Sales Dip in November while Selling Prices Increase.
TORONTO, December 5, 2012 – Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 5,793 sales in November 2012 – down by 16 per cent compared to November 2011.
“Transactions have been down on a year-over-year basis since June, after being up substantially in the last half of 2011 and the first half of 2012. Some buyers pulled forward their decision to purchase, which has impacted sales levels in the second half of 2012,” said Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) President Ann Hannah.
“Stricter mortgage lending guidelines, including a reduced maximum amortization period and a purchase price ceiling of one-million dollars for government insured mortgages, have prompted some buyers to move to the sidelines. This situation has been exacerbated in the City of Toronto because the additional upfront Land Transfer Tax takes money away from buyers that otherwise could be used for a larger down payment,” continued Hannah.
The average selling price was up by 1.6 per cent annually to $485,328. The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) Composite Benchmark was up by 4.6 per cent compared to last year.
“The moderate annual rate of price growth compared to previous months was largely due to a different mix in detached home sales this year compared to last, particularly in the City of Toronto. The share of detached homes that sold for over one-million dollars was down substantially, which influenced the overall average price,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.
“The MLS® HPI detached benchmark price, which tracks the price for a home with the same attributes over time, was up by almost six per cent in Toronto, suggesting that market conditions for low-rise homes remain quite tight despite a changing mix of sales,” added Mercer.
The Greater Toronto Area Real Estate Market has become increasingly more complex, with divergent trends in number of sales vs average sold price, and multiple offers vs increasing inventory.
Sellers and Buyers need to educate themselves about individual sub-markets, specific to location and type of real estate product, as the most successful strategies will be very different between these unique markets of real estate activity.
GTA Real Estate Market Statistics - May 2012 - Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 10,850 transactions through the TorontoMLS system in May 2012 – an 11 per cent increase over the 9,766 sales in May 2011. Sales growth was strongest in the ‘905’ regions surrounding the City of Toronto.
"Sales growth in the ‘905’ area code was stronger than growth in the City of Toronto across all major home types. While lower average prices are certainly one factor that has contributed to this trend, recent polling also suggests that the City of Toronto’s land transfer tax has also prompted many households to look outside of the City for their ownership housing needs," said Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) President Richard Silver.
New listings were up substantially on a year-over-year basis in May – rising by more than 20 per cent to 19,177. The average price for May 2012 sales was $516,787, representing an annual increase of 6.5 per cent compared to $485,362 in May 2011. Price growth continued to be driven by the low-rise market segment.
"Strong competition between buyers seeking to purchase low-rise home types drove strong price growth in May. However, if new listings continue to grow at the pace they did in May for the remainder of 2012, the annual rate of price growth should begin to moderate on a sustained basis," said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.
What it means for Buyers: Until the end of the month, you can lock in a fixed mortgage rate for 90 days at the lowest rates in history. Four, five and ten years rates, starting at 2.99%. Securing a fixed rate now will protect against rising interest rates in the future, and this is why so many buyers are getting pre-approved for financing right now.
What it means for Sellers: There will be a large pool of buyers shopping for property between now and April. If you have been thinking of listing your home or were unsuccessful in selling your property in the past, this may be the best opportunity to sell your home.
A promotion by Bank of Montreal to attract new mortgage customers in a traditionally sluggish month for sales has sparked a mini price war among rival banks.
A day after BMO announced it had dropped the rate on a five-year fixed-rate mortgage to a historic low of 2.99 per cent as part of a two-week promotion, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Royal Bank of Canada followed suit with limited-time-offers of their own.
TD said Friday it was lowering its four-year fixed-rate mortgage to 2.99 per cent, down from 4.79 per cent. Soon after, RBC dropped its four-year fixed rate mortgage to 2.99 per cent, and 3.99 per cent on a seven-year fixed-rate mortgage.
Both RBC and TD said the offer is open until Feb. 29, extending the promotion beyond the initial two-week period BMO introduced. BMO’s mortgage offer is good until Jan. 25 and represents a drop of 50 basis points.
Marcia Moffat, head of home equity financing at RBC said the bank is offering the rate on 30-year amortizations, while a spokesman for BMO said the bank is offering its lower rates on 25-year amortizations.
BMO said it would not likely be extending its promotion beyond the two-week promotional period in response to its competitors. At each bank, customers can lock in the rates for a period of up to 90 days by getting pre-approval.
grant robertson — BANKING REPORTER Globe and Mail Update
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced tighter mortgage lending conditions (CMHC Insured) , effective March 18, 2011, with the intent to protect borrowers from "over borrowing" and improve their ability to manage their debt wisely in the event that interest rates rise.
The key points were as follows:
Reduce the maximum amortization period to 30 years from 35 years for new government-backed insured mortgages with loan-to-value ratios of more than 80 per cent. This will significantly reduce the total interest payments Canadian families make on their mortgages, allow Canadian families to build up equity in their homes more quickly, and help Canadians pay off their mortgages before they retire.
Lower the maximum amount Canadians can borrow in refinancing their mortgages to 85 per cent from 90 per cent of the value of their homes. This will promote saving through home ownership and limit the repackaging of consumer debt into mortgages guaranteed by taxpayers.
Lines of Credit:
Withdraw government insurance backing on lines of credit secured by homes, such as home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs. This will ensure that risks associated with consumer debt products used to borrow funds unrelated to house purchases are managed by the financial institutions and not borne by taxpayers.
Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 4,395 existing home sales for the month of December, bringing the 2010 total to 86,170 – down by one per cent compared to 2009.
“Market conditions were anything but uniform in 2010. We went from supercharged sales activity during the first four months of the year, to a marked drop-off in transactions in the summer and then in the fall saw sales climb back to levels that are sustainable over the longer term,” said TREB President Bill Johnston.
“New Federal Government-mandated mortgage lending guidelines, higher borrowing costs and misconceptions about the HST caused a pause in home buying in the summer. As it became clear that the HST was not applicable to the sale price of an existing home and buyers realized that home ownership remained affordable, market conditions improved,” continued Johnston.
The average home selling price in 2010 was $431,463 – up nine per cent in comparison to the 2009 average selling price of $395,460. In December, the average annual rate of price growth was five per cent.
“At the outset of 2010, we were experiencing annual rates of price growth at or near 20 per cent. This was the result of extremely tight market conditions coupled with the fact that we were comparing prices to the trough of the recession at the beginning of 2009,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.
“Balanced market conditions in the second half of 2010 resulted in more moderate home price appreciation,” continued Mercer. “Expect the average selling price to grow at or below five per cent in 2011. With this type of growth, mortgage carrying costs for the average priced home in the GTA will remain affordable for a household earning an average income.”
Greater Toronto REALTORS reported 6,510 existing home sales in November – down 13 per cent from 7,446 sales in November 2009. New listings were also down 13 per cent annually to 8,642. On a month-over-month basis, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales increased for the fourth straight month to 88,100. This rate was substantially higher than the July low of 67,900. “The GTA resale market has tightened since the summer. Healthy market conditions continued to support growth in the average selling price,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President Bill Johnston. “Sales through the first 11 months of the year were down only marginally compared to the same period in 2009. We remain on track for one of the best years on record under the current TREB market area,” continued Johnston. The average selling price for November transactions was $438,030 - up five per cent compared to November 2009. “The average selling price in the GTA is affordable. A household earning the average income can comfortably cover the mortgage payments on an average priced home. Expect the average selling price to grow at a moderate pace over the next year,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.
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