Brian O'Donoghue

Sales Representative

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

Toronto has been ranked among the five most expensive cities for real estate in the entire world. A new report which looks at average income versus housing prices, found that housing affordability worldwide continued to deteriorate throughout the pandemic. Toronto scored 9.9, compared to the worst offender, Hong Kong, which scored 20.7, Vancouver was ranked second at 13.0, followed by Sydney 11.8, Auckland at 10.0 and San Francisco at 9.6. Other stats have shown you now need to have an annual income of at least $178,499 to afford to enter the Toronto market, with the average price for a detached home in the city now more than $1.5 million.


Thanks to low interest rates and a desire to have more space during pandemic lockdowns, the housing market has followed up a decade of steady gains. The term bubble is starting to be used in connection with real estate. The effect of rising prices on affordability is a worry among some who feel they will never be able to afford a house.


Older generations, especially those who bought homes during the high-interestrate era of the early 1980’s experienced affordability problems of their own. Imagine paying over 18% interest on a 30-year fixed mortgage? Affordability dropped to an all-time low and priced most Canadians out of the market. So why are current buyers unwilling to equate the challenges of previous generations to the current situation?


While some economists are warning the Toronto housing market could be approaching a bubble, others are stopping short of using that term. What’s different now? Economists believe the “fundamentals” of the Toronto market -the economy, interest rates, population growth and the sources of demand for housing are far more solid than they were in the late 1980s.

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 The spoils of pandemic wealth have added billions to Canadian households and to their total wealth unexpectedly during this past year. In every province, net worth is on the rise. About two-thirds of the average wealth gain came from rising home values, with the rest owing to a surge of savings. It’s a situation that bears little resemblance to past recessions. Disposable income is up sharply, home prices have never been higher and stock markets erased their losses months ago.


Ontario saw its average household wealth rise by close to $50,000 or 7.2%. Roughly three-quarters of that was driven by real estate. In the Toronto and Ottawa areas, the average gain in home values was around $43,000 over nine months in 2020. The wealthy have certainly benefited. In high-income annual neighbourhoods, where average annual household income is between $190K and $300K, home values rose by an average of $106,000.

In lower-income areas, it was less than $10,000. Keep in mind these are just averages. Some home values have way exceeded these numbers.


The key driver of wealth was savings. Over the first nine months in 2020, households in Canada saved in excess of $200 billion. The vast majority going to deposits, which include savings accounts, GIC’s and term deposits. The rest was used to pay down debt like credit cards.


The other side of the net-worth equation is debt. Statscan figures show Canadians lowered their non-mortgage debt last year, but also added $118 billion in mortgages, the largest annual increase on record. The value of real estate assets climbed by significantly more than mortgage debt, helping to bolster wealth. The Bank of Canada announced this week it wouldn’t be raising interest rates until inflation consistently stays around two per cent, something it doesn’t believe will happen until some time in 2023. Mortgage rates have already started to edge up as markets start to take note of several positive economic signals

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