So, what happened during this gloomy February? Market conditions tightened significantly through the second month of the year, as they did in January. Likely thanks to fallout from the mandated mortgage stress test, seasonal distress, and poor weather, there has been a noticeable drop in new listings coming to market; there were almost 7 per cent fewer new listings this past month than in February 2018. This resulted in 2.4 per cent fewer real estate transactions, and a great many homebuyers – particularly fist-time buyers – getting sidelined during their house hunt.
Here’s the Toronto Real Estate Board’s analysis for February 2019:
TORONTO, ONTARIO, March 5, 2019 – Toronto Real Estate Board President Gurcharan (Garry) Bhaura announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 5,025 homes sold through TREB’s MLS® System in February 2019. This sales total was down by 2.4 per cent on a year-over-year basis. Sales were also down compared to January 2019 following preliminary seasonal adjustment.
“The OSFI mandated mortgage stress test has left some buyers on the sidelines who have struggled to qualify for the type of home they want to buy. The stress test should be reviewed and consideration should be given to bringing back 30 year amortizationsfor federally insured mortgages.There is a federal budget and election on the horizon. It will be interesting to see what policy measures are announced to help with home ownership affordability,” said Mr. Bhaura.
Despite sales being down year-over-year, new listings actually declined by a greater annual rate. This suggests that market conditions became tighter compared to last year. Tighter market conditions continued to support year-over-year average price growth.
Both the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark and the average selling price were up modestly on a year-over-year basis in February 2019. The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark was up by 2.4per cent year-over-year. The average selling price for all home types combined was up by 1.6per cent over the same period. Price growth was driven by the condominium apartment segment and higher density low-rise home types. On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis the average selling price was down compared to January 2019.
“Home sales reported through TREB’s MLS® System have a substantial impact on the Canadian economy. A study conducted by Altus for TREB found that, on average, each home sale reported through TREB resulted in $68,000 in spin-off expenditures accruing to the economy. With sales substantially lower than the 2016 record peak over the last two years, we have experienced a hit to the economy in the billions of dollars, in the GTA alone. This hit has also translated into lower government revenues and, if sustained, could impact the employment picture as well,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis and Service Channels.
The rental market continued to operate in a high demand,low inventory environment during the first two months of 2019. Strong competition between renters resulted in average rents for one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments leased through TREB’s MLS® System increasing well-above the rate of inflation on a year-over-year basis for the January-February period. The average one-bedroom rent was up by 8.1 per cent to $2,145. The average two-bedroom rent was up by 7.4 per cent to $2,810.“With vacancy rates hovering in the one per cent range and average rents increasing in the high single digits, it is clear that signing a lease for a rental unit is not an easy proposition in the GTA. While some rent control provisions have been relaxed by the new provincial government, policy makers need to look at further initiatives to encourage rather than discourage investment in rental apartments. A recent Ipsos survey conducted for TREB found that almost one-quarter of investment property owners are very likely to list their property for sale this year, which is concerning in an already tight rental market,” said TREB CEO John DiMichele.
If you’d like to see more in depth figures – by housing type and/or geographical area – here’s the complete set of February 2019 TREB Stats!
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