They say March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, but the weather – and Toronto’s April real estate market – has been anything but pleasant.
Unseasonably cold and stormy conditions may have contributed to a damp first two weeks of the month, according to April 1 – 15 sales numbers from the Toronto Real Estate Board.
Not surprisingly, activity remains well below last year’s levels; the first half of April 2017 was the final period of time before the provincial government introduced its Fair Housing Plan, which resulted in an almost-overnight cooling of the market. Comparing this April to last year’s speculative trend paints a stark difference, with sales down 37 – 52 per cent throughout the TREB region, and 38 to 51 per cent in the City of Toronto.
However, the month-over-month data reveals the slower-but-steady recovery seen since January has chilled this month. While sales are up across all home types compared to the same two-week period in March, growth is noticeably subdued; total home sales have grown only 14 per cent month over month, compared to the hefty 46 per cent increase recorded between the first two weeks of February and March. This activity is closer in pace to what was seen in 2016, when April sales rose 17 per cent from February to March in the TREB and City of Toronto regions.
However, while buyers appeared to take a brief spring hiatus, sellers emerged from the woodwork, with a large increase in new listings hitting the market, plunging more home types into buyer’s-market conditions.
Check out the difference in annual mid-month April home sales, new listings and sales-to-new-listings ratios in the infographic below:
The high-rise and multi-family housing segment has lead the market in terms of growth, even as the impact of new measures took hold. However, while demand remains on an uptick this month, it has slowed substantially compared to March’s month-over-month increase, up only 7 per cent in both the TREB and 416 regions, compared to the 35- and 38-per-cent increases enjoyed last month. (Year over year, condo sales were down 37 and 38 per cent, respectively.)
There has been a surge in new inventory from last month as well, at 15 per cent throughout TREB and 17 per cent in Toronto. While this is in line with the seasonal spring trends, combined with softer sales, the condo market has returned to buyer’s territory in the GTA, with a sales-to-new-listings ratio of 39 per cent, and remains on the cusp of balanced in Toronto, at 40 per cent.
This ratio, which is calculated by dividing the number of sales by the amount of new listings during a specific time frame, can help determine the level of competition within any given market. A ratio between 40 – 60 per cent is considered balanced, while below and above those thresholds are considered buyer’s and seller’s markets, respectively, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Both regions had balanced condo markets last month; mid-April conditions are the softest seen since January (when they sat in steep buyer’s markets at 26 and 28 per cent, respectively).
It’s a great time to be a Toronto townhouse buyer, as the market received a flood of new inventory this month, and buyer’s conditions take hold.
Annual sales have fallen 37 and 42 per cent in the TREB and 416 regions, reveal the numbers, and are up just 12 and 7 per cents from the first two weeks of March (compared to the hefty 67-per-cent increase enjoyed in both regions last month).
New inventory has risen both on a year-over-year (11 per cent and 3 per cent) and month-over-month basis (29 and 41 per cents). With so much added choice coming to market, townhomes remain firmly in buyer’s territory, with a ratio of 35 per cent in both regions.
The demand for freehold homes has remained healthy, as comparatively lower prices bolster a steady increase in house buyers; sales for detached homes are up 19 and 14 per cents from the same time in March. However, this does reflect a decline compared to the month-over-month increases of 48 and 44 per cents experienced last month.
While the number of new houses for sale so far in April has fallen 15 and 9 per cents from 2017, they rose 14 per cent in the TREB region and a whopping 43 per cent in Toronto, indicating that house sellers in the city, who have demonstrated hesitation to list following the FHP, are willing to take their chance in the heating spring market.
Buying conditions for houses remained generally flat throughout TREB, which was already experiencing a buyer’s market at 31 per cent – increased to 32. However, the influx of new house inventory in the City of Toronto proper pulled the market into buyer’s conditions from balanced, from a ratio of 43 per cent to 34.
Semi Detached Homes
Last month, semi-detached homes exhibited one of the few seller’s markets in the city of Toronto, with a ratio of 62 per cent in the 416. That has moderated to balanced this month (47 per cent), as sales rise just 19 per cent in the city, offset with a 57-per-cent increase in new inventory.
The TREB region remains in balanced territory at 41 per cent, from last month’s 47 per cent.
Year-over-year sales are down 48 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively, signalling slightly friendlier buying conditions for this home type.
Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor at Zoocasa, and has over a decade of experience covering real estate, mortgage, and personal finance topics. Her commentary on the housing market is frequently featured on both national and local media outlets including BNN Bloomberg, CBC, The Toronto Star, National Post, and The Huffington Post. When not keeping an eye on Toronto's hot housing market, she can be found brunching in one of the city's many vibrant neighbourhoods, travelling abroad, or in the dance studio.