July 19, 2021 | summer market
I’m often asked, “When is the best time to buy or sell real estate in Toronto?” or “What season are you able to get the best bang for your buck?” Luckily, in a city as big as Toronto, you can buy or sell real estate almost any time of the year. The taps are not ever fully turned off. Still, there are busier and quieter times of the year. But not all seasons roll out the same way every year with such consistency. Take this summer. It is very different from last summer. The two summer markets barely overlap other than the time of year.
Summer is traditionally quieter with fewer transactions that any other season. People are not as keen on buying real estate as they are in indulging in warmer weather. Even for those who are keen, there are fewer options to buy. This summer is particularly quiet. Prices are not falling, but the rate of price growth has slowed down in most neighbourhoods after a heated winter and spring. This summer things are taking a little longer to sell. Homes don’t always sell in a bidding war.
Last summer was very different. Prices were rising. It was my busiest summer ever in real estate. There were lots of listings and lots of transactions. Though the TREB stats are not out for July yet, I am very sure it will far fewer transactions this month than in July 2020.
Why so different? If seasons real estate markets tend to ebb and flow the same way, why such starkly different markets?
Back in 2020, the entire Spring market was greatly reduced because of our first few months with Covid. In April of 2020 there were 1,030 transactions. In April of 2021, there were 4,686 – almost five times more transactions in April 2021 than April 2020. For April and most of May last year, most were convinced it was not a very good idea to be buying and selling anything. We didn’t know enough about how the disease was spread, and we were experiencing our first lockdown. When the Covid cases started going down in the summer of 2020, Toronto began to open up again. The spring market that didn’t happen in 2020 was pushed to the summer. So, the summer of 2020 was closer to how the spring of 2020 would have been if Covid hadn’t arrived.
In the summer of 2021, we are following a very robust spring market. Now, we have been in a lockdown for most of the year. There has been some form of restriction in Toronto that really didn’t seem to change the buying and selling of real estate. By the end of the spring of 2021, most Torontonians were under serious lockdown fatigue. Unlike the previous summer, where we wanted to get back to normal life by buying real estate, this summer, we want to get back to the things we can do in the summer after our long time indoors – not real estate. That means seeing friends and family. Planning a vacation, even if it’s not too far away. There is a reason why it was so hard to book a rental cottage this year. People want to do summer things again!
We had a busy summer and fall in 2020. We had a busy winter, and the spring of 2021 was busy too. Higher prices and many more transactions. In fact, we really didn’t have much of a seasonal pause for almost a year.
In the summer of 2020, buying and selling real estate represented a need to move ahead with your life. We just came through a time when it was difficult to sell real estate in Toronto. Buying and selling real estate felt closer to normal life after our first lockdown. We also had our first taste of remote work, and many of us needed to make some real estate adjustments to reflect our new reality and much more time at home. In 2021, those who needed to change their living arrangements because of the pandemic, had done so. If someone needed more space and could buy something larger, they already did it before this summer.
I think this summer pause will be a good rest from a fast-paced market. Real estate will still go on in Toronto. You can still buy and sell, but I suspect we may be into a busier market again in the fall once we’ve had some time to rest, and let real estate take a back seat. And I suspect we’ll have a traditional fall, a busy market taking flight on cue after Labour Day.
Buyers, you may be able to take advantage of the lull this summer to take part in a more tame market. You may not have the selection you have in the fall, but you should have less competition.