Toronto Real Estate Board President Tim Syrianos announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 7,792 sales through TREB's MLS® System in April 2018. The average selling price was $804,584. On a year-over-year basis, sales were down by 32.1 per cent and the average selling price was down by 12.4 per cent.
The year-over-year change in the overall average selling price has been impacted by both changes in market conditions as well as changes in the type and price point of homes being purchased. This is especially clear at the higher end of the market. Detached home sales for $2 million or more accounted for 5.5 per cent of total detached sales in April 2018, versus 10 per cent in April 2017. The MLS® Home Price Index strips out the impact of changes in the mix of home sales from one year to the next. This is why the MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark was down by only 5.2 per cent year-over-year versus 12.4 per cent for the average price.
"While average selling prices have not climbed back to last year's record peak, April's price level represents a substantial gain over the past decade. Recent polling conducted for TREB by Ipsos tells us that the great majority of buyers are purchasing a home within which to live. This means these buyers are treating home ownership as a long-term investment. A strong and diverse labour market and continued population growth based on immigration should continue to underpin long-term home price appreciation," said Mr. Syrianos.
After preliminary seasonal adjustment ¹, the month-over-month change (i.e. March 2018 to April 2018) in sales and the average selling price was minimal, with sales decreasing 1.6 per cent and the average selling price decreasing by 0.2 per cent. The month-over-month sales trend has flattened out over the past two months following a steeper drop-off in January and February.
"The comparison of this year's sales and price figures to last year's record peak masks the fact that market conditions should support moderate increases in home prices as we move through the second half of the year, particularly for condominium apartments and higher density low-rise home types. Once we are past the current policy-based volatility, homeowners should expect to see the resumption of a moderate and sustained pace of price growth in line with a strong local economy and steady population growth," said Jason Mercer, TREB's Director of Market Analysis.
Provincial Election Candidates Should Make Housing Issues a Top Priority
With a provincial election campaign about to begin, GTA REALTORS® hope that all of the provincial parties will make housing issues a priority. Home ownership is a worthwhile investment that benefits our economy, individual finances and quality of life," said Mr. Syrianos
"In recent months and years, there has been significant intervention in housing markets by all levels of government, through regulatory changes and taxation. We believe the next step should be tax relief, especially from Land Transfer Taxes, both provincial and the Toronto Land Transfer Tax, and efforts to facilitate an increase in the supply of missing middle housing that fills the gap between single family homes and high rises. Furthermore, we believe that any attempt to increase the Toronto Land Transfer Tax should require approval from the provincial government, given the significance of Toronto's economy to the Province and the connections between the Toronto real estate market and that of the broader GTA," added Syrianos.
Toronto Real Estate Board President Tim Syrianos announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 7,228 residential transactions through TREB’s MLS® System in March 2018. This result was down by 39.5 per cent compared to a record 11,954 sales reported in March 2017 and down 17.6 per cent relative to average March sales for the previous 10 years.
The number of new listings entered into TREB’s MLS® System totaled 14,866 – a 12.4 percent decrease compared to March 2017 and a three per cent decrease compared to the average for the previous 10 years.
“TREB stated in its recent Market Outlook report that Q1 sales would be down from the record pace set in Q1 2017,” said Mr. Syrianos. “The effects of the Fair Housing Plan, the new OSFI-mandated stress test and generally higher borrowing costs have prompted some buyers to put their purchasing decision on hold. Home sales are expected to be up relative to 2017 in the second half of this year.”
The MLS Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was down by 1.5 percent on a year-over-year basis for the TREB market area as a whole. The overall average selling price was down by 14.3 per cent compared to March 2017.
While the change in market conditions certainly played a role, the dip in the average selling price was also compositional in nature. Detached home sales, which generally represent the highest price points in a given area, declined much more than other home types. In addition, the share of high-end detached homes selling for over $2 million in March 2018 was half of what was reported in March 2017, further impacting the average selling price.
“Right now, when we are comparing home prices, we are comparing two starkly different periods of time: last year, when we had less than a month of inventory versus this year with inventory levels ranging between two and three months. It makes sense that we haven’t seen prices climb back to last year’s peak. However, in the second half of the year, expect to see the annual rate of price growth improve compared to Q1, as sales increase relative to the below-average level of listings,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.
TREB continues to stress that housing and housing affordability need to be at the forefront of the policy debates leading into this year’s provincial and municipal elections.
“A well-functioning housing market is not only important to ensure that people have a place to live; it is also important because it supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in spin-off expenditures and billions of dollars in government revenues. Issues such as the below-average level of housing supply and often inadvisable policy ideas and negative measures such as land transfer taxes, vacancy taxes, speculation taxes and second home taxes should also be thoroughly debated by all candidates,” said Mr. Syrianos.
The era of pleasant surprises for people renewing their mortgage is done.
Years of falling interest rates in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis taught a generation of home buyers that renewing a mortgage is a chance to reduce your payments. Now, we're heading into the first wave of postcrisis renewals at higher mortgage rates.
If you bought your house five years ago and chose a mortgage with the ever-popular five-year term, rate hikes since last summer mean your payments are headed higher on renewal. Competitively discounted fixed five-year mortgage rates today run from 3.19 per cent to 3.59 per cent, depending on your particular home and mortgage details. Five years ago, a comparable rate was 2.74 per cent. The lowest five-year rate widely available in the past five years was 2.44 per cent in mid-2016, according to RateSpy.com.
David Larock of Integrated Mortgage Planners said he's starting to hear from homeowners who are taking in this shift in rates. "I get e-mails from people once in a while to say, if you can get me my old rate of 2.49 per cent, I'd be happy to renew," he said. "I have to break their hearts."
Higher rates are just half the story. New mortgage-industry rules are complicating the process of taking your mortgage elsewhere if you don't like the rate offered by your current lender. Vince Gaetano, a broker with MonsterMortgage.ca, said a lot of people seem to think the new rules applied only to first-time buyers. "Now, they're coming up to their renewals and they're saying, I had no idea this impacted me. I would have planned for this last year."
The new rules require buyers with a down payment of 20 per cent or more to undergo a stress test that ensures they could afford their mortgage payments at the greater of the Bank of Canada's five-year benchmark rate (now 5.14 per cent) or the actual rate being offered plus two percentage points. People with down payments below 20 per cent already faced a stress test, but it was set at the five-year Bank of Canada rate and thus slightly less stringent.
For existing homeowners, the stress tests are a non-factor as long as they're renewing their mortgage with their current lender. If they want to move the mortgage to a different lender, a stress test must be applied. Unless you can pass the stress test, you're likely stuck with your current lender. Mr. Gaetano expects lenders, notably the banks, to use the new rules as an opportunity to become less competitive in the renewal rates offered clients who appear to be less creditworthy. Better rates may be out there, but these clients won't be able to get them.
A recent column looked at how people refinancing their mortgages to add other debts must also pass the stress test now. Refinancing is a popular tactic used by people who are getting overwhelmed by their debts. How popular? Mr. Gaetano said about 80 per cent of his clients who are up for their first mortgage renewal have in the past refinanced as opposed to simply renewing.
The biggest rate shocks will be felt by people who thought they were being prudent borrowers by putting down 20 per cent or more and thus avoiding the cost of mortgage-default insurance. This insurance makes a mortgage more attractive to lenders because the equity built up in the house means they won't lose money if borrowers can't repay what they owe.
That competitive 3.19-per-cent, five-year fixed rate mentioned earlier is for people who started with a so-called high-ratio mortgage, where the down payment is less than 20 per cent, and/or for those who have a mortgage that is less than 65 per cent of the current value of their home. Also, the purchase price had to be below $1-million. The best rate applies here because the mortgage is insured against default.
Expect rates in the area of 3.39 to 3.59 per cent if you're renewing a mortgage of between 65 per cent and 80 per cent of the home's current value (for example, a couple that put down 20 per cent at the time of purchase several years ago) and/or had an original purchase price of $1-million and higher. The same applies to people who are refinancing when they renew.
If years of declining rates have reduced the motivation for homeowners to shop around for a mortgage deal, Mr. Larock expects that to change this spring. "If their costs are going up, a lot of people are going to be more inclined to see what else is out there."
A new report from independent research think-tank Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) ranked Ontario’s largest metropolitan areas by real estate market performance and suitability for investment over the next 5 years.
In terms of growth, diversity, and fundamental strength, Ottawa came out on top of the wide-ranging survey, which looked at multiple factors including economic health, employment numbers, GDP and population growth, housing prices and overall affordability, rent and vacancy rates, and several others.
REIN ranked the following cities in order of their housing market strength and potential performance over the next half-decade:
Grimsby and St. Catharines
REIN also cited the following cities as honourable mentions, in no particular order:
The recent increases in interest rates appear not to have dampened the intentions of most Canadian home buyers.
Just 1 in 4 surveyed for CMHC’s 2018 Prospective Home Buyer Survey said that an interest rate would make them very likely to delay purchasing a new home.
However, the tight inventory in some markets is likely to delay home purchase with more than 40% saying they would wait to find the ideal home and a similar share willing to compromise on the size and location.
All groups of prospective buyers would prefer a move-in-ready home or a newly built one.
While many are not put off, the tighter mortgage regulations and interest rate rises were not a top motivator for their purchase; most respondents cited better accessibility and investment as their top motivators.
“The Survey findings provide insights and valuable information for mortgage professionals about their future clients and their needs,” said Nathalie Fredette, Vice-President, Client Relationship Management. “It brings awareness amongst the industry and contributes to financial literacy by helping Canadians make informed and responsible home buying decisions.”
Most respondents will finance their home purchase with a mortgage – especially first-time buyers – with a downpayment saved 1 to 2 years before purchase.
Condo developers in Toronto are under extreme pressure to deliver more units as demand continues to escalate.
An assessment of the market from Urbanation reveals that 35,074 new condos were sold across the GTA in 2017, rising sharply from the 26,893 sold in 2016.
Absorption hit record highs (84% of units launched were sold by year-end) and demand from investors escalated even as prices jumped 33% year-over-year to $876 per sq ft in Q4.
Unsold inventory was down to below 8,000 – it hasn’t been that low since 1999 – but completions dropped to a five-year low of 13,513 units in 2017, with only 62% of units that were scheduled for delivery last year reaching occupancy.
“While the results for 2017 prove how remarkably strong demand can be for GTA condos, the level of activity underway is putting the industry under tremendous pressure to push the units through the development cycle”, said Shaun Hildebrand, Urbanation’s Senior Vice President. “A more sustainable pace of roughly 26,000 sales is likely in store for 2018.”
Urbanation’s calculations show that speculation dropped in 2017 from 4% of units bought and sold within 12 months in 2016, to 2.9% by the end of 2017.
Toronto Real Estate Board President Tim Syrianos announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 4,019 residential transactions through TREB’s MLS® System in January 2018. This result was down by 22 per cent compared to a record 5,155 sales reported in January 2017.
The number of new listings entered into TREB’s MLS® System amounted to 8,585 – a 17.4 per cent increase compared to 7,314 new listings entered in January 2017. However, it is important to note that the level of new listings was the second lowest for the month of January in the past 10 years.
“TREB released its outlook for 2018 on January 30th. The outlook pointed to a slower start to 2018, especially compared to the record-setting pace experienced a year ago. As we move through the year, expect the pace of home sales to pick up, as the psychological impact of the Fair Housing Plan starts to wane and home buyers find their footing relative to the new OSFI-mandated stress test for mortgage approvals through federally regulated lenders,” said Mr. Syrianos.
The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 5.2 per cent year-over-year. This annual rate of growth was driven by the condominium apartment market segment, with double-digit annual growth versus the single-family segment, with prices essentially flat compared to last year. The overall average selling price was down by 4.1 per cent year-over-year to $736,783. This decline was weighted toward the detached segment of the market. In the City of Toronto, the average selling price was up for all home types except for detached houses.
“It is not surprising that home prices in some market segments were flat to down in January compared to last year. At this time last year, we were in the midst of a housing price spike driven by exceptionally low inventory in the marketplace. It is likely that market conditions will support a return to positive price growth for many home types in the second half of 2018. The condominium apartment segment will be the driver of this price growth,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.
“With the City of Toronto’s Executive Committee meeting today to make recommendations on the City’s 2018 Budget, City Councillors would be wise to note the vast difference between last January’s real estate market and this January’s, given the City’s inadvisable reliance on the Municipal Land Transfer Tax. The amount of revenue that the City generates from this tax goes up and down with the real estate market. The last year should be a wake-up call for City Council. They should heed the City Manager’s ongoing warnings of over-reliance on this tax. The Land Transfer Tax is not a good way to fund municipal services,” said Syrianos.
The revenue generated by the Municipal Land Transfer Tax is based on the number of real estate transactions and the value of those transactions. When the MLTT was first implemented in 2008, it made up less than 2% of the City’s operating budget. Today, it makes up 7%, a 250% increase.