Sales statistics for the month of October reveal that the Toronto residential real estate market has stabilized. The resale market has returned to the condition it was in prior to the unprecedented sales frenzy of early 2017 that saw buyers in extreme bidding wars and properties selling for exorbitant prices.
For the market to continue at that frenzied pace with 30% year over year price increases is simply not sustainable. The implementation of the 15% foreign buyer’s tax in April helped to accelerate the market back to reality. But even without the foreign buyer’s tax the market eventually would have corrected.
Thus comparing today’s real estate market to the unsustainable market of the first 4 months of 2017 doesn’t really provide much insight. We get a more accurate picture of today’s market if we compare it to the same time last year and consider what has happened since the end of May.
This reveals a strong and stable yet somewhat fractured market as some Toronto neighbourhoods are more robust than others.
Surprisingly the real estate market in the City is still not a balanced market. A balanced market is represented by 2.5 to 3 months of inventory and in October there was only 1.4 months of inventory in the City of Toronto. The year before it was 1.5 months of inventory.
The number of properties reported sold in October was 2,885, a 22% decrease from last October when 3,715 properties sold.
Except for the condominium apartment sector, what has changed is the supply of properties on the market. In October supply was up by 28% percent compared to last year. At the end of October there were approximately 5,681 properties available for buyers to purchase. That compares to 4,438 last October. It was last year’s lack of supply, coupled with historically low mortgage interest rates, that drove the market into the frenzy that we experienced during the months from January to April.
Buyers are still alive. They are now more deliberate. However when attractive homes in desirable neighbourhoods become available buyers respond quickly, often still finding themselves in competition. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that all sales in the City of Toronto area took place in only 20 days. By any assessment this is a scorching pace.
Twenty days represents the overall days on market. Depending on housing type and location the market is even faster. For example, and notwithstanding that the average sale price for detached properties came in at $1,287,765 in the City of Toronto ($1,008,207 in the 905 region), all detached properties sold in only 19 days. Semi-detached properties, with an average sale price of $948,309, sold in an astounding 17 days. Historically strong neighbourhoods like Riverdale, Leslieville and the Beaches are seeing sales take place in only 10 to 12 days, and for average sale prices substantially higher than asking prices. The market place in these neighbourhoods appears to be shockingly unchanged when compared to the pre-April market.
The average sale price for all properties sold also strengthened in October. It came in at $818,201, up 6.2% compared to October 2016. In September, the average sale price was $809,581. A year-over-year increase of approximately 3% is ideal. It is consistent with inflation and more importantly wage increases.
During the later part of last year and into this year, price increases were manyfold times higher than increases in wages. That is an unsustainable situation. Since April we have also seen the Bank of Canada increase the bank rate by 50 basis points, causing mortgage interest rates to rise, although at 3.5 percent (five-year fixed term) they continue to be historically low.
Looming ahead is the stress testing that will take place in January. Even though borrowers will be paying the lenders reduced mortgage rates, they will be qualified on a rate 2% higher than what they will be paying. The new stress testing will act as a further control on exuberant increases in home prices.
Although prices generally have come under control and are in the sustainable range, condominium apartments continue to sell for approximately 21% more than a year ago. There are two reasons for this unique activity. Even though condos are becoming pricier, they are still the most affordable housing type available to buyers. Secondly there is little supply. Whereas the overall supply of housing year-over-year has increased by 22%. There have been no appreciable increases in the supply of condominium apartments.
Under these circumstances it is not surprising that condominium apartment prices are rising in the City of Toronto. In October, the average sale price for condominium apartments came in at $555,004. In Toronto’s central core where most condominium apartments are located and where most sales take place, the average sale price was an eye-popping $620,000.
In October, we also witnessed an improvement in the numbers of high-end sales, properties having a sale price of $2,000,000 or more. In September, there were 119 sales in that category. In October that number jumped to 170, an increase of 43%.
As the resale market moves towards the end of the year and a form of balance that we have not experienced in some time, both buyers and sellers should be thrilled with the markets transformation since April. We have an increase in supply for buyers, and steady but sustainable price increases for sellers. The area of major concern, which is beyond the scope of this residential resale market report, is the rental market and its critically low vacancy rate.
Victoria Boscariolis a real estate agent in Toronto Canada with Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited Brokerage. With over 20 years experience, Victoria has been helping people successfully buy and sell condos and houses in Yorkville and downtown Toronto. As a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) she has worked with Buyers from around the world moving to Toronto from China, Russia, Brazil, India, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyprus, Italy, Germany, The United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. By building an international marketing strategy for every property she puts up for sale, Victoria's listings of Toronto homes and luxury condos get global exposure that attract qualified buyers from around the world.