Cruel Summer?


6 minute read

April 23, 2021

Do you have any idea how disappointed I was, when Googling “cruel summer lyrics,” to see that somebody stole Bananarama’s song title?

You all remember “Cruel Summer” as Bananarama’s 1983 smash hit, and while it only made its way to #8 on the U.K. pop charts, its inclusion in 1984’s Karate Kid, and subsequent rise to #9 on the U.S. pop charts really gave the song legs.

Many of you may choose Bananarama’s cover of Dutch rock band, Shocking Blue‘s song “Venus” as your favourite song by Bananarama, and although it peaked at #1 on U.S. dance charts, I can’t put it atop my list because they didn’t write it.

The hook was epic, I have to say.  And wasn’t it used in a 1980’s television advertisement for razor blades for women?

She’s got it.  Ya baby, she’s got it.

I mean, it doesn’t get better than that for me.  But alas, Bananarama didn’t write the song.

Cruel Summer, on the other hand, was all Bananarama.  Three teenagers from Bristol, England who rose, at one point, to hold the title of world’s highest number of chart entries by an all-female group.

And then, along came somebody named Taylor.

Taylor Swift.



It’s like how somebody named “Lady Gaga” stole their Venus song title.

Taylor Swift stole “Cruel Summer,” and while she might have 154 Million followers on Instagram to Bananarama’s 51,800 followers, I think we all know who the first person was to sing about what it’s like being alone in the city when your friends are gone during a cruel, cruel summer.

Speaking of which, how about that weather this week, eh?

On Wednesday afternoon, I had a rare moment of day-time home-time with the kids as my wife summoned me back for an hour, and with two inches of snow on the ground, we built a wicked snowman.

And if you’re a dad, at all like me, you know that by “we” in reference to this snowman-build, I mean “me.”

If you let the kids do it, they’ll just eff it up.

The key to any solid snowman is obviously the snow.  It must be packing-snow, otherwise, why bother?

But second comes technique, and I really, truly feel bad for the suckers who are taking handfuls of snow and slapping it down as a base, or onto a larger ball.  Because, as most of you know, it’s all about rolling.

Take a snowball the size of your hand, put it down, and roll it.  Keep rolling, if you’re like me – in perfectly straight lines, up and down the lawn, and before you know it, you’ve got a ball that’s three-feet in diameter.

If your 4-year-old daughter asks to help, just tell her to watch her little brother and make sure he stays out of the road.  That’s helping.

It took us (me) about nine minutes to get this guy up on the lawn, and then we ventured out to find sticks for arms.

I’m sitting here in my home office right now and this is what I see:

My wife said, “People have been stopping all day and taking photos.”

Then amazingly she said, “One guy even stopped, walked up on the lawn and put the hat back on!”

Despite the longevity of this snowman, and the hour of fun I had with the kids, this week’s cold snap could have been done without.

It was a cruel, cruel spring joke.  And more now than ever, after thirteen months in a pandemic, we deserve a kind, merciful summer.

With so many people I know getting their vaccine, with each passing day, I see an “end” to all of this in sight.  While the true end could be years away, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel may only be 2-3 months ahead.

Friends of mine in New York are already double-vaccinated and out socializing.  Business associates of mine in Florida are also double-vaccinated and were at a nightclub opening last weekend.  While we’re obviously in 21st place in the world (way, way up from 49th or 50th place one month ago), we’re getting there.  Slowly but surely.

So with a kind, merciful summer ahead for us on a personal level, what does that mean for the market?

I’ll say this: I have not one, but two trips planned this summer.  My wife picked two AirBnB’s on different waterfronts, one in July and one in August, each of which we’ll be at for a week.

I rarely take vacation outside of Christmas and the yearly jaunt down to Idaho in late-August when the market is dead, but this year, we’re really, truly going to try to “disconnect.”

What about the rest of Toronto?  What do they have planned?

I believe that after a third wave of COVID, non-stop talk of restrictions and shut-downs, school closures, and sky-high cases, there are going to be a lot of people looking to get out of the city this summer.  And if that’s the case, then who’s going to be here buying real estate?

My hypothesis is as follows: after a record-setting spring in the Toronto real estate market, we could see activity wane in the summer.

Here’s why…

The pandemic began in mid-March of 2020, and while the latter two weeks of March were slower in the Toronto real estate market, it wasn’t earth-shattering.

That, of course, began in April, as this sales chart shows:

I can’t believe it’s been a year already, but I’ll save that misery for a beer on a patio this summer…

That number – 2,975, stands out in my mind even to this day.  Of all the numbers I’ve ever written with the respect to the Toronto real estate market perhaps only the “peak” average home price of $920,791 in April of 2017 stands out more in my mind.

2,975 sales.

That’s the lowest number of sales in any month since I’ve been tracking data from 2011, and if I went back another ten years, it would probably be the lowest still.

The average number of sales in April, from 2012 through 2019, was 10,160.

2,975 sales.

That’s what the pandemic did last April, and it continued into May:

4,606 sales

Again, probably the lowest number of sales in the month of May since the 1990’s.

The average number of sales in April from 2012 to 2019 was 10,612.

4,606 sales.

That’s what the pandemic did, although slowly but surely, the market started to show signs of life in June as we figured out how to live in a pandemic:

The 8,701 sales in June weren’t the lowest in our nine-year data set, but they still lagged behind “peak” years like 2016.

To see 8,701 sales in June of 2020, two months after the onset of a pandemic, would be akin to seeing 18,000 in 2016.  It was far more significant than it looked.

By mid-June of last year, the market was roaring again.  Recall that the average home price in June of 2020 hit $930,869, beating the record from April of 2017.

And by the summer of last year, the market was clearly making up for those lost months in April and May, as evidenced by record-setting sales figures in July and August:

Two months, two records.

And it wasn’t even close!

The average number of sales in July from 2012 through 2019 was 8,291, and in 2020, we saw 11,081.

The average number of sales in August from 2012 through 2019 was 7,521, and in 2020, we saw 10,775.

These “record” months beat those averages by 33.7% and 43.3% respectively.

August of 2020 was the busiest year of my career and as with July, I trace this back to the months lost due to the pandemic.

So why am I using this to try and argue that the summer of 2021 might be slow?

Because of this:

Three straight record-setting months, and the margins are even larger than in the summer of 2020!

Again, if we took averages from 2012 through 2020, we’d see 4,401 in January, 6,412 in February, and 8,771 in March.

This means the new records beat the previous averages by 57.4%, 71.1%, and 78.4% respectively.

That’s absurd market activity!

The record most sales in the month of April is 12,016, so considering we just had 15,652 sales in March, I think April will be producing a new record as well.

So can this continue through the summer?

That is the question.

Last year, we had record months in July and August because we lost sales due to the pandemic.  So if we’re now seeing record months in the spring, shouldn’t we acknowledge that sales might lag in the summer?

There’s an argument to be made that a hot, record-setting winter, spring, and early-summer could simply be expected to continue into July and August, but if you put together the likelihood that Torontonians exit the city in droves for summer vacations and the fact that we’ve had record-setting months already, I have to think we could see a cruel, cruel summer for sales.

Kind, merciful summer for our souls.

But a summer sales slump that Bananarama (or Tayor Swift, I guess…) might write about in a song…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. Appraiser

    at 9:55 am

    Preliminary TRREB numbers are running at 540 sales per day for April.

    The record last month was 505 sales per day.

    It this trend continues, the 16,000 sales barrier will be breached. With one less day in the month to boot.

  2. Pingback: Best Real Estate Agent In GTA – Cruel Summer? – Toronto Realty Blog

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