The demand for luxury properties in the GTA priced over $5 million hit new new heights in 2015. According to luxury realtor Barry Cohen of RE/MAX Realtron Realty Inc., sales climbed 108% to 77 units in 2015, up from 37 in 2014. 73 freehold homes and four condominium apartments changed hands, representing more than $500 million in total dollar volume.

"2015 was a banner year for real estate activity across the board. Nowhere was that fact more evident than in the upper end," said Cohen, who participated in 13 of the 77 sales. "Tight market conditions prevailed throughout much of the year, with fewer ultra high-end listings coming to market overall, particularly in prestigious enclaves south of the 401. Pent-up demand is expected to carry over into 2016, with affluent purchasers waiting patiently in the wings for the right product."

The vast majority of sales over $5 million occurred in Toronto. The Bridle Path, Sunnybrook area reported 43% of high-end sales (33), followed by Forest Hill South with 16% (12). Listings were scarce in upscale neighbourhoods in close proximity to the downtown core, including Rosedale, Moore Park, Forest Hill, Annex, and South Hill. Selection was greatest in the Bridle Path, Sunnybrook, coupled with St. Andrew's-Windfields, York Mills, and Hogg's Hollow.

"Given that this segment of the market is typically the first to soften in volatile economic times, it's surprising that the strength of the high end has continued unabated for such an extended period of time," said Cohen. "In fact, recent turbulence in the stock market has prompted renewed interest in other tangible real estate assets such as second homes and development properties."

The strength of the US dollar is expected to continue to bolster demand for luxury real estate in the GTA in the year ahead as international purchasers take advantage of the currency exchange. Location and education are the primary drivers, explains Cohen. Toronto is considered a 'safe haven' for investment, offering up a world-class university, well-priced real estate from a global perspective and all the advantages of the country's financial capital.

"While purchasers, for the most part, were local entrepreneurs, business executives, and professionals, foreign investors also factored into the mix in 2015," said Cohen. "Buyers from Mainland China, in particular, should play an even greater role in the top end of the GTA's luxury market in the next six to 12 months, based on the upward trajectory of the US dollar."

The most expensive detached home sold in 2015 was a $13 million estate in the heart of Forest Hill, while the priciest condominium apartment moved at just over $10 million in Yorkville.

TOP PHOTOS: Two luxury homes available for sale - 10 Marcus Court (contact Andrew Bolton of Keller Williams Realty Centres, Brokerage) and 15 Cachet Parkway (listed by Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage)