Toronto Luxury Home Sales Surges 157% to Begin 2021

As a record-breaking surge in Toronto home sales starts to spark concern that a bubble may be forming, one part of the market in Canada’s largest city is running even hotter than the rest: the luxury end.

Sales of homes worth more than $4 million (US$3.2 million) surged 157 per cent in January and February from a year earlier, brokerage Sotheby’s International Realty Canada said in a report released Tuesday. By contrast, data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board for the same period showed sales across all price ranges rose 52 per cent.

Among the luxury properties that changed hands in the first two months of the year, five sold for over $10 million, compared with just one a year earlier, according to Sotheby’s.

Far from triggering a long-feared housing crash, the COVID-19 pandemic has instead pushed Canada’s market to new highs. Job losses have been concentrated among people who rent, while higher-paid professionals able to work from home have taken advantage of record-low mortgage rates to scoop up bigger living spaces.

Those high earners are favoring detached homes. When condos are removed from the mix, Sotheby’s data show a 203% jump in sales.

Accelerating price appreciation sparked by Toronto’s buying frenzy is raising alarms. Last week, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. bumped up its risk assessment for the city, saying the market is highly vulnerable to a sharp drop in prices. The agency also warned of overheating at the national level as buyers look farther afield for homes.

Home purchases surged even as immigration ground to a halt during the pandemic. The federal government’s plan to increase its targets for new arrivals may give the housing market a fresh boost, particularly at the high end, according to Kottick of Sotheby’s.

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