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GTA housing market showing signs of tightening: Toronto real estate board

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Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press


Published Wednesday, May 3, 2023 9:36AM EDT


Last Updated Wednesday, May 3, 2023 2:53PM EDT

Toronto’s housing market continued to tighten last month as prices edged up four per cent from March and sales moved closer to the level they were at last April, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board revealed Wednesday.

April’s average price tumbled 7.8 per cent to $1,153,269, but was roughly four per cent higher than the $1,108,499 the average buyer paid in March.

Sales for the month hit 7,531, down 5.2 per cent from a year ago but up about nine per cent from March.

Those sales outpaced new listings, which were down by over a third from a year before, fuelling more competition between buyers who were too hesitant to buy homes earlier this year.

Pushing these buyers to the sidelines were eight consecutive interest rate hikes, which took a bite out of their borrowing power, even as prices started to tumble.

Their hesitance and those lower prices weighed on sellers too as many held off listing their homes because they won’t fetch the big sums or bidding wars their neighbours had in 2021 and early 2022.

But real estate agents have started to see the market turn in recent months.

Davelle Morrison, a Toronto broker with Bosley Real Estate Ltd., saw bidding wars become the norm last month.

“My colleague and I listed a house a couple of weeks ago in the Parkwood area and we were shocked we had 92 showings,” she said.

“We had 25 offers at offer time and this was for a house that was a fixer upper. It was not even move-in ready, so the demand out there for homes is huge.”

TRREB president Paul Baron suspects the demand is coming from buyers who have come to terms with higher borrowing costs and are taking advantage of lower selling prices compared to this time last year.

The challenge ahead will be meeting the rising demand with adequate supply, he said in a statement.

April’s supply level was much lower than the city has seen in the past. New listings for the month totalled 11,364, down 38.3 per cent from a year ago.

Inventory levels signal sellers “remain at odds with timing the market,” said Penelope Graham, director of content at Ratehub.ca, a mortgage rate comparison site.

“There’s a perception that prices still have further to recover, while others are likely reluctant to become buyers in today’s market environment, given higher mortgage rates, and tight inventory,” she said in a statement.

“This is fuelling the catch-22 constraining supply, and driving competition in the market.”

Prices still remain down from last year’s levels.

Detached homes fell 8.3 per cent since last April to $1,489,258, while semi-detached properties dropped 9.8 per cent to $1,135,599.

Townhouses slid 3.2 per cent to $986,121 over the same time period and condos were down eight per cent to $724,118.

“I think some of the people who are sitting on the sidelines keep thinking, ‘I’m just still waiting for the bottom of the market to happen,’ but of course, the bottom of the market seems to have passed them by because things are going back up again,” said Morrison.

“I think there’s this impression that there’s going to be a deal out there for them, when really the deal seems to have gone.”

Toronto’s data was released a day after the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver published its April data, which it said showed home sales are staging a comeback and headed toward levels seen last spring.

Last month’s Vancouver area sales totalled 2,741, almost 16 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average and 16.5 per cent below the April 2022 level.

The composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver hit $1,170,700 last month, down 7.4 per cent from a year ago but up 2.4 per cent from March.

There were 4,307 new listings last month, a 29.7 per cent decrease, when compared with the prior April and a 22 per cent drop from the 10-year seasonal average of 5,525.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2023.

 

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Former B.C. Realtor has licence cancelled, $130K in penalties for role in mortgage fraud

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The provincial regulator responsible for policing B.C.’s real estate industry has ordered a former Realtor to pay $130,000 and cancelled her licence after determining that she committed a variety of professional misconduct.

Rashin Rohani surrendered her licence in December 2023, but the BC Financial Services Authority’s chief hearing officer Andrew Pendray determined that it should nevertheless be cancelled as a signal to other licensees that “repetitive participation in deceptive schemes” will result in “significant” punishment.

He also ordered her to pay a $40,000 administrative penalty and $90,000 in enforcement expenses. Pendray explained his rationale for the penalties in a sanctions decision issued on May 17. The decision was published on the BCFSA website Wednesday.

Rohani’s misconduct occurred over a period of several years, and came in two distinct flavours, according to the decision.

Pendray found she had submitted mortgage applications for five different properties that she either owned or was purchasing, providing falsified income information on each one.

Each of these applications was submitted using a person referred to in the decision as “Individual 1” as a mortgage broker. Individual 1 was not a registered mortgage broker and – by the later applications – Rohani either knew or ought to have known this was the case, according to the decision.

All of that constituted “conduct unbecoming” under B.C.’s Real Estate Services Act, Pendray concluded.

Separately, Rohani also referred six clients to Individual 1 when she knew or ought to have known he wasn’t a registered mortgage broker, and she received or anticipated receiving a referral fee from Individual 1 for doing so, according to the decision. Rohani did not disclose this financial interest in the referrals to her clients.

Pendray found all of that to constitute professional misconduct under the act.

‘Deceptive’ scheme

The penalties the chief hearing officer chose to impose for this behaviour were less severe than those sought by the BCFSA in the case, but more significant than those Rohani argued she should face.

Rohani submitted that the appropriate penalty for her conduct would be a six-month licence suspension or a $15,000 discipline penalty, plus $20,000 in enforcement expenses.

For its part, the BCFSA asked Pendray to cancel Rohani’s licence and impose a $100,000 discipline penalty plus more than $116,000 in enforcement expenses.

Pendray’s ultimate decision to cancel the licence and impose penalties and expenses totalling $130,000 reflected his assessment of the severity of Rohani’s misconduct.

Unlike other cases referenced by the parties in their submissions, Rohani’s misconduct was not limited to a single transaction involving falsified documents or a series of such transactions during a brief period of time, according to the decision.

“Rather, in this case Ms. Rohani repetitively, over the course of a number of years, elected to personally participate in a deceptive mortgage application scheme for her own benefit, and subsequently, arranged for her clients to participate in the same deceptive mortgage application scheme,” the decision reads.

Pendray further noted that, although Rohani had been licensed for “a significant period of time,” she had only completed a small handful of transactions, according to records from her brokerage.

There were just six transactions on which her brokerage recorded earnings for her between December 2015 and February 2020, according to the decision. Of those six, four were transactions that were found to have involved misconduct or conduct unbecoming.

“In sum, Ms. Rohani’s minimal participation in the real estate industry as a licensee has, for the majority of that minimal participation, involved her engaging in conduct unbecoming involving deceptive practices and professional misconduct,” the decision reads.

According to the decision, Rohani must pay the $40,000 discipline penalty within 90 days of the date it was issued.

 

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Should you wait to buy or sell your home?

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The Bank of Canada is expected to announce its key interest rate decision in less than two weeks. Last month, the bank lowered its key interest rate to 4.7 per cent, marking its first rate cut since March 2020.

CTV Morning Live asked Jason Pilon, broker of Record Pilon Group, whether now is the right time to buy or sell your home.

When it comes to the next interest rate announcement, Pilon says the bank might either lower it further, or just keep it as is.

“The best case scenario we’re seeing is obviously a quarter point. I think more just because of the job numbers that just came out, I think more people are just leading on the fact that they probably just gonna do it in September,” he said. “Either way, what we saw in June, didn’t make a big difference.”

Here are the pros of buying/ selling now:

Pilon suggests locking in the rate right now, if you don’t want to take a risk with interest rates going up in the future.

He says the environment is more predictable right now, noting that the home values are transparent, which is one of the benefits for home sellers.

“Do you want to risk looking at what that looks like down the road? Or do you want to have the comfort in knowing what your house is worth right now?” Pilon said.

And when it comes to buyers, he notes, the competition is not so fierce right now, noting that there are options to choose from.

“You’re in the driver seat right now,” he said while noting the benefits for buyers.

Here are the cons of buying/ selling now:

He says one of the cons would be locking in the rate right now, then seeing a rate cut in the future.

The competition could potentially become fierce, if the bank decides to cut the rate further more, he explained.

He notes that if that happens, the housing crisis will become even worse, as Canada is still dealing with low housing inventory.

An increase in competition would increase the prices of houses, he adds.

Selling or buying too quickly isn’t the best practice, he notes, suggesting that you should take your time and put some thought into it.

Despite all the pros and cons, Pilon says, real estate remains a good investment.

According to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey for the second quarter of this year, the average home price in Canada is $824,300. That’s up 1.9 per cent from the same time last year, and up 1.5 per cent from the first quarter of 2024.

In the Ottawa Housing Market Report for June 2024, the average price of a home was up 2.4 per cent from this time last year to $686,535, but down 0.6 per cent from May 2024.

Experts believe many potential buyers are still hesitant of jumping into the housing market and waiting for another interest rate cut of 50 to 100 basis points.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the rush that we see in the past, because people are used to more of a conservative approach right now,” said Curtis Fillier, president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “I think there’s still a bit of a hold back, but I definitely do think with another rate cut, we’ll probably see a very positive fall market.”

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Kimberly Fowler

 

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Real estate stocks soar to best day of year on rate cut bets

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(Bloomberg) — The stock market’s worst group notched its best day of the year as a cooler-than-expected inflation report stoked bets that the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates in September.

Shares of real estate companies jumped 2.7% Thursday for their biggest gain of 2024, climbing to their highest level since March as investors snapped up homebuilder, digital and commercial real estate stocks alike. Real estate also was the best-performing group in the S&P 500 Index Thursday, with volume that was around 30% higher than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Arguably the most significant news to come from the latest consumer price index reading was a pullback in housing-related inflation. Shelter costs rose just 0.2% for the slowest monthly increase in three years. Homebuilders, which have risen 7.1% this year, were up 7.3% for the session, the most since 2022. Shares of D.R. Horton Inc., which is scheduled to report earnings next Thursday, gained 7.3%.

“Housing has really been the last shoe to drop in terms of winning the battle against high inflation,” Preston Caldwell, chief U.S. economist at Morningstar wrote in a note to clients Thursday. “Leading-edge data has strongly indicated for some time now that a fall in housing inflation was in the works.”

A rally in real estate stocks is bad news for short sellers who have been piling into the group, which is the worst performer in the S&P 500 this year. To start the week, short interest as a percentage of float hovered near 49% in the SPDR Homebuilders ETF, the highest level since February for the exchange-traded fund, according to data from S3 Partners.

Property owners are rallying as well. Real estate investment trusts, which were brutally penalized during the two-year run up in borrowing costs, advanced by as much as 3%. And the outlook for the group appears to have turned a corner, according Rich Hill, senior vice president and head of real estate strategy and research at Cohen & Steers Capital Management.

“We think this is a compelling backdrop for listed REITs especially as fundamental growth remains on solid footing,” he said, referencing the latest inflation data and rate outlook. “The rally that started in October of 2023 pushing returns more than 20% above their trough looks set to continue if inflation cools and interest rates continue to decline.”

Shares of industrial REIT Prologis Inc., which reports second-quarter results on Wednesday, rose 3.3% to hit their highest level since April. U.S. Treasury yields tumbled, with the 10-year bond falling to 4.2% and the policy-sensitive two-year note slipping to 4.5%.

(Updates indexes and stock prices for market close.)

 

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