- Canada’s luxury market saw muted sales in the first quarter of 2023 as a shortage of conventional and top-tier inventory compelled real estate sellers and buyers to defer activity into the second quarter in anticipation of more property listings.
- Demand for luxury and conventional housing continues to intensify as previously sidelined sellers and buyers signal their need and readiness to transact in the season ahead.
- Real estate market confidence remains strong. 49% of urban Canadians between the ages of 18–77 years recently surveyed by Mustel Group and Sotheby’s International Realty Canada across Canada’s four largest metropolitan areas expect that a home or residential real estate purchase will perform the same or better than their other financial investments in 2023, and a resounding 60% believe that real estate will outperform or match their financial investments in the next decade.
- Record in-migration and a dynamic economy bolstered Calgary’s luxury market performance in the first quarter of 2023. Although $1 million-plus residential sales were down 36% from January 1– March 31 year-over-year, this sales volume was a significant 223% higher than levels recorded in the pre-pandemic first quarter of 2020 and more than the city’s 10-year average for sales over $1 million.
- Montreal’s luxury market continued to rebalance, as residential sales over $1 million pulled back by 43% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2023.
- A scarcity of luxury listings in the City of Toronto limited potential transactions and contributed to a 64% year-over-year decline in Greater Toronto Area residential sales over $4 million in the first quarter of the year.
- In Vancouver’s inventory-starved market, first-quarter luxury sales activity over $4 million receded 53% year-over-year as prospective home buyers and sellers strategically deferred activity to spring.
High-Pressure Spring: Competition Intensifies in Canada’s Luxury Real Estate Market as Buyer Demand Surges
According to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada’s Top-Tier Real Estate: Spring 2023 State of Luxury Report, a shortage of luxury housing supply in the City of Toronto deflated the aspirations of potential home purchasers, and depressed total luxury sales volume across the Greater Toronto Area in the first quarter of 2023. As a result, GTA luxury residential real estate sales over $4 million (condominiums, attached and single family homes) between January 1 – March 31 were down 64% year-over-year from the first quarter of 2022. During this time, one property sold over $10 million on MLS, compared to eight ultra-luxury residences sold above this price point in the same period last year. Overall, $1 million-plus residential sales were down 57% year-over-year in the GTA, foreshadowing a competitive market for appropriately priced and well-appointed luxury properties this spring.
Sales activity in the City of Vancouver’s luxury real estate market remained calm in the first quarter of 2023, a trend widely anticipated by both the real estate industry and consumers. This was due largely to the traditional seasonality of the real estate market, which typically sees diminished activity between December and March, as well as the “wait for spring” strategy employed by prospective home sellers, buyers and investors as they adjusted their approach to meet elevated interest rates and limited listings supply.
Alberta is projected to see steady economic growth over the next two years, according to the Conference Board of Canada, which anticipates a third consecutive year of growth for the province in 2023, primarily driven by the energy sector and high commodity prices. With the province’s GDP gains forecast at 2.1% in 2023 before accelerating to 2.8% in 2024, the City of Calgary’s steady economic revival and record-setting in-migration trends have renewed activity across the residential real estate market. Consumer confidence in the city’s overall real estate market is also healthy. According to recent survey results released by Mustel Group and Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, 52% of Calgary residents 18–77 years old believe that a home or residential real estate purchase will outperform or be on par with the performance of their financial investments in the next year, while 55% believe that real estate will outperform or match financial investment performance in the next decade.
As a result, the city’s luxury housing market was active and healthy in the first quarter of 2023, gaining steady traction as buyer and investor demand absorbed the limited listings inventory that came to market. According to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada experts, although the market in the first quarter of the year skewed in favour of sellers, prospective home buyers engaged with discernment, confidence and the expectation that housing prices align with current market realities. The Calgary market is increasingly challenged, however, by a shortage of residential inventory overall, due in part to prospective sellers’ reluctance to list their properties due to concerns about finding a suitable next home. With the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) reporting a nearly 26.4% year-over-year decrease in overall inventory in March 2023, the lowest inventory levels for March since 2006, and with new listings down 39.6%, the conventional and luxury real estate market risks tilting further in favour of sellers into the spring months.
As buyers and sellers adjusted to new market realities and sales velocity slowed, top-tier residential real estate sales over $1 million (condominiums, attached and single family homes) in the City of Montreal fell 43% year-over-year, with 247 properties sold in the first quarter of 2023. Luxury sales over $4 million posted a moderate year-over-year decline of 33%, with eight total homes sold. Remaining consistent with the first quarter of 2022, no ultra-luxury property sales were reported over $10 million on Multiple Listing Services (MLS) between January 1– March 31, 2023.
For more information on Sotheby’s International Realty Canada and the Top-Tier Real Estate: Spring 2023 State of Luxury Report, contact:
Talk Shop Media
About Sotheby’s International Realty Canada
Combining the world’s most prestigious real estate brand with local market knowledge and specialized marketing expertise, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada is the leading real estate sales and marketing company for the country’s most exceptional properties. With offices in over 35 residential and resort markets nationwide, our professional associates provide the highest caliber of real estate service, unrivalled local and international marketing solutions and a global affiliate sales network of approximately 1,000 offices in 81+ countries and territories to manage the real estate portfolios of discerning clients from around the world. For further information, visit www.sothebysrealty.ca.
The information contained in this report references survey results, plus market data from MLS boards across Canada. Sotheby’s International Realty Canada cautions that MLS market data can be useful in establishing trends over time but does not indicate actual prices in widely divergent neighborhoods or account for price differentials within local markets. This report is published for general information only and not to be relied upon in any way. Although high standards have been used in the preparation of the information and analysis presented in this report, no responsibility or liability whatsoever can be accepted by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates or Mustel Group for any loss or damage resulting from any use of, reliance on, or reference to the contents of this document.
Mustel Group and Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, “2023 Canadian Real Estate Market Sentiment: Generational Trends Report” is based on results from a survey employing an online methodology, using a robust national panel of Canadians between the ages of 18–77 who reside in the Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs). The panel is maintained to be representative of the Canadian population and provide high-quality data. Panelists are recruited by a double opt-in method from large databases of reputable channels using industry standards of panel quality assurance, validation, verification and best practices for panel management. A total of 2,000 Canadian adults were surveyed, using a disproportionate sampling method to enable analysis between generational cohorts and within each metropolitan area, as well as across the combined metros (Census Metropolitan Areas, CMAs). The sample was weighted to match Canada census based on age and gender within each CMA and to bring the total sample into proper proportion based on relative populations. While the panel sample is demographically representative, margins of error only apply to random probability samples. (The margin of error on a random probability sample of 2,000 respondents is ± 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, and ranges from ± 3.8 to 4.9 points for 400 – 680 respondents). Data for this report series was gathered from Jan 3 to Jan 10, 2023.
BCFSA rules on real estate agent’s $50K loan to client
A real estate agent who lent a client $50,000 so she could afford to make a deposit on a property in Richmond, B.C., committed professional misconduct by doing so, according to a provincial regulator.
The B.C. Financial Services Authority, which investigates real-estate-related complaints from members of the public, has concluded that Wei “Vicky” Wang’s loan constituted a conflict of interest, and that Wang had committed misconduct by failing to avoid the conflict and by failing to advise her client of it.
The BCFSA’s chief hearing officer Andrew Pendray issued his decision on the matter earlier this month. It was published online Wednesday.
In it, Pendray wrote that the evidence before him supported the conclusion that the $50,000 Wang provided was a loan, and thus a conflict, despite Wang’s arguments to the contrary.
Pendray’s decision came after hearings on the BCFSA’s fifth amended notice to Wang about the complaints against her from her former client.
All of the iterations of the notice centred on the client’s purchase of two homes – one in Richmond and one in Vancouver. Both addresses are redacted throughout the decision, as are the names of the client, her husband and other witnesses.
The loan related to the Richmond purchase, for which a contract of purchase and sale was executed on June 9, 2016, with a completion date scheduled for Oct. 4 of that year, according to the decision.
The agreed purchase price was $1,688,000, with a deposit of $90,000 – slightly more than five per cent of the total price.
Pendray’s decision indicates that Wang’s brokerage provided the BCFSA with two “receipt of funds records” relating to the deposit, one for $40,000 from the client’s account and one for $50,000 from Wang’s account.
The record for the $50,000 transaction included the note “loaning to the buyer temporarily,” according to the decision, and both Wang and the client acknowledged that Wang provided $50,000 toward the purchase of the Richmond property.
The real estate agent argued that the $50,000 she provided to her client should not be considered a loan because it wasn’t provided with the expectation of repayment with interest.
“When asked what she would call the $50,000 towards the (Richmond property) deposit, if it were not described as a loan, Ms. Wang indicated that she did not know, though she subsequently suggested that one could consider it to be a gift,” Pendray wrote in his decision.
“Ms. Wang stated that she and the client were friends, and that she had not thought much of providing the $50,000 at the time.”
Despite Wang’s suggestion that the money could be considered a gift, Pendray noted that she made efforts to secure repayment of it.
The money was wired back to Wang on June 29, 2016, after she and her client had exchanged WeChat messages about how and when she would be paid back, according to the decision.
In her defence, the decision indicates, Wang declined to say she had been repaid, insisting that the money had been “returned” in the same way one would return a car after borrowing it.
She also argued that the entire hearing had been unfair to her, submitting three times that it ought to be adjourned because the BCFSA had revised its allegations against her five times.
Pendray rejected all of these arguments, writing that Wang has “long known the nature of the allegations against her” and that there was “no unfairness in proceeding with the hearing.”
He concluded that both Wang and her client understood the $50,000 to be a loan, not a gift, and that Wang expected to be repaid.
“Even if I was to accept Ms. Wang’s submission that in order for the $50,000 to be considered a loan, it is necessary that the loan have been provided in exchange for future repayment plus something more, the facts of this case lead me to the conclusion that there was, in this case, something more,” Pendray wrote.
The chief hearing officer noted that Wang received a commission of $22,538.78 for her role in the transaction. She could not have received that amount, he concluded, if the client had backed out of the purchase for lack of funds.
“In order to receive that commission, the purchase of that property had to complete,” Pendray wrote. “In order for the purchase to ever have had the chance to reach completion, the deposit on the property, as required by the contract of purchase and sale, would have had to have been paid.”
Having concluded that Wang provided the client with a loan, Pendray determined that doing so was a conflict of interest under the provincial Real Estate Services Act, and that Wang had committed misconduct.
He ordered Wang and the BCFSA to make submissions on what sanctions Wang should face for her behaviour, with specific penalties to be determined at a later date.
Luxe $9m South Yarra sanctuary for sale with six-car basement garage
A winning collaboration by some of the best in the business has produced this luxurious modern sanctuary in a prized lifestyle location.
High-end builder Agushi teamed with celebrated Workroom architects and Nathan Burkett Landscape Architects on the private inner-city residence.
The four-bedroom, five-bathroom house at 12 Rockley Rd, South Yarra has hit the market with a $9m-$9.5m asking price.
Largely crafted from concrete – which even features on the sculptural curved staircase that links the home’s three levels – and marble, it delivers sophisticated interiors with carefully framed garden views.
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When at home, a mirrored lift, infinity pool with in-floor cleaning and a six-car basement garage provide the ultimate in convenience.
But it is the state-of-the-art automation that paves the way for a lock-up-and-leave lifestyle.
The technology has been a game-changer for vendor and interior designer Georgie Coombe-Tennant and her husband, Mark.
It has transformed the way they live, doing away with the need for front door keys and allowing them to turn on the oven remotely, let the postie in the gate while sitting on a ski lift or turn on the sprinkler from Europe.
“We had always had old traditional homes and renovated them, and we just felt like it was time for something modern,” Mrs Coombe-Tennant said.
“We saw Bear (Agushi’s) work and my expression for his work is that everything is so resolved.
“He has not left a single detail out of it. If you think of something you would need in a home it’s there.”
She has delighted in decorating the home, which she said offers loads of space despite having a townhouse feel.
“I found the home is so easy decorate and furnish because you have got this beautiful blank canvas and you can put any amount of colour or neutrality into in,” she said.
As well as three living areas and four bedrooms, the two-year-old home has the luxury of two home offices with desks crafted of the same grey Damastas marble that features in the lavish kitchen and bathrooms.
The main open-plan living zone screams entertainer thanks to a series of full height sliding doors linking it to a covered outdoor dining space with a built-in barbecue, a conversation pit and north-facing sun deck.
A second ground floor lounge room provides another breakout space, perfect for curling up beside the fire.
Despite its proximity to Chapel St and Toorak Village, Mrs Coombe-Tennant said the home felt secluded.
“I guess with South Yarra people are always worried about noise and things like that but it’s very, very quiet, it’s really secretive. No one knows it’s here,” she said.
“Once we are in that front door you don’t hear a single sound, but you have got everything on your doorstep.”
RT Edgar Toorak director Sarah Case added that it was rare to find homes of this calibre created specifically for a lock-up-and-leave lifestyle.
“This home has every luxury we’ve come to expect from Agushi, who’s renowned solid concrete construction, superior quality, generous spaces and meticulous attention to detail, while providing for a modern way of living with a lift to all levels, stunning pool and six-car garage,” Ms Case said.
“From the magnificent marble kitchen to the beautiful bedrooms and the poolside outdoor spaces, every aspect has been thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of even the most discerning buyer.”
Mr Agushi said he prided himself on building homes with “over specced” insulation, glazing, solar panels and smart home integration.
Expressions of interest close on June 15 at 5pm.
According the latest Proptrack Home Price Index, national home prices continued to stabilise in April after rising for the fourth consecutive month, rising 0.14 per cent.
LACKIE: Busy Spring in Toronto Real Estate
This has been a busy, bustling spring for the Toronto real estate market.
There are people who will say it’s all an illusion. A perfectly coordinated dance between snake oil selling realtors and their greedy clients, all unified in pumping a market currently back on its heels as means of personal enrichment.
How does that saying go — never let the truth get in the way of a good story?
They will say it makes no sense that the market should have any signs of life at all given the rollercoaster of the last 18 months (slash, the three years since COVID, if we’re being honest) and that with rates high and staying there, and prices still high and mostly staying there, we are looking at the furthest thing from a healthy marketplace.
And perhaps it’s all relative — things feel particularly energized because in comparison to last fall, we are actually seeing some action out there.
Houses in dodgy pockets fetching upwards of 20 offers, buyers seemingly undeterred by the needles on the street just steps away from the front door.
Cute houses in great pockets drawing multiple offers and landing peak-of-2022 prices.
Sellers who may have wondered if the time-was-now realizing they didn’t want to miss their moment.
There are many utterly baffled that the market has held. That prices have held. That the pain of 2022 didn’t reset the playing field.
They are adamant that any attempt to explain it by pointing to how grossly insufficient our inventory levels are is really just distortion and manipulation. The idea somehow being that people can be scammed into engaging and thus what we are really looking at is a mirage.
They think our problems will be solved if buyers simply stay home. Refuse to show up to houses that are underlisted. Refuse to engage in multiple offers. Refuse to pay a dollar more than list price. Refuse to pay realtor fees. Refuse to participate.
Legislate agents into listing at market value. Legally obligate sellers to accept any offer that meets the price they chose to list at. Cap realtor fees. The list goes on.
Absent from all of this is the reality very much apparent on the ground: for all of the noise and anger, Toronto has not enough houses and more than enough willing participants who are capable of driving a marketplace.
By this time next week, we will have stats to support that the spring market is very much here and with it I expect we will note a sharp increase in transactions and a notable bump to average sale prices.
Is it a seasonal blip that will fizzle out as temperatures rise? Entirely possible. But even just a return to some seasonal rhythms in our marketplace would be a welcome return to normalcy.
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