February sales matched those for February of '06. On a year to date basis, we are running slightly ahead of last year. There are no signs of a market change, and in fact, active listings this year are 3% lower than a year ago. Prices will continue to rise!
The condo market continues to out perform the overall market. Overall condo sales for February were 5% higher than the same month last year. Downtown, condo sales were running 9% above last year. The sale-to-listing ratio is also higher than a year ago at 46%. This is certainly a market that favours sellers. The Etobicoke Waterfront recorded a sale-to-list ratio of 32% - up from 20% a year ago. (a balanced market is in the 25-35% range). This is a sign that the Etobicoke market is improving.
In this issue, we looked at sales at 44 St. Joseph -just off Bay and known as Polo Club II. The first unit we looked at was a one-bedroom with solarium, no parking, just under 600 sq.ft. A unit sold at the end of 2006 for $222,500 at 104% of list price. The very same unit sold in '03 for $163,000. That represents an increase of 36% over three years, and a current price of just under $400 per sq.ft. While a sale of 104% of list price is impressive, an identical unit sold three months earlier on a lower floor for $236,000. That was 98% of list price. The lesson to be learned is that pricing a unit below market to attract multiple offers, while trendy, will not necessarily yield the highest price! Pricing at market is usually your best option.
We also examined sales on a larger unit also at 44 St. Joseph. This was a two-bedroom, two-bath unit with parking at just under 1100 sq.ft. The unit sold for $350,00 in January of this year. In 2001, you could buy the very same unit for $272,000, which represents only a 29% increase over 5 years - or less than 6% per year! What was interesting with this unit was that another identical one sold in February of this year at $365,00 but with two parking spots on a lower floor. When you adjust for the floor difference, the buyer paid $25,000 for the second parking spot!
February is one of the slower rental months. There were 90 one-bedroom with parking units leased for a median price of $1500 and 48 one-bedroom units without parking at $1350. Do the math! There were 75 two-bedroom units leased for a median price of $2000. Only 9 studio units were leased in February at a median price of $1100. The low number is because many landlords list studios as 'junior one bedrooms'!! People looking for three-bedroom units are still out of luck - only one townhouse leased in February for $2500. Just about all units were leased at 100% of list. While the vacancy rate for condo rentals is just under 1%, the Residential Tenancies Act, which came into effect January 31st, is also having an impact. The new Act is supposed to provide better protection for tenants. It is now more difficult to evict tenants, and it takes longer too. Landlords are now becoming much more particular in selecting their tenants in the first place. If they sense a potential tenant could be a problem, they just don't accept them, and they don't have to provide a reason. So potential tenants are making offers at full list price when they find a unit they want!