Was the back-to-school housing market a bust? Not quite, reveal the latest numbers from the Toronto Real Estate Board; while seasonal buyers did not come roaring back into the real estate picture as many agents hoped, September ushered in a month of balance and improved buying conditions.
Overall home sales continue to lag by double digits compared to last year, with 6,379 homes changing hands – a 35-per-cent decrease from September 2016. However, they were relatively flat month over month at an increase of 0.3 per cent, indicating that the rapid cool down triggered by the Fair Housing Plan in May is moderating. The average price across all home types increased 2.6 per cent year over year and 5.9 per cent from August, to $775,546.
Inventory also rose slightly, with 9.4 per cent more new listings coming to market compared to last year.
Market to Rebound in Autumn
TREB President Tim Syrianos says that despite the unusually muted September, there’s evidence the market is still poised for a strong fall. “The improvement in listings in September compared to a year earlier suggests that homeowners are anticipating an uptick in sales activity as we move through the fall,” he says. “Consumer polling undertaken for TREB in the spring suggested that buying intentions over the next year remain strong.”
He adds that more buyers are expected to jump in from the sidelines toward the end of the year to take advantage of improved choice and less buyer competition.
A Perfectly Balanced Market
Lauren Haw, Broker of Record at Zoocasa Realty, says today’s market conditions are what many buyers have been waiting for, but that smart strategy is still a must when preparing an offer.
“Overall, we are in a perfectly balanced market,” she says. “However, sellers still think it’s a seller’s market and buyer’s think they’re going to find an amazing deal.
“The reality of the situation is that choice houses in choice neighbourhoods are still going for hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking, while average properties in good neighbourhoods sit on the market. A house that is appropriately priced and marketed well will sell.”
Condos Hottest Housing Type
That buyers are sticking to more affordable listings is evident as the detached house segment – which is still priced at an average of $1,015,067 – continues to slump.Price growth is flat year over year, wiping out 12 months of appreciation from the market’s peak, while sales are down 40.4 per cent.
“You can’t time the market, and that’s important to keep in mind right now,” says Haw. “People didn’t intend to buy at the peak. Now, prices are down, inventory is high, and over the short term, it’s a great time to buy in Toronto. We know we are on the way down, but we don’t know if we are already at the bottom. Or are we already on our way back up? Real estate market changes are instantaneous – the whole market can change in two weeks.”
By comparison, the condo market continues to see rapid acceleration in value, with prices up 23.2 per cent from last year to an average of $520,411.
Year over Year September GTA Home Sales
“With more balanced market conditions, the pace of year-over-year price growth was more moderate in September compared to a year ago,” says Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.
“However, the exception was the condominium apartment market segment, where average and benchmark sales prices were up by more than 20 per cent compared to last year. Tighter market conditions for condominium apartments follows consumer polling results from the spring that pointed toward a shift to condos in terms of buyer intentions.”
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Seek an Experienced Agent to Navigate Fall Market
Another benefit to buyers during a cooler market is that the agents who stick around tend to be more seasoned, and able to provide clients with knowledgeable support, compared to real estate professionals who jumped into the market to make a quick buck.
“In a market like this, the value of an agent has never been more important. A year ago, every listing was under a different name, reflecting the number of agents in the market, and listings were going to whoever would cut their commissions. We were seeing that across the board. These market conditions are great for working with established, knowledgeable agents, who will tell you the truth.”