LACKIE: Will second wave of COVID burst Toronto real estate bubble?

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Buyers and sellers alike seemed to share the belief that in the face of an all but guaranteed second wave, the time was now.

All the while, the condo market was showing signs of distress.

In response to widespread job losses, particularly in the hospitality and service sector, university classes moving online, and the short-term rental market being decimated by the abrupt loss of tourism, the rental market was flooded with vacant downtown condos.

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It wouldn’t be long, analysts predicted, until investors, faced with uncertain returns, started dumping their units.

By the time September rolled around and the original mortgage deferral programs ended, the condo market surged with new listings — a 215% increase over the same month last year.

For the first time in a very long time, the term “buyer’s market” was being used to describe what was happening with downtown condos, particularly the smaller, more entry-level units that used to be the only way some buyers could afford to get onto the ladder.

One might assume that this means the bubble has burst and the great correction is upon us, but the numbers don’t yet support that. Condo prices are still up 7.7% over last year. Even in the wake of the economic destruction brought on by a global pandemic, condos continue to sell, albeit at a slower pace than we’re used to. There will be a dip, no doubt, but that surge of inventory is starting to absorb and we’re not seeing many fire sales.

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