Last month in our Toronto Condo Market Update, we commented on the uptick in sales for August on TRREB. We wondered whether this was a turning point. The answer was no. Sales in September were 5038 which was a drop of 10% from August. We are now tracking for the lowest sales numbers since 2002 when the GTA was 30% lower by population.
It is obvious that buyers are prepared to wait. At the same time, sellers are also prepared to wait. New listings for September were down 17% from September a year ago, suggesting that many sellers are prepared to wait. Sellers who are listed are not dropping their prices either. Hence many listings are just sitting on the market. So, when will this stalemate end?
The Bank of Canada is prepared to keep raising rates to curb inflation. This will not bring down house prices significantly. What it will do is lead us to a recession and only when we see significant job losses will rates level off and start to come down.
People again need to look at real estate as a long-term investment and not as a vehicle for quick turnarounds. Trying to time the market is impossible. Real estate will appreciate at 4-7% per year over the long term. We just went through two years where prices appreciated by 20-30% and now we are giving back some of those gains. When we look back at this decade, we will see that the average annual price gain will revert to the average.
Source: Toronto Regional Real Estate Board. This chart plots monthly MLS® Average Price since January 1994. The blue line shows actual sales. The red line is the trend computed using a 12-month moving average, which exhibits no seasonal variations or other irregular fluctuations. A substantial change in actual sales must occur to change the direction of the trend.
LESSONS TO BE LEARNED
1. The best time to upgrade to a bigger property is always when prices are falling. That’s because the price gap between what you own and what you want to buy always narrows.
2. Always buy in markets where there is a growing population.
3. Owning real estate is a forced savings. Part of your mortgage payment always goes to repay principal. The argument that renters can save the difference rarely happens.
CURRENT TORONTO CONDO MARKET PRICES DOWNTOWN
Condos are the most affordable option for first-time buyers, we compared sales in the last 30 days for a one-bedroom condo without parking in 9 buildings across downtown with easy commuting. We show the price and the price per square foot.
Some sophisticated buyers are still buying pre-construction condos from $1800 per sq.ft. (8 Elm St.) to other projects in the $1400 range. With rising construction costs and development charges, it seems unlikely that these prices will not go lower. The conclusion is that resale condo prices have reached a bottom level with the prices shown above.
Source: Toronto Regional Real Estate Board
In September there were 1615 condos leased downtown and in Humber Bay. This is 30% lower than in August which is always the biggest leasing month of the year. Currently, there are just under 1400 units for lease which is still less than a one-month’s supply.
In terms of rents, September’s rents were basically unchanged from August.