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Toronto Real Estate

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Housing market seen calm, but for ‘Toronto tornado’

Michael Babad – Globe and Mail

Home sales in Canada climbed 1.4% in Feb­ru­ary from a year ear­lier, win­ning back some ear­lier slip­page and indi­cat­ing a fairly bal­anced mar­ket. But for what BMO Nes­bitt Burns dubbed the “Toronto tornado.”

Over­all, the num­ber of new list­ings rose faster than sales, at 1.9%, the Cana­dian Real Estate Asso­ci­a­tion said today, while the sales-to-new list­ings ratio held steady. New list­ings are now at their high­est level since May, 2010.

A rebound in new list­ings in Toronto and Mon­treal, Canada’s two most active mar­kets, off­set a retreat in new list­ings in Van­cou­ver, Canada’s third-largest mar­ket,” CREA said.

The regional dif­fer­ences are being noted by econ­o­mists. Toronto has been pumped by a condo boom, while sales of pricey Van­cou­ver homes has ebbed.

While sales activ­ity was solid last month, mild weather and the extra day likely pumped the fig­ures,” said Dou­glas Porter, the deputy chief econ­o­mist at BMO Nes­bitt Burns.

With the notable excep­tion of Toronto, price increases are luke­warm, the mar­ket looks well bal­anced, and is broadly mod­er­at­ing on its own accord,” he said in a report.

Just three cities have posted double-digit price increases in the past year (while two have seen drops), but one of those three hap­pens to be Toronto at +10.6%,” he added. “… The flip side of Toronto’s strength is the ongo­ing mod­er­a­tion in Van­cou­ver. The 18.1% year-over-year drop in sales there is by far the largest in the coun­try, and is the mir­ror image of mas­sive gains a year ago.”

Accord­ing to the Toronto Real Estate Board, sales in the Greater Toronto Area were up 16% in Feb­ru­ary from a year ear­lier, though there was an extra sell­ing day last month, and aver­age prices up 11%.

Across Canada, year-over-year, CREA said, prices are up 2% as Van­cou­ver cools some­what but Toronto remains strong.

In Feb­ru­ary, 2011, the national aver­age price was stretched upward by a spike in high-end home sales in some of Vancouver’s prici­est neigh­bour­hoods, and a replay of that was not expected this year,” said CREA econ­o­mist Gre­gory Klump.

February’s data bear this out, but other fac­tors are now keep­ing the national aver­age price aloft. The main one is the hous­ing mar­ket in Toronto, where a tight bal­ance between sup­ply and demand con­tin­ues to drive some of the strongest home price gains in the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly for sin­gle detached properties.”

Debt-to-income dips

A key mea­sure of how con­sumers can han­dle their debts is eas­ing some­what, but that’s because income is ris­ing at a faster pace.

Debt-to-disposable income among Cana­dian house­holds dipped in the fourth quar­ter of last year to 152.9% from 154.2%, Sta­tis­tics Canada said today. Those fig­ures are not sea­son­ally adjusted.

House­hold debt per capita rose in the quar­ter, but so too did net worth, and net worth as a per­cent­age of dis­pos­able income.

House­hold net worth was up nearly 1% in the fourth quar­ter, led by gains in the val­ues of house­hold hold­ings of equi­ties (includ­ing mutual funds) and pen­sion assets,” the fed­eral agency said.

House­hold credit mar­ket debt increased in the fourth quar­ter despite a slower rate of bor­row­ing in con­sumer credit and mort­gages,” it added.

You can slice these things all dif­fer­ent ways, but the bot­tom line is that con­sumers are stretch­ing them­selves thin, as many pol­icy mak­ers, notably Bank of Canada Gov­er­nor Mark Car­ney, have warned.

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Con­tact Lau­rin Jef­frey for more infor­ma­tion – 416−388−1960

Lau­rin Jef­frey is a Toronto Real­tor with Cen­tury 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these arti­cles, he just repro­duces them here for peo­ple who are
inter­ested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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