Posts tagged " Market Commentary "

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!  😉

 

 

 

August 2017 Market Report

September 8th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

August was a slow month in the Toronto real estate market, which is fairly typical. TREB reported 6,357 sales, down 34.8% from the 9,748 sales we saw in August of 2016. While that sounds pretty dramatic, it’s more than the 6,418 sales reported in August of 2012 (which I just picked randomly when looking for something to compare this year to).

The average sale price has been volatile this year. For the last decade or so, that number has trended upwards steadily, and only sometimes dramatically. Then, in the first part of this year it spiked way up, mostly due to extremely tight supply. Then, as the ‘spring market’ got going and more supply hit the market, the average price dropped back down to normal. The average sale price in August was $732,292 – well below the April average, $920,791. Still, that number is up 3% over August 2016. Check out the graph (click to enlarge, courtesy my RE/MAX Hallmark colleague Robert Ede). Despite the hysterical headlines about a ‘plunging’ Toronto real estate market, we are still up over last year!

The condo segment had an interesting month. Sales volume in the 416 was down 24.5%, to 1,476 transactions. At the same time, the average price spiked 20.9%, to $540,169. That indicates to me that supply was limiting sales volume, and forcing buyers to step up.

Another number that I have been tracking recently is Active Listings. There were 16,419 at the end of last month, up 65% over August 2016 (9,949). Again, sounds dramatic, but in August 2012 there were 19,043 Active listings. So, when we are looking at what direction the market is going, it’s important to think past the short-term graph (which looks pretty wacky) and try to step back for a broader view. Supply is still tightly constrained, and demand is still strong. Look no further that the latest economic data and we’ll see that the economy and job creation are really picking up steam. That always boosts the real estate market. Also, this week’s Bank of Canada rate increase, and subsequent mortgage rate increases, should act to push more buyers into the market, as they look to lock in a great rate before those rise too much more….

Of course, anything could happen, but I expect the fall market to be busy, and for prices to start going back up – although I hope at a more sustainable rate than we saw earlier this year. We’ll know more in the coming weeks!

 

 

Market Review – June 2017

July 7th, 2017 Posted by Market Review No Comment yet

The Toronto Real Estate market continued to moderate in June. The first point to note is that the average sale price was up 6.3% over June, 2016. Somehow, TREB’s HPI was up 25.3%, which may indicate that the unweighted average was brought down by a higher proportion of sales at the lower end of the market (e.g. condos: in June 2016 about 24% of sales were condos; last month is was closer to 30%). Over the last 12 months, the average price of a detached house was up about 10.2%, and the average price of a condo was up about 23%.

Of course, the louder news is that prices are down from earlier in the year. That’s no surprise, given the severity of the price spike in the first quarter – and, again, it’s a good thing. The market cannot sustain price increases in the 20-30% range. A bit of a pull-back was in order. As for the causes, who knows? Some speculate that it’s because of the 15% foreign buyers tax. Foreign buyers were such a small part of the market (maybe in the range of 5%…?) that it’s hard to say if enough of them have backed out of the market to have a measurable impact. Maybe it’s just buyers taking stock and getting the new lay of the land before proceeding. Or, maybe it’s just the usual spring surge in listings taking the pressure off price escalation. Either way, the market has been unsettled for a few months.

Still, it has been good for buyers – although fewer buyers took advantage of these more favourable conditions. The number of sales was down 37.3% from 2016, to just 7974 (and keep in mind that year-over-year the average sale price was up 6.3%). Those buyers had greater selection: the number of new listings was up 15.9% and the total number of available listings at the end of the month (19,680) was up 59.6%. For reference, the number of available listings in June 2007 was 21,789 – and that was down from 25,393 the year before! The current supply is up over last year, but we are still well below historical supply levels.

The market is not “correcting” in the sense that prices are going to go down below previous years. It’s leveling out. *BUT* these conditions won’t last. The Canadian economy is strong, and job creation is at its quickest pace since 2010. With interest rates set to rise, buyers will want to move quickly to make a purchase and secure as low an interest rate as possible. That’s going to fuel a surge in buying. What that will do to prices remains to be seen. Getting back to 5-10% annual increases would be great – healthy, great for investing, but also sustainable.

I think that sellers should hedge their bets and try to sell into this summer market. Things are going to pick up soon, and you don’t want to miss your buyer. Sure, prices may firm up through the second half of the year, but we’ve seen the top prices for 2017 already. Whatever we see for the rest of this year will be up from last year, but probably not by much. And buyers really should get out there and make their purchase ASAP. Whatever prices do, I doubt that the selection will get much better than it is now. The best time to buy is when nobody else is (or few others are) buying – that’s when you can make your best purchase. Lock in a great rate before they start rising.

The bottom line is: don’t miss your chance!

Market Review – May 2017: Double-counting of ‘new listings’ confounds data

June 16th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

Much is being made (e.g. in the media) about the ‘decline’ in sales in Toronto. As I have been saying (writing) for years, it’s one thing for the pace or volume of sales to decline, and another for prices to decline.

It’s true that the volume of sales in May 2017 was lower than sales in 2016. That said, 10,196 transactions is typical for a busy month in the spring market. The number of sales in May 2016 was 12,931, an all-time record for that month. So, we saw fewer sales than the record set last May. Do we have to set a record every month?! I don’t think so.

Also, the average price in May 2017 was $863,910, up 14.9% – or about $112,000 – still a very high increase. It was down from April (which was basically the same as March) because the market was so crazy in the first quarter, and that drove prices up quite dramatically. I’m glad to see that those super-high price increases are behind us.

Much is also being made of the increase in the number of new listings. As noted in the headline, that number is faulty: TREB has double-counted (and in some cases triple-counted) some new listings. Here’s how: a new listing is posted with an eye-catching price. The home-owner wants competition that will drive up that price. Then, due to the slowing activity that we’ve seen in the last six-to-eight weeks, ‘offer night’ comes and goes without a sale. The Realtor cancels the existing listing and posts a new listing with a higher price. TREB (through no fault of its own) can’t yet track that, so that property has appeared twice in the system and gets counted twice. You can imagine that this could easily happen a couple of times with the same property, and it happens all the time across the city. There could be hundreds, if not thousands, of double-counted properties in that “New Listings” number. Clearly, it’s not what it seems.

The better number to track is Active listings, which hit 18,477 last month, up 42.9% over May 2016. This is a good thing! The market has been trapped in a low supply situation for years, and if a bunch of new listings can take off some of the pressure, that would be great. Ten years ago, in May 2007, TREB reported  23,739 active listings (which was down from 26,220 the year before). The city population is higher now, and we are still nowhere near that volume of available listings for all the eager buyers out there. Why would anybody start ringing the alarm bells in conditions like this? My guess is sensationalism. Fear sells, doesn’t it? :/

The supply issue is perhaps more easily understood if one looks at the number of active listings added to sales. That number would provide a sum of the real estate activity for the month. In May 2007 (which I chose as a nice, round ten years ago), there were 23,739 active listings and 11,146 sales, which adds up to 34,885.

Last month there were only 18,477 active listings left at the end of the month and 10,196 sales, which adds up to 28,673, only about 82% of the activity recorded in 2007. With a rising population, solid economy, good job growth and continued low interest rates, we still have less real estate activity now than we did ten years ago. In this supply-constrained, competitive environment, what would cause a correction? There’s certainly a fear factor infecting the market these days, but underneath all that is the relentless supply shortage, and that should absolutely preclude a correction (beyond the simple re-balancing we’ve seen recently).

By the way, looking at the 11,146 sales in May 2007, from that ‘selection’ of 34,885, it’s clear that buyers had a lot more choice then; prices were up a manageable 5% that month. That was a strong market, and we would be lucky if our supply were to increase steadily over the next few months to get us back to that level.

 

April 2017 Market Review

May 8th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

April was another busy month in the Toronto real estate market. New listings finally started to appear (21,630 new listings for the month, up 33.6% over April 2016) giving buyers more choice. Coupled with 11,630 sales for the month (down 3.3% from the 12,016 recorded in April 2016), that allowed available listings to edge up 3% ,to 12,926 by the end of the month.

Price pressure remained in place, though, with the average sale price up 24.5% to $920,791. Note that the average sale price in March was $916,567, meaning prices remained essentially flat month-to-month. So, although we saw another big year-over-year price, this could be a sign that prices are leveling out, which will come as a relief to buyers.

The condo segment in the 416 had an impressive month. Sales volume was up a modest 8%, but prices soared 32.3%, keeping pace with last month’s increase.

The long-awaited increase in the supply of available listings is great news for the market, but it still leaves us far from historical levels. For example, in April, 2007 TREB reported 22,829 available listings, almost double the current level. The average Days on Market (i.e. how long the average listing took to sell) was around 30 days. Last month it was just 9, indicating how short-lived our supply really is. If we are lucky, we’ll get a couple of months of increasing supply, which should bring some balance to the market.

Right now it looks like the price increases are locked in, but it’s important for sellers to note that the market is not the same as it was in Jan-Feb-March. The new supply is taking some of the heat off buyers, meaning they don’t have to put everything on the line for every house that they see. So, while we are still seeing multiple offers on a lot of houses, we won’t get that for every single listing. Marketing – especially pricing – is more important than ever. But, we’ve seen this before; almost every spring, in fact! We make the adjustment, and move on.

The bottom line is that it’s still a great time to sell, and an even better time to buy.