Home prices jump across the GTA

The numbers are providing hope that the overheated GTA housing market isn’t headed for a crash.

By: Susan Pigg
Business Reporter

Toronto-area realtors are seeing a surprisingly strong start to 2013 after a slump that began last spring.

Home sales were down just slightly — about 1.3 per cent — in January over a year earlier after months of largely double-digit decreases while prices were up 4.3 per cent across the GTA, according to new figures released Tuesday by the Toronto Real Estate Board.

The average sales price of a GTA home last month was $482,648, up from $462,655 in January, 2012.

Assuming the turnaround holds, “expect annual price growth in the three to five per cent range this year,” says TREB’s senior market analyst, Jason Mercer.

While it’s early days — and the market is so unpredictable right now that even many veteran realtors are shaking their heads — the numbers are providing hope that the overheated GTA housing market isn’t headed for the crash many had been predicting.

Just in the last few weeks, bidding wars have unexpectedly erupted in a number of coveted Toronto neighbourhoods and some condos that had languished on the market for months have suddenly been selling with multiple offers.

And it’s still weeks to go before the start of this year’s highly anticipated spring market.

“This (the strong January numbers) suggests that some buyers, who put their decision to purchase on hold last year due to stricter mortgage lending guidelines, are once again becoming active in the market,” said Toronto Real Estate Board president Ann Hannah in a statement.

She noted that sales were especially strong in the suburban regions around the City of Toronto, citing the dampening effect of Toronto’s double land transfer tax.

But affordability can’t be discounted: The average sales price of a detached house in the city was $765,049 in January compared to $563,675 in the 905 regions, TREB’s January sales figures show.

Resale condos saw a 5.1 per cent decline in sales in January over a year earlier, with the biggest declines (6.4 per cent) recorded in the 905 regions compared to a 4.5 per cent drop in sales in the city.

The average price of a resale condo in the 905 regions was down 1.4 per cent to $269,073, while units in the 416 area were down 1.3 per cent to an average $340,295, says TREB.

Townhouses saw the biggest decline in sales in January year over year in the City of Toronto, with sales down 11.2 per cent. Prices, however, were up almost 2 per cent, to $418,262. That compares to a 1 per cent increase in 905 sales and a 5.6 per cent increase in price to $359,271.

The sale of detached homes in the 416 region declined 7.6 per cent, but prices held steady, up 2.7 per cent year-over-year to an average of $765,049. Sales of detached homes in the 905 regions were up 3.7 per cent and average prices came in at $563,675 in January, TREB reports.

Some 4,375 homes changed hands in January compared to 4,432 a year earlier.

New listings were up almost 11 per cent year-over-year, while the number of days on market jumped almost 13 per cent, from an average of 32 days in January, 2012 to some 37 days last month. 

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