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Industry Report: Ontario Housing Plan Not Slowing Down GTA’s New Home Market

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Industry Report: Ontario Housing Plan Not Slowing Down GTA’s New Home Market

The Province’s Fair Housing Plan is having little real effect on the new housing market in the GTA.

The market continued to climb in June and condominium sales reached another record high and the supply of new housing remains exceptionally low.

Sales of new condo apartments in highrise and midrise buildings and stacked townhomes jumped 59 per cent from May and the price of available units also rose, according to our partners at Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new-home market intelligence.

New home sales rose 23 per cent from June 2016. So far this year, 28,889 new homes have been purchased, which is a 14 per cent increase from the same period in 2016 and 44 per cent above the 10-year average.

The Provincial Government introduced the Fair Housing Plan in April, saying it was an effort to help more people find affordable homes, increase supply, protect buyers and renters and bring stability to the real estate market. Since its introduction there has been a slowdown in the region’s resale housing market, but overall prices in the new homes market continue to rise and the supply of new homes — the number of homes available to buyers in builders’ inventories at the end of the month — continues to drop.

The supply of new homes dropped by almost 20 per cent in June to 8,661 as highrise inventory continued to fall and inventory in lowrise single family homes remained very low. In June, 10,820 new homes were available — a dramatic difference from the 18,063 new homes available a year earlier. In June 2007 there were 30,300 new homes available.

Three out of four new construction homes purchased in the GTA so far this year have been condo apartments, highrise and midrise buildings and stacked townhomes, and about 91 per cent of the 6,046 new homes sold in June were multi-family condo apartments. June’s sale of 5,495 units surpasses the previous sales record set in March and represents an 89 per cent increase from a year ago and it is more than double the 10-year average of 2,550 units sold.

The average price tag of an available new condo apartment in builder inventories in the GTA was up more than $22,000 from May to June and that’s on the heels of an increase of more $30,000 from April to May. June’s $627,000 average price marked a 34 per cent increase from a year ago. In the same period, the average price per square foot of units has gone from $587 to $742.

For many homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, condo apartments are the only affordable option for owning a home in this region. The price acceleration in the condo portion of the market is especially worrisome since it not only represents the lion’s share of new housing in the GTA, it’s also making it difficult for condos to remain the affordable option.

The ongoing drop in new housing inventory demonstrates how difficult it is for the industry to bring new homes to the market. Barriers include lack of developable land that’s serviced with critical infrastructure, excessive red tape, out-of-date zoning, and NIMBYism. With changes coming to the Ontario Municipal Board it is going to be even more challenging for the industry to bring needed new housing product to the market and the supply situation is likely to get far worse.

The record number of condominium apartment sales in June was the result of a ‘perfect storm’ of factors, Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president of Research Consulting Services, tells us. These factors include the sizeable number of units in new condo projects opened in May and June (over 8,500); demand from end-user buyers who might have preferred a single-family home but have adjusted their expectations due to lack of affordable supply; and heightened investor interest due to the rapid price increases for condo apartments in recent months.

In June, prices of available lowrise single-family homes — which included detached, semi-detached and townhomes — were also up. The average price of new lowrise single-family homes available for purchase in builders’ inventories reached $1,250,262. While this was only a slight increase from May, it was more than a 40 per cent increase from a year ago when the average price was $887,543.

BRYAN TUCKEY is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments. He can be found on Twitter (twitter.com/bildgta), Facebook (facebook.com/bildgta), and BILD’s official online blog (bildblogs.ca).

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