April 2024

In Review

A number of commentators have focused on April’s negative variances compared to market results achieved in April 2023. Specifically, the fact that sales declined by 5 percent from the 7,114 residential properties that traded hands this year compared to the 7,487 properties reported sold last April.

In addition, heavy emphasis was placed on the number of new listings that came to market and the number of active properties available to buyers at the end of the month. Last year, 11,509 new properties came to market. This April, 16,941 came to market, an increase of more than 47 percent. By month end, there were 18,088 homes available to buyers, almost 75 percent more than the 10,373 properties available last April. Year-over-year, lower sales and a dramatic increase in supply may give the appearance of a declining market, but a deeper dive into April’s data tells a very different story.

 

YEAR-OVER-YEAR SUMMARY

20242023% Change
Sales7,1147,487-5.0%
New Listings16,94111,50947.2%
Active Listings18,08810,37374.4%
Average Price$1,156,167$1,152,5190.3%
Average LDOM191711.8%

Source: TRREB 2024

 

By April of 2023, the Toronto and Region resale market was ascending rapidly. It was ascending so rapidly that in June and July the Bank of Canada, apprehensive as to the strong real estate market’s impact on rising inflation, increased its benchmark rate to 5 percent (where it currently stands). By August, the resale market was in steep descent. That descent has only been reversed during the first four months of 2024. Often, year-over-year comparisons belie and sometimes distort market reality.

Market reality is more accurately reflected by the speed of sales and their sale price as compared to asking prices. In April, all properties reported sold (including condominium apartments), on average, sold at 102 percent of their asking price and in only 19 days. If condominium apartment sales are extracted from the overall numbers, the results are startlingly positive.

In April, all the detached properties that sold in the City of Toronto “flew off the shelf” in only 15 days and at 103 percent of their asking prices. The average sale price for all detached properties in the City of Toronto came in at $1,822,244. More significantly, all detached properties reported sold in Toronto Central, which encompasses some of Toronto’s most expensive neighbourhoods, sold in only 18 days and for 100 percent of their asking price. The average sale price for detached property sales in Toronto’s central districts came in at an eye-popping $2,627,700.

Activity in the semi-detached sector was even more robust. All semi-detached properties that became available in the City of Toronto sold for 108 percent of their asking price, and amazingly, in only 12 days. In the

905 Region, activity for semi-detached properties was just as brisk. All sales took place in only 13 days and at 106 percent of asking prices. Semi-detached properties in Toronto’s eastern districts sold at pandemic-level speed. All semi-detached properties sold in only 10 days and at 112 percent of their asking prices. The average sale price for semi-detached homes in April was substantially higher in the City of Toronto than in the 905 Region. The average sale price in the 905 came in at $1,139,929. Furthermore, the average sale price for semi-detached homes in the City of Toronto was almost 20 percent higher, coming in at $1,365,061.

Condominium apartments, the largest segment of available properties, performed poorly in April, acting as a drag on the overall resale market. All condominium apartments that sold in April did so in 26 days, and at only 99 percent of their asking price, a dramatic divergence from detached and semi-detached activity. The average sale price for all condominium apartments sold came in at $728,067. Sales were off by 9.5 percent compared to last April.

Even more concerning is the number of new listings that came to market. In April, 5,542 new condominium apartments came to the market – almost 33 percent of all new inventory. By month end, 7,015 condominium apartments were available to buyers, almost 40 percent of total available inventory.

There are many factors responsible for the disconnect between the condominium apartment market and the ground level market of detached and semi-detached homes. No doubt the increasing inventory represents investor units purchased before or during the pandemic market. With rising financing costs, these units are financially non-performing, and investors are selling to reduce losses. In addition, many thousands of unquantifiable assignment sales are also on the market, competing with listed condominium apartments, resulting in a glut of available inventory.

At first blush, one would conclude that this would be a market opportunity for buyers. Unfortunately, condominium apartments are primarily the homes of choice for first time buyers. Most available apartments are spatially small. Since 2017, all condominium apartments built in Toronto average only 659 square feet. Two decades earlier, they averaged 1,010, still relatively small but quite livable. The same size reduction in units is true for all condominium apartments built in the greater Toronto Region.

These small condominium apartments remain beyond the economic reach of most first-time buyers, many being immigrants without local family support. In Toronto’s central districts, where 63 percent of the City of Toronto’s sales take place, and 41 percent of all condominium apartment sales in the greater Toronto area took place, the average sale price in April was a lofty $829,501. Given today’s mortgage financing costs, a buyer would need a household income of approximately $175,000 to purchase the average price condominium apartment in central Toronto. Canada Mortgage and Housing reports that the average household income in central Toronto is $109,599.

Clearly, the Toronto and Region marketplace is fractured. The ground-level resale market is strong with average sales prices remaining strong, with detached and semi detached properties selling quickly and for strong sale prices. The rapidity with which ground-level properties sell speaks to the market’s incredible demand, driven by years of population growth due primarily to immigration.

Demand for condominium apartments appears to have waned, primarily due to space constraints as a result of poor, but economically lucrative (for developers), design developments. In addition, for most first-time buyers, even if they were happy to accept these small condominium apartments, at their current price point, they remain unaffordable. Looking forward, we can expect similar market results in May. The average sale price will continue to hover around $1,150,000, with sales expected to come in at the 7,000 plus range. To some extent the market is in a limbo state, hanging on every statement uttered by the Bank of Canada, waiting for the much-anticipated rate cut. In June? July?