Toronto housing market belies economic downturn, but potential trouble looms
The economic uncertainty induced by COVID-19 and its impact on job security continues to loom large, but housing markets in Canada seem to have developed an immunity to the pandemic.
For example, the housing markets in Toronto no longer show any signs of weakness. Indeed, housing sales and prices in Canada’s most populous city during June 2020 have either matched or surpassed their levels from a year earlier.
This resurgence is a welcome sign since it hints at economic resilience, but the larger questions are whether housing markets will continue to outperform the rest of the economy and for how long. Some experts believe housing markets might not have fully digested the increase in employment uncertainties that are expected shortly.
That said, let’s use housing sales and prices in the Greater Toronto Area to check whether that market is outperforming the underlying economy.
The region recorded 8,701 sales in June, an 89 per cent increase from the number of transactions in May. Compared to June 2019, last month’s sales were a tad bit lower, suggesting the markets are still recovering from the sudden slowdown that accompanied the lockdown.
But the aggregate numbers hide a story: the triumph of the suburbs and the lure of large homes. Sales of single-family detached housing in Toronto’s surrounding 905 suburbs increased by 10.4 per cent year over year in June, whereas such sales in the City of Toronto declined by 10 per cent. Suburban townhouse transactions increased by 7.8 per cent in the same time period compared to a 2.5 per cent increase in the city.