The Toronto residential resale market ended 2014 in strong fashion achieving sales that exceeded December 2013’s results by 9.6 percent. That momentum continued into 2015, with January posting 4,355 sales, 6.1 percent greater than the 4,103 sales reported in January last year. Although the overall results were robust, primarily due to the availability of inventory, they varied by housing type and location. If the Toronto market maintains this early momentum throughout 2015 it will shatter the 2007 record of 93,193 for property sales.
Once again in January the demand-inventory problem drove results. For example in the City of Toronto sales of detached and semi-detached properties actually declined when compared to sales achieved in 2014. In January sales of detached properties declined by 2 percent. Semi-detached properties declined by 3.8 percent. In the 905 region sales of detached properties increased by 10 percent and semi-detached properties increase by a more modest 2.8 percent, highlighting the disparity in inventory and price point between the City of Toronto and the 905 region. Detached properties in the 905 region were $ 300,000 less expensive than similar properties sold in the City of Toronto. Semi-detached properties were more than $ 200,000 less expensive in the 905 region.
In January the average sale price for detached houses in Toronto came in at $ 948,713, 7 percent higher than last year, notwithstanding that sales were off by 2 percent, a clear indication of an inventory shortage. The same was true for semi-detached properties. The average price for semi-detached properties was $ 667,452, 7.2 percent greater than last January’s average sale price, despite sales being lower by 3.8 percent.
Average sale prices for detached and semi-detached properties were substantially higher in Toronto’s central districts. The average sale price for central district detached homes came in at $ 1,422,382. For semi-detached properties it came in at approximately $ 800,000. High end sales generally have increased fairly dramatically in the last three years. In January 313 properties having a sale price of $ 1 Million or more changed hands. In 2014 that number was 236 properties, and in 2013 only 195. Since 2013 the number of high-end property sales has increased by more than 60 percent.
Due to inventory shortages and the price points of detached and semi-detached properties in Toronto, more and more buyers are looking to condominium apartments as alternative housing options. In January condominium apartment sales posted an increase of 6.2 percent compared to sales in 2014. The 809 condominium apartment sales recorded in January were 40 percent more than the combined total sales of detached and semi-detached properties. The average sale price of condominium apartments increased by 4.5 percent to $ 382,458. In the central districts of Toronto the average sale price recorded for condominium apartments came in at $ 435,441.
All sales, on average, took place in only 31 days. Last January it took 36 days. Although 31 days on market is not a record it is an indication of a very fast marketplace. In January 2010 sales took place in only 28 days. The slowest January over the last few years was January 2009 when deep in the recession it took 49 days on average for all properties to sell. As has been the case for a number of years, the eastern districts remain the most speedy, with all sales taking place in only 24 days, with detached and semi-detached properties selling even faster. Although there are more condominium apartment sales they are slower than the freehold market. Condominium apartment sales took 40 days in the City of Toronto.
An analysis of inventory indicated that at the end of January there was only 2.2 months of inventory for the greater Toronto area, and 2.4 months for the City of Toronto. The number is higher in Toronto due to the number of condominium apartments available for sale. Needless to say, properties available for sale in Toronto’s eastern districts are very low, resulting in only 1.4 months of inventory.
January did see an increase in new listings coming to market as compared to January 2014. The first month of the year witnessed 9,596 new listings, a 9.5 percent increase compared to the 8,762 listings that sellers put on the market last year. This increase helped with inventory levels, but at the end of the month buyers still had less choice than last year. At the beginning of February there were 11,600 properties available for buyers to purchase, 2.3 percent fewer than last year’s 11,903 properties.
It is no surprise that the average sale price once again rose in January. The average sale price came in at $ 552,575, 4.9 percent higher than last January’s average sale price of $ 526,965. A concern expressed in these reports throughout 2014 was the impact that these constantly increasing prices will have on affordability. Monthly increases have consistently exceeded wage increases by 200 to 300 percent. It has been the historically low interest rates that have bridged the affordability gap.
In January mortgage interest rates became even lower, reaching levels never seen before. The Bank of Canada cut the overnight bank rate by 0.25 basis points, reducing it to 0.75 percent. Canada’s big banks reduced the five year mortgage interest rates to as low as 2.69 percent. Borderline buyers are now capable of qualifying for mortgages. No doubt demand will be even further inflamed, particularly if further rate cuts follow, as the Bank of Canada has indicated it will do if the impact of falling oil prices negatively impacts Canada’s economy and further stimulation is deemed necessary
prepared by: Chris Kapches, LLB, President and CEO, Broker
Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage | chestnutpark.com