Thursday, January 28, 2010

Housing activity throughout 2009

Despite limited inventory levels in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in the latter half of the year, double-digit price appreciation failed to materialize in the single-detached housing category in 2009, says RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

In fact, an in-depth analysis by RE/MAX of 63 districts within the Toronto Real Estate Board found that detached housing values in 27 per cent of districts remained slightly off 2008 levels, while 57 per cent reported price appreciation of less than five per cent in 2009. Sixteen per cent of districts recorded an increase in average price in excess of five per cent. No double-digit gains were noted.

“There is simply no evidence of a housing bubble,” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “While sales were up considerably over one year ago—and supply was tight in many of the city’s hot pocket areas—the expected surge in average price did not occur. Buyers remained cautious in their pursuit of homeownership—with most unwilling to overpay for the privilege. “

While one quarter of all TREB districts saw prices in the detached housing category soften in 2009, just over half declined by less than two per cent. Those that saw prices fall by more than two per cent were primarily upper-end neighbourhoods—the vast majority located in the central core—which were slower to rebound once the market regained momentum. By year-end, however, sales in all of these areas posted double-digit growth—a fact that clearly indicates a greater number of transactions at the lower end of the price spectrum. Inventory may have also played a role as sellers held off listing their luxury properties until market conditions improved.

Leading the GTA in terms of price appreciation was South Pickering (E12) where the average has risen 9.4 per cent to $358,493; Malvern, Hillside, Rouge (E11) takes second place with a 7.3 per cent upswing to $368,095; North Pickering (E13) was ranked third with values climbing 7.2 per cent to $396,973; fourth spot goes to Port Credit (W12) in Mississauga where values have climbed seven per cent to $614,144; and rounding out the top five -- the lone downtown Toronto district --was Riverdale, Leslieville (E01) where prices escalated 6.7 per cent to $522,017. Ballantrae, Cedar Valley (N13) ranked sixth with a reported 6.4 per cent increase to $662,268. In seventh place is Richmond Hill – North End (N05) with a 6.3 per cent increase in average price to $574,642. The Applewood, Rathwood neigbhourhoods (W14) in Mississauga ranked eighth in terms of price appreciation, rising 6.1 per cent to $505,994, while Markham (N10) claimed ninth spot with a 5.3 per cent escalation in detached housing values, bringing the average to $510,268. Bathurst Manor, Armour Heights (C06) in the city’s north end secured tenth place with a 5.1 per cent upswing in average price to $597,025.

The East clearly dominated the top five and affordability factored in heavily, with single-detached homes in both Pickering districts and Malvern, Hillside, Rouge, priced under $400,000. Young families – most buying their first home -- were attracted to communities like Riverdale and up-and-coming Leslieville, while move-up buyers looked to Port Credit, which has steadily increased in popularity in recent years.

“First-time buyers were a driving force throughout much of the year, but their role was most noticeable in early 2009,” says Polzler. “Almost one in every two homes sold was priced under $400,000 in the first quarter of the year. An entirely different picture emerged in the final quarter when just one-third of homes moved under the $400,000 price point.”

As the move-up segment swelled, so too did demand for more upscale properties across the board. Yet, despite the upswing, average price registered only a small percentage increase. In the central core, for example, where the average price ranges from $572,529 in Don Mills to as high as $1,717,190 in Rosedale, overall values rose one per cent to $919,838, compared to 2008. Unit sales in C-district jumped 31 per cent to close to 4,000 units.

The number of homes sold in the city’s north end saw the greatest percentage increase at 32 per cent to 8,843 units. Average price in North district, which ranges from $398,864 in Newmarket to $700,499 in King City, rose two per cent overall to $555,616. Housing sales climbed in the west, where values range from $298,136 in Brampton to $790,060 in the Kingsway, by close to 19 per cent to 12,453 units. West district’s average price rose a nominal 1.5 per cent to $467,227. The increase in sales was more moderate in the East End (including Scarborough and Pickering, Ajax), where values range from $325,393 in Bendale, Woburn to $691,128 in the Beach. The number of detached homes sold increased 15 per cent year over year to 6,690. Average price in East Toronto rose 2.6 per cent overall to $400,813.

“After a dismal start, the stats confirm that 2009 returned to the healthy, upward trajectory that we have followed for much of the last decade,” says Polzler. “We see detached homes continuing on that course in 2010, with moderate gains expected. The detached housing category continues to be a solid gauge of the market’s overall performance, accounting for approximately half of the activity in GTA.”

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Property Assessment in Ontario

The Government of Ontario has made a number of changes to the property assessment system that went into effect in the 2009 property tax year. These changes include the introduction of a four-year assessment update cycle and a phase-in of assessment increases.

Currently, the assessed value of properties in Ontario is based on a January 1, 2008 valuation date. MPAC’s last province-wide assessment update took place in 2008 and was based on a January 1, 2008 valuation date.

To provide an additional level of property tax stability and predictability, the market increases in assessed value between 2005 and 2008 will be phased-in over four years. The phase-in program does not apply to decreases in assessed value. Any market decrease in the value of a property is applied immediately and reflected on your most recent Property Assessment Notice. The change in assessed values and the phased-in assessment values for the 2009 to 2012 property tax years are listed on the 2008 Notices. There is a difference between the 2008 Current Value Assessment (CVA) (the destination value) and the current year’s phase-in value. The current year (which can be 2009, 2010, 2011 or 2012 taxation year) phase-in value is the assessed amount that the municipalities or the local tax authorities use to calculate the annual property taxes. An example of this is as follows:

Current year (2010) Phase-in CVA=$250,000
Total Municipal Tax Rate= 1 %
Total Municipal Tax burden = $250,000 x 1 %= $2,500.

The 2008 CVA is not used until 2012 since this is the destination value.
The municipalities/local taxing authorities set property tax rates and the province sets the education tax rate. MPAC’s assessed values are used to determine these taxes.

How MPAC Assesses Properties

MPAC’s mandated role is to accurately value and classify all Ontario properties in compliance with the Assessment Act and related regulations. To establish a property’s assessed value, MPAC analyzes property sales in a community to determine the CVA. This method is used by most assessment jurisdictions in Canada and throughout the world. When assessing a residential property, we look at all of the key features that affect market value. Five major factors usually account for 85% of the value: location; lot dimensions; living area; age of the structure(s), adjusted for any major renovations or additions; and quality of construction. Examples of other features that may affect a property’s value include: number of bathrooms; fireplaces; finished basements; garages and pools. Site features can also increase or decrease the assessed value of your property such as traffic patterns; being situated on a corner lot; and proximity to a golf course, hydro corridor, railway or green space.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 87,308 MLS® transactions in 2009 – a 17 per cent increase over 2008. This result included 5,541 sales in December. The 2009 result was in line with the healthy levels of sales experienced between 2004 and 2006, but lower than the record of 93,193 set in 2007.

“After a slow start to the year, existing home sales rebounded during the second half of 2009,” said TREB President Tom Lebour. “As consumer confidence improved, many households moved to take advantage of affordable home ownership opportunities in the GTA. The strong residential real estate sector was a key contributor to overall economic recovery in Canada.”

The average home price in 2009 climbed four per cent to $395,460. The average price for December transactions was $411,931.

“Market conditions became very tight in the latter half of 2009. Sales climbed strongly relative to the number of homes listed for sale, resulting in robust price growth that more than offset average price declines in the winter,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis. “A greater supply of listings in 2010 will see home prices grow at a sustainable pace.”

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