BORROWING COSTS AND HOUSING SUPPLY IMPACTING THE GTA REAL ESTATE MARKET
TRREB Calls for Longer Amortization Periods and More Flexible Stress Test
TORONTO, ONTARIO, September 2, 2022 – There were 5,627 home sales reported through the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s (TRREB) MLS® System in August 2022, representing a year-over-year dip of 34.2 per cent – a lesser annual rate of decline compared to the previous four months. The August sales result also represented a month-over-month increase compared to July.
Sales represented a higher share of new listings compared to the previous three months. If this trend continues, it could indicate some support for selling prices in the months ahead. On a year-over-year basis, the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) was up by 8.9 per cent and the average selling price for all home types combined was up by 0.9 per cent to $1,079,500. The average selling price was also up slightly month-over-month, while the HPI Composite was lower compared to July. Monthly growth in the average price versus a dip in the HPI Composite suggests a greater share of more expensive home types sold in August.
“While higher borrowing costs have impacted home purchase decisions, existing homeowners nearing mortgage renewal are also facing higher costs. There is room for the federal government to provide for greater housing affordability for existing homeowners by removing the stress test when existing mortgages are switched to a new lender, allowing for greater competition in the mortgage market. Further, allowing for longer amortization periods on mortgage renewals would assist current homeowners in an inflationary environment where everyday costs have risen dramatically,” said TRREB President Kevin Crigger.
“The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) should weigh in on whether the current stress test remains applicable. Is it reasonable to test home buyers at two percentage points above the current elevated rates, or should a more flexible test be applied that follows the interest rate cycle? In addition, OSFI should consider removing the stress test for existing mortgage holders who want to shop for the best possible rate at renewal rather than forcing them to stay with their existing lender to avoid the stress test. This is especially the case when no additional funds are being requested,” said TRREB CEO John DiMichele.
“There are other issues beyond borrowing costs impacting housing affordability in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The ability to bring on more supply is the longer-term challenge. However, we are moving in the right direction on this front. The strong mayor proposal from the province coupled with the recent commitment from Toronto Mayor John Tory to expand ownership and rental housing options are examples of this. TRREB looks forward to hearing additional initiatives from candidates vying for office in the upcoming municipal elections,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.
GTA REALTORS® Release July Stats
There were 4,912 home sales reported through the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) MLS® System in July 2022 – down by 47 per cent compared to July 2021. Following the regular seasonal trend, sales were also down compared to June. New listings also declined on a year-over-year basis in July, albeit down by a more moderate four per cent. The expectation is that the trend for new listings will continue to follow the trend for sales, as we move through the second half of 2022 and into 2023.
Market conditions remained much more balanced in July 2022 compared to a year earlier. As buyers continued to benefit from more choice, the annual rate of price growth has moderated. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark was up by 12.9 per cent year-over-year. The average selling price was up by 1.2 per cent compared to July 2021 to $1,074,754. Less expensive home types, including condo apartments, experienced stronger rates of price growth as more buyers turned to these segments to help mitigate the impact of higher borrowing costs.
"The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) population continues to grow and tight labour market conditions will drive this growth moving forward. Despite more balanced market conditions resulting from rapidly increasing mortgage rates, policymakers must continue to take action to boost housing supply to account for long-term population growth. TRREB has put realistic solutions on the table to address the existing housing affordability challenges. With savings high and the unemployment rate still low, home buyers will eventually account for higher borrowing costs. When they do, we want to have an adequate pipeline of supply in place or market conditions will tighten up again," said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.
TRREB is also calling on all levels of government to reassess and clarify policies related to mortgage lending and housing development.
"Many GTA households intend on purchasing a home in the future, but there is currently uncertainty about where the market is headed. Policymakers could help allay some of this uncertainty. As higher borrowing costs impact housing markets, TRREB maintains that the OSFI mortgage stress test should be reviewed in the current environment," said TRREB CEO John DiMichele.
"With significant increases to lending rates in a short period, there has been a shift in consumer sentiment, not market fundamentals. The federal government has a responsibility to not only maintain confidence in the financial system, but to instill confidence in homeowners that they will be able to stay in their homes despite rising mortgage costs. Longer mortgage amortization periods of up to 40 years on renewals and switches should be explored," said TRREB President Kevin Crigger.
GTA REALTORS® Release June Stats
Higher borrowing costs continued to impact home sales in June 2022. Sales totalled 6,474 – down by 41 per cent compared to last year’s strong result. The number of transactions was also down compared to May 2022, but this is often the case due to the seasonal nature of the market.
The average selling price, at $1,146,254, remained 5.3 per cent above the June 2021 level, but continued to trend lower on a monthly basis. The MLS® Home Price Index Composite benchmark was up by 17.9 per cent year-over-year, but also experienced a month-over-month dip compared to May. Annual price growth was driven more so by less expensive market segments, including townhouses and condominium apartments.
“Home sales have been impacted by both the affordability challenge presented by mortgage rate hikes and the psychological effect wherein home buyers who can afford higher borrowing costs have put their decision on hold to see where home prices end up. Expect current market conditions to remain in place during the slower summer months. Once home prices stabilize, some buyers will re-enter the market despite higher borrowing costs,” said TRREB President Kevin Crigger.
While the number of transactions was down year-over-year, the number of new listings was little changed over the same period. This has provided for more balance in the market, resulting in a more moderate annual pace of price growth.
“Listings will be an important indicator to watch over the next few months. With the unemployment rate low, the majority of households aren’t in a position where they need to sell their home. If would-be sellers decide to take a wait-and-see attitude over the next few months, it’s possible that active listings could trend lower as well. This could cause market conditions to tighten somewhat, providing some support for home prices,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.
“Our region continues to grow because we attract people and businesses from all around the world. All of these people will require a place to live, whether they choose to buy or rent. Despite the shorter-term impact of higher borrowing costs, housing demand will remain strong over the long-term, as long as we can produce homes within which people can live. Policymakers at all levels need to make this their key goal,” said TRREB CEO John DiMichele.
CONDO SALES REACHED AN ALL-TIME HIGH
THE AVERAGE PRICE OF CONDOS INCREASED WHILE NEW CONDO LISTINGS REMAINED FLAT IN GTA
TORONTO, ONTARIO, April 21, 2022 – Condominium apartment sales remained strong historically in Q1 2022. Seller’s market conditions remained in place with the average selling price increasing by more than 20 per cent year-over-year.
Greater Toronto Area (GTA) REALTORS® reported 7,932 sales through TRREB’s MLS® System in Q1 2022 – a decrease of 15.6 per cent compared to the record Q1 2021 result of 9,399 sales.
“Condominium apartments represent a key market segment in the GTA, providing housing for an array of households. Many first-time buyers see condos as an affordable entry point into homeownership. At the other end of the spectrum, condos provide a luxury alternative for many households. It is also important to note that investor-owned condominium apartments have been an important source of rental supply over the past decade,” said TRREB President Kevin Crigger.
While first quarter sales were down year-over-year, new listings of condominium apartments were basically flat, meaning condo buyers had some relief in terms of market conditions. However, market conditions remained tight enough to support double-digit annual average price gains, with the average condominium apartment selling price increasing by 22.5 per cent to $790,398.
“The GTA population will grow at or near record levels over the next few years, supported by a strong regional economy. The condominium apartment segment will be an important source of housing, both for people looking to purchase a home and also those looking to rent. This will continue to support price growth, but the pace of price appreciation may moderate as the market becomes more balanced over the next year,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer
THE COST TO RENT RISES WHILE RENTAL LISTINGS FALL IN GTA
TORONTO, ONTARIO, April 21, 2022 – Tight rental market conditions continued in the first quarter of 2022, pushing average rents closer to the pre-pandemic peak. Rental transactions were down year-over- year in the first quarter, largely due to the fact that rental listings dropped by an even greater annual rate. The result was increased competition between renters and double-digit rent increases.
Greater Toronto Area (GTA) REALTORS® reported 10,110 condominium apartment rentals through TRREB’s MLS® System in Q1 2022 – down by 23.2 per cent compared to Q1 2021. However, rental transactions as a share of listings was up on a year-over-year basis, suggesting that demand remained strong while the supply of available units dipped.
“Immigration will be at or near record levels over the next two years. The number of non-permanent residents, including students, will also increase. Many of them will turn, at least initially, to the rental market. Investor-owned condominium apartments will be a key source of rental supply in the region. It is clear that rental demand is increasing relative to available units. While the homeownership market often dominates the headlines, policymakers also need to be cognizant about the need for rental housing supply as we move forward,” said TRREB President Kevin Crigger.
The average one-bedroom condominium apartment rent increased by 17.8 per cent to $2,145 in Q1 2022, from $1,820 in Q1 2021. The average two-bedroom rent was $2,867 in Q1 2022 – up by 17.2 per cent year-over-year compared to the average of $2,446 in Q1 2021. For perspective, the pre-pandemic peak in average rents was in Q3 2019, with the average one-bedroom rent at $2,262 and the average two-bedroom rent at $2,941.
“Over the past year, we have seen an upward trend in average condominium apartment rents. This rebound in the rental market took hold as population growth accelerated throughout last year. Demand for rental accommodation is expected to remain strong this year and beyond, as job growth continues, immigration and non-permanent migration continues to support housing demand, and higher borrowing costs see some young people put their decision to purchase a home on hold,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.