Posthaste: Sales dwindle in luxury real estate market — but don’t blame a lack of buyers
People are eager to buy homes, if only there were enough listings
Luxury home sales retreated across much of Canada this past winter, but a lack of buyers isn’t to blame for the pullback and the market is expected to pick up this spring, according to Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
Sales of luxury real estate properties were slower in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same time last year, with Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary all registering declines, says Sotheby’s latest report on the state of high-tier housing.
Toronto and Vancouver, the most expensive housing markets in Canada, bore the brunt of the slump in sales. In Toronto, sales of luxury homes priced $4 million and higher fell 64 per cent from the first quarter of 2022. Transactions of houses above $1 million also slowed, declining 57 per cent over last year. Vancouver sales of residences over $4 million were down 53 per cent year over year, and sales of dwellings above $1 million fell by 51 per cent.
Meanwhile, Calgary remains a bright spot in the market amid a growing economy that’s attracting new residents from other parts of Canada. But it too experienced slower sales when compared to the same time last year. Sales of $1-million homes fell 36 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2022. However, Sotheby’s says sales are up 223 per cent compared to the same time in 2020, which shows the underlying strength of the market.
The overall drop in home sales isn’t a sign that buyers have given up on homeownership, however. Sotheby’s blames a lack of listings for the downturn in transactions, and says people are ready and eager to get back into the market to find their dream homes.
Investors also continue to have faith in real estate, with recent research from Sotheby’s and Mustel Group showing that 60 per cent of city-dwelling Canadians believe property will outperform or line up with their other investments over the next 10 years.
That high confidence, combined with pent-up demand, bodes well for the spring housing market, the report says, providing there is enough inventory to meet buyer intentions. Sotheby’s says many sat on the sidelines this winter, in the hope of more inventory coming online in the second quarter. But listings are expected to stay muted, which will likely constrain sales.
Still, don’t expect a lack of listings amid a cohort of motivated buyers to translate into big price gains this spring. Higher interest rates that have pushed up the costs of homeownership are keeping people from bidding up prices further, Sotheby’s says. Indeed, inflation data from Statistics Canada released on April 18 shows mortgage interest costs increased 26.4 per cent last month from March 2022. That should continue to keep a lid on home prices this spring, even as the market picks up.
Inflation appears to finally be slowing, which means interest rate increases are likely off the table, at least for now, writes Kevin Carmichael.
The consumer price index increased 4.3 per cent from March 2022, Statistics Canada said on April 18. That was the smallest year-over-year increase since August 2021.
Excluding food and energy, the year-over-year increase was 4.5 per cent, down from 4.8 per cent in February. Excluding mortgage interest costs, the index increased 3.6 per cent, compared with 4.7 per cent the previous month.
Still, though headline inflation is lower to four per cent than its eight per cent peak, it might not feel like much a of a relief for many households. Find out more about what you need to know about the latest consumer price reading.
Treasury Secretary Yellen warns of commercial real estate 'issues' that could strain banks – MarketWatch
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in her first interview since the U.S. debt-ceiling was lifted last week by Congress, warned on Wednesday about the potential for banks to feel strain from their exposure to weakening commercial real estate valuations.
Yellen was asked by CNBC “Squawk Box” host Andrew Ross Sorkin about if she’s worried about the state of estimated $20.7 trillion commercial real-estate market, particularly the office, and if weakness in the sector could potentially spark more bank failures.
“Well, I do think that there will be issues with respect to commercial real estate,” Yellen said. “Certainly, the demand for office space since we’ve seen such a big change in attitudes and behavior toward remote work has changed and especially in an environment of higher interest rates.”
Major landlords from Blackstone Inc.
to Brookfield Corp.
have been bracing for a significant drop in office property values, as the Federal Reserve’s inflation fight puts an end to an era of abundant and cheap debt.
While the final word on wobbling property prices won’t be known for some time, PGIM Fixed Income, a key investor in commercial property debt, recently said they expect office values to fall 20%-50% from peak levels, while multifamily values could drop as much as 22.5%, in part because financing has become more expensive and scarce.
See: Commercial real estate’s debt machine is broken down
Office property woes and the ‘doom loop’
Researchers at the NYU Stern School of Business and Columbia Business School recently estimated there has been a $506.3 billion decline in office values from 2019 to 2022 nationally in the wake of the pandemic which could feed a “doom loop” in some big cities.
They estimate banks own 61% of U.S. commercial property debt. They also see potential for the value of New York City’s office stock to drop 44% from 2019 to 2029 due to stress in the sector from flexible work arrangements.
“I think banks are broadly preparing for some restructuring and difficulties going ahead,” Yellen said, adding that the overall level of liquidity at banks looks strong and that stress tests of the largest banks show they have adequate capital to withstand fallout from the commercial property market.
She also said banking supervisors will continue to closely monitor “a range of banks to make sure that they are adequately prepared to deal with it.”
Yellen also said that, “while there will be some pain associated with this, that banks should be able to handle the strain.”
Related: Blackstone wrote down its stake in this Chicago office building to $0. Now it’s talking with lenders on the debt coming due.
South Okanagan residential real estate market sales picking up speed – Penticton News – Castanet.net
Buyer activity and real estate listing activity are gaining momentum again in the South Okanagan, as residents have adjusted to the current late spring market.
“The market is doing really well,” Association of Interior Realtors Past President Lyndi Cruickshank said.
“I think a lot of people felt really shell shocked when the interest rates started to rise, understandably so, as we often feel that resistance when there’s a dramatic change in our lives. And is often the case, people settle into what our new reality is, and our interest rates are certainly significantly higher than they were. But people are finding ways to manage.”
There has been a bit of a decline in the average home price, which is helping buyers. And as more homes come on the market, it ultimately helps the consumers looking to purchase.
“I talked to so many people last year that really wanted to be able to sell their home, but there was such a fear as to where they were going to go. So now that we have seen the inventory start to open up quite a bit. It’s allowing them more choice.”
Home inventory has increased by 38 per cent in active listings.
In the South Okanagan, the benchmark price for a single-family dwelling dipped 6.6 per cent, to $772,200. Townhouses ($558,100) and condominiums ($427,700) also dropped in May compared to this same time period last year.
“We’re certainly more into a buyer’s market than we have been over the last year. Previously, we were very predominantly held by a sellers market. And we’re seeing a lot more strength on the buying side now,” Cruickshank said.
She added that this is typically the time of year that people start to look for homes and that people really traditionally look to put their homes on the market.
“That plays a big role, obviously, in that increase in activity that we’re experiencing right now.”
The more balanced market will give buyers more of an opportunity to do their due diligence before purchasing.
“We’ve got a long way to go. We came from such an extreme market this time last year. And then we had that real hit with interest rates and things really slowed down very dramatically. So it’s really nice to see things starting to just move forward in a more normalized way again.
Still, finding homes in the South Okanagan remains to be a challenge as vacancy rates remain low, even as developments continue to grow.
“It’s going to take years, years before we’re ever at a place where our inventory is going to meet demand unless we see something really dramatic. And that’s right across the country when we look at what the demand is, and the current supply. So I don’t see that changing.”
Advice for first-time home buyers remains the same: finding a realtor and figuring out what time to buy is best for you.
Real Estate Builder Backed by Ackman Says Lenders Rejecting New Apartment Deals – Bloomberg
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Real Estate Builder Backed by Ackman Says Lenders Rejecting New Apartment Deals Bloomberg
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