Friday, April 8, 2011

TREB Releases Promising March Figures for the GTA

According to the March figures just released for the GTA, March 2011 was the second strongest March on record, with 9,262 sales recorded; a number that is only 11% lower than the records broken last March.

“The strong home sales reported in March and throughout the first quarter of 2011 have been based on a solid affordability picture and improving economic conditions in the GTA and country-wide,” said Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) President Bill Johnston.

Looking at average selling prices, March 2011 saw prices go up 5% year over year to $456,147. Condos and semi-detached homes saw the greatest increase in price, both rising by 7%.

A general tightening of the market itself contributed to the appreciations in value. “Market conditions were tighter in March compared to last year. With more competition between buyers, we have seen a strong but sustainable rate of price growth,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

“The spring market, in particular the months of March and April, is an ideal time for home owners to list their properties for sale. It is in these critical months where the momentum of demand will cycle to its highest, while the supply of good housing stock will be at its lowest."

"Buyers active since the autumn,who, for whatever reasons, did not secure a purchase become fully keen house hunters at the beginning of the New Year. Already suffering from buyer’s fatigue from several months of searching, these buyers become highly motivated. The problem for them is not their lack of motivation, but the limited supply of property.”

As the spring, and the busy season continues, the question remains- will this uptick in sales, and steady price appreciation continue?

Based on good old fashioned, supply and demand- regardless of what else is going on. “I'm optimistic for Toronto's downtown freehold housing market. In fact, I'm confident enough to predict the ongoing lack of supply will outstrip the burgeoning demand for all of 2011, regardless of the economic climate.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Expect demand to remain healthy

April 1, 2011 -- Existing home sales in the Greater Toronto Area remained strong in February. There were 6,266 transactions reported through TorontoMLS® representing a 14 per cent decline from the record result reported in February 2010. While not representing a record, February 2011 sales were 50 per cent higher than the number reported in February 2009 during the recession and slightly higher than the average February sales over the previous ten years.

In my opinion, one of the key factors underlying the number of transactions we see in the resale home market is consumer confidence. If people are confident in their ability to purchase and pay for a home over the long term, sales levels will remain strong. Continued improvement in the GTA economy over the past year has arguably kept confidence levels high. We have seen steady growth in the number of people employed, the unemployment rate has receded markedly from the recessionary peak and income growth has accelerated.

RBC recently released the results of their annual Home Ownership Study. The results confirm what we have experienced in the housing market over the past year. The percentage of Canadians who said they would likely purchase a home over the next two years was at 29 per cent – down from 31 per cent in 2010 (the highest level on record), but the second highest reading since 2006. The percentage of Ontarians planning on purchasing a home over the next two years was slightly lower than the national average at 28 per cent. I asked Jason Mercer, the Toronto Real Estate Board's Senior Manager of Market Analysis to comment.

"The RBC survey results follow the trend we have seen recently in the GTA. Last year this time home sales were running well-above what the level of population dictated. In 2011 and 2012, the pace of sales is expected to be more sustainable, meaning in line with the expected level of population and population growth. Expect to see between 80,000 and 85,000 transactions through TorontoMLS® this year, and other 85,000 to 90,000 sales in 2012."

I also asked Mr. Mercer to provide his views on the direction of price over the next couple of years. He is confident that we will continue to see growth through the end of 2012, albeit at a more subdued rate.

"Average existing home selling prices are expected to increase by three to five per cent annually over the next two years. Even with expected mortgage rate hikes in 2011 and 2012, the share of the average GTA household's income dedicated to mortgage principal and interest, property tax and utilities will remain manageable in relation to accepted lending standards," continued Mercer.

"Recently, average price growth has also been supported by relatively tight market conditions. While sales have remained quite strong, the number of new listings has been low from a historic perspective. There has been enough competition between home buyers to promote price growth," added Mercer.

Market conditions through the recession-recovery period between 2008 and the end of 2010 can certainly be characterized as volatile. Over the next two years, by most accounts, it seems like the housing market in the GTA is getting back to normal.