Toronto real estate market: 3 things to know this spring
There appears to be early signs of life in the GTA housing market, after both buyers and sellers spent a good chunk of the last year on the sidelines.
But with new listings at a 20-year low in February and higher borrow costs continuing to weigh on the market, it’s anyone’s guess what the typically busy spring season could bring.
Will it look like 2022 when the beginning of an aggressive interest rate hiking cycle by the Bank of Canada brought the pandemic buying frenzy to a virtual standstill?
Or will the market spring to life, after months of little to no activity?
Realtors and others who follow the industry closely aren’t sure what to expect.
They mostly agree that buyers and sellers will return to the market in greater numbers but whether that means the end of what RBC once called a historic housing correction isn’t as clear.
“I would say that we have some sense that we might actually get to see a little bit of a spring market. There’s been an uptick in our incoming transactions and we have seen an increase of 30 per cent in deposits into our trust account. So there is an increase in activity. But is it enough for me to say to you that we are going to have a booming spring market? No,” John Lusink, president of RealServus, which owns Right at Home Realty, Condos. ca and MrLOFT.ca, told CP24.com this week. “That is because of the listing inventory. We are currently at just over 2,000 listings for Right at Home and that hasn’t changed since last May. It is a 25 per cent increase over a year ago. But that doesn’t even come close to making it interesting for buyers.”
The average price of a Toronto home was $1,095,617 in February.
While that represented a nearly 18 per cent decline from one year ago, it was up approximately five per cent from the previous month.
Speaking with CP24.com, Lusink said that prices have now largely returned to “quasi 2020” levels in the GTA and may even have found a bottom.
He said that lately he is hearing more about multiple offer situations on properties, although he concedes that few of those bidding wars are resulting in homes changing hand for hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking price as was commonplace during the early days of the pandemic.
In one case, he said that a creative buyer made two offers. One with no conditions whatsoever but below list price; another for more money but with conditions.
“There is I guess a floor, a pretty tough floor, under the current level of pricing because there just isn’t the competition,” he said. “Sellers are saying ‘why would I lower my price? I’m the only one on the street for sale.’ So until we see an increase in in product we aren’t going to see the effect on price. It is really about supply from my point of view.”
Higher levels of activity expected in the second half of 2023
Data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board showed that new listings were down 41 per cent year-over-year in February, continuing a recent trend.
But TRREB is nonetheless expecting higher levels of activity this spring and into the second half of this year, according to its chief market analyst Jason Mercer.
In an interview with CP24.com, Mercer said that he expects rent prices which have risen by more than 20 per cent in the GTA over the last year will be a “big factor” in convincing some individuals who deferred home buying plans to enter the market in the coming months.
Other would-be buyers who have held off amid the rapid increase in the cost of borrowing may also be more likely to re-enter the market now at a lower price point, he said.
“People that moved to the sidelines to come to terms with higher borrowing costs, more and more of them will have likely weighed their options and are now going to be thinking about maybe purchasing a different home type or buying in a different part of the GTA or what have you,” Mercer told CP24.com. “As we move into the second half of the year, that gap between 2022 and 2023 (in prices and listings) will start to narrow because we are anticipating, you know, an acceleration in activity.”
Bank of Canada policy will continue to impact market
Mercer said that TRREB had already been calling for an uptick in buying activity and prices in the second half of this year “notwithstanding” the Bank of Canada’s interest rate trajectory.
However, he said that U.S. banking instability which now has some traders betting on earlier than expected rate cuts from the Bank of Canada could be a “wild card” that provides a further spark for the market.
“If we were having this discussion a couple of weeks ago, you know, probably the best case scenario would have been that rates remain somewhat flat. At least from the Bank of Canada’s perspective. Now there’s a bit of a wild card with what we’ve seen in the banking industry over the last week or so,” Mercer said. “Will we see movement on the Bank of Canada to the downside? That would certainly kick start things a little bit more than expected as we move through the year.”
Prices have fallen but affordability has worsened
The Bank of Canada increased its overnight lending rate eight consecutive times between March, 2022 and January of this year, pushing borrowing costs to their highest level since 2007.
Victor Tran, who is a mortgage expert with RATESDOTCA, said that while the pace of increases certainly had an impact on demand there are some signs that is changing.
Notably, Royal LePage released a new report on Thursday which found that the majority of the people (62 per cent) who deferred a home purchase due to high interest rates in 2022 plan to return to the market this year.
“Entering 2023 pretty much everyone expected another slow year but surprisingly the first couple weeks of January things ramped up suddenly. I have had a huge uptick in pre-approval inquires and a lot of my clients asking for rate holds, so I still feel like the demand is there and buyers are just sitting on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity to come up,” Tran told CP24.com. “I think buyers are just tired of waiting, you know. Everyone has just been waiting around and now that that the rates seem to be stabilizing a bit, they are realizing that this (higher rates) is just the new norm.”
Tran, who also works part-time as a realtor in the GTA, said that he has made offers on two condos in the last few weeks that attracted more than 10 bids.
He said that he expected those bids to be “low-ball offers” but was told by the listing agent that all of them were “competitive” and “close to what the market was showing.”
It’s just a few listings, he admits. But he said that it lines up with what others in the industry are telling him.
In other words, the window for bargains may have already closed.
“Affordability now is probably worse than before,” Tran said. “In Durham Region there are some deals to be found. Their housing market took a bigger hit than Toronto, we saw 20 to 30 per cent declines in certain areas. So sure that probably balances out (with the higher cost of borrowing), But in Toronto affordability is worse than before.”
Three unique real estate listings that caught our eye this week – Western Investor
Western Investor is famous for the breadth of its commercial real estate listings. It is perhaps the only publication in Canada where investors can find a high-rise office tower, a remote waterfront lodge, a golf course, an industrial warehouse or a small-town bowling alley for sale within its pages.
We often have unique listings and there are three this month that stood out.
First is an entire city block for sale in downtown Calgary.
The 2.83-acre site borders the popular East Village, and the land is rezoned for a high-density mixed-use project with a generous floor-ratio-area (FAR) of 20.
Flexible commercial zoning allows for residential rentals, condos or hotel and a variety of commercial uses. Current visions include four high-rise towers, but all options are on the table. It is listed by Goodman Commercial, Vancouver, and NAI Commercial, Calgary, at an asking price of $32.4 million.
Second is a rare listing in B.C.’s Central Okanagan.
The property is the 11.3-acre Vibrant Wine vineyard estates in east Kelowna. The property includes a luxury 9,000-square-foot Italian-style villa. The eight-acre vineyard was named the No.1 winery on Trip Advisor and its product was ranked the Best White Wine in the World in 2013. A proven venture that can be expanded, the entire property and equipment is co-listed by HM Commercial and Jane Hoffman Realty, Kelowna, at $13.5 million.
Third of the unique listings is a productive gold mine.
With a private residence and a two-title acreage in the Cariboo, the property covers 3.2 acres near the original Gold Rush town of Likely, B.C.
The land includes an updated three-bedroom house, but the attraction is the operating gold mine. A two person operation on a five-year renewable permit that covers a 100-acre bench, only nine acres have been worked so far, but there has been a consistent average return of 1 ounce of gold per 100 yards mined, with the highest return of 8 ounces in under 100 yards. Note: the price of gold now is around US$1,980 per ounce. The entire operation, including all the mining machinery, is listed by 3A Group, Re/Max Nyda Realty in Agassiz, B.C., at $1.45 million.
Simcoe County's real estate market shows signs of recovery – CTV News Barrie
Real estate experts paint a cautiously optimistic outlook after a year of downward market trends across the country.
Trends in Simcoe County show an increase in viewings and buyers re-entering the market after key interest rate hikes from the Bank of Canada warded off many last year.
Lance Chilton, the broker of record at Re/Max Hallmark Chilton Realty, calls the local market “more or less balanced.”
“Inventory conditions are the same as they once were in 2018,” he noted.” From 2020 to 2022, prices rose to about 43 per cent, which was rather rapid.”
Chilton said key interest rate hikes eventually bottomed out the local market by about September – that’s when home prices that peaked at around $1 million dropped to about $730,000.
“Since then, it’s recovered by about five per cent,” Chilton said. “In fact, we actually saw showings increase for the first time in about six months.”
The Barrie and District Association of Realtors (BDAR) confirms that showings have picked up again, with people getting that “spring fever.”
However, the one key issue that remains is low inventory.
“We saw prices dip because of interest rates and people pulling out of the market, but we never saw that supply come back online,” said Luc Woolsey, BDAR president, adding the situation creates multi-offer bids.
“So there’s still a lot of people having to come in firm, waiving conditions and inspections because they’re having to compete.”
‘Million Dollar Listing’ star warns CA mansion tax will deliver ‘hardest hit’ to market since 2007 – Fox Business
Though it’s home to some of the most luxurious and expensive real estate listings in America, California is readying to pass a housing bill that one “Million Dollar Listing” agent warned could create the “hardest hit” to the market since the 2007-08 crash.
“In about ten days or so, there’s a measure called the ULA measure that’s going to go into effect, which is going to be probably the hardest hit to the real estate market that we’ve seen since 2007,” broker and television personality Josh Altman said on “Varney & Co.” Monday.
Altman’s comments come in response to the recently-passed “United to House L.A.” (ULA) measure in California, which adopts a so-called “mansion tax” on property sales or transfers over a certain value to pay for affordable housing.
Properties sold above $5 million but below $10 million are subject to a 4% sales or transfer tax, while properties that sold for more than $10 million will face a 5.5% tax, according to the city clerk’s voter information pamphlet.
‘MILLION DOLLAR LISTING’S’ JOSH ALTMAN GIVES INSIDE LOOK AT ‘BOTCHED’ STAR PAUL NASSIF’S $27.9 MILLION HOME
At least 92% of taxpayers’ money would “fund affordable housing under the Affordable Housing Program and tenant assistance programs under the Homeless Prevention Program,” the pamphlet also clarified.
“The way that this ULA measure was passed is just mind-boggling to me,” Altman added, “and I think it’s one of the most ridiculous bills that I have ever seen in my entire 20-year career.”
The Los Angeles city administrative officer estimated the proposed tax could generate $600 million to $1.1 billion in revenue each year. However, he noted it would “fluctuate” based on how many property transactions with values within the scope of the tax actually occur.
While those who support the measure argue it could help solve L.A.’s housing affordability and homeless crisis, others like Altman caution the tax policy would lead to higher home prices and bureaucracy.
“Think about these people that bought houses three years ago for $5 million and they want to sell now,” Altman hypothesized. “The market’s down, rates are up, that happens. But now they got to cut a check for $200,000 out of their own pocket because there’s no profit on that. So it’s really going to rock the real estate market that we’re in here in Los Angeles.”
California’s real estate market, the “Million Dollar Listing” star further argued, is on “a race to the bottom” over the next 10 days as buyers try to close deals before the mansion tax is enacted.
“I’m seeing deals get done that should never have gotten done,” the L.A. agent said. “I’ve even done as much as, on a $28 million listing that I have, we have offered a $1,000,000 bonus for anybody who buys and closes before April 1.”
The “main issue” with the ULA measure remains its “trickle down” effect — not on mansion or luxury homeowners, but on working and middle-class California families.
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“People who voted who said, ‘Oh, I don’t have a $5 million house,’ which by the way, is not a mansion in L.A., we’re talking about a four-bedroom, 4,000 square-foot house in L.A. is $5 million, so this isn’t a mansion tax,” Altman said.
“This isn’t a $30, $40, $50 million house tax – these are regular people that work bill to bill, that have to pay their mortgage just like everybody else, and now they’re being penalized here.”
FOX Business’ Aislinn Murphy contributed to this report.
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