May, 2013

Muskoka Real Estate Market Update Spring 2013

The Muskoka real estate market started the first third of the year in a slower gear than it did during the same period in 2012. This was true for the entire recreational marketplace, including Haliburton Highlands (where Chestnut Park now has a presence), Lake of Bays and the Muskoka Lakes. At this stage the explanation for this slower market pace is two fold. Early data indicates that substantially fewer properties have been listed for sale by sellers. Less inventory means fewer sales.

The explanation for the decline in available recreational properties for sale is due to weather conditions. The 2012 winter was extremely mild. Access was made easy, and the warm conditions in March and April resulted in numerous sellers listing their properties early in order to take advantage of conditions that were conducive to spring viewings and sales. The winter and early spring of 2013 have been the polar opposite of 2012. Substantial amounts of snow made access difficult, and weather conditions were anything but conducive to cottage viewings. In April the region experienced severe flooding, with many boathouses, and in some cases cottages, submerged in water. Even as this report is being prepared (early May) the lingering effects of the flooding in the region are still negatively impacting the recreational resale market.

In the first third of 2013 overall recreational sales as reported by the Muskoka, Haliburton, and Orillia Board were off by 26 percent. In 2012 130 sales had been reported, whereas only 93 were reported this year. Sales on the Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays, and in the Haliburton Highlands were all off by 20 percent. On the Muskoka Lakes from 25 to 18 sales, 20 to 16 on Lake of Bays, and 35 to 28 in the Haliburton Highlands.

Although the correlation to inventory levels is not identical, the connection between lower sales and available properties for sale is quite apparent. Total active listings at the end of April for the region were down by 20 percent, from 1027 in 2012 to 822 in the first third of this year. The Muskoka Lakes have seen a 17 percent drop in inventory from 240 available properties to 199. Lake of Bays shows only a 6.3 percent decline, from 110 to 103, with the highest decline in the Haliburton Highlands, from 295 to 231 available properties, a drop of 21.5 percent.

The first part of the year for recreational markets is not an accurate barometer of how the market will perform throughout the remainder of the year. There is no doubt that the pace of sales will increase, however, the assessment of the market at the end of 2012 continues to apply. The softening of sales throughout Canada, and in particular in the major metropolitan areas like Toronto and Vancouver will have an impact on recreational property sales. High-end property sales in Toronto have experienced a substantial decline. Although not all the factors impacting high-end property sales in Toronto apply to Muskoka and the region (i.e. the double land transfer tax) buyer resistance to real or perceived inflated prices will be the norm in 2013.

As was indicated in the year-end market report, the key to sales is pricing. Recreational properties represent discretionary purchases. In times of instability, that is broader markets that are showing some weakness, discretionary purchases, not driven by need, cause buyers to sharpen their pencils, ensuring that there is value to their purchases. Realistic pricing will always overcome the broader economic considerations that may be negatively influencing buyers.


Prepared by: Chris Kapches, Senior Vice President and Legal Counsel Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage

Toronto Real Estate Market Update April 2013

By any standards other than a comparison to April 2012, the Toronto residential resale market performed brilliantly this month. April 2012 was one of a string of months in the early part of last year that were on track to achieve record-breaking statistics. April 2013 will unfortunately be compared to last year, particularly by journalists, who only see the decline year-over-year, and not the absolute numbers achieved.

In April, 9,811 residential resale properties were reported sold. This is only a 2 percent decline compared to the 10,021 properties reported sold last year. As has been the case throughout 2013, the market remains disjointed with sales of various property types in various trading districts selling at practically light speed, with other property types finding some market resistance.

All properties in the greater Toronto area sold in only 23 days (on average). This is faster than the 24 days that sales took place in March. In February it took 28 days for properties to sell. The pace of sales, as well as the volume, has been accelerating as the year has progressed. In some trading districts the pace of sales was astounding. For example, all semi-detached properties in the eastern trading districts sold in a mere 10 days. All detached homes sold in only 15 days. Even in Toronto’s most expensive central districts all properties sold very quickly. Semi-detached houses sold in 16 days, and detached homes, which had an average sale price of $817,649, in only 18 days.

The drag on the market was the condominium apartment sector. In central Toronto, where more than 60 percent of all condominium apartments for sale are located, it took 31 days for sales to take place. Condominium apartments accounted for more than 30 percent of the entire greater Toronto inventory of properties available for sale in April.

Overall inventory levels are increasing as new listings come to market. In April 18,270 new listings were placed on the market by sellers, an increase of 10.9 percent over the 16,470 that became available last year. At the beginning of May there were 20,866 homes for sale in the greater Toronto area, an increase of 13.5 percent compared to 2012. There are now 2.9 months of inventory in the City of Toronto. Last year at this time inventory levels were at 2.2 months. Expect inventory levels to increase as the year unfolds. An increase in inventory levels may not impact the number or speed of sales, but it will definitely impact average sale prices, as we saw in April.

In April the average sale price increased to $526,335, one of the lowest year-over-year increases this year. April’s average sale price was only 2 percent more than the $515,888 achieved in 2012. This moderate average sale price increase was no doubt impacted by the still sluggish high-end market. In April 606 properties having a sale price of $1 Million or more were reported sold. In 2012 643 were sold, a decline of 6 percent.

A bright spot in the market was the increase in the average sale price for condominium apartments. Since condominium apartments account for such a large portion of the overall market, a decline in average sale prices will be negatively felt throughout the market. In April, however, the average sale price for condominium apartments in Toronto increased by 5.6 percent to $379,266. Unfortunately there was a 5.9 percent decline in the 905 region, but that marketplace accounts for much fewer sales than the City of Toronto.

The number of condominium apartment listings is higher than in 2012, but not the volume that was forecast. In April there were 4,755 condominium apartments for sale in Toronto (with 1,990 apartments in the 905 region). This is only an 8 percent increase compared to the same period in 2012. In the central districts, where most condominium apartments are to be found, there were 3,045 apartments available for sale. Last year there were 2,608, an increase of 17 percent year-over-year. 17 percent is not substantially higher than the 13.5 percent increase in listings in the greater Toronto area marketplace for all property types.

April finished strong, and there are no economic factors that would cause May to be any less active. Last May 10,545 properties were reported sold. That represented the peak of sales in 2012. Following May sales began to decline throughout the remainder of 2012. This year the opposite should occur with sales remaining strong, posting positive variances compared to 2012 to the end of the year.

Prepared by: Chris Kapches, Senior Vice President and Legal Counsel Chestnut Park properties in the Toronto area

Luxury Market Picks Up

After a slow start, demand for luxury homes is regaining momentum in most major centres.

Mississauga, ON (April 30, 2013) – Spring is in the air and nowhere is that more evident than in the country’s luxury housing market. After a subdued start in the first quarter, demand for upscale properties is once again on the rise.

Eight out of the 16 major residential housing markets examined posted sales on par or ahead of last year’s levels in the first three months of the year. Percentage increases were led by Calgary (50 per cent), Edmonton (41 per cent), Regina (10 per cent), Saskatoon (6 per cent), Winnipeg and London-St. Thomas (five per cent), followed by Quebec City at three per cent. Six markets posted new records for first quarter sales, including London-St. Thomas, Hamilton-Burlington (which matched the record 2012 pace), Quebec City, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Calgary. For the second consecutive year, Greater Toronto secured the top spot for the greatest number of upper-end sales in the first quarter.

“Luxury sales were slow out of the gate in 2013, but momentum is clearly starting to build,” says Gurinder Sandhu, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “A growing number of purchasers are moving off the sidelines and into the market—even in centres that reported a dip in first-quarter sales. All the indicators are pointing to a traditional spring market poised for considerable growth.”

Report courtesy of RE/MAX