TORONTO - The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board says Greater Toronto home sales in April were down five per cent from last year, but new listings surged, which created more choice for buyers and kept prices stable.

The board says 7,114 homes changed hands in the month compared with 7,487 last year, noting April 2023 saw a temporary resurgence in market activity that led to a sales boost.

The average selling price was up 0.3 per cent year-over-year to $1,156,167.

“Many homeowners are anticipating an increase in demand for ownership housing as we move through the spring,” said TRREB president Jennifer Pearce in a press release.

“While sales are expected to pick up, many would-be homebuyers are likely waiting for the Bank of Canada to actually begin cutting its policy rate before purchasing a home.”

Many market watchers expect the Bank of Canada to start cutting its key interest rate in June.

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, sales were down by 3.4 per cent - the third consecutive month-over-month decline.

New listings jumped 47.2 per cent over the same period, with 16,941 properties put on the market last month compared with 11,509 in April 2023.

The inventory surge in April was unsurprising, given spring is typically a hot season for new property listings, said Jessica Hammell, a broker who focuses on downtown and midtown Toronto properties for Real Broker Ontario.

The difference this year, said Hammell, is that demand isn't keeping up just yet.

“Once it starts to get nice and the sun is shining, people definitely come out of the woodwork and start making their plans,” she said.

“I think it's just tempered a bit by the hope of maybe getting a better rate down the line, but maybe not necessarily a lower price.”

TRREB chief market analyst Jason Mercer said he expects lower borrowing costs in the coming months will prompt tighter market conditions, resulting in renewed price growth, “especially as we move into 2025.”

In the City of Toronto, there were 2,581 sales last month, a five per cent decrease from April 2023. Throughout the rest of the GTA, home sales fell 4.9 per cent to 4,533.

All property types except townhouses saw fewer sales in April compared with a year ago throughout the GTA. Detached homes saw the biggest drop at 7.2 per cent, followed by condo apartments at 6.5 per cent.

There were one per cent fewer semi-detached home sales, while the number of townhouse properties that changed hands grew 0.7 per cent.

Some buyers are entering the market, but many in the region remain “cautiously optimistic” as they await rate cuts from the central bank later this year, said Hammell.

“People are making moves, but they're all necessity-based,” she said.

“They're upsizing for their growing family, they're downsizing to simplify things in later life. But it's less people being like, 'I want to jump in as a first-time investor.”'

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2024.