Each week, The Glenn Team provide highlights from the weekly CP office meeting to provide a balanced overview of the Toronto and GTA markets and relevant issues affecting real estate markets. Meetings are overseen by Chestnut Park's CEO and Broker of Record, Chris Kapches, LLB, who provides weekly analysis and commentary. Additional input is provided by the CP Toronto office Realtors who give a day to day, real life perspective of the local markets.
As TREB has continued it's freeze on anything other than monthly stats, Chris has taken it upon himself to collect his own stats for the 416. Here's what's been happening since the start of November...
So far for the month, we've had 1,100 sales; half of which are condo apartments! That puts us on track for about 3000 sales by end of month, about 11% down from last year. This might seem bad news, but in fact this negative variance is less than last month's and lesser still the the month previous which is further indication that the market has turned around and has picked up more steam. The 905 hasn't responded as positively unfortunately; it's still off by about 30% year over year.
The average sale price in the 416 is tracking slightly lower year over year around $780,000; a 2% increase from last year. Again, though this may seem paltry by comparison to numbers earlier in the year, Chris feels this is the most "sustainable" figure we've seen since January, as 2-3% growth would make for a much more balanced market going into 2018.
The media has begun to pick up on this positivity, with some speculating that the new stress test coming Jan. 1, 2018 has some buyers scrambling to get something prior to being assessed at the new stress levels. Others argue that we may be headed back to higher average prices, faster than anticipated due to increased immigration and what accounts to a real rental crisis in the city. Pundits of the aforementioned claim have also used Vancouver's 35% yr/yr price growth as evidence for Toronto's potential price overload, as the Vancouver achieved such highs after a long lull due to foreign buyer's tax rules. Objectors to this theory argue that the new stress test rules along with already increasing interest rates have kept this from happening thus far and will continue to do so into 2018. Unfortunately only time will tell but it's clear that Toronto continues to be on the rebound.
CAN'T STRESS THIS ENOUGH
Diane Hanley of Hanley Mortgage Group wanted to remind CP agents of how the new stress test will affect buyers. As a reminder this stress test takes the buyer's broker contracted rate and adds 2% or uses the bank posted rate of 4.89% (whichever is greater) to see whether a buyer is capable of maintaining their mortgage payments. Under the new rules, anyone putting down 20% or more on a purchase isn't subject to the test so long as they have mortgage approval and a firm offer in place prior to January 1st, 2018. Anyone doing a refinance must also be approved before Jan. 1st and must be closing on their new purchase within 120 days of the purchase. Finally, anyone purchasing a new construction property can close at anytime but again, must have mortgage approval and a firm deal in pace prior to January 1st, 2018. If you're considering making a purchase and fall into the conventional mortgage (20% or more downpayment) category, it would be wise to consult with your broker.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
Buyer beware! Another condo project in Toronto, the 5th in the last year, has gone belly up. According to this Financial Post article, the developer Castlepoint Numa cited lengthy delays in obtaining the necessary approvals, building permits and, in turn, financing, as reasons for the halt. Additionally, they stated on their website that "recently, the industry has been experiencing the most significant cost increases in a decade.” That may be true, but it's also true that land value has gone up significantly since the project got underway, it's possible some developers are attempting to reap the benefits of a great market and stick it to the consumer in the process.
Some legislators argue that better policies need to be put in place in order to protect consumers, who in many cases are buying their first property and leaving a less than favourable rental property. Unfortunately most developer contracts don't give much power to the buyer and typically can't be modified. Real estate lawyers can be costly and often can't do much either. Until better protection can be put in place for consumers in the form of insurance or fines for developers that go back to the purchasers, there is currently nothing to guarantee a buyer's purchase.
A TRIBUNAL CALLED QUESTIONABLE
The final meeting item focused on the Condominium Authority of Ontario who recently established a Tribunal to address disputes between condo owners, other owners, condo boards and property managers. The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) asks applicants (offended party) to register and attempt resolution with the respondent (offending party) via an online messaging application. This 1st stage: Negotiation, costs the applicant $25. If a resolution is not reached via stage 1, then stage 2: Mediation is entered and for an additional $50, 1 of 15 trained members of the CAT will attempt mediation of the issue. If this doesn't result in a resolution then stage 3: Adjudication is entered for an additional $125, where a different CAT representative will adjudicate the case, much like the courts, to reach a resolution. No indication of fines are addressed on the website and CAO says they are currently only dealing with records disputes, ie. documents that owners have not received from boards or management.
The reaction to this in the CP office was decidedly negative and we tend to agree. How a tribunal made up of only 15 members to deal with issues from potentially thousands of aggrieved parties seems paltry. They must assume that most records disputes will be resolved through the system between the two parties. But that leads me to question the necessity of the CAT at all. Couldn't resolutions occur via normal communication channels or in person? Will this actually prove effective or is more money simply going to government bureaucrats?
We'd love to know your thoughts!? Please send us an email or leave a comment below. Until next week!