A year in real estate review: Toronto's biggest trends of 2020


After viewing 65 homes in six months and putting down nine offers, Brandi Ricci and her husband finally landed their dream home in Hamilton.

They never expected to be dealing with multiple bidding wars during a pandemic, but Ontario's real estate sector has remained strong even as other areas of the economy experienced a downturn since March. 

This past November, the Toronto Real Estate Board found that homes sales were up 24.3 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area compared to the same time last year. Toronto sales were also up, but not the same amount. The reason, people have been rushing into the suburbs looking for single-family homes. 

"The first house we bid on, we were outbid by $200,000," said Ricci. "Just like everyone else, we're both working from home and now everyone wants land and larger homes."

Ditching the city, moving to Durham Region

Less popular areas that were once considered affordable experienced some of the biggest booms, says John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty Inc. He's been tracking pandemic trends and says home prices in Durham Region went up 23.9 per cent between November 2019 and November 2020. A single-family home now costs about $150,000 more than it did last year. 

"The hottest region in the GTA is Durham right now," said Pasalis. 

"It became unbelievably popular, if you want a detached home, if you want a yard, all of those things, Durham was kind of the only region where it was somewhat affordable. York Region is expensive, Mississauga is expensive. So people just rushed to Durham because it was somewhat affordable."

That influx of eager buyers looking for a deal is what's made Durham a competitive market.