Detached house sales rising in Halton as province recovers from COVID-19 pandemic


When the COVID-19 crisis hit in mid-March, Ontario locked down and people who were looking to buy or sell a home opted to take a wait and see approach—but the nervousness didn't last for long. 

Although the early days of the pandemic were eventful for the real estate industry—the Bank of Canada cut the overnight interest rate to 0.25 per cent and about 500,000 homeowners deferred their mortgages—prices held steady (and even increased year-over-year) and demand remained pronounced. 

According to a recent report from real estate brokerage and website Zoocasa, sales and new listings for detached houses—typically the most expensive housing type—in all five GTA regions rose steadily through May and June after a slow April.

Zoocasa says that in each GTA region (Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Durham Region and Halton Region), the gap between 2020 and 2019 sales was widest between early April and early May, with sales dropping by as much as 75 per cent. 

According to the report, the extensive sales gap started to close by the latter half of May, and by mid-June, sales even outpaced 2019 levels for the same period in Halton and Durham. Zoocasa says that in June, new listings recovered to at least 75 per cent of last year's levels in each GTA region. 

As for what happened in Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills, Zoocasa says the Halton Region showed the strongest sales recovery among the GTA regions, with sales comfortably outpacing 2019 levels as of the period between June 8-21. 

According to the report, 291 detached houses sold during this two-week period, whereas 238 homes exchanged hands the year prior. That marks a 22 per cent increase year-over-year.

The report says sales in the region now match pre-emergency levels, as 287 detached houses sold between March 2-15 of this year. 

"After COVID-19, buyers and sellers are eager to move forward into their next chapter, and this translated into a surge in sales activity in the region once people became more comfortable with the emergency measures in place," said Alex Kupiec, a Zoocasa agent in Halton Region, in the report. 

The report says new listings for detached houses nearly kept pace with 2019 levels, with 465 listings coming onto the market between June 8-21 (reaching 90 per cent of what was listed during the same period last year).

That said, the market is tougher for buyers, as there’s more demand than supply at this point—a change from last year when the market was more balanced. 

"A lack of listings since mid-March resulted in a backlog of buyers contending for a very limited amount of inventory," said Kupiec.

"For buyers, in particular, there is currently almost a mindset of a delayed spring market; they are ready to make a move and compete." 

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