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October 2019 In Review

October represents eight months of market recovery and stability in the Toronto and area residential resale marketplace. October roared in with 8,491 sales, 14 percent stronger than the 7,448 residential properties reported sold last year and almost 700 more properties than were reported in September. It is now obvious that buyers have adjusted to the mortgage stress test that was introduced in January of last year. At that time the residential resale market came to a standstill, with average sale prices struggling. The chart below indicates how dramatic the improvement in average sale prices between 2018 and 2019 to October has been.

Octobers results indicate that there has been a strengthening in all market regions. Until recently the 905 region was recovering at a much slower pace than the City of Toronto (416 region). That has all changed, with the 905 growing at a pace equal to the City of Toronto. It should be noted that there is continued disparity in average prices between the City of Toronto and the 905 regions. For example in October the average price for detached properties in the City of Toronto was $1,323,000 as compared to the 905 region where prices came in at only $952,000, a difference of more than 35 percent. The disparity is even more dramatic in the case of semi-detached properties. The average price for a semi-detached property was almost $1,100,000 in the City of Toronto. Shockingly the average price for semi-detached properties in the 905 region over the same market period was only $690,000, a difference of almost 60 percent.

In the City of Toronto semi-detached properties are actually becoming a rarity, with inventory levels having plunged to record lows. At the end of October there were only 296 semi-detached properties available to buyers in the entire City of Toronto. This number is even more startling when we consider that in October 322 semi-detached properties were reported sold. In other words in November there will be 26 fewer semi-detached properties available to buyers than the number that sold in October. It is not surprising therefore, that all semi-detached properties in the City of Toronto sold in a breathtaking 14 days and at an average sale price of 107 percent of asking price. In Toronto’s eastern neighborhoods the situation is critical, with semi-detached properties selling in less than 10 days and at sale prices exceeding asking prices by more than 110 percent.

Inventory levels worsened in October, with new listings declining by almost 10 percent compared to last year. As we enter November there are almost 20 percent fewer properties available to buyers throughout the greater Toronto area than there were last year at this time. Last year buyers had 18,926 properties to choose from. This year that number has declined to 15,375.

Another inventory concern is the availability of condominium apartments. For the last two and a half years, condominium apartments have been the engine that fueled Toronto’s residential resale market. It was all about affordability. Notwithstanding the new mortgage stress tests, condominium apartments remained accessible and affordable. Both accessibility and affordability are fading.

In October the average sale price for a condominium apartment in Toronto’s central and downtown core came in at $748,000. The bulk of all condominium apartment sales take place in Toronto’s central and downtown core. In October this trading area accounted for almost 65 percent of all Toronto condominium apartment sales. In October we also saw a dramatic decline in new listings. New listings declined by 10 percent year-over-year, resulting in only 2,098 condominium apartment listings available to buyers as we enter November, a decline of more than 15 percent. Fewer listings, higher prices, a daunting prospect for buyers.

The higher-end of the market appears to be shaking its lethargy. As the over-all market recovered in early 2019, the higher -end of the market did not respond similarly. Over the last few months positive change is occurring in this market sector. In October 254 properties having a sale price of $2 Million or more were reported sold. This compares favorably to the 234 high-end properties that sold last October. Although the 8.5 percent increase is not as high as the overall market increase of almost 15 percent, it is a vast improvement compared to previous months.

Looking forward to the end of 2019 and into 2020, there are no economic factors at play that are likely to dramatically change the momentum of the current market. Affordability will probably adjust itself, the problem will remain supply.

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