The residential resale market in the first month of 2018 is, in a phrase, a tale of two markets. Actually, that is not entirely true. It is a tale of many markets, a fractured landscape that varies by housing type, and, importantly, by location. The overall data for the greater Toronto area indicates that compared to January 2017 sales declined by 22 percent, from 5,155 last year to 4,019 this year. The average sale price also declined, from $768,351 last year to $736,783. A closer look at the data reveals that, except for detached properties, the decline in average sale prices was almost exclusively in the 905 regions. The 416 region, the City of Toronto, actually experienced price growth. In January 2017 the average sale price for all properties sold, the bulk of which were in the 905 region, was $770,745. This year the average sale price declined to $736,783. Last year, the average sale price in the 416 region was $727,928. This January the average sale price increased to $766,616, an increase of 5.4%. So, whereas prices are declining in Toronto’s outlying areas, within the city itself, they continue to increase.

The only housing type in the 416 region that saw price reductions was detached properties. The decline was modest at 3.9 percent. There is no surprise in this decline. Detached properties in Toronto in early 2017 had become exceedingly expensive. Detached properties continue to be expensive, the average sale price coming in in January at $1,283,981. The high end of luxury properties sales had an overall decline in January. Last year 166 properties were reported sold having a sale price of $2 million or more. This year that number dropped to only 90.

There are a number of factors responsible for this decline. Firstly, the run up of prices in early 2017 for detached properties, particularly in the City of Toronto, was simply unsustainable. Secondly, we were greeted with new mortgage stress testing rules in 2018 for conventional mortgages (all sales at or over $1 Million must by conventional – that is the minimum deposit required by buyers is 20% of the purchase price). Early indications are that the new mortgage stress tests reduce the purchasing horizon of buyers by about 15%. That means that buyers will either buy lower priced properties, or pay less than they could have before the new stress testing. They will only be able to buy what they can afford. Lastly, there is an uncertainty in the market place that is resulting in hesitancy. There is a belief that prices may continue to decline, so why buy now.

Prepared by Chris Kapches, LLB, President and CEO, Broker