GTA moving into balanced market for 2019
Although the Greater Toronto Area housing market is somewhat in balanced territory, buyers and sellers are both up against the ropes.
This year has changed so much from the last five to 10 years. Both buyers and sellers have been affected in both positive and negative ways. For me, when working with a buyer and investor client, it was always a tailored approach. However, now more than ever, we have to be extremely diligent when analyzing residential types, location and price range.
In past years, it was much more common to think about flipping real estate or short-term investments. Now? Not so much. There is a total shift to a minimum five- to 10-year hold. Since the introduction of the stress test, some real estate markets took a hit. Buyers are also now faced with additional challenges such as qualification rules and rising interest rates.
Glass half full
Although there are pros and cons in today’s market, take a glass half full approach. Just think, in the past, is was very challenging for a seller to move up to a bigger property. There were bidding wars, price increases that exceeded pay raises, and to top it all off, extremely low inventory – which meant buyers might have to settle for something they might not fully love. The trade-off was a low interest rate environment. If you were a seller, it was nice to think you could sell your property for top dollar, but the million-dollar question was where will you buy next?
Today, if a seller wants to move up, they can usually find a good deal and sell their property for a fair market value. Maybe your property went down 10 to 15 per cent, however, you are also buying your next home for the same 10 to 15 per cent less. Another benefit to such market conditions is that there are more deals to be had.
Notably, there have been fewer first-time buyers out there recently. Even a larger down payment might not cut it anymore, due to higher interest rates. This is why the condo market is doing well, especially the smaller and less expensive properties, due to affordability. The new reality could well be more people renting for a longer period.
The qualifying rate today is slightly more than six per cent. “The recent rule change with regards to the stress test basically decreased people’s max mortgage amount by about 15 to 20 per cent,” says Michael Yosher, director of lending at Integrity Tree Solutions Inc. “The 2019 horizon looks like this trend will continue, as Bank of Canada and economists are predicting several interest rate hikes, which will further reduce the amount of mortgage a buyer will qualify for. This has really taken the wind out of first-time buyers. Family members helping out with gifted down payments and cosigning mortgage loans are the trend these days.”
According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, in October 2018 compared to last year October, average sales prices were up 3.5 per cent. Although this is good news for some sellers, most of this price growth is driven by the condominium market, which at one point lagged behind detached, semi-detached and townhouse product.
Arie Buzilo is a real estate broker with Century 21 Leading Edge Realty Inc. Brokerage, and an investor specializing in buying and selling properties in the GTA.