TORONTO MARKET UPDATE - JANUARY 2019

Oh the weather outside is frightful… but the Toronto market is actually doing pretty well. Contrary to some media reports, the Toronto real estate market is actually fairly stable at the moment. Though a lack of inventory is making it harder for buyers, the average sale price for the month of January has stayed fairly steady. For a full read on what’s been happening in the last month, check out the market update from our Chestnut Park’s CEO Chris Kapches…

2019 started positively, surprising many who were anticipating the double-digit declines that the Toronto and area residential resale marketplace delivered in November and December of last year. Although moderate, January delivered increased sales volume and average sale prices compared to January 2018.

There were 4,009 sales reported in January, a less than 1 percent increase compared to 2018, but an increase nonetheless. Encouragingly, January’s positive results were due to an improvement in Toronto’s 905 region. The Greater Toronto Area was dramatically impacted by the provincial foreign buyers’ tax and has lagged behind the Toronto 416 market since the spring of 2017. In January, the 905 region’s sales were up by 2.5 percent compared to last year, while the City of Toronto’s sales declined by 3.5 percent. The decline in City of Toronto sales was not caused by a decline in demand. Rather the decline was driven by a chronic shortage of supply. At the end of January, the Greater Toronto Area had 2.7 months of inventory, whereas the City of Toronto found itself with only 1.9 months of inventory. The difference in inventory is also reflected by the fact that sales in the 905 region took place in 33 days (an average), yet it took only 29 days for all properties in the City of Toronto to sell.


 Another positive aspect of January’s performance is the supply of new properties that came to market. In January, 9,456 new properties became available to buyers. This is a favourable 10.5 percent increase compared to the 8,561 new listings that became available last year. Entering February, active listings were slightly higher than last year. February began with 11,962 active listings compared to the 11,894 available last year. The bulk of these listings are located in the 905 region. OF the 11,962 active listings, 8,387, or more than 70 percent, are located in the 905 region.

 

January’s average sale price came in at $748,328, an increase of almost 2 percent compared to last year’s average sale price of $735,874. This is exactly the kind of increase that reflects a stable and sound market, not the double-digit monthly increases that became commonplace in 2016 and early 2017. Double-digit increases in average sale prices become unsustainable and unfortunately can lead to painful corrections.

 

In this regard, Toronto’s high-end residential market continues to adjust. In January, 76 properties having a sale price of $2 million or more were reported sold. This compared to 90 reported sold during the same period last year. The adjustment is also evident in the sale price to listing ratio witnessed in January. Detached properties in Toronto’s central districts are the most expensive properties in the Greater Toronto Area. All detached properties in these districts sold for 95 percent of their asking price. This ratio was much lower than the detached properties in other trading districts. For example, all detached properties in Toronto’s eastern districts sold for 100 percent of their asking price. The fact that the average sale price in the eastern districts is half ($916,588) that of the central districts ($1,938,617) is no doubt responsible for this divergence. Higher-end properties accelerated more dramatically during the pre-2017 introduction of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan and are retracting proportionally, especially with the introduction of the 15 percent foreign buyers’ tax.


Condominium apartments continue to be the most affordable housing form, but again, because of supply, average prices continue to increase. In January, the average sale price in the City of Toronto increased by almost 9 percent to $591,444. In Toronto’s central districts, where most condominium apartment sales are located, the average sale price came in at $677,997, a 10 percent increase compared to last year’s prices. In January, there were only 1,738 condominium apartments for sale in the City of Toronto and only 1,093 in Toronto’s central districts where most sales take place. This shortage of supply will continue to put upward pressure on prices, constrained only by affordability.

Although it is a little early in the year to be forecasting for 2019, January’s results – sales volumes, price increases and increases in supply – all point to a healthy 2019. Last year only 77,375 residential properties were reported sold, the lowest number since the recession of 2008. Barring any unexpected economic events this year, we should see between 83,000 and 85,000 reported sales, with average sale prices increasing by about 2-3 percent. January’s average sale price came in at $748,328. Last year’s annual average sale price was $787,000. By year-end, Toronto and area’s average sale price should be approximately $800,000. From a long-term sustainability prospect, we should be thrilled with this number.


PREPARED BY:

Chris Kapches, LLB, President and CEO, Broker

TORONTO MARKET REPORT - JULY 2018

PHOTO BY SCOTT WEBB

PHOTO BY SCOTT WEBB

Despite hot temperatures, June's gains were relatively modest. During a time of year when most start to migrate north, Toronto's market is still pushing price increases on average. 

Nasty year over year comparisons came to an end in June. For the first time in more than a year, we saw positive variances in the number of sales and average sale prices. It was unrealistic to compare the first few months of 2017 to any period. Those months represented the most frenetic period in the history of the Toronto residential resale market, even more, dramatic than Toronto’s last frenetic increase in real estate prices in the late 1980’s. Last year’s collective market psychosis was fueled by historically low-interest rates, demand that exceeded supply, and an unrealistic belief that house prices would never stop rising. When the Ontario Fair Housing Plan measures were introduced in late April, it was the electric shock that woke up the psychotic market. What the government’s measure couldn’t impact was demand. With a large number of people migrating to the greater Toronto area annually and the limited amount of new supply available to buyers, demand will always remain strong. It’s not surprising therefore that the residential resale market produced such strong numbers in June. 

During the month of June 8,082 properties were reported sold. This compares favourably with the 7,893 properties sold last year. It was not surprising that the average sale price also popped in June. In June the average sale price came in at $807,871 a 2 percent increase compared to the $791,929 average sale price last year.  As the chart below indicates, the average sale price for all properties sold in the greater Toronto area has been making a steady recovery since the beginning of this year.

Demand and supply will continue to play significant roles going forward. It is troubling that only 15,922 properties came to market in June. Last year 19,561 properties came to market, a decline of almost 19 percent. Although active listings at the end of June were on par with the number available to consumers last year, most of that inventory represents the residue of the market build-up following the implementation of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan.

What the average sale price belies is the fact that it was achieved notwithstanding that the high-end of the market continues to lag. In June 237 properties were reported sold having a sale price of $2 Million or more. Last year 264 were reported sold over the same period. On a year to date basis, 1,067 properties in this price category have been reported sold, a stunning reversal from the 2,483 that sold last year. June’s results are, however, encouraging, and as continued positive variances are produced through the balance of 2018, the higher-end will begin participating equally with the rest of the residential resale market.

The long-term problem will become affordability. Average sale prices are starting to inch towards the numbers that prompted the Liberal government to implement the 15 percent foreign buyers tax. In the city of Toronto, the average sale price for all properties sold was $870,559, approximately 9 times the average household annual income. The resilience of the Toronto and area market makes it clear that if there is insufficient supply, and growing demand, no amount of government engineering will make housing more affordable. It will take a collective political will at the municipal, provincial and federal levels to address the supply issue. Unfortunately, we have seen no collective initiative in this regard.

Prepared by:
Chris Kapches, LLB, President and CEO, Broker

NOTES FROM THE PRESIDENT: The CP Weekly Meeting Recap

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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.

BACK AT IT

We took a two week hiatus from the weekly meeting posts as last week both Chris and Richard Stewart (on-staff lawyer) were away and the week previous, there was very little news of relevance beyond to us Realtors and Brokers.

We began this week as usual; with a few stats. If you don't receive our monthly market reports, you can see the latest infographic along with Chris' comments on our blog here.

Additionally, new data for this week is beginning to show the real discrepancy in the year over year statistics. With just over 1,100 properties sold so far this month, Chris expects this number to go to 2,200-2,300 by the end of the month; down 24% from February 2017. Though this reads dramatically, it should be restated that early 2017 saw the highest inventory and sales averages Toronto has ever seen, so it's not an overstatement to say that the market was inflated. That being said, this years numbers represent a more sustainable level of inventory. The primary reason for this decline outside of previous market data is that detached properties aren’t selling nearly as much as semi-detached and condominium apartments. As reported in the Market Update, the number of $2M properties sold is also down, and the average sale price in the 416 is still around $750,000 where last year's was almost $850,000.

No doubt up until May, when prices began to correct, we'll see lots of negative press about this, but the larger story is that the market is still going through a correction to achieving more sustainable numbers and that the 416 area is still experiencing growth, albeit at a slower pace.

 

CHMC SEES IT DIFFERENTLY

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation doesn't share our modestly positive viewpoint on the Toronto real estate market. It's latest Housing Market Assessment says markets like Toronto, Hamilton, Victoria and Vancouver are still being overvalued and are vulnerable to further price corrections. The report takes into account economic fundamentals such as personal disposable income and population growth, as well as price acceleration as it's indicators for the valuation. House prices in Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina appear broadly in line with fundamentals, but strong evidence of overbuilding is still observable. 

 

A NEW LEASE ON LIFE IN TORONTO

It was announced a couple weeks back that as of April 30th, 2018, a new standardized lease agreement for all rentals in Ontario will become mandatory. This new document will not be retroactive but will be required for anyone wishing to lease a residential property on or after April 30th. The new form virtually negates the use of any existing OREA Offer to Lease forms which could otherwise detail conditions that would contribute to the final lease document. Though the details are not 100% clear at this point, we expect that the new form will either be used as a schedule to an offer to lease or function as the primary document to facilitate the lease agreement. More information, as well as a link to the document itself, can be found on the Government of Ontario website.

 

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NOTES FROM THE PRESIDENT: The Weekly CP Meeting Recap

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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.

 

MARKET UPDATE

As we typically do, we began this week's meeting with an update of the Toronto (read 416 area code) stats. Though the media is reporting on most negative aspects of the market, this last week (Jan 22 - 29th) saw the best sales average for the month of January at about $759,000. That makes the current average sale price for the month around $736,000, up 1.2% since last year. Despite prices having begun to sky rocket in January of last year, we're still seeing increases in the average sale price. Inventory, or lack thereof, seems to be the primary contributor to these price increases; especially in the condominium apartment market. The number of sales in total is down by about 20-25% from January 2017. 

The 905 hasn't faired as well. Though condo sales are also leading the way in both sales and prices, they are still down overall from last year; 8% from April to Jan. 1. Freehold properties are doing even worse dropping 20% since April 2017. 

Despite the new stress test rules, some condo owners may do well to attempt to get into the freehold market now, while demand for condos is high and freehold prices are softened. 

 

WHAT ARE YOUR QUALIFICATIONS?

Speaking of stress testing, Karlee Kusnierczyk from Hanley Mortgage Group stopped by to discuss the current climate of the mortgage market under the new stress test rules. They did a random sampling of 50 clients looking to renew their mortgage and found that 15% of those clients wouldn't have qualified for the fixed rate they obtained 5 years ago under the new stress test. Karlee stated that if a larger sample size was used, she estimates that number would have gone up to 20%. This falls in line with what many economists predicted the stress test would impact. Karlee felt that this wouldn't take people out of a buying position so much as it would knock their price point down. 

Anyone needing to renew their mortgage is likely best to stick with their current lender, as any new lender will use the new stress test rules for qualification, effectively making shopping around a moot point. 

 

RENT RELIEF

Though it's not well advertised by the city, landlords should be aware that if they apply for a reduction in property taxes and the reassessment results in a reduction of 2.49% or more, their tenants have the right to seek an adjustment to their monthly rental amount. The City of Toronto website details the calculations for this law. I expect that most new landlords, and likely many seasoned landlords are unaware of this law, so it's important to be aware of. Though the reassessment might only result in a 1-3% reduction in monthly rental income, new landlords may depend on those amounts to keep their investment sound, so it's good to know it's at least on the table for landlords. It's not clear as to how the city knows when the property is being rented but the rule nevertheless applies.

 

Don't just be a spectator on the sidelines of the real estate market. Contact us today to formulate a game plan! We love helping our clients determine their next best steps to real estate joy. Email us here or contact us at 416-925-9191. 

 

NOTES FROM THE PRESIDENT: The CP Weekly Meeting Recap

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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.

 

MARKET UPDATE

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