While it’s no secret that houses are expensive in Oakville, Burlington, Milton and surrounding cities, other factors are also making it more difficult for prospective homebuyers to enter the market in Toronto and the GTA.
Still, it looks like spring is off to a pretty stable start.
The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) recently announced that GTA realtors reported 7,187 residential sales through TREB’s MLS System in March 2019.
While March and first quarter sales remained relatively flat compared to last year, new listings have declined more so than sales. In fact, TREB says March new listings were down by 5.1 per cent year-over-year and Q1 new listings were down by 1.5 per cent.
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TREB president Garry Bhaura says the market is being negatively impacted by the federally-implemented OSFI stress test–a test that requires prospective buyers to qualify at higher mortgage rates than they’ll ultimately be paying.
The stress test was implemented to cool the market and keep household debt from becoming too unmanageable after prices skyrocketed in winter 2017, but real estate experts say it’s hurting the market–and buyers–overall.
“The OSFI stress test continues to impact home buyers’ ability to qualify for a mortgage. TREB is still arguing that the stress test provisions and mortgage lending guidelines generally, including allowable amortization periods for insured mortgages, should be reviewed,” says Bhaura.
Bhuara also said inventory remains an issue.
“The supply of listings in the GTA also remains a problem. Bringing a greater diversity of ownership and rental housing online, including ‘missing middle’ home types, should be a priority of all levels of government. TREB is happy to be taking part in the City of Toronto’s consultations for the Housing TO – 2020- 2030 Action Plan, and will certainly be raising the supply issue during these discussions.”
As far as prices go, the MLS home price index composite benchmark was up by 2.6 per cent year-over-year in March, while the average price for March sales was up by a lesser annual rate of 0.5 per cent to $788,335.
The average selling price for the first quarter of 2019 was up by 1.1 per cent year-over-year.
“Market conditions have remained tight enough to support a moderate pace of price growth. Despite sales being markedly lower than the record levels of 2016 and early 2017, the supply of listings has also receded,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s chief market analyst.
“This means that in many neighbourhoods throughout the GTA, we continue to see competition between buyers for available listings, which provides a level of support for home prices.”
While the numbers aren’t dire, the lack of housing available is squeezing buyers in Halton.
“With the winter season finally in retreat, sales are seeing significant pick up throughout the majority of the 905 region,” says Penelope Graham, managing editor with real estate brokerage Zoocasa.
“However, the market as a whole continues to suffer from too little supply, which has limited buyer choice going into the spring market, and has inflated prices for what inventory is available. That supply issue is anticipated to ease somewhat, as more sellers enter the market over the coming spring months.”
Graham says the Halton region enjoyed a robust March for home sales, with activity up 6.1 per cent with a total of 775 homes changing hands, compared to the same month in 2018.
Graham also says the supply of new listings also fell by -3.8 per cent to a total of 1,480. That combination has pushed the market closer to sellers’ conditions with a sales-to-new-listings ratio of 52 per cent compared to 47 per cent last year, though remains firmly in balanced territory for the time being.
However, that has done little to improve home prices, which remained relatively flat year over year, falling 1.8 per cent to an average of $838,658.
As for what’s happening in the 905 overall:
In terms of numbers specific to the entire GTA, a detached house in the 905 currently costs about $910,624 (a little up from $894,147 in February). A semi costs about $680,501 (a little up from February’s average price of $675,355), towns are selling for $617,226 (up from $603,372) and condos are costing buyers about $463,774 (up from $448,711).
Are you planning to purchase a home this spring in Halton?