GTA condo sales and prices hit record levels
With home prices seemingly forever on the rise, there is only one way for many GTA homebuyers to go – up, as in into highrise condos and other multi-family housing options.
Fueled largely by affordability – and the lack thereof in lowrise homes – resale condominium apartments and townhomes in the GTA now represents almost 37 per cent of total residential sales by the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), up from 30 per cent in 2013, according to a new report by ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region.
Momentum has also been reflected in resale condominium values, which is the only property segment that held up against the 2017 market correction, ReMax says.
The average price of a condominium unit increased almost eight per cent to $551,761 between January and October 2018, up from $512,552 during the same period in 2017.
Townhomes were slightly ahead of last year’s pace, with values hovering at $571,058, compared to $568,165 in 2017. Prices of freehold properties, including single-detached, semi-detached, attached/row/townhouse and linked townhomes are all down year-over-year.
AFFORDABILITY KEY ATTRACTION
“The condominium lifestyle continues to resonate with buyers in the Greater Toronto Area for a number of reasons,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region. “While the affordability aspect is first and foremost, we’ve also a seen strong investor presence in recent years.”
Alexander cites a recent report by Urbanation and CIBC, which found that investors who bought condominiums for the purpose of renting accounted for 48 per cent of all newly completed units in the GTA in 2017. “The income potential, given today’s tight rental market, in addition to the overall return on investment, has been a serious draw for real estate investors.”
Immigration, population growth and lifestyle choices have also contributed to the uptick in demand for condo apartments and townhomes. Aging infrastructure, combined with a lack of transportation alternatives, longer commute times and the environmental component – with efforts to reduce carbon footprint – have all played a role in buyers choosing condominiums in Toronto proper that are close to both work and play, Alexander says.
DOWNTOWN THE CHOICE LOCATION
The most popular area for condominium sales remains the downtown core, with one in every five condominiums (21.9 per cent) sold in the area bordered by Bloor Street to the north, the lakeshore to the south, the Don Valley Parkway to the east and just past Dovercourt Road in the west.
“In spite of a proliferation of condominium developments over the past decade, supply and demand issues continue to persist in the core,” says Alexander. “Limited inventory continues to place substantial upward pressure on prices, with fewer affordable housing options available– and that includes condominium rentals.”
Average resale prices hover at $700,000 for condo units, with new construction closing in on $1,000 per sq. ft.
PROXIMITY TO TRANSIT
“Higher prices in the core are prompting buyers to consider condominium communities farther afield,” says Alexander. “New construction along subway lines to the north, east and west are exceptionally popular, especially with first-time buyers. Yonge Street north of Hwy. 401 comes to mind, as well as the Sheppard line between Bayview Avenue and Leslie Street. Combined, these two areas represent approximately 10 per cent of total resale condominium sales to date and continue to experience growth.”
Mississauga is the GTA’s second most popular destination for condominium living, accounting for 14 per cent of condominium sales so far this year.
Almost 51 per cent of condominium sales in the GTA occur under the $500,000 price point, but affordability is being threatened as builders and developers face skyrocketing construction costs and a land crunch within the GTA, and struggle to maintain the status quo, ReMax says.
“The necessity to ‘build up’ has never been more prevalent in a city that has seen its population climb from one census to the next,” says Alexander. “To prevent the run-up we’ve seen in housing values in the past, all levels of government must work together with developers to streamline the building process. We need to create more affordable GTA housing options that can accommodate buyers and renters at every price point.”
THE TOWNHOME OPTION
These trends generally align with the findings of another report, from Altus Group. Lack of affordability and availability of single-family new homes has buyers increasingly looking to townhomes as a lowrise home option. But supply issues in this category have seen new townhouse sales plummet in the past two years, in both absolute terms and as a percentage of total new home sales – just seven per cent of the total in the first half of 2018.