by Tara Deschamps
TORONTO _ The Greater Toronto Area housing market continued to rebound last month with an 8.5 per cent increase in sales compared with a year ago, following a slow-down during the first half of 2018.
The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) said on Thursday that August saw 6,839 homes in the region sold through the MLS system. The average selling price also rose 4.7 per cent to $765,270 from $730,969 in August 2017.
It was the third month of year-over-year sales growth for the region, with July up 18.6 per cent from a year earlier and June up 2.4 per cent.
TREB President Garry Bhaura attributed the increases to homebuyers who are wading into the market after holding off on purchases because of stricter mortgage regulations and Ontario's Fair Housing Plan, which introduced a foreign buyers tax and speculation fees on vacant homes in April 2017.
``It is encouraging to see a continued resurgence in the demand for ownership housing,'' Bhaura said in a statement.
While preliminary seasonally adjusted sales in August were up by two per cent compared with July, TREB found the seasonally adjusted average selling price last month was down 0.2 per cent from the month before.
The board said August brought a spike in new listings. They totalled totalled 12,166 for the month, up about six per cent from 11,481 a year ago.
TREB's director of market analysis, Jason Mercer, said the annual rate of sales growth outpaced the annual rate of new listings growth, creating a market that was ``tighter'' than the year before.
He noted in a release that the region has less than three months of inventory. Toronto itself has less than two months of supply available.
``This means that despite the fact the sales remain off the record highs from 2016 and 2017, many GTA neighbourhoods continue to suffer from a lack of inventory,'' he said. ``This could present a problem if demand continues to accelerate over the next year, which is expected.''
The Multiple Listing Service home price index revealed a 6.52 per cent drop in York Region, a 1.17 decrease in Durham Region and a 1.29 per cent fall in South Simcoe County. Halton and Peel regions, however, rose by about two per cent each, while Toronto jumped by 6.07 per cent.
BMO analyst Robert Kavcic said in a note to investors that the market is ``relatively stable (though a bit soggy).''
While pointing to the 8.6 per cent increase in year-over-year sales, he said ``Toronto looks to be firming.''