Back in September, 2021, we wrote an article about how wrong the stats are for how long it takes real estate to sell. Our review then found that the number of days on market could be off by as much as 38%!

The reason for why these stats are wrong isn’t due to agents making mistakes or misrepresenting the data, but because of a quirk as how to the system works. Basically, the MLS system that we use to list real estate in Ontario allows real estate agents to terminate a listing that hasn’t sold and re-list it immediately. Whenever that takes place, the old MLS number is replaced with a new MLS number and the number of days on market starts fresh.

As a result, it means that the stats that are typically report in the media and that most agents use are based on the listing’s days on market, not the property’s days on market. If there was just the one listing for a place before it sold, then the length of time it took to sell is accurate, but if a seller had trouble getting sold and it was terminated and relisted a number of times, the days on market would be understated.

During the early days of COVID, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board came up with a way to acknowledge the inaccuracy of this days on market (DOM) stat. Each month they release a report on how the average listing days on market differs from the average property days on market.

Property days on market, or PDOM, is what we see when we combine all of the recent listings for a property into one stat. We’re now starting to see market data that includes December and that means we can do a full year in review to see what happened in 2023, including with the actual (PDOM) days on market.

How long did it take in 2023 for properties to sell by area?

Let’s start with the data! The below chart has all of the TRREB municipalities and for each town or city, we see the average LDOM (listing days on market, which is the number most media stories report), followed by the actual average PDOM (property days on market, which is more accurate and reflects terminated and relisted properties), followed by the percentage difference between the two (how understated the LDOM actually is) and the difference in days between the two.

Area Avg. LDOM Avg. PDOM % Days
wdt_ID Area Avg. LDOM Avg. PDOM % Days
1 Halton Hills 19 30 58% 11
2 Brampton 18 28 56% 10
3 Vaughan 20 31 55% 11
4 Richmond Hill 19 29 53% 10
5 King 29 44 52% 15
6 Whitby 14 21 50% 7
7 Ajax 12 18 50% 6
8 Innisfil 29 43 48% 14
9 Caledon 25 37 48% 12
10 Oakville 21 31 48% 10
11 Toronto West 21 31 48% 10
12 Bradford 21 31 48% 10
13 Mississauga 19 28 47% 9
14 Milton 17 25 47% 8
15 Pickering 15 22 47% 7
16 Toronto Central 22 32 45% 10
17 Scugog 20 29 45% 9
18 Orangeville 20 29 45% 9
19 Toronto East 16 23 44% 7
20 Clarington 16 23 44% 7
21 Essa 26 37 42% 11
22 Aurora 17 24 41% 7
23 Newmarket 17 24 41% 7
24 East Gwillimbury 22 31 41% 9
25 Georgina 22 31 41% 9
26 Brock 25 35 40% 10
27 Stouffville 20 28 40% 8
28 Uxbridge 20 28 40% 8
29 Oshawa 15 21 40% 6
30 Markham 16 22 38% 6
31 Burlington 22 30 36% 8
32 New Tecumseth 26 35 35% 9
33 Adjala-Tosorontio 38 48 26% 10

Let’s review what we found interesting in that data.

It actually took 47% longer to sell than most sources reported!

The above data shows each geographic area, but we also looked at the big picture.  When we take a look at all of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s geographic areas covered (basically the GTA), the average days on market based on listings is shown at 19 days in 2023. However, when we look at the property days on market, which includes all those listings that actually were terminated and relisted (in some cases multiple times), the average days on market jumps up to 28 days. That’s nine days longer than most news stories would have reported, which works out to a whopping 47% longer!

Clearly we saw lots of properties be listed multiple times this year and if you only looked at the listing days on market, you would have been massively understating how long it took real estate to sell across the GTA.

Where in the GTA was the days on market most wrong?

If we look at the statistics for 2023 on a geographic basis, it was Halton Hills in the Halton area that saw the biggest difference between days on market versus property days on market. In 2023 Halton Hills saw an average days on market of 19 days, but that was understated by 11 days, as the property days on market was actually 30 days on market. That works out to the actual days on market for real estate there taking 58% longer than news stories would have you believe!

While Halton Hills had the biggest understating on a percentage basis, it was King, in York region, that had the biggest difference in terms of days. King showed it took real estate 29 days on average to sell in 2023, but when we look at the property days on market, that is a whopping 15 days understated, as it actually took 44 days on average.

Congratulations to Ajax for winning the most honest award for market stats!

If we look at where the reported days on market was closest to the actual days on market (PDOM), then Ajax in Durham region is the big winner. The average days on market in Ajax was 12 days according to listings and that’s just six days less than the 18 days we saw for the average property days on market.

It’s worth noting that how understated the actual (PDOM) days on market over the course of the year ranged from 26% to 58%, or from 6 days to 15 days. Put another way, even the most accurate data used in most media reports was off by about a week and if you added a couple weeks to any stat you read, you would have likely been pretty close.

When we look at the regions, Durham region was definitely the hottest and therefore most accurate region when it came to days on market. Basically, anywhere that properties sold in their first listing on market had the smallest gap between the two stats, and Durham region was the best in that regard.

There you have it – the actual, accurate data for where it takes the longest to sell as well as which markets were most misrepresented in news stories.

Terminating a listing and relisting it can be useful in a number of ways, including drawing fresh eyes onto a “new” listing, or avoiding having an improved (i.e. lowered) price go unnoticed because the listing itself is stale. While it can often make sense to terminate and relist, the typical use of listing days on market instead of the more accurate property days on market means that any stories that talk about how long it takes for real estate to sell should be viewed with significant distrust.

We’d very much prefer if TRREB and other real estate boards around the province stopped using listing days on market at all and switched completely to property days on market, but so far no one is following our advice!

If you’re looking to buy or sell real estate, make sure you work with agents who know when you can – and when you can’t – rely on the stats and give you useful advice. Get in touch with us to discuss your real estate needs!