Activity in Canada’s largest housing market warmed up in May after going into a deep freeze at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the local real estate board says the momentum should continue so long as there aren’t setbacks in re-opening the economy.

There were 4,606 property sales across the Greater Toronto Area in May, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). While that was less than half the number of sales registered a year earlier, it was a 53.2 per cent rebound from April.

Lockdown measures associated with COVID-19 brought housing markets to a screeching halt starting in mid-February, as it became increasingly difficult to connect buyers and sellers.

Despite the sequential improvement in May after home sales cratered starting in mid-March, there’s still a long way to go for the market to recover. Indeed, the activity in May was still well below the 7,256  sales registered in February pre-pandemic.

Toronto housing is 'tracking well above our forecast': Royal Lepage CEO

Royal Lepage CEO Phil Soper says that recovery for the housing market is coming, but that listing volume, especially in large markets like Toronto and Vancouver, will be slow to come back.

The average selling price for all homes sold across the GTA last month was $863,599, representing modest growth on both a sequential and year-over-year basis.

Prices were supported by a continued deterioration in the inventory of homes available for purchase, as active listings sank 42.8 per cent year-over-year.

“If current market conditions are sustained during the gradual re-opening of the GTA economy, a moderate pace of year-over-year price growth could continue as we move through the spring and summer months,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB’s chief market analyst, in a release.