Sunday, May 12, 2019

GTA REALTORS® Release April 2019 Stats

Toronto Real Estate Board President Garry Bhaura announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported a substantial year-over-year increase in home sales in April 2019. The number of residential transactions jumped by 16.8 per cent to 9,042 compared to 7,744 in April 2018. On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, sales were up 11.3 per cent compared to March 2019.

New listings were also up year-over-year by eight per cent. However, the annual growth rate for new listings was much lower than that reported for sales. This suggests that market conditions continued to tighten which points toward an acceleration in price growth.

“The strong year-over-year growth in sales is obviously a good news story and likely represents some catch-up from a slow start to the year. TREB’s sales outlook for 2019 anticipates an increase relative to 2018. It should be noted, however, that growth in new listings is not keeping pace with sales. This points to the ongoing housing supply issue in the GTA. In this regard TREB welcomes the provincial government’s Housing Supply Action Plan announced last week to reduce red tape and improve the mix of housing types. TREB provided input on the Plan through submissions and participation on working groups,” said Mr. Bhaura.

The year-over-year rate of price growth generally edged up in April relative to the first three months of the year. The MLS® HPI Composite benchmark was up by 3.2 per cent – the highest rate of growth in more than a year. The average selling price was up by 1.9 per cent to $820,148, representing the strongest annual rate of growth so far in 2019. On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, the average selling price was also up by 1.1 per cent compared to March 2019.

Price growth continued to be driven by the condominium apartment segment and higher-density low-rise segments. The average price for detached houses dipped year-over-year, specifically in regions surrounding the City of Toronto. The detached market segment, with the highest price point on average, has arguably been hardest hit by measures such as the OSFI stress test.

“While sales were up year-over-year in April, it is important to note that they remain well-below April levels for much of the past decade. Many potential home buyers arguably remain on the sidelines as they reassess their options in light of the OSFI-mandated two percentage point stress test on mortgages. Longer term borrowing costs have trended lower this year and the outlook for short-term rates, for which the Bank of Canada holds the lever, is flat to down this year. Unfortunately, against this backdrop, we have seen no movement toward flexibility in the OSFI stress test,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Chief Market Analyst.

Tight market conditions in the condominium apartment rental market remain in place. Year-to-date (January 2019 through April 2019) condominium rental transactions for one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments were up by 10.2 per cent and 9.7 per cent respectively compared to the same period in 2018. Average year-to-date rents for one- bedroom apartments were up by 7.3 per cent on an annual basis to $2,150. Over the same period, two-bedroom apartment rents were up by 4.1 per cent to $2,815.

“The supply of ownership and rental housing is of paramount importance to the GTA, from the perspective of affordability and economic competitiveness of the region, insofar as talented people are more likely to move to the region if they can easily find housing that meets their needs within their budgets. With this in mind, it is also important to think about housing supply through the lens of public transportation. TREB has been highlighting the important links between housing and transportation for a number of years, including through research conducted for TREB by CANCEA and the Pembina Institute dealing with transportation infrastructure’s impact on affordability and transit supportive development respectively. TREB will continue research in these areas moving forward,” said TREB CEO, John DiMichele.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

GTA sees new home sales begin on a good note this year

Amid a marked slowdown in nationwide activity recently, the Greater Toronto Area has actually experienced a considerable year-over-year increase in new home sales, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association.

Citing data from Altus Group, BILD announced recently that GTA new home sales volume increased by 14% annually in January, reaching 1,362 transactions.

A deviation from this trend was the single-family segment, which saw its sales settle at levels 53% lower than the 10-year average for this asset class. New condo apartments comprised a notable portion of last month’s activity, with sales being only 5% lower than the 10-year average.

Despite the road bumps, BILD president and CEO David Wilkes deemed the January numbers as a welcome change.

“It looks like the market is starting to return to typical levels after a particularly difficult year,” Wilkes said. “With the spring budget coming up, we are calling on the federal government to take steps to make it easier for first-time home buyers to get into the housing market.”

“The improvement in new home sales over last January is consistent with our outlook for somewhat higher annual sales in the GTA this year, following the drop in 2018.” Altus Group executive vice president of data solutions Patricia Arsenault added.

Healthy sales made their mark in the region’s remaining inventory, which includes preconstruction projects, units currently under construction, and completed buildings. Supply went down to 15,530 units comprised of 10,364 condo apartment units and 5,166 single-family homes.

As for price levels, single-family homes saw their benchmark value shrink by 8.1% year-over-year in January, down to $1,130,046. On the other hand, the average price of a GTA condo apartment unit grew by 12.5% during the same period, up to $803,638.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

GTA REALTORS® Release February 2019 Stats

Toronto Real Estate Board President Gurcharan (Garry) Bhaura announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 5,025 homes sold through TREB’s MLS® System in February 2019. This sales total was down by 2.4 per cent on a year-over-year basis. Sales were also down compared to January 2019 following preliminary seasonal adjustment.

“The OSFI mandated mortgage stress test has left some buyers on the sidelines who have struggled to qualify for the type of home they want to buy. The stress test should be reviewed and consideration should be given to bringing back 30 year amortizations for federally insured mortgages. There is a federal budget and election on the horizon. It will be interesting to see what policy measures are announced to help with home ownership affordability,” said Mr. Bhaura.

Despite sales being down year-over-year, new listings actually declined by a greater annual rate. This suggests that market conditions became tighter compared to last year. Tighter market conditions continued to support year-over-year average price growth.

Both the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark and the average selling price were up modestly on a year-over-year basis in February 2019. The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark was up by 2.4 per cent year-over-year. The average selling price for all home types combined was up by 1.6 per cent over the same period. Price growth was driven by the condominium apartment segment and higher density low-rise home types. On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis the average selling price was down compared to January 2019.

“Home sales reported through TREB’s MLS® System have a substantial impact on the Canadian economy. A study conducted by Altus for TREB found that, on average, each home sale reported through TREB resulted in $68,000 in spin-off expenditures accruing to the economy. With sales substantially lower than the 2016 record peak over the last two years, we have experienced a hit to the economy in the billions of dollars, in the GTA alone. This hit has also translated into lower government revenues and, if sustained, could impact the employment picture as well,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis and Service Channels.

The rental market continued to operate in a high demand, low inventory environment during the first two months of 2019. Strong competition between renters resulted in average rents for one- bedroom and two-bedroom apartments leased through TREB’s MLS® System increasing well- above the rate of inflation on a year-over-year basis for the January-February period. The average one-bedroom rent was up by 8.1 per cent to $2,145. The average two-bedroom rent was up by 7.4 per cent to $2,810.

“With vacancy rates hovering in the one per cent range and average rents increasing in the high single digits, it is clear that signing a lease for a rental unit is not an easy proposition in the GTA. While some rent control provisions have been relaxed by the new provincial government, policy makers need to look at further initiatives to encourage rather than discourage investment in rental apartments. A recent Ipsos survey conducted for TREB found that almost one-quarter of investment property owners are very likely to list their property for sale this year, which is concerning in an already tight rental market,” said TREB CEO John DiMichele.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

GTA REALTORS Release January Stats

TREB President Garry Bhaura announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 4,009 home sales through TREB's MLS® in January 2019 – up by 0.6 per cent compared to January 2018. On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, sales were up by 3.4 per cent compared to December 2018.

"It is encouraging to see the slight increase in January transactions on a year-over-year basis, even with the inclement weather experienced in the GTA region during the last week of the month. The fact that the number of transactions edged upwards is in line with TREB's forecast for higher sales in calendar year 2019," said Mr. Bhaura.

The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark price was up by 2.7 per cent compared to January 2018. The condominium apartment market segment continued to lead the way in terms of price growth. The average selling price was up by 1.7 per cent on a year-over-year basis. After preliminary seasonal adjustment, the average selling price edged lower compared to December 2018.

"Market conditions in January, as represented by the relationship between sales and listings, continued to support moderate year-over-year price increases, regardless of the price measure considered. Given housing affordability concerns in the GTA, especially as it relates to mortgage qualification standards, we have seen tighter market conditions and stronger price growth associated with higher density low-rise home types and condominium apartments, which have lower average selling prices compared to single detached homes," said Jason Mercer, TREB's Director of Market Analysis and Service Channels.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Happy Canada Day!

Time to fly the flag and have fun with family and friends! Enjoy a barbecue or see a parade! Canada Day is a holiday for everyone -- have a great one!

Wishing your family & friends a very Happy Canada Day!





Thursday, May 31, 2018

TREB Releases Monthly Market Figures

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.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Monthly Market Figures Reported By GTA REALTORS

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.  

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Mortgage renewals in 2018: Prepare for nasty rate surprises

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."

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