October sales this year on the Toronto Real Estate Board were down 7% from October of 2011. New listings for the month were up 6% over October of last year and the current inventory of ‘active listings’ at just over 20,000 properties is 16% higher than a year ago. This represents about a three month’s supply of listings at current sale rates. In comparison, the U.S. the norm is about six to eight months. Turning to the condo apartment market, October sales were down by 16% from October of last year. While the condo market is weaker than the house or freehold market, there is a slight improvement from the summer. Downtown, condo sales were 20% lower in October versus 30% declines for September and August. Is that good news? Downtown, ‘active’ condo listings are just over 1600 and that’s a 35% increase over last year at this time. This represents a 4.4 month’s supply. For the first two weeks of November, overall sales on TREB declined by 17% versus the same period in 2011. It now appears that the rest of the market is catching up to the slowdown first evidenced in the downtown condo market over the summer. For November, the downtown condo market recorded a decrease of 21% in sales versus the same period of 2011. But the number one question is: what about prices? And where have prices moved this year? Unfortunately most experts can only reference average prices. Our views are well documented: average prices are not accurate because the mix of sales is always changing over time and you end up comparing apples to oranges. Our approach has always been to take an individual unit and track the sale of this same unit
over time – usually a number of years. In this Report, we are taking a different approach. We are going to track the sale of an identical unit
over 2012 in order to see how prices have changed during the year. We selected one of the most popular condo buildings, 65 Bremner – Maple Leaf Square. The unit we selected was a 549 sf – one bedroom + den without parking. There were seven sales reported for this unit from January to October. The units ranged from floors 16 to 36. As a rough guide, the floor differential is about $500. The highest sale price recorded was in January at $359,000. It was on a lower floor. The lowest sale prices were in August at $342,000 and $340,000 – both 7 and 9 floors higher than the January sale. The last two sales were $344,000 and $346,000 - the last one being just a single floor higher than the January sale. Starting at $359,000, we can say that the average price for this type of unit, when adjusted for floor level is now about $345,000 and the bottom was reached in August. This would translate into a price decline of 4% over the year. That is consistent with what we have been reporting in previous Market Reports. We believe that sales activity will begin to pick up in 2013, so it seems unlikely that prices will decline much further. So people expecting significant price declines may have to wait a few years longer! RENTAL COMMENTARY:
Last month’s Report received more comments over rental prices than anything else. We can tell you that rental prices were unchanged in October. The rental market is more seasonal than sales and we are entering the slowest period from October to the end of the year. Still over 300 one-bedroom units were leased downtown at an average time on market of just seven days. (These are summer volumes.) Tenants need to have their documents in hand (application, credit bureau, and employment letter) before they view their first property! The one bedroom market starts at $1700 per month. A den and parking on top will bring the number to almost $2,000 a month. And if you want a one-bedroom with two baths instead of one, the average price is now $2200. (The first time we tried to put a value on the second washroom.) The two bedroom market starts at $2300 and can easily go as high as $2700. The question remains: how high will rents go before more people turn back to buying?