AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2008 MARKET REPORT
Another month in the books and the results are the same. Sales on the Toronto Real Estate Board were down by 12% in July from July of last year. Active listings are up 28% and the average price was up by just 1% over last year. It certainly suggests that the market is slowing down and we do to disagree with that assessment. In fact, you read it several months ago in this Report that house prices in Toronto ‘peaked’ in January of this year! Yet we continue to believe that owning is a better option than renting- and so do most Canadians!
But the biggest problem with reporting numbers like these is that both bank economists and newspaper reporters somehow believe that the housing market is just another commodity when in actual fact real estate consists of many micro markets. In July, condo sales between $300,000 and $400,000 were 21% higher than in July of 2007. In July of 2008, 16 condos over one million dollars were sold compared to just 9 in July of ’07. What does that tell you about market segments? There is no doubt that overall condo sales in the Downtown market are lower – about 8% from last July. The sale-to-list ratio – what we believe is the best economic indicator of any market segment is at 46%. Last year in July it was at an unsustainable 80%! Remember that a balanced market is in the 30% range and the Toronto Board is at 29%.
In this Report, we wanted to look at a variety of sales in 2008 that took place at the three towers of Water club Condos – 208 and 218 Queens Quay and 8 York. This complex has great facilities and appeals to the under 40 group. While most units have narrow layouts, they offer great lake views. The first unit we choose is 704 sqft. without parking. It has a bedroom and solarium. It sold in February of this year for $295,000 and the same unit sold 15 months earlier for $279,000. The real facts - $419 per sq.ft. without parking and a 5.7% increase in price over 15 months. Let’s look at another unit – a smaller one bedroom with parking. It sold this year for $275,000 and also 15 months earlier for $249,000 – that’s a 10% increase. Parking in the complex is scarce and sells for over $30,000. If you eliminate the parking, this unit sold for $470 per sq.ft. – at the high end of the resale market. Finally we looked at a Penthouse which sold for $1,130,000 this year. It is only two bedrooms and two baths, parking, locker, but has 4 walk outs to a large terrace with great city and water views. The furniture was included. The same unit sold without the furniture 18 months earlier for $880,000. While the price increase was 28%, if you adjust for the furniture it is less than 17%. The price for this Penthouse is just under $700 per sq ft, which is not unreasonable.
What’s the moral of this story? Prices are still rising for condos in 2008 – at a rate of 5% annually, which is certainly sustainable going forward. Prices per sqft. in a prime building are still under $500 and the Penthouse price is not unreasonable. Conclusion - we don’t see the possibility of any price correction in this building or in the Downtown condo resale market.
The rush to rent for September 1st has been intense for the last 30 days. Multiple offers are the ‘norm’ not the exception and who would believe that. Rentals are averaging less than 15 days on the market and are renting out at 100% of ‘ask’. The condos under construction can certainly be rented out in this market. Last month we reported that rental rates were up by $50 per month across the board. Bachelor units are scarce and the entry level is $1200. One bedroom units start at $1400 without parking and will go over $1600 for a one plus one with parking. July was the biggest month ever for two bedroom rentals. Expect to pay $1800 without parking (rare) to $2,000 with parking. Two plus a den start from $2200. The market for three bedroom condo rentals is basically non-existent.