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Average rent prices for both one-bedroom and two-bedroom condos fell during the second quarter of 2020 as rental listings increased and demand fell.

According to new data published last week by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), the average price for a one-bedroom condo in the GTA was $2,083, down 5 percent from the same period a year earlier. The rent price for a two-bedroom condo also fell over 5 percent to $2,713.

As the second quarter results were announced, TRREB President Lisa Patel pointed to two major takeaways from the data.

“First, COVID-19 clearly impacted the demand for rental condominium apartments, due to restrictions on showing units and job losses across many sectors of the economy,” Patel said in a media release.

“Second, we saw the continuation of the pattern experienced over the past year, with year-over-year growth in rental listings far outstripping growth in rental transactions, resulting in a much better-supplied market and a moderating pace of rent growth,” she continued.

There were 7,320 condos rented through TRREB’s MLS system during the April to June period, down nearly 25 percent compared to the same time last year. As Patel noted, listings rose significantly — up 42 percent — during the second quarter, leading to a supply and demand mismatch.

The Toronto region has long grappled with a painfully low rental vacancy rate, viewed by experts as a symptom of a chronic rental supply shortage that’s been called “the worst rental supply deficit in Canada.”

In response to the new data, TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer said that the second quarter increase in listings is part of a “consistent trend toward balance in the GTA condominium apartment rental market over the past year-and-a-half.”

“Accelerating growth in rental listings were at the root of this trend, but the COVID-19-related drop-off in rental transactions had a marked impact as well. Increased choice led to more negotiating power for renters, resulting in year-over-year declines in average rents in the second quarter of 2020,” Mercer said.

Prime Interest rates have gone down for 1.5% this means (see below chart)

For example $700,000 condo fully financed mortgage from $ 3,308.85 went down to $ 2,743.19 = $565 /Month

Translation: about $80 lesser mortgage payment (P&I) for any $100,000 mortgage !

click here for more information 

During heavy rain, the sewers can become overloaded. It is essential that homeowners take appropriate action to reduce the risk of basement flooding.

The City offers owners of single-family, duplex and triplex residential homes a subsidy of up to $3,400 per property to install flood protection devices. Eligible work includes:

  • Installation of a backwater valve.
  • Installation of a sump pump.
  • Severance and capping of a home’s storm sewer or external weeping tile connection.

Disconnecting the downspouts from your property’s eavestrough system is not eligible for a subsidy.

Eligible Work

Backwater valve

  • Installation or replacement of backwater valve.
  • Installation of alarm for backwater valve.

The available subsidy is 80 per cent of the invoiced cost up to a maximum of $1,250 regardless of the number of devices installed at the property, including eligible labour, materials, permit and taxes.

A Building Permit is required to install a backwater valve. The valve must pass inspection by the City of Toronto building inspector, in order to be eligible for the subsidy.

You must also consent at the time of the building inspection or at the request of the City:

  • To provide City access to the backwater valve to verify that installation has been completed in accordance with the requirements and conditions of the Program.
  • To the City taking photographs, video and digital images of backwater valves.

See what backwater valves look like and how they work.

Sump pump

  • Installation or replacement of sump pump.
  • Installation of alarm for sump pump.
  • Installation of back-up power for sump pump.

The available subsidy is 80 per cent of the invoiced cost up to a maximum of $1,750 regardless of the number of devices installed at the property, including eligible labour, materials and taxes.

Note: Be sure to maintain basement flooding protection devices according to manufacturer instructions. Keeping these devices in good working order is an important step in protecting your home against basement flooding. See what sump pumps look like and how and they work.

Foundation drain (weeping tile) pipe severance and capping

  • Disconnection of foundation drains (weeping tiles) from the City’s sewer system by severing and capping the underground sewer connection.

The available subsidy is 80 per cent of the invoiced cost up to a maximum of $400 including eligible labour, materials and taxes.

 

Subsidy Conditions

  • You must be the registered owner of a single-family residential, duplex or triplex property within the City of Toronto.
  • The property must not have exceeded the lifetime maximum subsidy amount for each eligible installation.
  • The subsidy is available only to existing homes, not homes in the planning stages or under construction
  • The downspouts from the property’s eavestrough must be disconnected from the City’s sewer system or you must have applied to the City for an exemption.
  • All front yard paved areas of the property, including parking pads, must comply with the City’s Zoning By-law requirements.
  • You must submit your application within one year of completion of the installation of the flood protection device.
  • Your contractor(s) and any sub-contractor(s) who performed the installation of flood prevention device(s) must possess a valid license from the City of Toronto for the installation work, at the time of installation.
  • Original invoices from the licensed contractor(s) and any sub-contractor(s) who performed the installation of the flood prevention device(s) must be provided with your application.
  • You must not have any outstanding taxes or debts owed to the City of Toronto at the time your application is processed.
  • Submitting an application does not guarantee a subsidy. Subsidies are issued on a “first-come, first-serve” basis, and are subject to annual funding approved by City Council.

How to Apply

Download the Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program application form.

Applying for the installation of a backwater valve and sump pump

  • You will need a Building Permit to install a backwater valve, which will be inspected by Toronto Building staff once it is installed.
  • If installing a backwater valve and sump pump, please complete and sign the Consent to Enter Form and include it with your Permit application. It will authorize Toronto Building staff to inspect and verify that both the backwater valve and sump pump have been installed according to Program requirements.
  • Installing the flood protection device(s) according to Program requirements is an important part of ensuring your eligibility for the subsidy.

For backwater valve installation, start at step 1 and for all other eligible work, start at step 3

  • Obtain a permit from Toronto Building. If installing a backwater valve and sump pump, please attach the Consent to Enter Form PDF to your permit application. Permits can be obtained from Customer Service Counters.
  • Request an inspection once installation is complete. Toronto Building staff must inspect the installation of all backwater valves. Do not enclose or cover the valve before this occurs. This inspector must be able to confirm whether the installation meets the applicable Building Code requirements.
  • Complete the Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program application form PDF.
  • Include original invoice(s) with your application. Invoice(s) must show an itemized cost breakdown of all work applicable to this subsidy and must be clearly marked “paid in full.” If your contractor uses a licensed sub-contractor, please also include original invoices from the sub-contractor.
  • Mail the completed application form with the required documentation to:
    Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program
    City of Toronto
    PO Box 15266 STN B RM B
    Toronto, ON M7Y 2W1
  • City staff will review your application and determine whether you are eligible for a subsidy. If your application is incomplete or you have not included the proper documentation, it will not be processed and all documents will be returned to you. If your application is denied, you will be notified by mail.

Selecting a Contractor

Homeowners are strongly encouraged to conduct due diligence before hiring a contractor. It is recommended you obtain a minimum of two quotes as well as references before hiring a City of Toronto licensed contractor.

Before work starts, verify that your contractor has a valid City of Toronto business license using the Business Licence Lookup tool or by phoning 416-392-6700.

If your contractor does not have a valid City of Toronto license, you will be denied funding for the work completed.

Different types of contractors are licensed to perform different types of eligible work:

Protecting Flood Prevention Devices & Your Basement

To keep your flood prevention devices in good working order, it is essential to maintain them according to the manufacturer’s directions.

When installing a backwater valve, consider including an alarm, so that you know when the device is activated. When your backwater valve is activated, it works to keep sewer water from backing up into your basement, but it also keeps wastewater from your home from flowing to the sewer. When your backwater valve is activated, any water sent down the drain (through toilets, sinks laundry etc.), may end up in your basement.

As rainstorms and power outages can accompany one another, you may also want to consider battery-power back-up for your sump pump.

Only 3,459 condos sold across the Toronto region in the second quarter of 2020, a 50 percent decline from the same three-month period a year prior.

Despite this historic decline in sales activity, the condo resale market still managed a 5.1 percent price increase during the same period, bumping the average condo selling price across the GTA to $619,707.

Market activity captured by this second quarter data, released today by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), is expected to be the worst affected by the COVID-19-related business shutdowns and general economic uncertainty.

While the Toronto region’s housing market mounted a strong rebound in June, it was far from enough to save the quarter. Even as the overall market improved in the final month of the quarter, market commentators noted that the condo segment was noticeably sluggish in June compared to the detached homes segment, especially in the City of Toronto.

Condo listings that hit the market in the second quarter of 2020 also declined significantly compared to the same period a year earlier, down 21.6 percent to 8,717. The connection between new listings and sales is an important one, as it links condo supply and buyer demand. If new listings start to rise at a much faster rate while sales remain depressed, prices will invariably be affected.

“It will be important to watch the relationship between condominium apartment sales and new listings as we move through the second half of 2020,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB’s Chief Market Analyst, in a media release.

“If economic recovery is sustained, the demand for condo apartments will improve. However, the prospect of stricter regulations on short-term rentals and softer rental market conditions could fuel increased listings of investor-held units. If we see more balanced market conditions, condo price growth could be more moderate compared to low-rise home types,” Mercer continued.

TRREB President Lisa Patel struck an optimistic tone when looking ahead to the late summer and early fall months. In the media release, she said condo sales are on the right track for an improvement in the third quarter with the solid showing in June indicating a trend toward market recovery.

New single-family homes sold by developers across the Toronto region in June beat new condo units sold during the same period by a wide margin.

Last month’s data, published today by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), signals that the market for new detached and semi-detached homes and townhouses is recovering faster than new condos.

There were 1,160 new single-family homes sold in June, the best result for the month since 2016 despite it being 12 percent below the 10-year average.

BILD’s data partner, Altus Group, said that during the same period, 744 new condo units were sold, down 73 percent from June 2019 and 70 percent below the 10-year average for the month.

“Single-family demand recovered more quickly as buyers returned and new supply started to come back into the market,” said Altus Group Vice President Matthew Boukall, in a media release.

“Given the challenges around COVID-19 restrictions, we’ve seen developers adopt new strategies to reach consumers and have seen success in the lower density segments,” he added.

The total number of new homes sold in June, at 1,904, was down 43 percent over the previous year. BILD was quick to point out, however, that the monthly total was a major improvement from May and April’s results. Both months were severely affected by restrictions in place to combat the spread of COVID-19 and saw new home sales totals well below 1,000.

“The June new home sales numbers are encouraging, though much remains to be seen as the GTA re-opens and begins recovery,” said BILD President David Wilkes.

“Now is the time to implement what we learned about facilitating the delivery of housing during the pandemic, to address our long-standing housing supply and affordability challenge while stimulating the local economy. Our industry is working with all three levels of government to help achieve these goals,” he continued.

Even with the ongoing slowdown in new condo sales, prices remained resilient. According to BILD and Altus Group, the benchmark price for a new condo was $999,228 in June, up nearly 25 percent from the previous year. The benchmark price for new single-family homes also saw an annual increase, rising nearly 4 percent to $1,141,848 in June.

As for the relative weakness of the new condo market, there are several explanations that are likely all contributing to the sluggish sales numbers.

For one, new condo sales rely more heavily on property investors who are reluctant to jump into the market with such an uncertain economic outlook prevailing. There is now emerging data-backed evidence that some investor-owners in downtown Toronto condos are beginning to sell their investment units. It is unclear how widespread this is and whether it will last through the fall, but it surely had an impact on the June sales numbers.

Secondly, there are simply far fewer new condo projects being brought to market by home builders. The spring months, which typically see the highest volume of new condo launches, saw only six projects hit the market this year. This pales in comparison to the 40 projects brought to market in the Toronto region during the same time in 2019.

Finally, there is a similar trend being observed in the resale housing market. Condo resales in the City of Toronto saw a 21 percent decline over the previous year in June while the region as a whole only saw a 1.4 percent decline in overall home resales. Meanwhile, sales for detached homes and townhomes in the Toronto region’s suburban markets saw a 10 percent year-over-year increase.

Ontarians may still be wary of going back to the office, but the provincial legislature has had a very busy July. After passing the controversial Bill 184 on July 6, and the far less contentious Bill 159 eight days later, the Ontario government passed yet another bill last week that should be of interest to the province’s realtors, mortgage brokers, and home buyers.

While Bill 197 is unlikely to make headlines for its real estate components – it is an exceptionally broad piece of legislation – it could lead to increased costs for developers. Anyone who has dabbled in the new construction space will know what that means.

“At the end of the day, when they say ‘The developer has to pay this, and the developer has to pay that,’ there’s only one person who pays for that – that’s you and me who buy the house,” says Leor Margulies of Robins Appleby Barristers and Solicitors. “The developer doesn’t pay for anything. If the cost is too high, he doesn’t do the project. If the cost can be passed on in a purchase price, then the purchaser pays for that.”

Essentially a companion piece to the province’s much-touted Bill 108, aka the More Homes, More Choices Act, Bill 197 tweaks Bill 108 in three ways that could lead to higher prices in much of Ontario.

Increased development charges

In the mid-1990s, under Mike Harris’ Progressive Conservative government, developers were given a minor break on the development charges associated with new projects. While they were required to pay 100 percent of the expected hard costs – the infrastructure costs forced onto cities because of local population growth – developers were only asked to pay 90 percent of the expected soft costs – the money a municipality would require to provide services to that growing population, like social housing or libraries.

Bill 197 puts an end to that 10 percent discount.

“Now, developers pay 100 percent of the soft cost component of the development charge, which means that gets added to the cost, and that gets passed on to purchasers,” Margulies says. “That’s a big change.”

Section 37

Section 37 of Ontario’s Planning Act, which essentially allows cities to ask for benefits in exchange for density-increasing amendments to a development’s zoning, received a significant tweak.

Prior to Bill 197’s passing, Margulies says there was no formula in place to calculate what a developer owed a municipality under Section 37. The municipality may ask for money, day care facilities, art – whatever it wants, really, with no pre-set limits.

“There’s historical precedent, but it really is the wild west,” Margulies says, adding that the city of Toronto alone is currently sitting on around $600 million worth of unspent Section 37 collections.

Under Bill 197, 60 percent of the money collected must be spent or designated for spending every year. The bill also implements a formula for calculating what developers owe municipalities if their zoning needs change – a set percentage of the site’s total land value.

“What we don’t know is what that percentage is,” says Margulies. “We think it will be under 10. I think the industry feels two percent is correct.”

Either way, prices are likely to increase, particularly in municipalities where Section 37 funds were not previously being collected.

Parkland dedication fees

Once change contained in Bill 197 may actually benefit buyers.

Bill 197 contains significant changes to the province’s approach to calculating parkland dedication fees. In Ontario, developers are required to dedicate a certain percentage of the area they are developing to green space. For residential projects, it’s equivalent to five percent of the land in question. Because few developers in densely populated areas have the luxury of having that much extra space to play with, they have been given the option of paying cash instead.

But the cash option is by no means a lifeline for developers. Because of the formula used by the province to calculate the rate of parkland dedication fees, the equivalent of one hectare of land per 500 units, they tend to be brutally expensive. Margulies explains that in the 905 area code, parkland fees have ranged between $20,000 and $60,000 per unit.

“Developers have been fighting very hard with municipalities to cut them back,” he says.

Their calls for a more realistic formula for determining parkland fees are not reflected in Bill 197. But developers now have the option of appealing fees they find to be arbitrary and egregiously expensive – a definite win. Going forward, parkland development fees will need to be justified by a background study that explains a municipality’s future parkland needs.

Following two months of “historically slow” sales as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, new home sales are starting to surge again in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

In fact, during the month of June, sales of new single-family homes – which includes detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) – accounted for 1,160 of the total of 1,904 new homes sold. This marks the highest number of transactions for June since 2016, according to a new report from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

However, while still a notable milestone, this is 12% below the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence.

Sales numbers for new condominium apartments – including units in low, medium and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses, and loft units – accounted for 744 units sold, which is up compared to April and May, but still down 73% from June 2019, and 70% below the 10-year average.

“Single-family demand recovered more quickly as buyers returned and new supply started to come back into the market,” said Matthew Boukall, Altus Group’s Vice President, Data Solutions. “Given the challenges around COVID-19 restrictions, we’ve seen developers adopt new strategies to reach consumers and have seen success in the lower density segments.”

The BILD report says that with several projects launching in June, the total remaining new home inventory increased slightly from the previous month to 13,863 units —this includes units in preconstruction projects, projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings.

What’s more, the benchmark prices for both new condominium apartments and new single-family homes increased last month compared to May. The benchmark price for new condo apartments was $999,228, up 24.2% over the last 12 months, while the benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1,141,848, up 3.9% over the last 12 months.

When breaking it down by municipality, Toronto had the highest number of new condominium apartment sales, with 408 transactions in June. Peel followed behind with 134, while York had 107 sales, Halton had 70, and Durham had just 25.

As for new single-family homes, York leads the pack with 451 sales, followed by Durham (277), Halton (274), Peel (152), and then Toronto with just six sales.

This could be an example of how more homeowners are beginning to flee the downtown core and turning to the 905 regions and surrounding areas in the search for more space and affordability.

David Wilkes, BILD President and CEO, said the June new home sales numbers are promising, though, much remains to be seen as the GTA re-opens and begins recovery.

“Now is the time to implement what we learned about facilitating the delivery of housing during the pandemic, to address our long-standing housing supply and affordability challenge while stimulating the local economy. Our industry is working with all three levels of government to help achieve these goals,” added Wilkes.

 

Province says changes meant to encourage negotiated settlements between landlords and tenants

Newly passed changes to landlord/tenant law will permit ex parte eviction orders, allowing landlords to obtain an eviction order without appearing before the Landlord and Tenant Board.

With Bill 184, the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, when a tenant is behind on rent, they can now enter into an enforceable repayment agreement with their landlord without oversight from an LTB adjudicator, says Caryma Sa’d, a Toronto-based lawyer who practises criminal, landlord/tenant and cannabis law. If the tenant fails to meet the repayment agreement’s terms, they can be subject to an ex parte eviction, or eviction without a hearing, says Sa’d, who acts for both landlords and tenants.

“Major, major, major change compared to the past, where in order to be evicted, there has to be some sort of attendance at the tribunal,” she says.

Bill 184 has sparked protests from housing advocates who say the legislation will lead to mass evictions. Throughout July, activists have staged rallies at Queen’s Park, the home of Mayor John Tory, as well as the Landlord and Tenant Board office in Ottawa.

The Provincial Government said the Act encourages negotiated settlements by allowing landlords and tenants to make an agreement on outstanding rent, without needing to appear before the LTB.

Harry Fine is a paralegal who works for both landlords and tenants and was a former adjudicator at the LTB, from 2001 to 2005. In a blog Fine wrote on the Act, he details the process for an ex parte eviction. The landlord must first serve the tenant a Form N4 Notice to End a Tenancy Early for Non-payment of Rent, file a Form L1 Application to Evict a Tenant for Non-payment of Rent with the LTB, fill out another LTB form, which becomes the repayment agreement, with the tenant and then wait to receive the consent order from the board on that agreement. If the tenant breaches the agreement, the landlord can then file an L4 application for eviction and does not have to serve notice to the tenant, nor have a hearing with the LTB. The tenant has 10 days to file a set aside motion, to appear before the LTB to address the breach. The tenant can also file a request to review the eviction order until 30 days post-eviction order.

“It is a change that may result in some evictions. But not every eviction is an unfair eviction and most of them for rent are warranted. And tenants have had their way with landlords since 2007 [with the passage of the Residential Tenancies Act]. And so there’s some small return to balance,” Fine told Law Times.

Sa’d notes that the idea of an ex parte eviction order is not new, but previously the parties would have already attended the LTB to deal with the initial non-payment of rent. She adds that the legislation also shifts the onus to the tenant to prove why they did not uphold the agreement, while at a typical non-payment of rent hearing, the landlord has the onus to prove rent was not paid, to which the board then applies an “equity reasoning” exploring whether there are circumstances that may justify delaying or refusing the eviction.

A problem with the repayment agreements lacking LTB oversight is that unsavvy tenants may have been bullied into signing an agreement they did not fully understand, or may have language comprehension difficulties, says Sa’d.

Natalia Czechowski, a lawyer for Mississauga Community Legal Services, says appearing before the LTB gives tenants the benefits of safeguards such as mediators, tenant duty counsel and the board members themselves.

“Tenants who are unaware of the changes may unknowingly enter into unrealistic agreements out of confusion, desperation or fear and landlords will be able to bypass the hearing process completely. This will inevitably lead to an increased risk of groundless evictions,” says Czechowski.

“Bill 184 further tilts the scales of the power imbalance already present in the landlord and tenant relationship in favour of the landlord by removing an opportunity for tenants to access much-needed assistance and protection at the Board.”

Average rent prices for condos and apartments in Toronto have been consistently declining thanks to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a new report suggests that trend is ongoing in many of the city’s neighbourhoods.

According to the Toronto GTA July Rent Report 2020 from TorontoRentals.com and Bullpen Research & Consulting, the average rent for all property types (singles, semis, row, condo apartment, rental apartment, basement apartment) in the former City of Toronto (pre-amalgamation boundaries) is down 8 per cent year over year.

“When looking at data on the average rent for all property types in the Greater Toronto Area, the market continues to experience a decline,” said Ben Meyers, president and owner of Bullpen Research & Consulting Inc., in a statement.

“However, when breaking down the data by property type, municipality, neighbourhood, and project, conflicting results arise.”

The report indicates that asking rents for single-family, townhouse and basement apartment listings on TorontoRentals.com actually increased from the first quarter to the second.

But, unsurpisingly at this point, condominium apartments for rent in the former City of Toronto, also known as Old Toronto, were nearly $260 cheaper per month in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

And when looking at the average rent for condominium and rental apartments in the 10 neighbourhoods in Old Toronto for Q2, rent declines are fairly consistent across the board.

In The Annex, for example, the average rent for condominium and rental apartments in Q2 was $2,559, compared to $2,606 in Q1 and $2,857 in Q2 of 2019.

In the Bay Street Corridor, the average rent was $2,448. This marks a 10 per cent decline from Q2 in 2019, when the average rent was $2,710, and it’s also down from Q1 in 2020 when the average price was $2,684.

Seven of the eight remaining Old Toronto neighbourhoods also experienced annual declines in Q2, including:

  • Waterfront Communities-The Island ($2,427, down 10 per cent)
  • Niagara ($2,302, down 8 per cent)
  • Church-Yonge corridor ($2,296, down 8 per cent)
  • Little Portugal ($2,218, down 11 per cent)
  • Mount Pleasant West ($2,144, down 8 per cent)
  • Moss Park ($2,098, down 14 per cent)
  • South Parkdale ($1,974, down 12 per cent)

The only area to experience an increase in its annual average rental price in Q2 was North St. James Town, but the report points to a logical explanation for this.

“Rents are up 10% annually in North St. James Town, but the area was boosted by an increase in the number of listings on TorontoRentals.com at the new high-end purpose-built rental apartment called The Selby on Sherbourne, south of Bloor,” notes the report.

“The biggest decline was seen in the Moss Park area with a 14% annual decline. A condominium apartment at 320 Richmond Street East called The Modern, which was one of the most active projects in terms of monthly listings in that area, witnessed a 20% rent decline annually.”

According to Meyers, the overall declines can be partially attributed to the many homes which were previously being used as short-term units and are now hitting the regular market.

“Condominium apartment rents continue to experience rent deflation, as the much talked about short-term units hit the full-time rental market, students stay home, immigration is low, and new supply hits the market,” he said.

“The 2,229 condominium apartment completions in May was the third highest monthly total over the last three years per CMHC data, and a significant portion of those units were purchased by investors and are hitting the rental market.”

On top of all this, Meyers says it’s still too soon to truly understand how damaged the market has been by COVID-19.

“It will still take several months to assess the damage done to the market by COVID-19, when all of the GTA enters Stage 3 of the re-opening,” he said, “and we are able to see data on how many employees are hired back to their previous jobs, and how quickly consumers start spending again.”

Preferences around home buying have continued to shift through the course of the pandemic, particularly among those who aren’t even on the property ladder yet.

A quarter of Ontario renters who are currently active in the real estate market are now more interested in buying a home than they were before the pandemic, according to new consumer data collected by Nanos Research. Conducted on behalf of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) for their monthly Pulse Check on Consumer Attitudes report, the research highlights changing attitudes and preferences of prospective homeowners.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 25 percent of Ontario renters who are active in real estate have expressed that they are more interested in buying a home now, compared to just 13 percent of renters who said they are now less interested. About 54 percent of renters said that they are just as interested in purchasing now as they were pre-pandemic.

Millennials and those between the ages of 35 to 54 make up the bulk of the interested buyer pool, with 62 percent and 59 percent of those age groups currently looking in the market. More renters are also actively seeking real estate in contrast to current homeowners — 63 percent of renters are searching for a home to purchase compared to 47 percent of homeowners surveyed.

“Despite the uncertainty stemming from the pandemic, housing remains a strong sector of our province’s economy, with the Canadian Dream of home ownership continuing to be a strong value for many Ontarians,” said OREA President Sean Morrison in the consumer report. “As we look ahead and move towards economic recovery in a post-COVID era, we can expect even more interest as renters and first-time home buyers look to enter the market.”

With many Ontarians locked down at home over these recent months with time to reassess their needs, it’s not uncommon for homebuyers to consider moving outside of the city in search of extra space. Three in five of those who are active in the real estate market said that living in rural areas is now more appealing to them than it was pre-pandemic, according to the survey. Similarly, three in five of those surveyed now find suburban living more attractive too.

Last week, in-person open houses were permitted to run once again throughout the majority of Ontario’s public health regions. About eight in ten active Ontarians in the market have expressed that they are comfortable or somewhat comfortable attending an in-person private showing. Sixty-six percent of those active have also reported that they would be comfortable or somewhat comfortable attending an open house with other buyers present.

Despite the unprecedented turbulence real estate markets have experienced over these last few months, prices for single-family homes in some of Toronto’s most sought-after communities have shown few signs of wavering.

A new market report released by RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada today found that central Toronto neighbourhoods delivered strong average home price gains through the first half of 2020 even as the market endured months of uncertainty while the pandemic disrupted everyday life across the city.

Of the 65 Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) districts, 60 percent of those within the ‘416’ region saw double-digit price increases during the first six months of 2020, particularly in areas C02, C08 and C03.

In the C02 district, which includes the Annex, Yonge-St. Clair, Casa Loma and Wychwood neighbourhoods, average prices of detached homes jumped by 25.7 percent year-over-year in June to $2,918,968. Last month, homes in this area sat on the market for an average of 17 days, with a sale-to-list price ratio of 98 percent. According to RE/MAX, move-up buyers were fairly active in this area amidst a shortage of homes, particularly in the Annex.

In June, housing inventory dropped to levels that are far below average. Active listings in the Greater Toronto Area hit 14,000, the low total for the month since 2016. Unlike typical spring seasons, this year’s spring market saw no uptick in homes hitting the market.

“[B]uyers and sellers paused in April, then cautiously resumed home-buying activity as COVID-19 cases dropped and local economies re-opened,” said Christopher Alexander, executive vice president and regional director of RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, in the report. “With the easing of restrictions and the province moving into the third, and perhaps final phase, we anticipate that the housing market will likely accelerate.”

Price gains were seen in Toronto’s C08 region, comprising mainly of the Waterfront Communities and the Church-Yonge Corridor, where annual prices for detached homes rose 55.7 percent year-over-year from $1,641,813 to $2,555,500. Forest Hill South, Oakwood-Vaughan and Humewood, located in the C03 district, experienced a 17.7 percent price increase, boosting the year-over-year average to $2,371,546 from $2,014,072.

Outside of Toronto’s central areas, two communities book-ending the eastern and western portions of the Lakeshore were a hotbed for annual price increases. District W01, which includes Roncesvalles and High Park, saw average prices leap from $1,731,382 to $2,050,596, an 18.4 percent year-over-year increase.

Average prices in E06’s Birchcliffe-Cliffside and Oakridge communities topped the $1 million mark, rising 18.4 percent to $1,095,287. Both of these districts saw a surge in young family buyers seeking affordability and proximity to the shoreline, according to the report.