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January 2019 Market Review

February 11th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

As expected, January was a slow month in the Toronto real estate market. Just 4,009 sales were reported, up a wee bit from 3,987 last January. (For reference, there were 5,188 in January 2017; 4,640 in January 2016; and 4,318 in January 2015, so the last couple of Januarys have been on the slower side.) The average sale price was $748,328, up just 1.7% from $735,874 this time last year. Basically, the market has been flat since then.

New listings increased 10.5%, to 9,456, and total active listings edged up 0.6% to 11,962. Remember, back in early 2017 when we saw the beginnings of that crazy price spike, there were just 5,034 active listings at the end of that January – down from 9,966 in 2016. That really highlights how super-tight the supply was in early 2017 – and it shows how important supply is and what it can do to the market.

The townhouse segment was the only one to see an increase in the number of sales year-over-year (+4.4% in the 416), and it also had the highest average price increase (+12.3%). At the other end of things, fully detached houses saw the biggest drop is number of sales (-8.6%) and the only decline in average sale price (-8.8%). Taking into account the various types and weighting the averages, the MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark price was up by 2.7% – still basically in line with inflation.

We are still in a time of year when the market is less busy – and the weather can have a real impact. (Think of the last few weeks: cold, snowy, warmer and now cold and snowy again!) Even one or two bad days can slow down sales and make it look like market activity has dipped. February will probably be similar to January. However, for my part, talking to my buyer clients and to other agents, it seems like there’s a lot of demand out there, and lots of folks impatiently waiting for the spring market to get going so that they can buy something. Some of the sale prices I’ve seen reported in the MLS (well over asking) seem to support that. We’ll have to wait and see what happens over the next few weeks and months, but I think we’re in for a busier year and higher prices in the Toronto market.

 

 

December 2018 Market Review

January 11th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

December was a quiet month in the Toronto real estate market. TREB reports just 3,781 sales for the month, down 22.5% from the 4,876 reported in December, 2017. For reference, there were 5,338 sales in December, 2016, and 4,917 in December, 2015, so sales last month were well below what we have seen in recent years. The average sale price for the month was $750,180, up 2.1% from $734,847 in December, 2017.

TREB also released the annual stats, which deserve some comment. In comparing 2018 to 2017, it appears that the market is ‘down’ year-over-year. But, while the average sale price for the whole year declined 4.3% (for the whole of the GTA), that’s not because the market is trending downwards. Rather, it is because of the massive price spike that occurred in the first quarter of 2017, when prices surged roughly 30%, only to drop right back down to almost exactly the pre-spike level by mid-year. When those super-high sales are averaged over the whole year, they obviously draw up the average.

A more helpful approach is to look at what happened *within* 2018. The average sale price in January, 2018 was $736,783. By June it was up to $807,871, and then down to $750,180 by the end of the year. (That pattern is fairly normal: in January, 2017 the average sale price was $768,351; by June it was up to $791,929 and then down to $734,847 by December. This is generally due to the seasonal cycles of the real estate market.) So, while the market was definitely flat (which has its pros and cons…), it was not ‘down’.

By the way, if we back a little further, we see that while the market was at $730,472 in December, 2016, meaning we are up just about 2.7% in the last two years, the average price a year earlier was just $608,714, meaning we are still up 20% over the last three years. Clearly, 2017 and 2018 were unusual, but the longer-term trend is still strongly positive.

Part of the reason for the on-going strength of the Toronto (i.e. 416, excluding the 905) market is demand for condos. Although sales volume in that segment was down 23.9% from December 2017, the average sale price was up 11.4%, which is a significant amount. In fact, the only segment that saw a decline last month was fully detached homes, which has been a recurring theme this year. It looks like buyers have easily made the shift away from the most expensive home type, and found options among semi-detached, townhouses and condos.

There were just 4,308 new listings last month, a decline of 31.5% year-over-year, and just 11,431 listing on the market at the end of the month, down 11.6%. I think that we’ll continue to struggle with that kind of low supply in 2019. We can certainly expect that this month we’ll see a fair few listings that were taken off MLS in December come back onto the market, but it’s too soon to tell if we’ll get the kind of supply that we used to get. Either way, it’s usually a couple of months into the New Year before the listings start to tick up for the spring market.

Also, the Bank of Canada decided this week to keep rates steady for now, and that’s probably a good thing for the economy (which has some issues) and the real estate market. Unless (and/or until…) something external happens, the Toronto real estate market should keep humming along this year. With price increases at the low end of what we have seen in the last 15 years or so, buyers should be able to meet their needs; and with continuing demand, sellers will be able to sell. Overall, that’s what a balanced market looks like. 🙂

 

 

September 2018 Market Review

October 12th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

September was a decent month for real estate in Toronto. TREB reported 6,455 sales, up 1.9% over September 2017. I’d call that basically flat (i.e. stable). The average sale price hit $796,786, which was up 2.9% year-over-year. That basically the same as the inflation rate (the August rate was 2.8%). Note that the average price is basically the same now as it was in the spring: in April it was $804,584, and in May it was $805,320. Put another way, affordability – much talked about these days in the media and among politicians – is not running away from buyers this year.

The number of new listings dipped 3.1% to 15,920, and by the end of the month there was a total of 20,089 listings (of all types) available, up 5.6% over September 2017. We haven’t seen this many listings in the month of September in the GTA since 2013, when we had 20,194. After that year, September supply declined to a low point of just 11,255 listings in September 2016. Low inventory meant rising prices – the average sale price that month was up 20.4% year-over-year. The current level of supply is better suited to a balanced market.

Condo sales volume in the 416 area dipped 5.5%, but the average sale price jumped 11.7%. As I keep saying, condos are a good investment, either for living in or holding/renting out….

Sales volume and average price increased for townhouses and semis, too – but detached houses actually took a bit of a hit, going down 1.4%. Such a small change could be a reflection of the variety of houses sold; take out a few multi-million dollar sales and the average could come down slightly. We’ll see if anything significant happens over the next couple of months.

For now, it looks like a good time to be a buyer: there’s a decent supply of options and prices are stable. That’s not to say that it’s a bad time to be a seller. (It’s not as good as spring ’17 – but so be it.) A balanced market is good for sellers, too, as they can rely on a steady stream of optimistic buyers for their property. One of them will be the right fit. And, since most sellers are also buyers, a balanced market allows those folks to make the move they want/need to make, too.

The fall is usually a great time to ‘do’ real estate. If you’ve been thinking about it, get in touch with me and let’s get it done!

 

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, 2017, 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. 🙂

 

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! 😉

Market Review September 2017

October 13th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

The most obvious aspect of the September market was the drop in sales volume. Transactions were down 35.1%, from 9,830 last year to just 6,379 this year. At the same time, the number of active listings surged from 11,255 to 19,021, an increase of 69%. This is, broadly speaking, good for the market. For perspective, there were 21,571 active listings in September ’07, and that was down from 26,363 the previous year; the current number is below historic levels. However, it does make for some stark-looking numbers. Still, the average price did manage to eek up 2.6% year-over-year. That means that, despite the wild roller coaster ride that the market experienced in the first half of the year, we are still in positive territory over-all.

The average sale price for the month was $775,546, well down from the fever-pitched levels that we saw in the first quarter of 2017. I don’t usually track same-year stats, but with the way things have gone in 2017, I think it’s warranted. Average price hit a peak of $920,791 in April, and had trended downwards every month since then, quickly giving up the rapid gains seen in the first few months. The August average was $732,292, so September at least showed its usual strength relative to the summer months.

When discussing the condo market, I always make a point of focusing on sales in the 416 area code (separate from sales in the 905). This month, it’s interesting to note the difference in prices for detached homes in the 416. Last month, the average sale price in Toronto was $1,355,234, up significantly from the $1,191,052 average we saw in August. That indicates a strong market, despite the news. In the 905, the August average was $906,592 and rose just slightly to $912,921 in September. Clearly, the decline in the overall average sale price isn’t because of lower prices for detached homes. As TREB noted in its report, “the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark was up by 12.2 per cent on a year-over-year basis”, which indicates that the ‘decline’ in prices is more due to the mix of home types sold, which is a healthy reaction by the marketplace.

The condo segment was also interesting. Sales in the 416 volume was down 23.2%, but the average sale price was up 24%, to $554,069. Condos seem to have been acting as a ‘relief valve’ for people finding themselves priced out of low-rise dwellings, and the price gap is narrowing in reaction to that….

So, what does it all mean? Who knows! The real estate market has been under constant pressure from the government for a few years now (several rounds of tightened mortgage rules, with more to come; new taxes; enhanced rent controls, etc.) so it’s hard to tease out what’s actually going on. The ‘fundamentals’ are still in favour of a strong, growing market: decent economy, some job creation, historically low interest rates and a growing population. But, with so much meddling by governments, and the natural confusion that causes, the behaviour of the market is not a reflection of fundamentals. It’s probably safe to say that the fundamentals will eventually show through – meaning a resumption of solid price increases – but we may have to wait for the meddling to recede before we see that…. In the meantime, the market is surviving!  😉