The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) housing market didn’t see a September surge of buyers as agents and analysts had hoped—but those on the hunt for real estate experienced balanced conditions, benefiting from less buyer competition and plenty of listings to choose from.
The September data from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) reveals that overall home sales fell 35% compared to this time last year, with 6,379 homes changing hands. That’s a relatively flat 0.3% bump from August, indicating the market’s post-Fair Housing Plan plunge is starting to settle. The average price across all home types rose 2.6% to $775,546, up 5.9% month over month.
Buyers are enjoying greater home inventory as 9.4% more listings came to market year over year. That sellers continue to list properties indicates there’s confidence the housing market will rebound throughout the fall, says TREB president Tim Syrianos. “The improvement in listings in September compared to a year earlier suggests that homeowners are anticipating an uptick in sales activity as we move through the fall,” he explains. “Consumer polling undertaken for TREB in the spring suggested that buying intentions over the next year remain strong.”
Buyers and sellers must adjust expectations
Lauren Haw, broker of record at Zoocasa Realty, says that while buyer conditions are the calmest they’ve been in recent memory, both buyers and sellers must take a realistic approach to offers. She notes that desirable homes still command multiple offers and require a smart strategy.
“Overall, we are in a perfectly balanced market,” Haw says. “However, sellers still think it’s a seller’s market and buyers think they’re going to find an amazing deal.
“The reality of the situation is that choice houses in choice neighbourhoods are still going for hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking, while average properties in good neighbourhoods sit on the market. A house that is appropriately priced and marketed well will sell.”
Affordable home types drive demand
Toronto condos continue to be the hottest housing type, with values up 23.2% from last September to an average of $520,411. In sharp contrast, the detached segment continues to falter—an average price of $1,015,067 keeps house ownership firmly out of financial reach for many buyers, prompting them to seek out affordable options. Sales for houses have fallen 40.4% year over year.
“You can’t time the market, and that’s important to keep in mind right now. People didn’t intend to buy at the peak. Now, prices are down, inventory is high, and over the short term, it’s a great time to buy in Toronto,” says Haw. “We know we are on the way down, but we don’t know if we are already at the bottom. Or are we already on our way back up? Real estate market changes are instantaneous—the whole market can change in two weeks.”
“With more balanced market conditions, the pace of year-over-year price growth was more moderate in September compared to a year ago,” says Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis.
“However, the exception was the condominium apartment market segment, where average and benchmark sales prices were up by more than 20% compared to last year. Tighter market conditions for condominium apartments follows consumer polling results from the spring that pointed toward a shift to condos in terms of buyer intentions.”
Check out the infographic below to see how September 2017 activity has changed year over year for Toronto townhouses, condos, detached, and semi-detached homes: