March sales were down across the board from March sales of 2004. According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, all residential sales were off by 13% - the same as the overall condo market. On a year-to-date basis, 2005 is 7% below 2004. The primary reason was the weather. March was awful but April appears much better. While this is not a weather forecast, weather can delay or move forward a spring market. We still expect the residential market to come close to matching last year's records. So is this a buyers or sellers market? While listings are up over last year at this time, the sales-to-active listings ratio at 36% slightly favours sellers. (A balanced market is 25-35%).
Looking at the condo market Downtown, sales in March were off 17% from March of last year. Lower sales were a result of less inventory - not a lack of buyers - as the sale-to-active listing ratio was over 40%! Owners should realize that this will all change by the end of the year as new projects are registered and many units will come to market. Not wishing to blow our own horn, RE/MAX Condos Plus had a record sales month in March!! (We believe that as the market gets more challenging, consumers will come to realize that they need to deal with full-time agents and not part-time relatives in handling their condo needs.)
The condo market on the Etobicoke Waterfront presents a different challenge. In March sales were higher by 18% from the same month last year. But the problem here is that there is more product to choose from. The sales-to-active listing ratio sits at 20% and hence sellers should not be expecting any price appreciation in this market over the near term.
This month we focused on resales in the largest condo project Downtown - City Place with five buildings completed and three more to be registered by the end of this year. This project appeals to investors and first time buyers because of its central location and more moderately priced units. Resales started to appear in mid-2003. The first unit we looked at was a one-bedroom with parking - 618 sq.ft facing north. We looked at high floors. The first unit sold for $206,000 in July of '03 and the same unit sold again in February of '04 for $217,000. Another unit sold for $199,000 in July of '03 and the same unit was resold at $216,000 in November of '04. The last sale of this type of unit was February of '05, on a lower floor, at $212,000. Prices are increasing by 5% per annum. The second unit examined was a two-bedroom/two bath unit facing south, again with parking. The size was 935 sq.ft. with a small balcony. These units first sold in May of '03 at $273,00 and reached a peak of $285,000 to $290,000 in 2003. In 2004, these same units were selling for $300,000. On average, these units are increasing at 8% per annum. Prices are now averaging $320 per sq.ft. for the bigger units and $345 for the smaller ones. These figures confirm an orderly market that should be sustainable going forward.
Most renters seem to think that they are still in a buyers market! Statistics for March proved them wrong! One-bedroom condo units rented for an average of $1530/mo versus an average list price of $1560. The days of offering $200 below list are gone. The average unit was also on the market for 25 days. The same trends are evident in the two-bedroom rental market. The average list price was $2100 with a rental price of $2075. These units tended to stay on the market for 28 days on average.