It’s been a surprisingly hot summer for real estate across the GTA, with sales up 21 per cent in August over a year earlier, according to figures released by the Toronto Real Estate Board Thursday.
Prices have also rebounded, in defiance of naysayers who, for more than a year now, have been anticipating a market crash. The average GTA sale price in August was $503,094, up almost 5.5 per cent from a year ago.
Even Vancouver, which suffered the brunt of the slowdown that started in spring of 2012 and accelerated when tougher mortgage lending rules were imposed by Ottawa a few weeks later, saw a dramatic surge in sales.
Transactions were up 52 per cent in August, although prices remain slightly below year-ago levels in what has long been Canada’s hottest, and priciest, housing market.
Some of the strongest growth numbers were seen in Toronto’s beleaguered condo sector last month where sales were up 20.1 per cent across the GTA — 21.4 per cent in the City of Toronto — and prices climbed by 3.7 per cent year over year.
TREB attributed the sales increases to the fact that buyers have now adjusted to the more stringent lending rules, saved up bigger deposits and “have reactivated their search for a home.”
But there are other factors at play as well: There is growing confidence, although still considerable wariness, that the market is holding up far better than most observers had expected a year ago.
House hunters have also grown anxious that prices have only continued to climb while they’ve been watching from the sidelines since last summer.
Also adding to that anxiety has been the unexpectedly strong rise in bond yields since June and, with them, fixed-rate mortgage rates. That has pushed more buyers to get out there looking before their 90- to 120-day rate guarantees from lenders run out.
The weather may also have been a factor. The normally peak spring market was held back this year across the GTA because of the winter that never seemed to end. Realtors had been anticipating that pent-up demand could push up sales well into the fall as a result.
The surge in buyers, coupled with the lack of enough properties for sale on the market to feed demand — a challenge that has dogged the GTA market for more than three years now — is “expected to promote continued price growth through the remainder of 2013,” says Jason Mercer, senior manager of market analysis for TREB.
Sales of detached homes were up 24.2 per cent in August, year over year, across the GTA, according to TREB. The average sale price hit $783,708 in the City of Toronto and $590,583 in the 905 regions.
Condo sales rebounded by 21.4 per cent in the City of Toronto and 16.9 per cent in the 905 regions. Prices were up 3.7 per cent overall, with the biggest increases in the 905 regions (up 7.1 per cent to an average of $293,825) compared to a 2.3 per cent increase in the City of Toronto where prices in August averaged $357,572.
Semi-detached sales were up 7.4 per cent in the city and 16.5 per cent in the suburbs, with sales prices averaging $576,022 (up 8.7 per cent) and $409,322 (up 5.1 per cent) respectively.
Townhouses saw sales climb by 17.6 per cent across the GTA, 12.6 per cent in the city and 19.2 per cent in the 905 regions. Prices were down just under one per cent in the City of Toronto, to an average of $416,463, while they were up 6.7 per cent in the 905 regions to an average of $374,494.
Sabrina Wong, Sales Representative
Century 21 Atria Realty Inc.