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TD sees housing correction in 2011

Tony Wong – Toronto Star

The Toronto Domin­ion Bank expects the Cana­dian hous­ing mar­ket to expe­ri­ence a “mod­est” price cor­rec­tion next year.

Exist­ing home prices nation­ally should fall by 2.7% in 2011 because of weaker than expected eco­nomic con­di­tions, says the bank. This is a rever­sal of the bank’s ear­lier fore­cast that called for a 1.6% gain in hous­ing prices next year.

Com­ment: Remem­ber, that is national, not local. Sure, prices might drop in Win­nipeg or Hal­i­fax, but that is mean­ing­less for us in Toronto.

A com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors sug­gests a weaker hand­off to 2011 than pre­vi­ously expected,” said econ­o­mist Pas­cal Gau­thier in a report Wednes­day. “While we antic­i­pated sales and prices to be strong in the first half and cool in the sec­ond half, we now expect this con­trast between the two halves will be sharper.”

One cru­cial rea­son is that many more list­ings are appear­ing on the mar­ket than pre­vi­ously antic­i­pated, as well as new sup­ply in the form of strong hous­ing starts, said the bank. More sup­ply means that buy­ers will have much more prod­uct to choose from, putting a chill on pric­ing. Inter­est rates are also expected to rise more quickly than expected, putting a crimp in affordability.

TD’s fore­cast fol­lows other neg­a­tive reports by ana­lysts who see the mar­ket as being over­heated. Some ana­lysts have fore­cast that the mar­ket is due for a 20% cor­rec­tion in prices after a rush in the first quar­ter to pur­chase homes ahead of imple­men­ta­tion of the har­mo­nized sales tax. New mort­gage reg­u­la­tions and higher inter­est rates have also pulled sales for­ward that would have nor­mally taken place later in the year, ana­lysts say.

Tem­po­rary fac­tors that have boosted home buy­ing are largely played out,” said hous­ing econ­o­mist Will Dun­ning. “Right about now we could be enter­ing a soft­en­ing phase, where activ­ity is deter­mined mainly by eco­nomic fundamentals .”

So far, any slow­down hasn’t had a major impact on the Toronto real estate mar­ket, although the emer­gence of greater sup­ply sug­gests that the mar­ket is already becom­ing more balanced.

The spring real estate mar­ket con­tin­ued to show strength, with new records set for both sales and list­ings, accord­ing to fig­ures released by the Toronto Real Estate Board, also on Wednesday.

There were 10,898 sales in April, a 34% increase over last year and a record for the month.

How­ever, there were also 20,683 new list­ings, rep­re­sent­ing a 59% increase over last year.

List­ings grew as home own­ers reacted to strong sales and price growth,” said Toronto Real Estate Board pres­i­dent Tom Lebour.

The aver­age price was $437,600, up 13% from the aver­age of $385,641 recorded a year earlier.

As aver­age prices increase, con­do­mini­ums remain the only option for some buy­ers who are priced out of the mar­ket. The first quar­ter of the year saw record sales for new con­dos in the Toronto real estate mar­ket accord­ing to research firm Urba­na­tion this week.

But the attrac­tion may be wan­ing, at least for investors.

In a sep­a­rate TD national poll released Wednes­day, only 32% of respon­dents said mar­ket con­di­tions were good for buy­ing a condo, com­pared with 42% in 2009.

The results may reflect a grow­ing per­cep­tion among investors that the prof­itabil­ity of invest­ment condo own­er­ship will be reduced due to higher Toronto condo prices, expected inter­est rate hikes and immi­nent increases in car­ry­ing costs,” said the bank.


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