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The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board says competition between buyers returned to the market last month as the average home price in the area ticked above the average list price for the first time since May 2022.

The Ontario board found Wednesday that the average price of a home hit $1,108,606 last month compared with $1,096,519 the month before.

However, the average price was still down almost 15% from $1,298,666 last March, when bidding wars kept the market moving at a frenzied pace.

The board took last month’s numbers to mean the market is tightening after several months spent in a sluggish state, where sales paled in comparison to typical years and prices started to drop as interest and mortgage rates soared.

“As we moved through the first quarter, Toronto Regional Real Estate Board members were increasingly reporting that competition between buyers was heating up in many GTA neighbourhoods,” Paul Baron, the organization’s president, said in a statement.

The numbers indicate prospective homebuyers are regaining the confidence to wade into the market despite borrowing costs climbing and are looking to take advantage of lower prices while they last.

Detached homes had an average price of $1,468,651, down 13.5% from a year ago, while semi-detached properties dropped more than 17% to $1,087,924. Townhouses cost an average of $935,626, a 14% decrease, while condos and apartments fell 13% to $703,566.

TRREB found March’s composite benchmark price was $1,118,500, a 16.2% drop on a year-over-year basis, but up month-over-month on both an actual and seasonally adjusted basis.

The month culminated with 6,896 sales, up from 4,765 in February. However, sales were still down almost 37% from 10,862 in March 2020.

Sales were partially impacted by new listings, which have waned because would-be sellers have held off on purchases because they want to fetch the lower prices their neighbours did at the peak last year.

Their cautious approach pushed new listings to 11,184 last month, down 44% from the prior March.

TRREB’s numbers were released a day after TD Economics economist Rishi Sondhi sent a note to investors saying that “Canadian home sales appear to have reached a trough” after incurring a “dramatic slide” in prior months.

Sondhi is now forecasting quarterly sales gains with stronger growth headed into the year’s second half.

“Ontario and B.C. are poised to record the strongest quarterly sales growth this year,” Sondhi wrote.

“This shouldn’t be taken as a sign of strength, however, as 2023 will likely be the softest sales year since the early 2000s in both provinces.”

On Tuesday, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver revealed home sales fell 42.5% in March from a year ago and were 28.4% below the 10-year seasonal average.

Last month’s sales totalled 2,535 compared with 4,405 sales in March 2022 and 1,808 in February.