April, 2013

Hotels – Think Out of The Box

Well…perhaps not quite Relais & Chateaux, but something to consider the next time you travel. And besides, who wouldn’t want to sleep in a rail car, or a plane’s cockpit?

Questions to Ask When Buying a Condo…

Before buying a condo, be sure to ask yourself:

• What are the unit boundaries?

• What will my maintenance obligations be?

• What management style is being used, and am I comfortable with it?

• What are the rules regarding the allowable number of occupants, noise, pets, amenities, parking, etc., and how are these upheld?

• Can I alter my unit’s appearance? If I want to change something, what procedure do I have to follow to get permission?

• Does the condominium corporation have the minimum insurance required by my provincial or territorial legislation?

• What will my insurance obligations be?

Toronto Real Estate Market Report Spring 2013

There was a pronounced resemblance between the performance of the Toronto residential resale market in February and in March. In February sales were off by 15 percent compared to February of last year, while average sale prices rose moderately by 2.1 percent. Upon deeper review it became obvious that the market was fractured, with some sectors being very active, in some cases frenetic, while others lagged.

We see more of the same in March. March sales were off by 17 percent compared to March of 2012. Notwithstanding this decline in sales, average sale prices for all properties sold in the greater Toronto area rose by 3.8 percent. The Toronto Real Estate Board reported 7,765 properties sold in March. In 2012, 9,385 properties were reported sold. As in February, those properties that were sold were sold in almost record time, at speeds consistent with a strong seller’s market. In February all sales took place in 28 days. In March the pace of sales increased by almost 17 percent to 24 days. The pace of sales is inconsistent with declining sales.

The explanation for this inconsistency is to be found in the performance of the various Toronto market sectors. Properties coming to market with price points ranging from $300,000 to under $1,500,000 sold quickly, and for the most part in excess of the asking prices. For example, it was not uncommon for trading areas in the west and eastern districts of Toronto to report average sale prices (for the entire district) that exceeded the asking price. This phenomenon was less prominent in the central districts where house prices remain the most expensive in Toronto. In the central districts the average sale price for detached houses came in at $1,302,359 while semi-detached homes sold for $771,232, approximately $250,000more than semi-detached homes in the west and eastern trading areas.

The pace and the number of sales in the high end of the market and in the condominium apartment sectors continue to be a drag on the overall market. There were 11 percent few high-end properties ($1 Million or more) sold in March of 2013 compared to the same month last year. It should be noted that is a promising improvement compared to February’s results. In February the high end sector was off by 18 percent. The improvement was more dramatic for properties having sale prices in excess of $2Million. In February that marketplace was off by 27 percent. InMarch, the decline was only 7.6 percent compared to March 2012. In actual numbers, March saw 462 reported sales having a value of $1 Million or more (521 in 2012) and 72 having a value of $2 Million or more (78 in 2012).

The condominium apartment sector continues to lag.Whereas the overall market (including condominium apartments) saw all sales take place in 24 days (on average) in Toronto it took condominium apartments 32 days to sell, 33 percent longer. Central Toronto was slightly more robust with sales taking place in 30 days. Last year sales took place in 28 and 26 days, respectively. By comparison, detached and semi-detached homes in March were selling in less than 24 days and as quickly as 12 days in some trading areas (the eastern districts).

There are two aspects of the condominium apartment market that were encouraging in March. Firstly, average sale prices for condominium apartments actually increased by 2 percent compared to last year to $367,595. Secondly, the market is not being overwhelmed by inventory. In the city of Toronto there were 4,330 condominium apartment listings. This is only 8 percent higher than the number of listings on the market in 2012. In this regard the central districts, where the highest concentration of condominium apartments is to be found, did not fare as well. There condominium apartment inventories increased by 39 percent, from 1956 units for sale in 2012 to 2,733 in March of this year. It was also encouraging to see that in some trading areas sale prices of reported condominium sales were equal to or exceeded the asking price.

Going forward,April will no doubtmirror the performances of February andMarch. Some sectors of themarket will be extraordinarily strong, while condominium apartment sales, and less so high-end property sales, will be a drag on the market. At this time there is nothing in the economic forecast nor is there any likelihood that there will be any changes to the stricter mortgage lending requirements that would cause the market will move to a higher gear.

Prepared by Chris Kapches

Toronto Real Estate Market Update Winter 2012-2013

The Toronto residential resale market provided some intriguing data for the month of February. Looked at as a whole it would appear that it is undergoing a negative shift, the continuation of a trend that started in the second half of 2012 and has continued into this year. On closer inspection we see a fragmented market, with some sectors as robust as the record breaking pace of early 2012, and others clearly lagging, dragging the overall performance of the market into negative variance territory.

In February, 5,759 properties were reported sold. In 2012, 6,809 properties were reported sold by the Toronto Real Estate Board, a decrease of more than 15 per cent. Notwithstanding the decline in sales compared to last year, the average sale price increased, but more moderately than recent months. Last February the average sale price came in at $500,249. This year it increased to $510,580, an increase of 2.1 percent. Increases over the past few months have been in the 5 to 7 percent range.

Interestingly enough, the sales that were recorded took place at a pace normally associated with very robust markets. In February all reported sales took place in 28 days (on average) after they were listed. Any time the average days on market is less than 30 days it reflects a seller’s market, which is ironic in light of the fact that compared to last year, the market was off by more than 15 percent.

Last year, when the market was on pace to smash all previous records for sales, the average days on market was 24 days. A deeper analysis of the market indicates that some sectors and housing types are more robust than others. The high-end, or ‘luxury’ home, market is showing weakness compared to last year. Similarly the condominium apartment market is lagging compared to 2012.

In February 2012, 407 properties having a value of $1 Million or more were reported sold. This year that number declined to 334, a decline of 18 percent. The decline in the very high-end properties, having a value of $2 Million or more, has been even more dramatic. Last year 69 properties in this category were reported sold. That number declined to 50 this year, a decrease of more than 27 percent. This decrease has an obvious impact on the monthly average sale price.

It is difficult to pinpoint why this area of the marketplace is not performing well. One explanation is that buyers can no longer obtain a high ratio mortgage on properties with sale prices in excess of $1 Million. It might also be that the value of high-end properties, particularly with values in excess of $2Million, are no longer supportable. During the robust market between the spring of 2009 and last year, prices of high-end properties were strong. Perhaps they pushed the limits that the market could bear. With a second land transfer tax, purchases in excess of $2 Million become quite onerous. For example the combined provincial and municipal land transfer tax a buyer of a $2.5 Million property pays is an outrageous $92,200.

The other sector that is lagging is the condominium apartment sales. I do not believe, as is often reported in the press, that this is primarily due to an overwhelming increase in inventory. In the Toronto (416) marketplace, sales in February were down by 20 percent. Average sale prices declined by 4.7 percent. On average it took 36 days for a listed condominium apartment to sell, 33 percent longer than all properties in Toronto. Detached and semi-detached homes in Toronto sold very quickly, as low as 15 days in Toronto east end districts to 20 days in Toronto’s central districts. In comparison, condominium apartment sales are at best tepid.

Condominium apartment inventory has not increased dramatically compared to last year. The total number of condominium apartments available for sale in the Greater TorontoArea (416 and 905) was 5,458. Last year there were 5,066, an increase of slightly more than 8 percent. In the city, where the bulk of condominium apartments is to be found, the increase is less dramatic. Last year there were 3,712 available for sale. In February of this year there were 3,785, an increase of a mere 73 additional condominium apartments. Considering that sales are off by 20 percent, inventory levels have actually declined. It may be that we will see inventory levels grow as we proceed through the year, but it has not happened yet.

So the reputed cause for the slow down in condominium apartment sales cannot be attributed to higher inventory levels. Rather it is not doubt due to the restrictive mortgage lending rules that the federal government has implemented. Condominium apartments are usually the first and only choice for first time buyers. In the city of Toronto (416), the average sale price in February was only $352,614. There are reports that indicate that 17 percent fewer buyers qualify under the new stricter lending guidelines. A number that is not inconsistent with the 20 percent decline in the condominium apartment market in 2013.


Prepared by: Chris Kapches, Senior Vice-President and Legal Counsel


February 2013


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