Michelle Kam on What the COVID-19 Vaccine Means for Toronto's Housing Market

There’s no doubting the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on many facets of the economy — including the housing market. While some people have moved out of the city to bigger properties in Toronto’s suburbs, condo owners in the city also felt the sting, as there was less rental activity. While the biggest price increases on single-family homes was in Toronto’s 905 area, the 416 urban area continued to see growth throughout the year as a whole, with some areas seeing huge spikes.

However, if we know anything about the Toronto, Ontario housing market, we know it typically grows — and if it slows down, it’s not for very long, says Michelle Kam, a real estate broker in the city. While there was no end to the pandemic in sight for some time, things have changed now that a COVID-19 vaccine is being rolled out that could change the market behaviour in 2021. 

One of the biggest factors is younger professionals and students driving up condo rental demand if the vaccine allows workplaces and university campuses to fully open again. Those who can go into an office again to work will likely look for a place in the city for an easy commute.

Immigrants Expected to Boost Demand in Toronto Condo Market

However, there is another big factor in the 416’s favour: immigration. While 2020 saw the numbers go down sharply due to closed borders, Canada has ambitious immigration targets for 2021 to 2023 to help boost the economy, a move that real estate experts say will increase the demand for housing in Toronto — in particular, there is a lot of competition anticipated in the city’s condo market again, says Michelle Kam.

One of the many reasons immigrants come to Canada is for educational opportunities, of which there are many in the heart of the city. Condos represent an affordable way to live near a campus. For investors, it represents a prime opportunity to buy a condo in the city as the value is only expected to rise.

Rising Prices in Suburbs Outpacing Toronto

Meanwhile, more buyers might start looking at neighbourhoods inside the city as suburban homes soar — for example, the average price of a home in Oakville sits at $1.5 million as of January 2021. This could drive people back into Toronto, which has a lot of transit options and amenities (and possibly more festivals as the COVID-19 pandemic lifts thanks to the vaccine).

The rollout of the vaccine for the general public in Ontario is not expected until summer, but a newer single-dose vaccine that’s yet to be authorized by Health Canada could speed up the timeline, says Michelle Kam. 

Meanwhile, Toronto’s real estate market as a whole continues to chug along better than expected and mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows, which is good news for those looking to break into the Toronto housing market.