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Rural Ontario the new hot spot for home buyers

New report indicates Simcoe County had the highest percentage increase in house sales in the GTA
Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

As homeowners look outside urban centres in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), areas like King Township are becoming more attractive.

According to a new report from Statistics Canada, more Canadians were “opting to live outside of Canada’s largest urban centres.” The report cites that this trend continued “in spite of” the pandemic; likely a reflection of shifting lifestyle priorities including the ability to work remotely, and the need for green space, as well as swiftly growing real estate prices in major urban centres.

Zoocasa looked at home sales and average sold price data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) for the period between April 2020, the first full month after COVID emergency measures were implemented, and December 2020, to quantify this trend of urban flight during the pandemic within the GTA.

Their findings indicate that there was  a higher rate of sales and price growth for low-rise homes versus condo apartments in nearly every region. For the GTA as a whole, this translated to an 11 per cent increase in detached and semi-detached house sales but conversely a 10 per cent decrease in condo apartment sales between April and December 2020 compared to 2019. The average house price rose 13 per cent or $132,736 to $1,123,618 year-over-year (y-o-y) during this period, and the average condo apartment price rose just four per cent or $26,056, to $621,637.   

Further, there was clear evidence of the trend of “urban flight” taking place. Although there was an increase in sales and average sold detached and semi-detached house prices across every GTA region other than Dufferin County in 2020, the increase in sales and prices was most prominent in regions outside of the City of Toronto – municipalities furthest from the City of Toronto generally saw the largest jumps in the growth rate of house sales. In the condo apartment market, condo-dense regions like the City of Toronto and Peel Region experienced declines in condo apartment sales, however, prices noted a slight y-o-y increase. 

Simcoe County had the highest percentage increase in house sales in the GTA.

Within Simcoe, detached and semi-detached house sales grew 21 per cent (y-o-y) between April and December 2020, with 2,393 houses changing hands. The average sold price grew 17 per cent annually to $766,083. Innisfil recorded a 36 per cent increase in detached and semi-detached house sales – the highest for the region – with 829 sales. 

Following Simcoe County was Durham Region, where there were 1,143 more detached and semi-detached house sales between April and December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019; a 17 per cent increase y-o-y. The average house price rose by $117,263, to $775,213. Within the Durham Region, Scugog (+35 per cent) and Brock (+32 per cent) noted the highest rate of increase in sales. 

King Township recorded an impressive 75 per cent increase in house sales y-o-y and a 20 per cent annual increase in the average home price to $1,798,590 between April and December 2020. King had 162 more sales compared to 2019, with the average house price increasing by $294,000.

Next to Toronto Centre, with an average sold price of $2 million, King homes command the highest price in the GTA.

Georgina noted a 36 per cent spike in house sales during this timeframe and a 24 per cent increase in the average house price to $710,758. 

Within Peel Region, Caledon experienced the largest increase in annual house sales – rising 29 per cent y-o-y. The average sold price for detached and semi-detached houses in Caledon grew 21 per cent to $1,224,675. 

Sales growth for detached and semi-detached houses was relatively more subdued within the City of Toronto.

House sales growth was relatively flat with just 99 more houses selling between April and December 2020, compared to the previous year, a mere one per cent increase.

For Toronto, where there is the highest concentration of condo apartments across the GTA, condo apartment sales dipped 12 per cent y-o-y to 11,634; however, sold prices remained relatively steady with a slight three per cent increase to $662,959. 

Across all GTA regions, condo apartment sales noted the sharpest decline in Peel Region. Sales across Peel Region declined -20 per cent y-o-y for the period between April and December 2020. Despite the drop in sales, however, the average home price for condo apartments grew nine per cent to $515,801 in Peel – possibly driven by buyers seeking  larger units with more square footage due to pandemic-driven lifestyle shifts. Within Peel Region, condo sales declined 22 per cent in Brampton and 20 per cent in Mississauga, while prices rose 13 per cent and eight per cent respectively in both municipalities.

Elsewhere across the GTA, perhaps surprisingly so, condo apartment sales grew and average sold prices followed suit. Notably, Simcoe County stands out once again with an 108 per cent increase in condo apartment sales y-o-y, and a 14 per cent increase in the average sold price for condo apartments.

In Halton Region and York Region, condo apartment sales eked out small three per cent and four per cent increases respectively.

Zoocasa is an award-winning brokerage that uses data and technology to deliver an intelligent, end-to-end real estate experience to buyers, sellers, and renters in Canada. 

Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative, King Weekly Sentinel