Toronto home prices jump in October despite new mortgage rules

Toronto’s real estate sales climbed more than 11 per cent in October compared with a year earlier, despite the introduction of new federal mortgage rules aimed at cooling the region’s overheated housing market.

The average price of all homes across the Toronto region rose 21 per cent to $762,975 last month, compared to October 2015, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) on Thursday. Real estate sales climbed 11.5 per cent in October, compared to the same month in 2015.

In Toronto the average home — including all types of houses and condos — was $770,480, higher than the $758,369 average in the 905-area communities surrounding the city.

But the average cost of a detached home in Toronto was up 22 per cent year-over-year, pushing past $1.3 million and bringing the regional average for a house with a yard beyond the important psychological mark of $1 million. A detached home in the 905 communities averaged $948,191.

The continued climb of sales and prices in Toronto, contrasts sharply with a 40 per cent drop last month in Vancouver real estate activity. It shows that governments must carefully balance consumer protections against healthy market activity, say Toronto realtors.

Cam Forbes, general manager of Re/MAX Realtron Realty, expects Ottawa will take further action next year to cool the market and protect consumers from adding more debt to their household burdens.

"Prices are going up at a fairly rapid rate in the Greater Toronto Area and the mortgage changes aren't going to have a huge impact," he said.

Last month, Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced more rigorous stress testing of insured mortgages and eliminated a tax exemption for non-resident sellers.

But the new rules affect a relatively small number of mortgages in the Toronto region, said Forbes. Consumers buying homes over $1 million have lots of equity.

Although he doesn't expect more stringent downpayment rules, Forbes says the government has other options.

"They can increase the price of mortgage insurance, or continue just to tighten the underwriting conditions for mortgages."

TD Bank's announcement Tuesday that it is raising its mortgage prime is the first indication of banks passing on the cost of Ottawa's new mortgage rules to consumers, said Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper.

"We'll see that adjustment roll through the industry but the impact of that will be small relative to the impact of home prices rising by 20 per cent," he said.

Soper also cautioned against a Vancouver-style 15 per cent tax to foreign real estate transactions.

Vancouver's 40 per cent drop in real estate activity last month, shows that tax dealt "a body blow" to West Coast consumer confidence, he warned.

A gentle rise in interest rates, coupled with the continued increase in home prices, will combine to be the best mechanism for slowing the market, said Soper.

But government interference that manipulates real estate prices such as the Vancouver tax is confusing to buyers.

"Left to its own devices, (Vancouver) home prices would have slowed and the market would have corrected mildly. When you slap a huge tax on a market you shock people," he said.

That kind of tax here could threaten the contribution real estate makes to the Ontario economy, not just on property transactions, but consumer goods and costs associated with moving.

"I don't think any politician in Ontario is looking at the Vancouver situation and saying, 'I wish we could abruptly take half the transactions out of the market,' " he said.

Although new listings were up slightly in the Toronto area in October, it remains a seller's market, said TREB.

"Buyers of all home types experienced intense competition," said TREB director of market analysis Jason Mercer.

"Until we experience sustained relief in the supply of listings, the potential for strong annual rates of price growth will persist, especially in the low-rise market segments," he said.

Toronto region real estate in October

20.8%

Increase in Halton region home prices in October year-over-year to an average of $770,600

20.55%

Increase in Peel region home prices in October compared to the same month last year, to an average of $584,300

15.76%

Increase in Toronto home prices year-over-year in October to an average of $705,600

24.48%

Increase in York Region prices in October year-over-year to an average of $892,200

24.35%

Increase in October home prices in Durham Region to an average of $505,900

Source: Toronto Real Estate Board benchmark price index, including all house and condo prices


Toronto bidding wars pushing out home inspections

Toronto's scorching real estate market has the roof falling in on the home inspection industry, where business is down by more than 65 per cent in many areas.

That's largely due to the bidding wars and fast-paced home sales in cities across the province, including mid-sized centres like Windsor and London, but particularly in the Toronto area, said Len Inkster of the Ontario Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

He quoted real estate industry statistics that showed only 3,000 of the 10,000 homes sold in the province in July were inspected.

His Niagara-based business used to do 350 inspections a year. He has done 84 so far this year.

On Wednesday, Queen's Park announced that it is acting on a longstanding push to license home inspectors. But Government and Consumer Services Minister Marie-France Lalonde used dated figures when she said 65 per cent of home sales include an inspection. Today, it's probably about half that, said Inkster.

While the new regulations should raise the standards of inspections, it doesn't make home inspections mandatory as they are in Europe, he said.

Yuri Olhovsky, owner of Home Inspections 4U in Toronto, used to do one or two inspections a day. Lately, he's doing one a week and says that he is surviving only because he is also certified to provide services such as energy audits and mold inspections.

With realtors telling clients they won't win a bidding war if they make their offer conditional on a home inspection, few buyers are willing to fork out $400 or $500 to have one done before they put in the bid.

"They don't realize later on they may face issues that don't cost hundreds of dollars, they cost tens of thousands of dollars and at that point it's too late," said Olhovsky, a master home inspector with 15 years' experience.

Toronto realtor Desmond Brown of Royal LePage says pre-bid inspections are critical to helping clients put in their strongest offer in competitive situations.

"We get the home inspection done before we put in the offer," he said.

"It can be a little bit expensive if they don't get (the home). I think it's probably better to invest $500 or $600 now and not get it, then to get the property and have to put in thousands of dollars on repairs you had no idea about," he said.

If the seller provides an inspection by a reputable home inspector that will often suffice. But if you don't know if the seller's inspector is reputable, check references and get a second opinion, he said.

There's a perception that the seller's inspection is part of the real estate sales pitch. But it doesn't actually matter who commissions the inspection, said Inkster.

"The whole point of the home inspection is to give independent advice — we're not there to sell the house or scare somebody off," he said.

He estimates, however, that 10 to 15 per cent of his clients have backed away from a home purchase based on information he has supplied.

Because many buyers in the Toronto area bid on several homes before they succeed in purchasing, pre-bid inspections can add up, said John Pasalis of Realosophy in Leslieville.

"If you end up going to five or six bidding wars, it costs $2,500. But you're buying a house. I think it's better to do some due diligence than none," he said.

Pasalis, who has a building background, thinks some TV portrayals of home inspectors are unfair.

"They can't see through walls," he said.

He had a client whose inspection showed a house had updated wiring. But it turned out to be entirely knob and tube. The previous owner had gone through and attached new wires to the old at the points an inspector could check.

"A buyer is going to be annoyed with the home inspector. But the reality is, it would have been impossible for the home inspector to know that," he said.

Source: Toronto Star


Ontarians see real estate market getting stronger

Ontario residents are feeling more optimistic about the economy in general and the real estate market specifically with a fundamental shift in how they view the market, according to anIpsos poll released Wednesday by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).

It showed that confidence has gained a record 27 points since November on the Ontario Homeownership Index. That’s the biggest gain since the OREA began tracking attitudes in 2013.

“It is by far the biggest change that we have seen in people’s sentiment towards real estate was in the last six months. That was quite remarkable to me,” said Sean Simpson, vice-president of Ipsos Public Affairs.

The index, which measures market perceptions, is set to a benchmark of 100. It has gone up to 108, back down to 102 and is now 129

“Most people still believe home ownership is a good investment and most people still see home ownership as a dream that they want to pursue,” he said.

More than half — about 57 per cent — of the residents surveyed viewed the residential real estate market as favourable in the province, in their own town or city and in their neighbourhood.

Confidence is highest in the scorching Toronto-area market, where 59 per cent of those polled described the residential market as stronger than a year ago — a 10 per cent gain over the last poll in November.

That growing confidence could be inspiring more activity on the housing market, said Simpson. The latest poll shows 13 per cent plan to buy in the next two years, compared to 9 per cent in May 2015.

The number who said they plan to sell also rose, to 15 per cent from 8 per cent year over year.

The gains follow an ebb in economic confidence last fall and winter, Simpson said.

“You had to go back to 1993 to see economic confidence as low.”

Despite some negative economic signals this spring, he said, “Canadians think things are headed on the right track, largely on account of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and high approval ratings. Where economic sentiment has risen, so too has people’s perceptions of the real estate market. Job anxiety is down, so it’s a rising tide.

“It’s not that things are great, it’s that things are better than they were back in the fall,” said Simpson.

In Ontario the economic outlook is most positive in the GTA, where 70 per cent of those polled said the city’s economy is good, compared to 66 per cent last year.

Optimism about the residential real estate market was highest among older residents. About 59 per cent of those 55 and older said the market was stronger, compared with only 43 per cent of those in the 35 to 54 age range. Only 37 per cent of those 18 to 34 saw it as stronger than it was a year ago.

It’s no wonder the older residents are the happiest. They’ve got the most equity in their home.

“They’re sitting on a gold mine because prices are going up. Their next transaction might only be to sell, not to buy,” said Simpson.

The online Ipsos survey of 1,006 residents was conducted May 31 and June 2. The results are considered accurate within 3.5 per cent 19 times out of 20.

Source: Toronto Star


Toronto housing boom unsustainable, Bank of Canada says

Toronto homebuyers should not expect the frantic pace and blistering prices of the housing market to continue, warns the head of the Bank of Canada.

“Prospective homebuyers and their lenders should not extrapolate recent real estate performance into the future when contemplating a transaction,” Stephen Poloz said Thursday with the release of the bank’s semi-annual financial system review.

It was a caution to consumers not to get caught up in the frenzied market conditions that see many GTA homebuyers bidding tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, over list prices as demand continues to outstrip the supply of housing, particularly detached and semi-detached homes.

Poloz’s authority adds to a growing chorus of concern from banks and housing experts about the sustainability of the country’s two hottest housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver.

The caution came a day after Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Ottawa was conducting an in-depth examination of the country’s real estate markets to determine whether further safeguards are needed to ensure Canadians can still afford housing in the event of an interest rate rise or other economic changes.

There’s a growing risk of a sharp correction in Vancouver and Toronto, while many households are facing other financial stresses, including climbing debt, said the central bank’s report.

The document said Vancouver house prices in May were 30 per cent higher than a year ago. In Toronto, May prices were 15 per cent higher than a year ago.

Some of that is due to foreign real estate buyers who see Canadian real estate is as a relatively safe investment.

“Having evidence-based policies and policy measures is the way to go,” said Gregory Klump, the association’s chief economist.

“There are lots of anecdotes out there but if they were drops of water we’d all be drowning in them at this point,” he said.

While foreign investment hasn’t driven Toronto housing prices to the same degree as Vancouver, nobody really knows how big a factor off-shore buyers are in either city.

“With the government’s efforts to get to the bottom of that we’ll have some better information on that toward the end of the year we hope,” said Klump.

Ottawa has already shown some creativity in changing the mortgage regulations, he said.

The most recent change in February raised the minimum down payment on homes over $500,000 from 5 per cent to 10 per cent on new mortgages for a CMHC-insured loan. But that had little impact on rising prices.

Before that the government cut amortization rates on insured mortgages twice: from 35 years to 30 in 2011 and then from 30 to 25 in 2012.

But changing the mortgage rules is a broad measure, said Klump.

“When they’re targeting Vancouver and Toronto they recognize it may result in collateral damage in other markets where they don’t need cooling, such as Calgary. They’re already seeing some challenging conditions,” he said.

The last set of changes didn’t tamp down prices because many of the affected buyers were move-up homeowners in the $500,000 to $1 million range, said BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic. Most had equity from a previous home.

“Even then, if somebody was forced to add a few percentage points to their down payment, in a lot of cases, it wasn’t too hard to find alternate sources of financing just to jump that hurdle,” he said.

In the end, it’s the monthly housing payment that influences buying decisions so there was a more significant impact when the government cut amortization periods for uninsured mortgages, said Kavcic.

“It had a noticeable shifting around of sales before and after the rule change which is a pretty good indicator that it was having an impact on the market,” said Kavcic.

Move-up buyers with 20 per cent or more down can still get a 30-year amortization.

“If they were to remove that 30-year (amortization) altogether that’s something that would probably have a bigger impact than that small change in down payment rules,” he said.

The Toronto Real Estate Board has suggested that the Toronto land transfer tax has discouraged some homeowners from listing their properties for sale. But the provincial growth targets that have discouraged new home building in the GTA is probably a bigger factor, said Kavcic.

“We’ve seen next to no new single detached construction. It’s all been condos. Last year we saw the smallest number of single, detached (home) completions in 20 or 30 years.”

- with files from Canadian Press

Source: Toronto Star


CREA wants competition ruling to apply in Toronto only

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) doesn't want real estate boards outside Toronto to be bound by a Competition Tribunal ruling that will likely force the country's largest board to lift restrictions on some property sales data.

CREA has also asked the Tribunal to make sure that the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) can still extract consumers' "informed consent, regarding the wide dissemination of their personal information over the internet.”

The requests were submitted to the tribunal in advance of a hearing on June 2 that will determine how TREB has to abide by a ruling in a case between the country's largest real estate board and the Competition Commissioner.

The tribunal found that TREB had violated competition rules by limiting the release of previous property sales data by online brokerages known as virtual office websites (VOWs).

It is expected that the finding will loosen rules around the release of previous sales information in other parts of the country.

CREA is arguing against that.

"There is no dispute that the relevant market for the purposes of this (tribunal) proceeding is the GTA," it said in a submission released on the tribunal website on Wednesday.

"The Commissioner confirmed that no remedy outside the GTA was sought during opening submissions.... and this was again confirmed during closing submissions and recognized by the Tribunal," said CREA.

Submissions by the Competition Bureau and TREB were not posted by the Toronto Star's deadline.

It also argues that consumers should be fully informed that the sales data on their property could be made publicly available.

TREB should be allowed to take steps to ensure consumers know their property's sales information could be used by VOWs.

"These steps may include creating new policies, forms or amendments to the standard listing and buyer representation agreements," said CREA.

TREB argued at the tribunal that allowing the public access to sales information violated property owners' and buyers' privacy rights.

But the tribunal disagreed except on one point. It sided with TREB in ruling that the release of sales data prior to a property transaction's closing could pose a problem to a seller if, for some reason, the deal didn't close.

CREA also wants the tribunal to avoid favouring VOWs over other innovative real estate enterprises. and "make clear that the Tribunal is not suggesting that the provision of VOW data feeds is mandatory across all local boards and association in Canada who operate a Multiple Listings Service (MLS) system."

It also doesn't want the ruling extended to other areas of the MLS listings such as instructions for brokers that could offer clues when the property is vacant or lockbox access information.

Source: Toronto Star


Luxury real estate market in Toronto saw substantial growth in 2015, says report

A new report by Christie’s International Real Estate found that Toronto’s luxury real estate market grew substantially last year.

According to Christie’s Canadian affiliate, Chestnut Park Real Estate, Toronto saw a 48 per cent increase in luxury real estate from 2014 to 2015.

Auckland, New Zealand took the top spot with a 64 per cent increase.

“Singapore, New York, London, and Hong Kong are all experiencing slowdowns in sales, while Toronto, San Francisco, Paris, and Sydney continue to see overall sales growth,” the Christie’s report read.

The definition of luxury differs among each of the 100 markets surveyed worldwide.

Toronto, for example, defines homes worth $3 million (U.S.) and above as a “luxury” property.

Meanwhile, in New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, luxury is defined as $5 million and above.

“Primary housing markets experienced an overall 8 per cent increase in million-dollar-plus home sales as the global housing market returned to more traditional growth rates following several years of year-on-year increases at breakneck speed,” the report read.

The report said that London upholds its reputation as the world’s most luxurious property market.  In London, a home must exceed $7 million to fall within the luxury category.

Source: CTV


GTA real estate market on pace for another year of record-breaking sales

Toronto real estate agent Elli Davis just closed a “bully offer” for $300,000 over a $2.65 million listing price, a type of deal she’s making more often in the busiest market she’s seen in nearly 30 years.

The increasingly competitive Greater Toronto Area real estate market is on pace for another year of record-breaking sales and double-digit price growth as buyers bid aggressively for the few houses on the market. Sales in the first quarter of 2016 rose 15.8 per cent from the opening three months of last year, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Davis, a Royal Lepage agent in upscale central Toronto, said a lack of housing supply is pushing more buyers to make hard-to-resist deals days before the seller is slated to accept bids. These are also known as bully offers.

“There were no conditions and the owner said ‘thank you very much, I’ll take it,’” she said of the home that went for $300,000 over asking.

The 10,326 homes sold in March was a 16.2-per-cent increase from the year earlier and accounted for nearly half the 22,575 homes that changed hands in the first quarter.

The average selling price across all housing types in the Greater Toronto Area rose 12.1 per cent year-over-year in March to $688,181.

The market could have experienced even stronger sales growth if it were not constrained by a deficit of new listings, said Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis.

“That’s why we’re seeing strong increases in selling prices, yet on the other side, if we did see more listings come online, they’d be absorbed in short order because of pent-up demand,” he said.

“I think the first quarter certainly suggests that we could be on track for another record year and likely the only thing that could slow that down is if we continue to see a dip in listings.”

The number of new listings was down compared to the same period last year, meaning there were more buyers competing for fewer homes. The number of homes listed for sale in the first quarter fell to its lowest level for a first quarter in at least 12 years, according to an analysis by National Bank.

A competition among buyers for fewer homes often results in bidding wars that drive prices higher. In March, the average detached GTA home inched closer to the $1 million mark, sitting at $910,375.

Davis said she is astounded at the prices. Nearly half of the 23 agents’ open houses listed for Tuesday in Toronto’s central core were for properties valued between $3.5 million and $16.8 million, she said.

Toronto is a seller’s market, with sales-to-new-listing ratios hovering around 70 per cent — the highest ratio since the 2008-2009 recession, said Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO.

He doesn’t see this abating any time soon as strong job and population growth in the GTA will continue to drive demand, while few new detached homes are being built.

“This has been more of a sustained gradual increase in demand and no new supply coming on board, so this is probably going to persist longer than back in 2009.”

Davis said the market is stronger now than it was coming out of the recession, adding she’s the busiest she’s been since 1989.

“We didn’t have a terrible winter, I think that helped, mortgage rates helped, and demand is high and supply is low,” she said.

“All those things together make a busy time.”

Source: Toronto Star


Toronto’s suburbs get their share of the real estate frenzy

Real estate agent Shawn Lackie was greeting house hunters with some trepidation when he listed a house for sale in Whitby, Ont. last week.

Multiple offers for desirable houses have been common in the suburbs surrounding Toronto for more than a year now, but Mr. Lackie wasn’t sure if a neglected fixer-upper would inspire a frenzy or a revolt.

“It was a beautiful home in its day – which was about 1994,” says Mr. Lackie of Coldwell Banker RMR Real Estate.

The house, with an asking price of $540,000, sold for $550,000 after receiving 10 offers the first day it was open for viewing.

On the same day, a “renovator’s delight” in nearby Oshawa drew 61 offers, Mr. Lackie says. That property was listed with an asking price of $200,000 and sold for $350,000, he says, despite the listing agent’s warning to “use extreme caution” when venturing down the basement steps.

A few days later the property was back on the multiple listing service with the same asking price.

The widespread market delirium is stemming from a severe lack of listings, of course, and an intense fear amongst buyers that they may miss out on yet another property.

Every market watcher is looking for portents of more properties coming as soon as the Ontario public school March break is over: Geoffrey Grace of ReMax Hallmark Realty Ltd. says some Toronto agents are lamenting that they haven’t been able to book a photographer for upcoming listings because they’re all so busy.

It’s a new barometer of activity, he says, because most companies have so many photographers on the roster.

Mr. Grace is planning to list a semi-detached house at 75 Wheeler Ave. in the Beaches after March break. The asking price will be below $900,000.

In that range, Mr. Grace wants to be sure that families are home from vacation. He’s not bothered that the long Easter weekend is coming later this month.

“March break was the big one to avoid,” he says.

As for the action in the 905, multiple offers are the most intense he has seen, Mr. Lackie says.

At his Whitby listing, the four-bedroom house offered lots of space in a desirable neighbourhood, and it had been the model home for the sub-division, which meant it was likely built with some extra care and attention. But he warned potential buyers in the listing that the property “needs major work.”

Showings were made more difficult by the presence of the homeowner’s two very large dogs and three cats.

Mr. Lackie figured many prospective buyers could look past the shabbiness but he was worried some would be intimidated by the dogs.

He arranged with the homeowner that she would take them out of the house for a couple of hours on Saturday morning and he would be there to escort potential buyers and their agents through.

Before they got that far, a bully offer arrived late Friday afternoon from someone who hadn’t even been inside. The bid was lame, however, and the homeowner turned it down.

They decided to go ahead with their plan for Saturday morning. The dogs were taken off for a jaunt and the cats would hang out in the basement for a while.

“It was less chaotic for people coming in,” he says.

He ushered 18 parties through by early afternoon. He had not scheduled an offer date but a couple of agents said they would be bringing offers that day. He asked interested parties to have their offers in by 5 o’clock, and by 8 o’clock the house was sold.

Mr. Lackie says the house that received 61 offers was advertised as a renovator’s delight. Many agents would advise their clients against competing with so many rivals, but he says some people think maybe they have a chance with a lowball bid.

“It would be really hard to figure out where you’re going to come in. You’re shooting in the dark.”

Source: Globe and Mail


In Toronto housing market, ‘Everyone wants what other people want'

During most spring markets in Toronto real estate, agents are flummoxed by the same phenomenon: Buyers tend to get especially enthusiastic about properties when they know that others want them.

It works the other way around too: If bidders don’t get the sense that competitors are lurking, they begin second-guessing themselves. Did they miss an unmistakable defect that everyone else saw?

It’s clearly human nature, says Christopher Bibby, an agent with Sutton Group Associates Realty Inc. “Everyone wants what other people want.”

He saw it recently when he listed a townhouse for sale at 25 Soho St. in the Queen West neighbourhood. The two-bedroom townhouse was extensively renovated and had a private south-facing terrace.

Mr. Bibby listed the property with an asking price of $849,900 and invited offers any time. After a week, 35 parties had booked appointments for a showing but no one had made an offer.

On day eight, a potential buyer submitted a lowball bid. Mr. Bibby’s office called around to the other agents who had booked appointments to let them know. Three more bidders stepped forward.

“What a change in momentum,” says Mr. Bibby, who told the agents to take their best shot. There would be no second round of bidding. The townhouse sold for $878,000 with no conditions.

When the other agents were informed, Mr. Bibby says, one of the losing agents barged in and demanded the opportunity to pay more. An incredulous Mr. Bibby had to ask the gate-crasher to leave the office.

When they had the chance to negotiate, everyone held off, he points out. Once the property became hotly contested, people didn’t want to give it up.

If the herd gets too big, of course, participants start to drop off.

Last week I wrote about real estate agent Geoffrey Grace of ReMax Hallmark Realty Ltd., who was fielding offers for a semi-detached house divided up into apartments on Davenport Road.

As we went to press, he had 13 offers in hand. By the deadline later that evening, he had 20. Mr. Grace says he might have had 25 but five parties dropped out when they found out what they were up against.

The house was listed with an asking price of $599,900. An online real estate site shows it sold for $783,000, or $183,100 above asking.

Rokham Fard, co-founder of TheRedPin.com, points out that fierce competitions get a lot of attention but last year one in six properties for sale in the Greater Toronto Area had to be re-listed at least once.

That means that the listing expired before a buyer could be found for 17,254 properties.

Mr. Fard says the brokerage’s research shows that properties are re-listed for an average of approximately $24,000 less than the original asking price.

He advises sellers to make every effort to sell the first time around because they’re likely to have to settle for a much lower asking price with a second listing.

Mr. Fard says a poll of agents suggests that sellers often set an unrealistic asking price because of the emotional connection they have to their house.

Another flaw that commonly leads to re-listing is refusing to fix small and inexpensive issues with the property, Mr. Fard says. It’s better to invest in repairs than to drop $24,000 on the re-listed asking price, he points out.

“Sellers and agents should leave it all on the field to sell properties the first time around,” Mr. Fard says. “It’s tempting to try and re-list to get fresh offers but our research shows you’ll likely settle for a significantly lower asking price with a second listing.”

Source: Globe and Mail


Toronto’s east end has the hottest real estate in the city

The trendiest neighbourhoods in Toronto aren’t in the trendy west end, but the east.

Homes north of Danforth Ave. and east of the Don River are selling fast, according to data provided by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The area, which encompasses posh Playter Estates to the west and rough-around-the edges Woodbine-Lumsden further east, boasts the shortest sale times in the city, with homes averaging a mere 12 days on the market compared to a city-wide average of 21 days.

To the south, Leslieville, Riverside and Riverdale came a close second, with homes averaging 13 days on the market.

Over the past decade, sale times across the city have been declining despite soaring home prices.

The median price of a Toronto home — stand-alone houses and condos combined — was $643,145 in 2015, compared to about $341,450 in 2005.

Yet in 2015, homes typically spent 21 days on the market, down 10 days from 2005 when they took a full month to sell. It’s a trend that has touched almost every corner of the city. The only areas that did not see a decrease in sale time were neighbourhoods around the Annex, Casa Loma and Wychwood.

Toronto realtor Desmond Brown said that low interest rates and population growth mean that there are more buyers than available homes, so most properties get snapped up fast.

“I think it’s basic supply and demand,” he said. “Good inventory is at a premium.”

That’s great news for sellers, especially for those north of the Danforth who bought at a low price and can now reap the benefits of a decade’s gentrification. Over the past ten years, the median value of homes north of the Danforth has increased 132 per cent, from $288,500 in 2005 to $608,500 in 2015.

“We’ve seen higher prices there, or even bidding wars, because it’s about supply,” said real-estate agent Linda Ing-Gilbert.

A recent listing, a three-bedroom semi at 106 Woodmount Ave., sold in six days for $681,700, more than $80,000 over asking. Ing-Gilbert, who grew up around the Danforth, said the area is often the last refuge for affordable family homes for many in the city.

Most of the bidders for the home west of Woodbine Ave. were first-time home buyers, she said, or young couples looking to upgrade from a condo.

“I think every single woman was pregnant,” Ing-Gilbert said.

Many start out hoping to buy in the more trendy west end, Ing-Gilbert said, but soon come to realize you can get the same amenities — access to the subway, schools and good restaurants — for about 10 per cent less in the east.

But there’s a price to pay for affordability, and that’s popularity, said Brown. Everybody loves a bargain, which means it can take buyers a few tries to land an east-end starter home.

Conversely, homes in neighbourhoods like the Annex can take a bit longer to unload.

“It’s a simple explanation — there aren’t as many buyers for the high-end properties,” he said.

Source: Toronto Star


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