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.
We started this week's meeting as we do every week, reviewing the stats for the month. As we continue to wait for TREB to republish weekly stats, Chris continues to develop his own for the 416 area code. We're currently on track for about 3000 sales for the month of November, which would account for a negative variance yr/yr of about 12-15%. This negative variance is likely to dwindle as we close out the year, but will skyrocket as we head into 2018 given the intense market we experienced for the first half of 2017, so be prepared for some negative press at that point.
The average sale price for the 416 this past week came in around $785,000 across all housing types; about a 1.5% increase from this week last year. Chris now feels we've reached "the perfect market", stating that this is “how the market should be behaving.” Sales are consistent with an active but not overheated market though some analysts remain pessimistic about the potential for a return to the high numbers we saw up to April of this year.
Active listings are currently around 5800 in the 416 which is down significantly from the approximately 7500 when Chris began collecting stats in August/September. Though this isn't the case in the 905 where sales numbers stay high and average sale price continues to move at a slower pace, the 416 seems to be experiencing an inventory shortage consistent with what's happening in Toronto's rental market. If we stay in the 5800 range, we should have about 1.6 months of inventory which is quite a quick market. Furthermore days on market are remaining around the 16-18 day market, which is also very fast compared to "normal" market activity. Reports from Toronto CP agents indicate as much, as many open houses saw lots of visitors and many listings in the office are experiencing multiple or bully offers; particularly if the property is unique or move-in ready. We will have to wait for TREB's final numbers to get a read on whether the entire GTA is on track for similar results.
THE TROUBLE WITH RENT CONTROLS
The media are finally being critical of the measures taken by the Ontario government putting controls on rental price increases. In a new segment from the Financial Post, Murtaza Haider and Stephen Moranis argue that rental controls have never been a good solution to rising rental rates. Since April’s introduction of the rental control, Urbanation reports that "no fewer than 1,000 planned purpose-built rentals have been converted to condominiums in the GTA."
In what is perhaps the most concise analysis of the situation, the authors quote Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman from the New York Times, stating that the “analysis of rent control is among the best-understood issues in all of economics, and — among economists, anyway — one of the least controversial.” Krugman noted that 93 per cent of members of the American Economic Association believed that “a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing.”
The article goes on to list the reasons why rent controls don't work beginning with the builder, who has less cash-flow incentive in building rental-specific housing given the capped rate increases. Secondly, those who investors who have purchased condominium units (for example) also see less upside and so might choose to sell their investment, rather than rent it, lowering the inventory for the 84% of Toronto renters who are already renting in the private market. Lastly, the article notes that "when rent restrictions limit landlords’ profits, they are less likely to keep rental stock in a state of good repair. As the profit margins squeeze periodic maintenance and upgrades become less frequent. This is also true for public landlords. All one needs is to look at the dilapidated housing units owned by municipal housing authorities in many cities."
There is good evidence to support the article's thesis in Massachusetts, where rent controls were eliminated 1995. The elimination increased condominium conversions and overall condo numbers by 32% from 1994 to 2004 in Cambridge. "Decontrol even benefitted the valuation of housing that had not been subject to controls: It appreciated on average by 12 per cent as a result."
So what was intended to help renters has actually hurt them. It appears there are more voters who rent than who own, too many of whom don't know a bad thing when they see it.
GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE...
A new company based in Vaughn called On The Block Realty are now selling properties by auction. Properties will appear on MLS and the brokerage's website for 6-7 days before any bids are taken. During that period, potential buyers can go to view property with an accompanying Realtor. After the 6-7 day period there can be up to 4 days (determined by the seller) for potential buyers to bid on the property; the seller sets the reserve price for the property. The brokerage is intent on providing an open and transparent offer process, as all bidders can see any new bids coming in and are notified when bidders "max out".
This practice is common in other countries such as Australia, where approximately 20% of all listings are done by live auction. Chris pointed out that this type of process has been attempted in Ontario before but wasn't ultimately successful. This could be due to a disadvantage to the seller as in typical "bidding war" scenarios, buyers can increase bids by any amount, easily overbidding their competition and winning the sale.
The process would likely be more successful in a strong buyers market, but clearly that's not something we're in currently; at least in Toronto. Perhaps the brokerage is targeting the 905 area where sales continue to be slower. The auction system has had great success in Sweden, where there are no buyer's representatives and buyers must do their own due diligence on any property they might but. Chris argues that our current system, bolstered by the MLS system works quite well.
What are your thoughts? Should all properties be put up for auction or will this just lead to a lot of litigation? We'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or contact us directly