RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd., Brokerage | Direct: 416.508.9513 | Office 416.699.9292

NEWS

Real Estate During COVID-19

Interesting times, eh? Many businesses have been shut down in the last week or so, but many are still up and running – including real estate… for now! TRREB continues to see new listings every day, and plenty of sales. I’ll admit that I’m a bit surprised, but it’s happening. These are strange times, but if you need to sell, and/or if you’ve spotted something that you want to buy, we can probably get it done.

Since much of real estate is conducted in person – client consultations, home valuations, showings, open houses, home inspections, etc. – it would seem like real estate would be a prime candidate for a shut-down – and it may yet happen. However, at least so far, business has continued with some interesting modifications. Here are a few:

  • No public open houses. This makes sense, and really doesn’t require any further explanation. 😉
  • No over-lapping showings. Sometimes, we allow more than one agent to take their buyer(s) through a home at the same time. This practice has been paused for now in an effort to limit physical contact amongst strangers.
  • Video showings – I’m not sure how common this will be, but it’s possible for an agent to, for example, walk through a listing with FaceTime or Skype going, and show a potential buyer more details than would be apparent via a standard virtual tour. (I have actually done this before, for an out-of-town buyer.)
  • Encouraging people viewing a property to follow hand washing and sanitizing guidelines established by health officials.
  • Using disinfecting wipes to clean commonly-shared surfaces like door handles.
  • Reminding clients viewing a property to avoid touching surfaces or items in the home.
  • Refraining from greeting others with handshakes or hugs (#socialdistancing!).
  • Encouraging sellers to thoroughly clean and disinfect the house after viewings.
  • Requesting that clients notify their Realtor if they become ill within two weeks of an open house or showing. If an attendee does become sick or is diagnosed with COVID-19, we’ll want to communicate this with the homeowner and other attendees if possible.
  • Being extra diligent about tracking who attends the property, including the date, time and their contact information. In the event of an infection, we want to be able to provide the information to local public health authorities so they may investigate further.
  • Having buyers provide deposits via e-transfer, instead of a physical bank draft (which saves a trip to the bank, followed by a visit to the listing Brokerage, and further handling of the paper by staff, etc.).

Most of the above are obvious, and just require a reminder from time to time – but, we do need to be extra mindful of taking precautions.

The bottom line is that, for now, real estate business is still being conducted, and I’m here for you if you need anything!

January-February 2020 Market Review

To start the year, I’m combining January and February into one review. 😉 Plus, I’ll make some comments about interest rates near the end.

January 2020 basically picked up where 2019 left off – busy! The pace of sales increased 15.4% (4,581 this January over 3,968 last January); at the same time, the number of new listings declined (again) to 7,836, from 9,456 last January. By the end of the month, there were just 7,772 listings available, down 35% from 11,962 last year! This now-familiar dynamic between the number of homes available and the number of sales caused the usual upwards price pressure: the average sale price hit $839,363, up 12.3% over the average for the same month last year (which was $747,175).

By the way, TRREB is now reporting seasonally adjusted, month-over-month changes in sales activity. I’m not sure if that will help with understanding the market – except to help identify when the spring and fall markets start and stop – but for the record, January sales were up 4.8% over December….

Condo sales in the 416 remain strong. Sales were up 9.7% and the average price was up 15%.

TRREB also noted that “the MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark price was up by 8.7 per cent compared to January 2019 – the highest annual rate of growth for the Benchmark since October 2017”. Detached houses and condos were the biggest contributors to the change in the weighted average.

February 2020 was also a big month. There were 7,256 residential sales in February, up a whopping 45% over February of 2019 – but, it’s important to note that February 2019 saw a 10-year record low for sales (just 4,982). The big sales increase was somewhat mitigated by 10,613 new listings, an increase of 7.9% over the same month last year. However, by the end of the month there were just 8,816 listings available, down 33.6% from last year. The resulting price pressure drove up the average sale price to $910,290, +16.7% over the February 2019 average of $779,791.

TRREB reported that the sales activity in February was up by 14.8% over January. This shows some momentum over the last few months, but that’s to be expected at this time of year. We’ll have to see how this month-to-month data develops as the year progresses before I decide how I feel about this new metric; I’m not sure how helpful it will be. For example, it’s reasonable to expect that the COVID-19 panic will slow down sales this month – but I’d bet anything that the market will surge back to balance when the fears blow over. So, the month-to-month data could end up being misleading to some….

Condos had another good month. Sales activity increased by 26.2% and the average price increased by 18%, to $722,675.

TRREB’s MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up 10.2%. Townhouses had the smallest increase in price (10.5% – not exactly a ‘small increase’!) and condos had the largest increase in price.

Interest rates are dropping this week, partly due to the COVID-19 scare. (Rates are more directly related to bond prices, but the decline in bond prices may also be related to the COVID-19 scare….) If you got a mortgage last year or the year before, it may be worth speaking to your mortgage broker or bank and ask about the possibility of breaking your mortgage for a new one at the current rates. BEWARE OF THE PENALTIES! Don’t assume that today’s lower rates will make up for the cost of penalties – it depends upon who lent you the money, and what terms are in the mortgage. All I’m saying is that it’s something to consider/talk about. Contact me if you’d like to speak to one of my partners in the mortgage industry.

December 2019 Market Review

The Toronto real estate market had a decent December to close out 2019. There were 4,399 sales, up 17.4% over December 2018. It’s worth noting, though, that 2018 was a very slow year and December of that year saw only 3,781 sales. For reference, December 2017 saw 4,876 sales, and 2016 saw 5,305 sales, so 2019 was more in line with those years, and did not represent significant net growth. So, a relatively busy December rounded out a year that saw total sales for the calendar year hit 87,825 – up 12.6% over the decade-low 78,015 sales that were reported in 2018. All good!

At the same time, the increase in prices *was* rather significant: up 11.9%, to $837,788, over $749,014 at the end of 2018. Again, I attribute this mostly to the supply issue. New listings were down 18.1%, to 3,531, and total listings at the end of the month were down 35.2% to just 7,406. At a time when sales activity was up over the previous year, reduced availability of homes to buy (down 2.4% for the whole year) caused prices to surge.

I also like to reference the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark from time to time. It weights sale prices by home type (e.g. detached, semi-detached, townhouse, etc.), so it helps to smooth out the impact of, for example, super-high-end sales. That measure was up by 7.3% year-over-year basis in December 2019. TRREB* has pointed out, though, that from June 2019 onward, the annual growth rate in the MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark accelerated.

Note also that there will be price fluctuations throughout any given year, so the end-of-year price could be higher than the average price for a whole year, which may seem confusing at first, but it makes sense. 😉 So, as noted above, the average selling price in December 2019 was up almost 12% year-over-year, but for the entire calendar year 2019, the average selling price was $819,319, up a much more modest 4% over $787,856 in 2018. The ‘affordability’ issue is often exaggerated, but I think that a 4% annual increase is manageable for most potential buyers.

So, what to expect in 2020?! The economy is still pretty good (especially in Toronto), interest rates remain low, and I think there’s still a lot of pent-up demand for owned housing in the GTA. It’s still relatively quiet out there now but, based on the sale prices being reported this month, I think that we are in for another busy year in the Toronto real estate market!

*TRREB is not a type-o! The Toronto Board is now called the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, which better reflects the territory covered by the Board.

SIMON MILBERRY

About

Buying and selling a home can be tough, especially in today’s challenging market.  But, it can also be fun – an exhilarating adventure. I understand both the joys and heartaches of finding (and getting) that perfect home. As a homeowner with a young family, I’ve been there and done that. I also have the professional know-how that years of working in the Toronto real estate market has developed.

Over the years (since 2001), I have represented clients in the purchase and sale of condos, starter homes, move-up houses, luxury homes and small businesses. (Although Commercial real estate is not my core business, I am usually working with one or two Commercial clients.) My knowledge and experience make the difference for my clients.

My clients are my focus, but a Realtor can’t get much done if he doesn’t develop strong professional and personal relationships within the industry. In today’s market, characterized as it is by very tight supply, I find that one of the most important aspects of my business is networking with other Realtors. I am constantly digging for opportunities for my clients. This results in off-MLS transactions that serve the needs of both the buyer and seller.

As a father of 3 boys and 1 little girl, I take a family-friendly approach to my business dealings. That means flexible appointments and easy scheduling; feel free to bring the kids! I endeavor to make the whole process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Ultimately, the objective is to enhance your life by finding you a new home that suits your needs of today and into the future; and selling your existing asset for the most money and with the best terms possible. Together, we’ll develop and execute the right strategy for you and your specific needs.

Much of my business comes to me by referral, so I’m not limited to any geographical area.  My focus is on meeting the needs of my clients, wherever they may be. Call me today, and let’s get to work on your real estate goals.

Community

RE/MAX Hallmark is a big believer in giving back to the communities we serve, and I am happy to participate in three of our most important programs.

Every time I do a transaction – buy, sell or lease – I make a direct donation to theChildren’s Miracle Network. RE/MAX agents are leading donors to the CMN, having raised $52 million dollars in Canada alone since 1992. When you do your real estate business with me, we contribute to that growing total.

We do the same for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Again, RE/MAX is a major sponsor of the CBCF, and makes it easy for us to contribute directly to the important work they do. A portion of every commission I make goes directly to the CBCF.

I also make a monthly donation to the breakfast program operated by the Toronto Foundation for Student Success. We all know how important a good brekky is – and how many kids wouldn’t get one if it weren’t for programs like the TFSS. With four kids of my own, this one is close to my heart.

You need an experienced, full-time professional Realtor – that’s key to a successful real estate transaction. However, I want you to know that, not only am I going to take care ofyou, but together we’ll help take care of others!

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Simon Milberry, Sales Representative at RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd., Brokerage

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2237 QUEEN STREET EAST
TORONTO, Ontario M4E1G1

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Business: 416.699.9292
Fax: 416.699.8576
Mobile: 416.508.9513

 

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