – the lowest for January in more than three decades. Accordingly, months of inventory (that is, how long it would take to sell all available homes at the current rate of sales) is currently only 1.3 months – well below last January’s 2.9 months and a far cry from the long-run average of 6.5 months for this time of year.

In light of January’s low inventory, Dawson notes that “on the price side, there are two different stories playing out – benchmark prices for single family homes are moving further into double-digit territory while apartment benchmark prices continue their decline that began last spring.” The differing trends reflect how the pandemic is influencing buyer preferences: with people spending more time at home, many buyers are looking for bigger properties and more space.

The benchmark price for detached homes rose 28% year over year and 4% month over month to $437,200, while the benchmark price for apartments/condos decreased 4% year over year and rose 8% month over month to $413,500. For all home types, the benchmark sale price rose 27% over January 2020 and 4% over December to $436,300.

Planning to buy or sell a home? A local Purplebricks REALTOR® can help you navigate the market safely and with professional insight. Purplebricks supports Canadians by providing full-service real estate experiences with incredible rewards: our sellers save thousands in commission and our buyers receive $2,000 in cash back* when they purchase a home with one of our REALTORS®. Call 1-855-999-9740 to learn more.

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. CREA: Ontario Real Estate Association January 2021 Market Report, retrieved Feb. 16, 2021
2. TRREB January 2021 Market Report
3. TRREB January 2020 Market Report
4. TRREB December 2020 Market Report
5. TRREB January 2021 Market Report
6. TRREB December 2020 Market Report
7. TRREB January 2021 Market Report
8. TRREB January 2020 Market Report
9. TRREB December 2020 Market Report
10. TRREB January 2021 Market Report
11. TRREB January 2020 Market Report
12. TRREB December 2020 Market Report
13. TRREB January 2021 Market Report
14. TRREB January 2020 Market Report
15. TRREB December 2020 Market Report
16. TRREB January 2021 Market Report
17. TRREB January 2020 Market Report
18. TRREB December 2020 Market Report
19. OREB January 2021 Market Report
20. OREB December 2020 Market Report
21. RAHB January 2021 Market Report
22. RAHB December 2020 Market Report
23. Niagara Association of REALTORS® January 2021 Market Report
24. KWAR January 2021 Market Report
25. KWAR December 2020 Market Report
26. CREA: GDAR January 2021 Market Report, retrieved Feb. 10, 2021
27. LSTAR January 2021 Market Update & LSTAR January 2021 Market Report
28. LSTAR December 2020 Market Report
29. WECAR January 2021 Market Report
30. WECAR December 2020 Market Report
31. WECAR January 2020 Market Report
32. CREA: BRREA January 2021 Market Report, retrieved Feb. 12, 2021
33. BRREA December 2020 Market Report
34. CREA: BDAR January 2021 Market Report, retrieved Feb. 12, 2021
35. RAGBOS Feb. 11 Press Release: January 2021 Market Report
36. RAGBOS December 2020 Market Report
37. CREA: PKAR January 2021 Market Report, retrieved Feb. 12, 2021
38. CREA: PKAR December 2020 Market Report, retrieved Jan. 12, 2021
39. CREA: HPAR January 2021 Market Report, retrieved Feb. 12, 2021
40. CREA: HPAR December 2020 Market Report, retrieved Jan. 12, 2021

†The Canadian Real Estate Association calculates benchmark prices using the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI), which uses data from a region to define a “typical” home. Benchmark prices can reflect the changes to a region’s property value far more accurately than average or median prices. Statistics presented herein are rounded to the nearest whole number for readability. Exact statistics can be found using the references provided.