Brian  Madigan

Brian Madigan


RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage *

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Toronto and Greater Toronto Area Markets in November 2020

Toronto and GTA Markets in November 2020

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This is the recently released report of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board concerning the November 2020 results:

“December 3, 2020 – The record pace of home sales in the fall continued with 8,766 sales reported in November by Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® through the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s (TRREB) MLS® System. This result was up by 24.3 per cent compared to November of last year.

Generally speaking, year-over-year growth in sales was stronger for single-family homes in the GTA regions surrounding the City of Toronto, but annual single-family growth rates remained robust in the ‘416’ area code as well.

“Home buyers continued to take advantage of very low borrowing costs in November, especially those looking to buy some form of single-family home. Competition between buyers for ground-oriented homes has been extremely strong in many neighbourhoods throughout the GTA, which has continued to support double-digit annual rates of price growth,”

said Lisa Patel, TRREB President.

The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark was up by 10.6 per cent in November 2020 compared to November 2019. The average selling price for all home types combined was up by 13.3 per cent to $955,615.

Market conditions tightened in many single-family market segments in November, resulting in double-digit year-over-year increases in average selling prices for detached houses, semi-detached houses and townhouses.

In contrast to the single-family market segments, buyers continued to benefit from much more choice in the condominium apartment market compared to last year, particularly in the City of Toronto.

The number of new condominium apartment listings in November was almost double that reported in November of last year. More options in the condo apartment market translated into a small year-over-year decline in the average condominium apartment selling price in the ‘416’ area code.

“The condominium apartment market is certainly more balanced than in previous years, with some buyers benefitting from lower selling prices compared to last year. However, this may be somewhat of a short-term phenomenon. Once we move into the post-COVID period, we will start to see a resumption of population growth, both from immigration and a return of non-permanent residents. This will lead to an increase in demand for condominium apartments in the ownership and rental markets,”

said Jason Mercer, TRREB Chief Market Analyst.”



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

$910,142              February

$902,787              March

$820,222              April

$863,523              May

$931,074              June

$943,692              July

$951,480              August

$960,688              September

$968,162              October

$955,615              November  


For those following these numbers on a monthly basis, please note that some of the recent sales numbers in 2020 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 has actually fallen to $955,615 since the all-time peak which was this October at $968,318.

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 in December, and the cycle repeats itself the following year.

This year 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 ten fell in November, which is quite predictable.

The real estate industry introduced new precautionary measures and protocols which have been widely accepted. Open Houses are presently discontinued, but actual onsite attendances and viewings can still be arranged.

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.

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 $955,615, that’s an increase of $225,143 which is a 30.82% increase over the forty seven (47) month period. Expressed over 12 months, that’s an 7.87% annual increase.

2018 started with $734,837 and we are now at $955,615, that’s an increase of $220,778, which is a 30.04% increase over the thirty five (35) month period. Expressed over 12 months, that’s an 10.30% annual increase.

2019 started with $749,019 and we are now at $968,318, that’s an increase of $206,596 which is a 27.58% increase over the twenty three (23) month period. Expressed over 12 months, that’s a 14.39% annual increase.

Why don’t we try the short term numbers for just 2020?  2020 started with $838,662 and we are now at $955,615, that’s an increase of $116,953 which is a 13.95% increase over the eleven (11) month period. Expressed over 12 months, that’s a 15.21% annualized increase, if the increases continue at the same pace.

However, just because we can actually do the math doesn’t make it statistically significant. This would be predicting the future rather than calculating historical returns. It will not increase at this current monthly rate for 12 months in a row. It never has, so it won’t this year either. Traditionally, December slows down.  And, that’s before the COVID-19 interruption. Beware of predictions. Our previous statistics were all based upon actual “past” performance. If the numbers simply held firm to the end of the year, we would have a 15.21% increase. This is more conservative and more realistic.

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


From 2017             7.87%                 calculated

From 2018            10.30%                calculated

From 2019            14.39%                calculated   

From 2020            15.21%                annualized estimated     


The most accurate number here is the 7.87 % 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! This is a fairly consistent pattern.

We do run a substantial difficulty with everyone in 2017. If you bought in April 2017 at the peak, you paid $919,614. That property is now worth $955,615, that’s an increase of $36,001 which is a 3.91% increase over the forty three (43) month period. Expressed over 12 months, that’s a 1.09% annual increase. 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 7.87% or 1.09%.

It does speak to the decision for those who faced closing in 2017 after paying the high prices. They have now broken even, while those who failed to complete have suffered substantial losses, with no property at all to show for it. The message is clear: if you can close, do so, and hold on, because at some point the market will reward you.

As for TRREB, they want to undertake a comparison to November of 2019. That’s specifically, those particular 12 months. My comparison was to the commencement of the 2019 calendar year, which took into account 23 full months, and then expressed that, as a “12 month rate”.

The numbers to avoid are the very short term numbers. So, that would be what’s happening right now in 2020.


Volume of Sales


Month                  2019                     2018           Trend

January                3,968                      3,987          down

February              4,982                      5,148          down

March                  7,132                      7,188          down         

April                     9,005                     7,742          up              

May                      9,951                     8,402          up

June                      8,826                     8,024          up

July                      8,555                      6,916          up

August                 7,682                      6,797          up

September            7,792                      6,414         up

October                8,446                      7,448         up        

November            7,054                      6,206         up

December             4,364                      3,746         up


Total                    87,757               78,015        up


Month                  2020                     2019           Trend

January              4,546                      3,968           up

February             7,193                     4,982           up

March                7,945                      7,132           up

April                  2,958                      9,005          down

May                   4,594                      9,951          down

June                   8,650                      8,826          down

July                    11,037                    8,555          up

August              10,749                    7,682           up

September         11,051                    7791            up      

October             10,537                    8,446           up

November          8,766                     7,074           up


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 Juy and that has continued throughout November.

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”. Sellers continue to suppot the market by listing their homes. The number of new listings in November 2020 (13,798) actually exceeded those in November of 2019 (11,958). Increased inventory will obviously have a negative effect on prices. A factor to take into consideration would be specific categories. For example, there are many new listings for condominium apartments in downtown Toronto. This is due in part to the rental market and the virtual shutdown of Air B&B facilities.

The Federal Government and the Provincial Government have provided funds to those who can’t work due to Covid, assisted commercial tenants paying rent, eliminated evictions and lowered interest rates.

We have yet to see a decline in the commercial or residential markets due to the global economic crisis as had been predicted. It may simply be due to the difficulties with the legal system and government intervention. However, the impact is inevitable, we are simply deferring it sometime into the future.

We should soon see evidence of the commercial impact. Numerous restaurants have now closed, as have other some retailers. The Province implemented a shutdown due to the second wave. Those restrictions which were to have lightened up have actually been extended.

With many office workers working from home, there is no need to attend at the downtown office towers. Zoom is available for meetings and it took a long time to wait for an elevator in the lobby, and much too long at noon. We may see quite a few commercial office tenants rethink the amount of space they require. Many of those leases are renewable effective January. That means the negotiations should be underway now.

When we are talking about office space, it was expensive, and employees occupied close quarters. Now, a company would require substantially more space. That being the case, it might be wise to rethink the entire office setup. Perhaps the suburbs would work? Perhaps ground floor would work, eliminating elevators, or perhaps one floor up (at most)!

Restaurants and food courts in the commercial underground pathways are largely vacant. Most are unlikely to survive.


We are now into the tenth month of our emergency crisis on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some market trends that we are seeing now:

  • Vast increase in the demand for cottages (leasing and owning)
  • Increase in demand for properties with backyards (semis and detached)
  • Increase in demand for properties in the suburbs and outlying areas
  • Increased inventory of condo apartments (formerly Air B&B)
  • Toronto based families looking to relocate to the 905 areas
  • 905 based families looking to relocate to 519 areas

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

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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