March Housing Numbers

Spring is here and with the March housing stats released, the winter housing season is officially behind us. Picking up from the story line that January and February provided, the March data once again showed low sales and lower new listings levels. But it also showed two new trends emerging: a city vs. suburbs sales divide and cracks developing in Toronto’s condo market.

March 2019 SalesSource: TREB, Six Housing Sense

TREB reported sales results from last month being just 1 sale less than reported in March 2018 (7,187 from 7,188), indicating a flat market. Diving deeper into this number we see that sales were not flat across all of the GTA, with the suburbs being up, while the city was down. March actually resulted in a 5% sales increase in the 905, but 9% sales drop in Toronto.

The inverse relationship continued into new listings. The 5% drop in total new listings also hid the difference between Toronto and its suburbs. For the month, Toronto saw a 2% increase in new listings, while the suburbs saw new listings drop by 9%. As a result, active listing increased in Toronto by 12%; however, they decreased for the remainder of the GTA by 7%. These numbers show a city market that is growing its inventory level, while the suburbs are doing the opposite.

march condo statsSource: TREB, Six Housing Sense

The second trend is the weakening performance of Toronto’s condo market. The year-over-year drop-in total sales in Toronto could almost entirely be blamed on condos, which had sales decrease 14%. This was accompanied by a steady number of new listings in comparison to 2018, and this imbalance helped to drive up active listings in the condo sector by 14%. A secondary impact was that it also increased the months of inventory (MOI) on the market by 33% year-over-year. MOI remains very low for the condo market, but with condos staying the market longer (19 days over 17), this is a growth trend worth monitoring.

Year Benchmark Price Days on Market MOI
2018 $518,000 17 1.2
2019 $548,000 19 1.6

Source: TREB, Six Housing Sense

Finally, Toronto condos’ benchmark price is up 6% from March 2018 but average prices only increased 2%. Since the fall, condo prices have actually remained flat, rising slightly some months and falling in others; however, overall showing no price growth since September. With inventory finally starting to grow again in the condo market, it will be interesting to see what happens to prices moving forward.

For the market as a whole, March offered a lot more of the same. Steady, but low sales levels and limited new inventory. Prices continue to gain marginally but nothing truly noteworthy for this market. It is only after further analysis we see a city being held up by its suburbs, and the superstar condo market finally showing signs of struggle. The spring market is upon us and the game of chicken continues. Buyers and sellers are seemingly remaining on the sideline, who will blink first and return to the market?

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