Posts by simonmilberry

May 2018 Market Review

June 15th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

The Toronto Real Estate Board reported 7,834 sales in May 2018, 22.2% fewer than May 2017. There were 19,022 new listings posted to the Board, 26.2% fewer than the same month last year. Despite fewer new listings, the total number of available listings increased by 13.2%, to 20,919. Last year there were 18,477 on the market in May, and in May 2016 it was just 12,931. As I’ve pointed out before, in the busy spring and fall markets we used to regularly have over 20,000 listings, but that number fell significantly in recent years. We are at what I’d consider to be a decent level of available homes for sale, and that should not be misinterpretted as anything close to over-supply. If anything, it is closer to balanced (rather than clearly favouring buyers or sellers).

On the price side, the average sale price was $805,320, down 6.6% from last May. By May 2017, the big run-up in prices had peaked, and was on its way back down. I’ve been saying that last year’s anomalous price spike was making it hard to figure out what’s happening this year, and that when we got to the middle of this year and started comparing to the post-spike months of 2017 we’d have a better picture, and I think we are getting there.

That price spike was fairly short-lived – it was a truly wild ride. In December, 2016 the average sale price was $730,472. By April, 2018, it had leapt up to $920,791, a roughly 26% increase – in just four months! Over the next few months it declined, hitting $732,292 in August, erasing the spike almost completely. Since then, the market has been more or less increasing (with a typical December lull), and is currently up about 10% since last August. That’s a solid rate of increase, and would indicate a fairly strong market.

Condo sales in the 416 were down 13.2%, but the average sale price was up by 6.5%, showing that the condo market is chugging along.

Over the next couple of months, the numbers will start to reflect the true state of the Toronto real estate market. Given that the May average price is already above the June 2017 average price (which was $793,915), I think we’ll see our first year-over-year increase when this month’s numbers are reported in a few weeks. Who wants to bet that the headlines are going to be all about Toronto’s “booming” real estate market! 😉

 

April 2018 Market Review

May 9th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

TREB reported 7,792 sales last month, a drop in volume of 32.1% from April 2017. The average sale price was down 12.4%, but keep in mind that at this time last year the market was still showing the effects of that massive price spike. April 2017 had shot up 33.2% over April 2016, which was wild and unsustainable. This year, the April average price was $804,584. To help us keep some perspective on things, I’ve been looking back at 2016, and seeing how this year compares. The average sale price in April 2016 was $688,011, so we’re up 16.9% since then. Even averaging over two years, that gives us almost 8.5% annual increases over that time, which is pretty darned good.

Another point to keep in mind that the mix of types of real estate sold influences the average price. TREB points out that sales over $2 million accounted for about 10% of sales in April 2017, but just 5.5% in April 2018. Obviously, more high-end sales in 2017 helped skew up the average sale price, and that’s not happening so far this year. That’s why TREB’s MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark (which weights sales across the board) was down by just 5.2%.

Condo sales volume also declined last month, down 26.4% from the same time last year. Once again, though, condo prices in the 416 increased, this time by a rather moderate – and sustainable – 3.8%.

Back to the average price: I usually don’t bother tracking month-to-month price changes, because seasonal influences – even something like a big storm, or a long weekend – can have short-term impacts. However, because we are trying to see through/around the big price spike in early 2017, it’s worth noting that the April 2018 average price was up 2.5% over March. Looking at 2018 to this point, the average price is up 9.5% since December. That’s actually fairly significant, and a sign that the Toronto real estate market is in good shape.

There were 16,273 new listings posted last month, and at the end of the month there were 18,206 available. That’s up 40.8% over last year, and it means that there’s more selection for buyers. Still, it’s not as many as April 2013, when there were 20,866 listings – and in April 2008 there were 24,530! Ah, the good ol’ days…. 😉

Over-all, the spring market seems to be under way. It’s a great time to both buy (because there’s some options out there now) and sell (because there are lots of buyers), so if you are in the market, feel free to call me!

March 2018 Market Review

April 4th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Market Commentary No Comment yet

Well, the TREB stats are out for March, and so are the breathless headlines! I was going to comment on a few of them, but the thought gave me a headache. 😉

While sales volume fell significantly year-over-year (down about 40%), one has to remember that at this time last year the market was still in the throes of utter madness. Very low supply had fuelled aggressive bidding by buyers, which caused a feeding frenzy of sorts, and that rapid price spike that I have referenced before. Compared to that period, the current market is a picture of serenity! Prices pulled back last year in/around April-May-June. Basically, comparing March of 2018 to March of 2017 is a bit pointless, because last year was an anomaly. I think that we’ll get a better sense of the true state of things when we see the April and May reports.

Nonetheless, the fact is that the average sale price was lower in March than it was last March, about -14.3%. Sales volume was down across all housing types, but the average price for a condo in the 416 was actually up 7.1%, again indicating that buyers have adjusted to high house prices by looking at the condo option. The average price for a detached house is now about $1,293,903, down from $1,561,780 at the same time last year. Keep in mind, though, that the price spike last year was +32.8% over March, 2016! That was obviously unsustainable, and it’s a good thing for the over-all market that those conditions only lasted a few months. The average sale price for a detached home in 2016 was $1,174,358; this year’s average is up about 10.2% since then, which I think is quite reasonable.

Keeping with the theme of looking back at 2016 for some perspective, overall, the average sale price in March 2018 is up 14% over March 2016, which tells me that we are in good shape.

The number of new listings dropped from 16,978 to 14,866, a decline of 12.4%. That might be because sellers were afraid of diminished returns, or it could just be a coincidence.  Even so, the number of active listings basically doubled, from 7,865 to 15,971. Again, that’s a good thing. There were 12,132 listings in March of 2016, which was down from 15,295 in 2015, so we are basically back to 2015 levels. Enough supply means that buyers have a better chance to buy what they want/need in the area where they want to be, and that’s a sign of a healthy real estate market.

Now that March Break and Easter are behind us, and the market has had time to absorb the new federal mortgage ‘stress test’ rules and the provincial housing regulations, I’m hoping that we get going with the spring market! If you plan to buy or sell any time soon, feel free to get in touch.

February 2018 Market Review

March 13th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

Once again, there’s a lot of noise and nonsense about the Toronto real estate market. Headlines with words like “plummet” and “slump” make it seem as though the market is in bad shape. It’s not.

Firstly, we typically compare a month (e.g. February) to the same month a year earlier. That’s usually a good measure that captures relative seasonal ups and downs – an apples-to-apples comparison – and it’s a long enough time frame to give us a view of the direction of things. However, when something unusual happens, like the massive price spike we saw in the first quarter of 2017, that measure gets skewed. Last February saw prices jump up 27.7% over February 2016. That was crazy, and it was a good thing that the market came back down in the following months. As I have written previously, 2017 was quite a roller coaster, so as we go through 2018 and do our usual one-year-ago comparison, we have to keep that in mind.

So, saying that the market is in negative territory is wrong. We have to take a broader look – or, put another way, look back a little further, and see how current prices look longer-term. TREB did that in their monthly report. Compared to February 2016, when the average sale price was $685,278, we are up 12%. Not too shabby.

Now, let’s look back over the last few months. The average sale price back in November was $761,757; in December it was $735,021; in January, 2018 it was $736,783; February was $767,818. I think the numbers over the last few months reflect the typical seasonal dip that happens every year. Situation: normal.

Secondly, we also have to look at the segments. It’s certainly very interesting that sales of fully and semi-detached houses were down, as were their average sale prices. The number of sales of townhouses and condos were also down, but prices in those segments were up. As mentioned, the average price in February worked out to $767,818, compared to $876,363 last February – a drop of 12.4%. But, the average townhouse price was up 15.5% and condos were up 10.7%. It seems to me like buyers have shifted away from the highest priced housing types and ‘substituted’ for smaller, cheaper options.

Also of note, the number of new listings edged up slightly, but the overall number of listings increased significantly (147.4%). This serves as a reminder of how tight the market supply was at this time last year. Let’s look at available listings in February over the last several years:

2013 – 15,969

2014 – 14,019

2015 – 12,793

2016 – 10,902

2017 – 5,400

2018 – 13,362

This is why I’m always stressing that supply is a big problem: it declined steadily for five years, then dropped like a stone last  year, and that naturally caused a price spike. Getting the supply back up is key to a healthy market, and we are getting there.

The ‘spring market’ is warming up, too, although this week is March Break, which is usually a bit slower due to travel, etc. I check listings and sales every day, and it looks to me like sales are happening quicker than last month, and usually for over asking. That tells me that there are lots of buyers out there. They now have some more selection, and that is a good thing. Pretty soon the market will have adapted to the latest new mortgage rules, the weather will warm up, and we’ll be able to put ‘bad news’ behind us for a while. 🙂

 

January 2018 Market Review

February 14th, 2018 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

You may have heard that ‘sales were down’ in January, with the implication that that’s a bad thing. As anyone actively involved in the Toronto real estate market knows, the market is not ‘down’ at all. In fact, it’s crazy busy out there.

The first thing to note is that January 2017 set a record for sales activity with 5,155 sales. So, anything short of a new record would be down, right? I have said before that we don’t have to break records every month to have a great market, and this is another such example; 4,019 sales is decent. For comparison, January 2013 saw 4,375 sales – way below last year, and not much above this year. I’d say that January 2018 looks fine.

The next thing is that January is a relatively slow month, compared to May or October, so fluctuations can be exaggerated. Having 22% fewer sales sounds dramatic, but it’s only about a thousand sales – easily made up at any point throughout the rest of the year.

The good news that I see in the January 2018 stats is the big increase in supply. At the same time last year there were only 5,034 listings on the TorontoMLS. This year we had 11,894, which gave buyers more choice. Looking again at 2013, there were 14,231 active listings in January of that year, so supply could easily go up and still be below past levels. If this year’s increased supply can be maintained – and improved upon – throughout the year we could see a more moderate market, which would be a nice change….

Speaking of moderation, the average sale price dipped by about 4.1%, to $736,783. However, TREB’s weighted average was UP 5.2%, reflecting the number of sales of condos compared to houses i.e. more condos (which are cheaper than houses) sold. Moderation in the price of single family detached (the most expensive type, and the only one that saw a price decline), combined with price increases in other housing types, shows that the market has naturally adapted to high prices for detached houses. I doubt that government intervention had anything to do with that…. 😉

The condo market is nuts these days. Not only did my own condo listing get swamped (over 130 showings in a week, and 11 offers on ‘offer night’), but showing condos to other clients is a gong show. Getting appointments is sometimes tricky, and it seems there’s always at least one other agent poking around the same unit, meaning we sometimes have to wait to get in to see a place. The activity is reflected in the average sale price going up 15.1% last month, despite fewer sales. The condo market remains an attractive segment.

This week precedes a long weekend (Family Day), so we probably won’t see much action, but I expect the market to keep chugging along next week and for the rest of the spring market. If you want/need to buy or sell, feel free to get in touch. 🙂

 

1113-231 Fort York Blvd **SOLD!!**

February 6th, 2018 Posted by Condos, SOLD!! No Comment yet

Update: We had over 130 showings booked for this great starter condo, and generated 11 offers! The property sold ‘firm’ on offer night. The condo market is hot!

***

The amount of development around Fort York in recent years has been amazing. Not only have loads of great condos gone up, but the area is also benefiting from other projects. For example, there’s a new Fort York Visitor Centre, and most of us have heard about the new Bentway skating trail that runs under the Gardiner Expressway.

Number 231 Fort York Blvd (‘Atlantis Aquarius’) is right across the street from all that action. Unit 1113 is a well laid-out one bedroom unit with a cute little balcony and a great view. (As the western-most building of the project, it has an unobstructed west-facing view of the city, the waterfront and the lake off in the distance.) Features include laminate wood flooring in the living/dining room, stainless steel appliances and a breakfast bar – great for casual eating or entertaining. The unit comes with an owned parking spot, and extra rental parking spots are sometimes available, too.

The building has some great amenities, including a games room, mulit-purpose room, and the Oasis Club – the fitness room, salt water pool, large Jacuzzi, etc. It all makes for comfortable living. And if you want to get out for a run or a bike ride, Coronation Park and the waterfront trail are right across the street.

It’s a short walk to the streetcar (board at Fleet Street, just down at the corner with Fort York Blvd), or the bus; they’ll take you to Union Station or Bathurst Station – and points in between. Or, pop down to the Lake Shore to hit the Gardiner. There are lots of transportation options from here!

This great little spot is perfect for the first time buyer(s) or small investor. Judging by the showing action so far, it’s a hot commodity! If you are interested, or know somebody who might be, don’t hesitate to call me.

 

 

December 2017/Year End Market Review

January 9th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

The Toronto real estate market survived a roller-coaster-like year in 2017. The first quarter (Q1) saw wicked price increases, followed by a hard rebound in prices in Q2, which in turn was followed by a period of relative calm in Q3, then a surge in sales activity in Q4. When the dust settled, the December year-over-year average sale price was up just about 0.7%, but the average price for the year 2017 ended up 12.7% higher than 2016, at $822,681.

Most of that annual gain happened in Q1. That’s when super-tight supply squeezed buyers into making very aggressive bids. Then, the Ontario government gave the market a kick in the teeth with their ‘Fair’ Housing Plan (an Orwellian use of language, as seems to be the style these days…), which scared buyers to the sidelines with speculative talk about ‘foreign buyers’ – the Boogie Man in the Liberals’ pitch. As the TREB report says: “Research from TREB, the provincial government and Statistics Canada showed that foreign home buying was not a major driver of sales in the GTA.” Still, they needed a reason to Do Something, and foreign buyers fit the bill. When buyers retreated, prices plopped back down to where they started the year, and we were into a bit more of a balanced market.

That balance started to shift back towards the sellers’ favour in December. I think that the year-end surge was fuelled by two things: 1) buyers realised that foreign buyers were not behind the steady rise in GTA prices, and the new tax wouldn’t really change anything long-term (after a period of adjustment); and 2) more government intervention, this time in the form of new federal ‘stress test’ rules for buyers in 2018, meant that many folks wanted to get their purchase locked in before those new rules kicked in.

Basically, the wild volatility throughout the year was largely due to government intervention in the market. As mentioned, we’ll see more of that this year, but hopefully less, and with less of a destabilising effect.

TREB also noted that in the second half of 2017, the buyer market shifted away from the most expensive housing type – fully detached homes – to semis, towns and condos. Clearly, the market has the capacity to offer buyers options, which naturally mitigates the need for government intervention, but whaddya do…? Sales activity in the detached segment was down 13.4%, and the average sale price was down 2.1%, to $1,250,235. At the other end of the spectrum, while condo sales volume in the 416 dipped 8.8% in December, the average price was up 14.1%, to $532,700.

So, what does 2018 have in store for us? Life goes on, in spite of policy changes, and lots of folks plan to move for various reasons, so I figure there will be lots of sales this year. The 2017 end-of-year available listing volume sat at 12,926, way up from just 4,746 at the end of 2016. If that can be maintained we might be able to settle in to a ‘liquid’ marketplace that offers buyers choice. There’s no structural shortage of buyers – they just get shooed away by governments from time to time – so more supply will allow more buyers to succeed. With some luck, price appreciation will be lower, which is more sustainable long-term.

What are your plans this year? Feel free to get in touch with me to talk about that! 😉

377 Sammon Ave – detached with private drive ** SOLD**

November 2nd, 2017 Posted by SOLD!! No Comment yet

It took a while, but patience is a virtue and this beauty is now sold! 🙂 Read on for my original thoughts on it.

This is a great two-bedroom house with a private drive (2+ spots) just a few blocks from Michael Garron (formerly Toronto East General) Hospital – so it could be the perfect house for somebody who works there! 😉 The local TDSB elementary school is RH McGregor, which features French immersion – another huge benefit at this great location.

Inside, the super spacious main floor is bright and open, with a neat den/office at the back of the house. It has a brand new, custom built (i.e. with custom cabinetry) kitchen with all new appliances. Note that the home also features two wall mounted heat exchangers. They’re not just air conditioning: on coolish days the unit will actually add heat to the house! Very cool.

The basement is also completely re-done: new concrete pad; water-proofing; a completely new bathroom; two new rooms (e.g. flex and/or rec); pot lights and cork floors. The back door leads to the basement (i.e. there’s a separate entrance), and the laundry room is right at the bottom of the stairs.

Upstairs, the master bedroom is large and has his-and-hers closets. (His has built-ins, hers is a small walk-in.) The second bedroom is plenty big enough, too. The comfortably-sized main bath was renovated by the previous owners; it’s quite nice. Basically, this house is move-in ready (for real!).

In addition to proximity to the hospital and RH McGregor, 377 Sammon Ave is walking distance to the Danforth and all that has to offer: shops, pubs, restaurants, services, and the subway. Fabulous Dieppe

Park (playing field, hockey rink and skating pad) is just two blocks away, and the East York Civic Centre (city services, a great farmers’ market, a library, tennis courts) is just a ten minute walk. And, if you want to drive somewhere, you are mere moments from the DVP (via either Don Mills or Pottery Rd). This is a great location in lots of ways.

View loads more pics here.

 

Big news from RE/MAX Hallmark Realty

October 30th, 2017 Posted by In the media No Comment yet

RE/MAX Hallmark was already the biggest (and best!) RE/MAX franchise in the GTA, and today it’s even bigger (and better)! Ken McLachlan, Broker of Record/Owner, just announced the addition of RE/MAX First Real Estate into the RE/MAX Hallmark family, effective immediately.

RE/MAX First has over 130 realtors in four offices across Durham region, in Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Brooklin. In the company’s 25 year history, under the leadership of Broker/Owners Ron Gordon and Brian O’Donoghue, RE/MAX First grew to become a dominant leader in the Durham region. This new chapter not only positions them for more growth, but also equips RE/MAX Hallmark REALTORS to seamlessly represent our clients in the Durham region, and makes us the market leader east of Toronto.

Basically, this gives me four new offices that I can use, all the administrative support we need, and opens up a huge new network of REALTOR colleagues who will make buying and selling easier for my clients. So, if you need a REALTOR in Durham, be sure to give me a call!

 

The Silver Lining to B-20 – Guest Post by Capital Home Lending

October 27th, 2017 Posted by Guest Post No Comment yet

This week OSFI released the latest update to the Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures (commonly referred to as B-20). Here is a LINK to the statement OSFI made in their press release letter. Should you wish to view the entire document from OSFI, it can be found HERE.

Quite a lot has been said about these changes over the past several weeks, and even more in the past few days. It is expected that purchasers affected by the rule change will see their maximum buying power slashed by upwards of 18%. Let’s keep in mind that this is a reflection of the maximum… buyers shouldn’t be aiming for the absolute most they qualify for to begin with and the good news is that most don’t!

Now that the Feds have added an extra measure to try to cool the markets that concern them the most (GTA & GVR), paired with what the Municipal and Provincial initiatives are aiming for, it is widely thought that the cost of borrowing is expected to remain low for the foreseeable future. We can now see that regulatory changes are to be the new lever, not excessive rate hikes.

Lastly, we want to reiterate that these rules apply only to the federally regulated lenders (see HERE). You can see that Credit Unions are conspicuously absent from this list. At present they have not given any indication that they plan to follow these rules of their own volition. The bottom line is that there are a number of options still available for borrowers. Make sure you have a qualified mortgage professional in your corner to help you to make your dreams come true!

Sources:

 

* Contact me if you’d like to speak to a Capital Home Lending mortgage professional.