Brian O'Donoghue

Sales Representative

Direct 647-405-3126 | bodonoghue@bosleyrealestate.com

As we navigate through these uncertain times, we are wondering what condo life will look like in the future. To illustrate how quickly the condo market changed as a result of COVID-19, resale activity was up 25% year-over-year during the first half of March 2020 and fell 21% year-over-year in the second half of the month, with even steeper annual declines of over 70% reported for April. However, the GTA market was exceptionally tight leading into the COVID-19 period, creating spillover demand that has enabled the limited number of units on the market to continue transacting. In fact, the average sale price-to-list-price ratio has remained near 100% through April, and the average days on market was unchanged at 18 days.


As sales have declined by a much faster pace than new listings, resale condo prices have experienced some reduction. Preliminary resale data for April reported a 2.2% annual decline in average resale prices for condos, and most of the decline has occurred for higher-priced units. Overall, industry experts feel that resale values might be down by 5% at the end of 2020 compared to the end of 2019. Again this is all speculation as no one has a crystal ball.


Toronto rents were also down on all fronts. In April, the average one-bedroom rent in Toronto dropped 2.2% month-over-month to $2,200 and two-bedroom rent fell 4.1% month-over-month to $2,830. The decline in rental transactions can clearly be related to the impact of the protective measures and economic uncertainty stemming from the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, with renters less willing or able to take on a new lease at current rents, as well as the closing of Canadian borders and the challenges with showing units and planning for a move in the current environment.


Of importance, rental supply did not experience the same degree of decline as leases, with new listings decreasing by a more modest 7% in the post-COVID-19 period from a year earlier. The relatively more stable level of new listings may be attributed to a rise in condo completions in the first quarter, tenants unable to pay their rent providing notice to vacate, and some short-term Airbnb units becoming available in the long-term market.

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 In the early stages of the lockdown, most of us were in a state of shock. That has changed as time has gone on. People now realize it will not be the same moving forward, so we are starting to plan for life after the lockdown.


Toronto real estate sale numbers may be down overall, but homes in certain neighbourhoods of the city are attracting avid interest. This week we know of a couple of properties that went wild. A two-bedroom semi in Danforth Village listed at $799K attracted 12 offers and a detached in prime Riverdale listed at $1.8M got 8 bully offers. The hottest-selling price sector in April was the $750,000-$999,000 range for freeholds, which includes semis and townhouses. With 184 sales, it was three times higher than the next price tier which is between $1 million and $1.25 million that saw 61 transactions.


The lowest point for sales was the week ending April 11, with 557 sales in the Toronto region, but the numbers have steadily increased since, to 909 in the first week of May. That is still half of what the sales were in mid-March, but it does represent 63-per-cent growth since the recent lockdown shock. Because active listings continue to decline, the competition for the few houses out there seems to be supporting prices.


It’s hard to see it now but the dust will settle, and we will be left with a new world to navigate for our clients. We do know that whatever the outcome, it will be different than it was before and there is no going back. The pandemic will leave behind the largest consumer shift in world history. People will spend differently, people will have different tolerance levels for risk, and people will need to transact real estate.

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The April stats were released this week from the Toronto Real Estate Board and as bleak as it may look with sales down 67%, home prices remained at April 2019 levels. There was also a report put out by CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing) that suggested Canada’s real estate prices probably wouldn’t return to pre-covid levels until the end of 2022. The experts reject that bleak outlook suggesting national outlooks do not necessarily reveal regional, municipal, or even neighbourhood distinctions, and some experts say Toronto’s prospects may not be so bleak.

RBC Economics suggested that the worst may have passed with April being the low point for housing resales now that the economy is showing signs of starting back up. If the economy opens up, buyers and sellers might start engaging with the housing market again, bringing an uptick in sales. For some, the prospect of waiting to move is not an option. Whether they’ve already sold a home pre-COVID-19 and need to buy, they need to access their home equity to keep their business operating, or they’ve been laid off and need to pay the bills, the property market will need to continue operating in order to serve these individuals.


While people may fear that the resources for purchasing or selling a home won’t be available, this is not the case. Homebuyers and sellers will have the support needed during their real estate process. As a result, a lack of resources will not be a factor in slowing down the market. The Bank of Canada has announced a decrease in its benchmark interest rate, putting the current rate at 0.25%. Buyers can now borrow a larger amount of money for mortgages and pay less interest over time. For those who have retained their jobs and have a down payment on hand, they will be in a strong position to leverage lower interest rates to make a down payment on a home. While markets have shifted, the long-term impacts on Toronto real estate prices remain to be seen.


Don’t forget its Mother’s Day this Sunday. In these challenging times and thanks to modern conferencing apps it's possible to stay connected and spend time together even if you can't be in the same room. To all the moms, thank you!

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 Awh…the month of May when spring gradually blooms into summer and finally some good news to report. Some economists apparently predict home prices to rise 6% this year and we can expect to see rapid price growth once the outbreak passes, several recent forecasts have predicted, even amid massive job losses. Despite a steep drop in sales this year, the average home price in Canada will be 6.1% higher at the end of this year than it was a year earlier, TD Bank said in a forecast issued this week.


Given that incomes are unlikely to rise much during this crisis, affordability will deteriorate when you look at house prices. Sales may be falling, but the supply of homes on the market is falling with them which means the market balance isn’t shifting much. The country won’t see a sudden rush of people who need to sell their homes quickly, thanks to the banks’ new mortgage deferral programs.


And what about the millions of Canadians who have lost work in this crisis? Won’t this affect house prices? Economists think that won’t have as much impact on the housing market as one would think, because, they say the jobs lost in this crisis have disproportionately affected people in service industries ― think customer service reps and Starbucks baristas ― and these people overwhelmingly tend to rent.


TD’s forecast sees Toronto house prices rising 7.8% this year, compared to last year, while Vancouver will see 4.7% growth. Things will look worse out west, TD predicted, where the oil slump will lead to a 4.7% price decline in Alberta. Sales are poised to plunge at a historic pace in April, while gradually recovering in subsequent months as buyers remain cautious, the report states. “We think this recession is going to be deep but quick, and the economy will recover quite quickly as soon as we substantially get through the health crisis”, said chief economist Peter Norman for The Altus Group.

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