February 2023 Toronto Real Estate Report

There is no point in comparing February 2023 with February 2022. February 2022 was the apogee of the pandemic residential real estate market. The average sale price achieved last February, $1,334,544, remains, and will for some time, the all time monthly average sale price record. Interest rates were at an all time low, the Bank of Canada benchmark rate was a mere 0.25 percent and is now 4.50 percent. The pandemic had created a buying hysteria, which in conjunction with low mortgage interest rates, set the stage for the most egregious example of FOMO (the emotional response to the belief that others are living better, and that important opportunities are being missed, namely buying a home in the Greater Toronto Area).

In March of last year, the Bank of Canada began its steady and continuous implementation of higher rates, and the resale market began to tumble. The months long continuous decline appears to be over, a position supported by February’s resale market data.

In February there were 4,783 properties reported sold. Viewed from a historic perspective it has been decades since a February market has produced such low volumes. Viewed from a more recent perspective these numbers are encouraging.

February’s sales results are the best month since October of last year, when the market was in free-fall.

Significantly February’s performance was 6, 54 and 55 percent better than the market’s performance in November, December and January, respectively.

Similar to the volume of sales, the average sale price has also shown improvement. The monthly sale price has stabilized and is showing signs of increasing. In February the average sale price for the greater Toronto area came in at $1,095,617. In June of 2022 the average sale price had fallen to $1,145,804. Since then it has continued to fall until February’s performance.

February’s average sale price was 5.5 percent higher than the average sale price achieved in January.

The reason for these positive market changes is mortgage interest stability. As the chart below indicates, a recent Bloomberg survey of economists see the Bank of Canada rate hike cycle as having peaked at 4.50 percent.

As buying history has demonstrated, once the consumer has determined that stability has been achieved the market re-engage. That is what is beginning to happen. Since the benchmark rate is not expected to decrease dramatically until at least 2024, a gently strengthening market can be expected for the remainder of 2023.

One problem that buyers will have to contend with will be supply. In February only 8,367 new properties came to market, some no doubt being re-listed properties that did not sell at their initial list price. This number is more than 40 percent fewer listings than the 14,153 that came to market last February. Although the total number of active listings was 9,643 at the end of the month, that is substantially too few to meet market demand. This speaks to two prevailing market trends. Sellers are under no pressure to sell and at least for the time being are continuing to wait for a market improvement. Given that that market improvement is now here, over the next few months the market should see more supply, which in turn will see an increase in sales volumes.

Demand is demonstrated by the length of time properties remain on market before being reported sold. In February all properties sold in only 22 days, many in multiple offer competitions. Depending on location and property type the average days on market was substantially, in fact shockingly less – all semi-detached properties in the greater Toronto area sold in 15 days, while all semi-detached properties in Toronto’s eastern districts sold in an eyepopping 11 days, and at 106 percent of their asking price. This data indicates that the greater Toronto market, certainly on the demand side, is extremely robust, but constrained by affordability, low inventory and a slow adjustment to price expectations.

Very early March results indicate that the market’s performance is about 15 percent better than sales volumes achieved in February. If this pace continues (supply permitting with no further hikes in the benchmark rate) then March should achieve approximately 5,500 sales, if not more. That means we will see sales numbers thathavenotbeenachievedsinceAugustof2022.The market is finally showing signs of moving in a positive direction.

page1image855879808 page1image855880096 page1image855880688page1image855880976 page1image855881568page1image855881856 page1image855882448page1image855883040 page1image855883552


January 2023 - Toronto Real Estate Market Report

As forecast in December, the slumping resale market of 2022 continued into the first month of 2023. Compared to January 2022, sales of all property types declined by almost 45 percent. Due to the extraordinarily strong pandemic market early last year, on a year-over-year basis sales volumes will post substantial negative variances until at least April. By April 2022, increased borrowing costs had begun to slow the residential resale market with an unprecedented impact. Since March of last year, sales volumes and average sale prices have consistently declined as borrowing costs have increased.

In absolute numbers, 3,100 properties traded hands in January. Last year, 5,594 properties were reported sold. The decline, both in sales volumes and average sale prices, is universal, impacting all housing types throughout the greater Toronto Region. There were, however, variations in these declines. In the City of Toronto, sales declined by more than 46 percent and average sale prices declined by almost 15 percent. In the 905 Region average sale prices declined by almost 20 percent and sales softened by slightly over 42 percent. Sixty five (65) percent of the total sales volume (3,100 properties) took place in the 905, with the City of Toronto accounting for only 35 percent (1,098) of all sales.

The average sale price for the entire Toronto Region came in at $1,038,668, a 16.4 percent decline compared to January 2022’s average sale price of $1,242,407, which at the time, was an all-time high average sale price record. Due to the preponderance of lower-priced condominium apartment sales in the City of Toronto, the City’s average sale price came in lower at $987,000, a number reminiscent of the City of Toronto’s pre-Covid average sale price.

Although there were more properties of all types available for sale in January compared to last year, this increase was due to declining sales, not sellers flooding the market with properties for sale. Quite the contrary. At the end of January 9,299 resale properties were on the market for sale, 125 percent more than the 4,140 properties available last year. It should be noted that only 7,688 new listings came to market in January, almost 4 percent fewer than the 7,983 homes that came to market last January. With so few properties coming to market, supply, which has been the Toronto and Region’s perennial problem, will once again become a massive home-buying roadblock when sales volumes begin to improve.

Demand is still present in the market and there are signs that it is intensifying. It is being constrained only by high borrowing costs. Toronto’s much sought after eastern districts reflect the intensifying demand. Notwithstanding the prevailing high borrowing costs, all detached properties that came to market sold in 21 days – the average market average was 29 days – and at 100 percent of asking prices. Even more telling were semi- detached property sales. All semi-detached properties in Toronto’s eastern districts sold in an eye-popping 18 days at sale prices 103 percent above asking prices. In fact, all semi-detached property sales throughout the City of Toronto took place in only 21 days and at 102 percent of asking.

The number of sales reported on a daily basis in the City of Toronto showed a marked increase after January 25th. On that day, the Bank of Canada announced its latest increase to be benchmark rate – 0.25 percent, taking the overall rate to 4.5 percent. More importantly, the Bank stated that its numerous rate increases since March of last year are reversing inflation and further rate increases may not be necessary. The moment potential buyers are convinced that rates are no longer increasing, the buyer inertia of the last 10 months will incrementally begin to dissipate.

Since February 2022, the average sale price in Toronto and Region has declined by more than 22 percent, to $1,038,668 in January 2023. The decline, coupled with the central Bank’s message that rates may have stabilized, with potential declines going forward, is the combination that will see the resale market reverse the course it has been on. The change, when it comes, certainly before the end of the first quarter, will see increased sales but with average sale price stability. Prices will not rise until borrowing costs decline substantially.