Toronto and GTA Markets in April 2021

This is the recently released report of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board concerning the April 2021 results:

“May 5, 2021 – Home sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) set a new record for April and amounted to more than quadruple that from April 2020 – the first full month of the pandemic. Bucking the regular seasonal trend, April 2021 sales actually declined month-over-month. A similar trend was noted for the number of new listings reported.

GTA REALTORS® reported 13,663 sales through TRREB’s MLS® System in April 2021 – a 12.7 per cent decrease compared to March 2021, but more than quadruple the number of sales reported in April 2020, when the economic impact of COVID-19 was arguably the worst. Compared to the ten-year sales average of 10,000 for the April 2010 to April 2019 period, the April 2021 sales result was up by 36.6 per cent.

New listings followed a similar track – down by 8.4 per cent compared to March 2021, but more than triple the number of new listings reported in April 2020. Compared to the ten-year new listings average for the April 2010 to April 2019 period, the April 2021 new listings count was up by 18.3 per cent.

“While sales remained very strong last month, many REALTORS® noted a marked slowing in both the number of transactions and the number of new listings. It makes sense that we had a pullback in market activity compared to March. We’ve experienced a torrid pace of home sales since the summer of 2020 while seeing little in the way of population growth. We may be starting to exhaust the pool of potential buyers within the existing GTA population. Over the long term, sustained growth in sales requires sustained growth in population,”

said TRREB President Lisa Patel.

The MLS® Home Price Index Composite benchmark was up by 17.8 per cent year-over-year. The Composite benchmark also increased on a monthly basis, but the pace of monthly growth decelerated. The average selling price of $1,090,992 was up by 33 per cent compared to April 2020, but was basically flat relative to March 2021. This was in contrast to most years in the past when the average selling price increased between March and April.

“Despite a modest slowing in market activity in April compared to March, selling prices for all major home types remained very high. Low borrowing costs during COVID-19 clearly had an impact on the demand for and price of ownership housing. While the pace of price growth could moderate in the coming months, home prices will likely continue on the upward trend. Renewed population growth over the next year coupled with a persistent lack of new inventory will underpin home price appreciation,”

said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.”

That was a rather strange report by TRREB. That’s the problem with always comparing things to one year ago. That’s why I don’t do that in this report. Last April, we were at the height of the pandemic and we were in shutdown. So, why calculate trends and percentages based upon a starting time when essentially we were out of business?


Here are the average sale prices as reported by TRREB for single family homes of all types in the GTA, including houses, townhouses and apartments starting at the beginning of 2018 until now:

Average Prices    Month


$734,837              January 1st

$735,874              January 31st

$767,801              February    

$784,514              March

$804,926              April

$803,440              May

$808,066              June

$781,918              July

$765,252              August

$796,814              September

$807,538              October

$787,741              November

$749,019              December


$749,019               January 1st

$747,175               January 31st

$779,791              February

$788,133              March

$820,373              April

$838,248              May

$831,882              June

$806,971              July

$792,134              August

$842,421              September

$851,877              October

$843,307              November

$838,662              December


$838,662              January 1st

$838,087              January 31st

$910,024              February

$902,786              March

$820,226              April

$863,563              May

$931,086              June

$943,594              July

$951,219              August

$960,613              September

$968,535              October

$955,873              November  

$932,277              December


$932,277              January 1st

$966,158              January 31st

$1,045,355           February

$1,097,340           March        

$1,090,992           April

For those following these numbers on a monthly basis, please note that some of the recent sales numbers in 2020 and 2021 have had to be restated. A few transactions may have fallen through and not closed as originally scheduled. Consequently, TRREB deletes them and re-enters them in the proper month. That will throw the average prices off by a few hundred dollars if you are looking back at previous monthly reports for consistency. Changes are more likely for the most recent months.

You will notice that the market is now at $1,090,992, which falls below the all-time peak at $1,097,340, which was reached last month

What usually happens each year? The market starts off in January, rises in February, gains momentum in March and April and reaches its peak for the year in May. The market declines in June, declines in July and then bottoms out in August. In September, it reverses itself and rises once again, and in October, it reaches its second peak for the year. In November, the market declines, as it does again in December, and the cycle repeats itself the following year.

In 2020, the cycle was thrown off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent global recession. Unpredictably, the market simply gained momentum month after month until it reached a peak in October. It then fell in November, which was expected, and then again in December, which was also expected.

For 2021, we are off to a predictable start. The market got going in January, rose in February and rose again in March. Obviously, it topped off in March which is usually a little too soon. April or May are the expected Spring peaks. TRREB said: the market  “…. was basically flat relative to March 2021”. While one can appreciate their constant optimism; truly, that not quite correct. The market is down, and it’s down one month early. That’s a sign of something! The conclusion can be left to “spin”. But, we should just simply look at the actual facts.

Let’s undertake an analysis with respect to the rates of return achieved over the last several years. The purpose of this calculation is to smooth out the returns over a longer time period to produce more accurate results. This avoids the rise and fall in a month or two and notably the reference to the exact same month a year ago.

You will notice that TRREB refers back 12 full months for comparison purposes. The results should always look reasonably good, because after all, that was a year ago. As you go forward, there should always be good news to report. On the other hand, you would clearly see the ups and downs of the market if you looked at the monthly results.

The market has declined substantially a few times. Within the last three decades, there are three examples: 1990, 2008 and 2017. The first two are largely historical now.

We will start with 2017 which was a year with a peak in the market and the sudden drop. 2017 started with $730,472 and we are now at $1,090,992, that’s an increase of $360,520 which is a 49.35% increase over the fifty two (52) month period. Expressed over 12 months, that’s an 11.39% annual increase.

2018 started with $734,837 and we are now at $1,090,992, that’s an increase of $362,728, which is a 48.46% increase over the forty (40) month period. Expressed over 12 months, that’s a 14.54% annual increase.

2019 started with $749,019 and we are now at $1,097,565, that’s an increase of $341,973, which is a 45.65% increase over the twenty eight (28) month period. Expressed over 12 months, that’s a 19.57% annual increase.

2020 started with $838,662 and we are now at $1,090,992, that’s an increase of $252,330, which is a 30.09% increase over the sixteen (16) month period. Expressed over 12 months, that’s a 22.57% annual increase.

So, what’s the percentage rate of increase to the end of March?

From 2017             11.39%               calculated

From 2018             14.54%               calculated

From 2019             19.57%                calculated   

From 2020             22.57%                 calculated  

The most accurate number here is the 11.39 % annual increase from the beginning of 2017. It’s the longest time period, and is therefore the most steady and accurate. Historically, over one thousand years of history we have seen increases of over 5% per annum. So, this is certainly not new! Typically, for the GTA we might expect 6.5% annually in terms of increases. This is a fairly consistent pattern.

We do run a substantial difficulty with many buyers from 2017. If you bought in April 2017 at the peak, you paid $919,614. That property is now worth $1,090,992 that’s an increase of $171,308 which is a 18.62% increase over the forty eight (48) month period. Expressed over 12 months, that’s a 4.66% annual increase, or just under 5%, which for centuries has been the rate of return on real estate. You can appreciate what a significant difference is made by using a different starting point for the purposes of the calculation. Just four months, and we either have 11.39% or 4.66%.

It does speak to the decision for those who faced closing in 2017 after paying the high prices. They actually broke even in June 2020, while those who failed to complete have suffered substantial losses, with no property at all to show for it. They are now well ahead of just having their money sit in the bank. The message is clear: if you can close, do so, and hold on, because at some point the market will reward you. Those who closed have now achieved the low end rate of return expected on real estate transactions.

As for TRREB, they want to undertake a comparison to April of 2020. That’s specifically, those particular 12 months, starting, of course, at the beginning of the pandemic. My comparison was to the commencement of several different calendar years.

The numbers to avoid are the very short term numbers. So, that would be what’s happening right now in 2021.

Volume of Sales

Here are the sales over the last number of years. It’s important to be aware that potentially, there is a great deal of interest. It was only when the market skyrocketed and then plunged in 2017, that many prospective purchasers were frightened to participate. To a certain extent they have returned but there is very limited supply. That makes it a “super-sellers’ market”. As more and more inventory arrives, the market is likely to transition, but in all probability it will remain a “sellers’ market” until the end of 2021.

2015           101,214

2016           113,040

2017           92,340

2018           78,018

2019           87,750

2020           95,087

You will notice that there were more transactions in 2019 compared with 2018.This trend put the pressure on prices. Buyers obviously chose to enter the market rather than continue to sit on the sidelines. In 2020, the market continued at a faster pace, but stopped rather abruptly in the last half of March and April due to Covid-19. Activity in the market resumed in May and that has continued throughout December.

The prices in real estate are governed by supply and demand just like everything else. The buyers have returned and relatively speaking the inventory has not. Artificially, this provides “price support”. Record low interest rates also support prices.

We are now seeing a slight decline in the residential markets and that may transfer over to commercial.

Downtown condos were at bargain basement prices. However, that opportunity has largely come and gone. Residential tenancies have come down in price, but they are still in short supply. Many outlying markets have already risen substantially which naturally means that the GTA would be next.


Some market trends that we have been seeing:

  • Vast increase in the demand for cottages, but now leveling off (leasing and owning)
  • Increase in demand for properties with backyards (semis and detached)
  • Increase in demand for properties in the suburbs and outlying areas
  • Toronto based families looking to relocate to the 905 and 519 areas
  • 905 based families looking to relocate to 519, 705 and 613 areas

It’s impossible to predict the future, but we can certainly observe the current trends in the marketplace to give us some guidance.

There is some very positive news:

  • Vaccinations are being rolled out ahead of schedule
  • Government support for workers and businesses will still continue for several months to come
  • Interest rates continue at surprising low rates, the best in 60 years (notwithstanding recent increases)
  • Immigration with an increased demand for housing will resume
  • Immigration in year one, could easily exceed 400,000
  • The end of Covid-19 is in sight


Buyers are getting tired of being consistently outbid. So, they will pause to some extent. This will take the pressure off the bidding wars and price acceleration

The market will still be a sellers’ market for the balance of 2021, but the pace will slow down.

If you would like to discuss the market, please give me a call at 647-404-8150.

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

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