Urbanation released its Q1-2021 quarterly condo market update for the Greater Toronto Area at the end of last month. And there’s some good stuff in it. New condo sales totaled 5,385 units in the first quarter of this year, which is higher than the 10-year average of 4,924 units and only slightly below sales from a year ago (Q1-2020). By and large, the numbers are starting to feel a bit pre-pandemic-like.
If you remember what happened back in the second quarter of last year, there was a quick shift in demand toward the suburbs and outskirts of Toronto. Part of this was driven by affordability. But I guess part of this was also driven by the fact that some people seemed to think that our cities had never before experienced a health crisis and were going to somehow die. Or perhaps it was because Zoom is so much fun (and not at all exhausting) and that this time was destined to be different. Either way, I never understood this.
Fast forward a year and the core is not surprisingly coming back. The oldest part of the city (former City of Toronto) saw 2,886 new condo sales in the first quarter of this year. This is actually higher than sales in Q1-2020. New condo openings in downtown Toronto sold for an average price of $1,419 per square foot. And overall absorption was about 76% in the quarter, which is the highest it has been since 2017.
Some of you may be looking at these numbers and thinking WTF. But when developers look at the costs in their pro forma, as well as what’s on the horizon — ahem, inclusionary zoning — it’s usually that same feeling. So it’s hard to imagine average prices and rents going anywhere but up.
I do think some of the resurgence in condo sales is related to the impossible market for first-time home buyers not finding other quality options (at least in the US). Condo sales were down much of the pandemic as mortgage rates remained low, but I’m starting to see more activity in the condo market as well as the condo-rental market (some condo sellers switched to rental options after a period of seeing little to no activity). I agree though, prices are on the rise.
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