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Toronto’s market shows signs of balance in July

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In its Market Watch for July, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) states that the real estate market was more balanced, and I’d generally agree with that. The market is behaving in a fashion that doesn’t favour buyers or sellers. This is especially visible when looking at the average sale price compared with the average list price, evidence that buyers and sellers are adapting to meet their counterparty’s expectations.

 

Source: Daniel Foch, Chartography.ca, TRREB Market Watch

 

According to TRREB’s data, home prices increased by 4.2 per cent on a year-over-year basis from July 2022. My challenge with this comparison is that July 2022 was the epicentre of one of the toughest markets we’ve seen in Canadian history when prices fell at a record-breaking pace last year. At the same time, sales volume grew by 7.8 per cent, which indicates that reduced volatility has given buyers a sense of safety in the current market.  

 

The new trend

 

Because 2022 was an exceptionally volatile year, it’s tough to use for the sake of comparison on any metric. Instead, it makes more sense to look at the market based on long-term trendlines and historical averages. This will tell us where we should be based on many years of historical data rather than just compared to one outlier.

House price growth has fallen below the trendline of its most recent bull market, which began slowly after prices dropped severely in 2017 and ramped up during the pandemic era. Most of the gains from this year’s spring market have been erased now.

 

Source: Daniel Foch, Chartography.ca, TRREB Market Watch

 

 

Sales have fallen just below the long-term average and are well below their growth trendline.

 

Source: Daniel Foch, Chartography.ca, TRREB Market Watch

 

Short supply 

 

For much of the past two years, a large part of the conversation has focused on the market’s lack of supply. Lack of supply can lead to excess demand, even in a market suppressed by the Bank of Canada’s return to interest rate hikes. Setting that supply scarcity against the backdrop of record population growth in Canada, it becomes clear why we have yet to see meaningful decreases in house prices since the drop-off from last year. 

Now, it seems that story is changing a bit, with listings on TRREB falling in line with typical figures for the past two months.

 

Source: Daniel Foch, Chartography.ca, TRREB Market Watch

Source: Daniel Foch, Chartography.ca, TRREB Market Watc

What happens next

 

Generally, I’d say that the declines in price we’ve seen in Toronto’s real estate market this summer are in line with seasonality, just as price growth earlier this year appeared seasonal. September data will decide if this downtrend is a seasonal phenomenon or a return to the bear market that started in 2022. My guess would be the latter, but I think it’s too early to call. 

The market seems disheartened by the Bank of Canada’s unpausing of rate hikes, and financial stress appears to be mounting on sellers, which could increase supply. At the same time, a sense of economic uncertainty could cause buyers to delay homebuying plans. If we see the market turn in favour of buyers, further price declines could certainly be possible. 

 


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