Stability for Buyers and Sellers in September Housing Market: TREB

It may not be the booming fall market of years past, but autumn is shaping up to be lively throughout the Greater Toronto Area, reports the Toronto Real Estate Board, with a modest annual uptick in sales and greater choice for home buyers.

Sales activity has improved 1.9 per cent year over year throughout the region, with a total of 6,455 homes changing hands, though 5 per cent below August levels. The average price clocked in at $796,786 – up 2.9 per cent and 4.1 per cent yearly and monthly, respectively – while the HPI benchmark rose 2 per cent, reflecting a greater proportion of pricier detached homes within the sales mix.

Greater Choice for Home Buyers

Sellers are also returning to the market in droves, with 15,920 new listings introduced in September, a whopping 30.8 per cent greater than in August. That’s pulled Toronto real estate market conditions into balanced territory from last month’s almost-sellers’ market, though remains 3.1 per cent lower from the same month in 2017, when buyers’ conditions prevailed.

“With sales up year-over-year and new listings down, market conditions became tighter. Many buyers may have found it more difficult to find a home meeting their needs,” states TREB’s report.

Some Markets Stronger Than Others

However, improved sales activity hasn’t occurred evenly throughout the region, meaning some parts of the GTA have experienced a softer September than others, says TREB President Garry Bhaura.

“It is healthy to see sales and prices in many areas across the Greater Toronto Area up a bit, compared to last year’s lows,” he stated. “At the same, however, it is important to remember that TREB’s market area is made up of over 500 communities. Market conditions have obviously unfolded differently across these communities.”

The City of Toronto proper, for example, experienced a fairly flat September, with sales down 1.1 and 1.6 per cents month over month and year over year, respectively. A 45-per-cent surge in new listings from August has returned the market to balanced – roughly the same conditions as seen last year. Prices, however, have rallied within the 416, up 10 per cent from August, and 6.7 per cent from 2017 to an average of $864,275.

Bhaura says that while the 2018 market may be perceived to be weaker than the record-breaking activity seen in 2016 and early 2017, homeownership has remained a stable investment, with supply challenges continuing to threaten market balance.

“While higher borrowing costs and tougher mortgage qualification rules have kept sales off the record pace set in 2016, many households remain positive about homeownership as a quality long-term investment,” he says. “As the GTA population continues to grow, the real challenge in the housing market will be supply rather than demand.”

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September Sales and Prices By Home Type

While detached home prices have seen sustained improvement over the last six months, condos and other housing at the more affordable end of the spectrum continue to lead sales demand, says Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis, adding that for this reason, the creation of more should be a focus at both the municipal and provincial level.

“Generally speaking, annual rates of price growth have been stronger for higher density home types in 2018, including condominium apartments, townhouses, and semi-detached houses. In many neighbourhoods, these home types provide more affordable home ownership options. This is why a policy focus on increasing mid-density housing options throughout the GTA is important.”

Detached homes had a fairly soft September throughout the GTA, with sales up a mere 2.7 per cent with 2,829 exchanging hands. Activity rose 4.6 per cent within the 416 to 665 homes, and 2.1 per cent to 2,164 within the 905. Prices fell slightly, down 0.6 per cent to an average of $1,008,361 throughout the total TREB region, down 1.4 per cent to $1,342,363 in the 416, and down 0.6 per cent to $905,722 within the 905 communities.

Semi-Detached houses also saw a slight uptick in sales but had the price improvement to match, with activity up 0.4 per cent to 255 in the 416, 4.2 per cent to 398 in the 905 regions, and 2.7 per cent to 653 in the total TREB area. Prices rose 6.3 per cent in the 416 to an average of $995,951, 5 per cent to $661,907 in the 905, and 5.3 per cent to $792,353 in total TREB region.

Toronto townhouses experienced the greatest improvement, with sales up a whopping 10.6 per cent in the city of Toronto – though this is due to relatively lower inventory at 251 units, which can more dramatically swing sales trends. The 905 saw an uptick of 7.9 per cent to 823, while the total TREB region improved 8.5 per cent to 1,074. Prices rose 8.2 per cent to $743,721 in the City of Toronto, 2.5 per cent to $600,947 in the 905, and 4.1 per cent to an average of $634,314 total.

Condo sales were modest in September, yet multi-family housing continues to lead the market in terms of price growth. Sales fell 5.5 per cent in the 416 to 1,282 units, though numbers rose 3 per cent throughout the 905 to 509, resulting in a 3.2 decline to 1,791 throughout the total region. The average price for a condo unit now fetches $615,582 – an 11.7-per-cent increase – $455,688 in the 905 (6.4 per cent), and $570,140 throughout the total TREB region, and improvement of 10 per cent.

About Penelope Graham

Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor at Zoocasa. A born-and-bred Torontonian and quintessential millennial, she has over a decade of experience covering real estate, lifestyle and personal finance topics. 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. Find her on Twitter at @pjeg14.