Toronto home sales plunge 69% in first half of April, prices dip

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Toronto home sales and listings plunged in the first part of April as the COVID-19 pandemic curbed demand in Canada's largest city.

Greater Toronto saw 1,654 home sales in the first 17 days of April, a 69% drop from the same period a year ago. Few owners were trying to sell. New listings fell 64% to 3,843, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board said in a statement. The figures are for the city of Toronto and its suburbs.

Average prices were 1.5% lower than a year ago, suggesting the market remained tight enough to provide support for pricing levels seen in 2019, TRREB said. The average selling price for all homes was C$819,665 ($577,000). Detached homes fell 4.6%, dropping just below C$1 million.

"The state of emergency measures currently in place, including the necessary enforcement of social distancing, has impacted the real estate market in many ways," TRREB President Michael Collins said in the statement. "Homebuyers and sellers have concerns about the economy and indeed their own employment situations. On top of this, many buyers and sellers are avoiding any type of in-person interaction."

Home sales declines will likely be steepest in the second quarter as social-distancing measures remain in place for most of the spring, said TRREB. The real estate group forecasts that average prices for the year will likely remain near 2019 levels.

"As we recover from this temporary downturn, potentially later this year, home buyers will move off the sidelines in increasing numbers as they satisfy pent-up demand for ownership housing," said the board's chief market analyst, Jason Mercer. "Increasingly, these buyers will be faced with the persistent lack of listings inventory that was a serious problem before the onset of COVID-19."

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