Search Results for: how much were townhouses selling in vaughan two years ago
Toronto real estate: Ottawa’s efforts to cool house prices have slowed condo market, but GTA house prices continue to climb
Susan Pigg – Toronto Star
First-time homebuyers Jody and Michael Fegelman have heard a lot of talk over the last year about Canada’s cooling housing market. All the couple have felt is the sting of its heat.
During their 1–1/2-year search for a home for their two young children, the Fegelmans have been on the losing end of three grueling bidding wars. They have paid for a home inspection on a place someone else got by paying $80,000 over the asking price.
They’ve felt heartache, disappointment and fear that their children Jack, 5, and Lilly, 2−1÷2, would be renters for life.
“My parents just kept saying, ‘Wait. Prices are going to come down,’ says Fegelman. “But the truth is, there is a boom going on in Toronto. I don’t think things will change or bidding wars will stop.”
Comment: How many times have I heard that? Prices don’t go down, they really don’t. Maybe a few times in the 1990s after the silly bubble of the late 1980s, but that is. Prices for everything, in general, rise over time. It is just inflation. From cars to chocolate bars, the cost always increases. Think about what you paid for your first car, what did it cost to go to the moves 20 years ago? Over the longer term, house prices will never, ever, go down.
Over the last four years, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has tightened mortgage lending rules in a desperate bid to bring reason to the red-hot housing market, especially in Toronto and Vancouver where prices have hit the stratosphere during the last decade, propelled largely by low interest rates.
That, combined with surging supply of new condo projects, has definitely sent a chill through Toronto’s highrise housing sector since last summer, but demand for lowrise houses shows no signs of letting up.
Comment: Not so much. Prices for condos are now starting to rise again. Supply dropped, sellers pulled their listings off the market, many renting them out in the crazy rental market. There is no fire sale, no panicked sales. So, yeah, the chill is certainly off the condo market.
Although home sales were down 11.5% and listings up slightly as of mid March over a year earlier, unrelenting competition among buyers for too few properties for sale — especially in the City of Toronto — saw prices jump 6% across the GTA, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.
Comment: That is an average of 6% for houses AND condos.
Semi-detached homes sold for an average $622,044 in the City of Toronto in mid-March, up a whopping 12.2% from a year earlier (they were up just 2.9% in the 905 regions to $398,328.)
Detached homes climbed by 7.2% to an average $909,910 in Toronto, outpaced slightly in the 905 regions were a 7.7% climb saw average prices hit $603,797.
Townhouses in the 416 region climbed by 8.2% in mid March year over year to $447,460, compared to an almost 7% increase in the 905 regions to an average $375,420.
Even the cooling condo sector, where resale condo sales were down almost 10% in mid-March year-over-year and listings have been climbing, saw price growth of 1.9% in the City of Toronto, compared to just 0.2% in the 905 regions.
“We’re seeing a major culture shift and a complete redefinition of what’s desirable and the (housing) market is reflecting that now,” says veteran urban planner Ken Greenberg.
“There is a new North American dream, and it’s no longer to have the suburban house and the fleet of cars. It’s living where you can buy your groceries on foot and you have access to transit.”
Comment: Which is a HUGE component of the condo market. And yet the naysayers seem to ignore that fact. Couple it with affordability and investors, it is easy to see why the condo market in Toronto is so strong.
With the peak buying and selling period, spring market, just around the corner, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is seeing some interesting indicators as well.
“We’re not seeing as many first-time buyers getting into the market right now because of affordability, but there is a considerable pool of people who have bought over the past 10 years and have outgrown their condominiums,” says Shaun Hildebrand, CMHC’s Toronto market analyst.
“There is strong demand for move-up properties fairly close to the core.”
The biggest supply-demand imbalance right now in the GTA is for semi-detached homes priced between $500,000 and $700,000 in areas like Roncesvalles and Leslieville, says Hildebrand.
Comment: Anything in that price range generates cage matches – to the death!
Even some areas of Durham Region, close to Toronto’s border, have seen a tightening of supply because of first-time buyers looking for more affordable housing options, he added.
Comment: There are bidding wars galore on houses in West Pickering, near the Scarborough border.
At the same time, demand for downtown rentals unlike anything seen in the last 20 years has driven rents to mortgage-like levels and is starting to tip the balance in favour of owning, given slipping condo prices and low interest rates, says Hildebrand.
Comment: The rental vacancy rate is now under 1% in Toronto, demand is WAY above supply.
Despite what sounds like all good news for the housing market, selling real estate has never been harder, says veteran broker Sally Cook. And it’s bringing out the worst in the industry: Underpricing to drive up competition for what little is out there and holding off accepting offers for days to create a frenzy of longing.
“It’s become emotionally, physically and financially draining,” for would-be home buyers, as well as agents, says Cook. “I decided last year to concentrate my efforts with first-time buyers looking for condos. There’s lots of inventory and I don’t have to fight over it.”
Comment: This is not new. Bidding wars really took off in the crazy market of 2007 – and have not stopped since. People really should be used to it by now. You don’t have to like it, but you should not be surprised.
The frustration of what turned out to be a 1–1/2-year search for a place to call home convinced the Fegelmans they needed to try something different. On the suggestion of their agent, Ira Jelinek, they started mining MLS data earlier this month for houses that had been languishing on the market for weeks.
They were the only bidders for a derelict semi-detached house in the Vaughan Rd. and St. Clair Ave. W. area that had listed since October. Originally priced at $599,000, they were the only bidders and got it for $460,000.
That’s because it needs over $100,000 in renovations.
Comment: And yet they could probably have bought a nice house for $560,000 and saved the hassle of renovations. But it is a smart move, stay out of the fights and avoid the HGTV houses. Find something you can work with in an area you like and make it nice in time.
“It’s very hard to cool or control a market when you have so many buyers chasing the same type of houses,” says Jelinek. “Agents who sell in my demographic, to people in their late 20s and early 30s, are feeling the effects of this market, too.
“The good thing is, this will weed out a lot of the realtors who’ll just say, ‘It’s too hard right now to be an agent.’ This is when the good ones will stick out.”
Comment: I don’t know about that…
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
Incoming search terms
Toronto’s existing home market surprised economists with a better-than-expected resurgence in June
Tracy Hanes – Toronto Star
Remember last winter when the Toronto real estate market pulse could barely be detected?
The patient is not only recovering, but appears to be returning to robust health, according to five of top Toronto real estate brokers and marketing consultants.
There was plenty of optimism at a recent round table discussion the Star held with these experts, who shared their views during a candid and wide-ranging discussion on the current state of the Toronto real estate market.
The participants included moderator Barry Lyon, senior partner and president, N. Barry Lyon Consultants Ltd., and panellists Barbara Lawlor, president of Baker Real Estate Inc.; Debbie Cosic, partner in In2ition Realty; Michael Wilson, principal of International Home Marketing Group Ltd.; and Andy Brethour, president of PMA Brethour.
All agreed that December, January and February were “a deep freeze” for sales as Lawlor described it, but since then, sales have picked up. In fact, she pointed out, sales in May and early June have outdone May and June of 2008, according to Toronto Real Estate Board figures. And the average price for an MLS resale home was $407,716 according to TREB, up by 2% compared to last year.
“Let’s put in it perspective,” said Lyon. “New homes sales down about 60% for the same period – why are resales so hot and why are new sales lingering somewhat?”
“The biggest difference is the vendors in resale are flexible,” said Cosic. “They listen to their clients, they listen to the marketplace … the new (home) clientele is sometimes not as flexible.”
Cosic said recently, there has actually been a short supply of listings, and many people listing are getting 95% of their asking price.
Comment: Actually, in many areas the average price is over 100% because there are so many bidding wars. Some neighbourhoods see multiple offers on almost every new property. I would be surprised to see selling prices under 98% of list.
“If it’s sharply priced, people are coming in and bidding up,” added Wilson.
Developers don’t have the ability to respond as quickly as resellers in dropping, said Wilson, because if they have sold a large number of units that under construction, “they have to make sure they don’t devalue investment past purchasers have made, so they are not about to tamper with price list.”
Brethour said in every recession, the consumer moves to certainty and that’s what the resale market offers: “It’s the seeing and believing, the touch and feel, being able to close in 60 days or 90 days.”
And while the resale market may have been quicker to respond, that doesn’t mean new home and condo builders aren’t willing to compromise.
“I have never seen developers so eager to make deals and negotiate as they are now,” said Lawlor.
“We hit a reset button and have had to reset our packaging, our product, our pricing. You can reset much faster in resale,” said Brethour.
First-time buyers are leading the market, they said, spurred on by record low interest rates and the greatest affordability of the last decade.
“I think right now is first-time buyer paradise. We have droves of first-time buyers coming into our sales offices, along the Sheppard corridor, anywhere there is a subway and what we find is if we send 20 people a week to get qualified, maybe 10 of them are going to come back qualified,” said Lawlor.
“There’s a great desire for home ownership, not necessarily the pocketbook to make the deal happen. The first-time buyers are driving the market at the moment.”
What’s not going over as well, she said, are luxury condos, and her firm has had to turn to overseas buyers.
She also said mid-range builders are the ones most eager to offer incentives currently.
Wilson described the downturn as a “millionaire’s recession” saying “they were the ones who lost all their money in the stock market and that’s why higher end is affected.”
Affordability is key to be successful in the current market, the panellists said. Some lowrise builders have introduced new smaller, streamlined homes that have been popular while condo projects will also likely get smaller, with fewer amenities.
Toronto condos will continue to be an integral part of the market, the brokers agreed.
“What I’m seeing happening is consumer acceptance of the lifestyle, whether it’s 416, 905, Toronto condos have arrived like you can’t believe,” said Lyon.
What the panellists have found is that a lot of owners are not Canadian-born and come from countries where highrise living is a normal way of life. The continuing large influx of new immigrants, many of whom are committed to home ownership, will help to fuel the Toronto condo market.
Incentives offered by developers, despite being rather modest in some cases, have also helped produce a flurry of sales.
The panelists also talked openly about “something we often tiptoe around,” Lyon said – that’s investor buyers. He said no one is exactly sure how many there are, but there is general agreement they make up 25% to 30% of the Toronto condo market.
“We had a launch two weeks ago in the pouring rain and we had people sleeping outside overnight,” said Cosic. “They were predominantly investors, who were South Asian, Korean, Eastern European. They are not that sophisticated, they are not people who deal in the stock market, they have had 10 years in a good economy and have some money saved away. They are good, long-term investors.”
Wilson agreed. “They are not high rollers, they are not playing with disposable income, this is real money they’ve saved and they are not going to walk away. This is an investor who is going to close.”
Despite the high number of new condo units, the five were confident that Toronto can continue to absorb the numbers of suites that will be ready for occupancy now through 2011.
Brethour pointed out that no rental housing stock of any consequence has been built since rent control came in during the 1970s – and with 100,000 new immigrants arriving in the GTA each year, rental condos are needed. The rental market can easily absorb these units and Lyon pointed out that while the vacancy rate among traditional units is 3%, it’s less than half a per cent for rental condos, which command higher rents.
The panellists had their doubts about the feasibility of three-bedroom family units in condos, promoted by city councillors like Adam Vaughan.
“We introduced 30 units in Mississauga with Daniels (Corp.) and didn’t get the feeling that there’s a tremendous appetite for it,” said Lawlor.
“Even though we get families coming in to sales offices in droves, it’s not because they are going to live there with little kids, they are usually there to support a family member.”
Cosic said nonetheless, more condo projects are including family-friendly amenities.
Wilson said a three-or-four bedroom apartment-style condo in the city costs $400,000 to $500,000 “and that opens up a lot of opportunities in the suburbs.”
Highrise living is not particularly conducive to family living, they said, but what they did feel would be a popular trend was stacked houses and condo townhouses, catering to families who want ground-oriented housing.
Not only market demand will drive this trend, said Brethour – because highrise developers will have more challenges getting financing, they will look to less costly projects that can provide almost the same densities.
Because of the scarcity of serviceable, lowrise land in the GTA, there will be more intensification in the 905 to keep product affordable.
The topic of municipal development charges brought groans.
“The same governments that are encouraging us to build more efficiently are taxing the bejesus out of multiple family housing,” said Lyon. “We’re paying for all that sprawl, parks, schools, aging pipes in the ground. Developers are being made to pay through the nose to support the lower density housing habit.”
Indirect taxes have a huge impact on buyers, all agreed. Wilson said that drives people either to resale or to areas outside of the GTA.
The panellists said Toronto’s market cannot be compared to others such as Calgary or Vancouver, as this city did not see the wild price jumps.
What also bodes well for consumers, they said, is the choice for the consumer, with 320 new sites in the city and GTA, ranging from urban to suburban, small and large.
“We’ve been bombarded by CNN and other publications about how the bad recession is and it’s not that bad,” said Wilson.
“It seems to be in a V-shaped recovery and we need to stabilize people’s thinking, need to get good news out there.”