Condos, luxury homes to shine in 2018 market
Those able to afford $4M homes less affected by rate, rule changes
High-end real estate has continued to sell and appreciate while the rest of the Toronto-area property market endured a rockier year, says the CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
Brad Henderson predicted a less choppy year in the real-estate market overall for 2018.
But, he said, he expects the substantial gains made in the super-luxury homes category — properties selling for $4 million and more — to continue in Toronto, particularly in the condo sector, with luxury buyers less vulnerable to interest-rate and mortgage-rule changes.
Henderson called it “the year of the condo” across Canada, with strong performance in the country’s major housing markets.
“The condo phenomenon is something that is happening all over North America,” he said.
The company’s 2017 year-end Top Tier Real Estate report, published Wednesday, noted that, “The performance of the GTA’s top-tier condominium market eclipsed that of other major Canadian markets in both sales volume and percentage gains in 2017.
“Sales of $1-million-plus condominiums were up 59 per cent year over year within the region, with luxury sales over $4 million up 91 per cent over the previous year,” it said.
In the city of Toronto, condo sales volumes in the $4-million-plus range rose 82 per cent and those in the $1-million-plus category were up 35 per cent year over year.
“Certainly in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, condos are becoming a choice in terms of where people want to live. If you’re a professional and want to live close to where you work, living in the downtown region has become a lifestyle choice, not a situation of necessity,” he said.
Condos provide what Henderson called “the accordion advantage” — party rooms that allow residents to host large dinner parties and guest suites that mean occupants don’t need to carry extra bedrooms as part of their home.
“It gives you the ability to accommodate your lifestyle, while reducing (your personal space requirements) if you’re looking for more of a lock-and-leave kind of asset,” he said.
Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan in April ended the frenzy of the first four months of last year in the Toronto-area market. New mortgage stress-testing rules by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions were expected to impact home sales in the first part of this year.
But buyers who can afford to pay $4 million or more for a home are largely immune to those kinds of developments and to other day-to-day factors such as mortgage stress-testing and rising interest rates, Henderson said.
Sales of $1-million-plus single-family homes in the Toronto area dropped 8 per cent in Toronto and 2 per cent across the region, compared to 2016.
But the number of single-family house sales in the more-than-$4-million category actually increased 34 per cent year over year in the Toronto area and 31 per cent in the city of Toronto, according to the report.
Condos continued to attract investors, with rental vacancies in Toronto and Vancouver at 1 per cent or less.
“The cash-on-cash return isn’t there from a pure return on your investment perspective, but when you factor in the price appreciation, it does become an attractive way to own and invest in residential real estate,” Henderson said.
Whereas high-priced Toronto properties took substantially longer to sell in 2017 compared to 2016, Montreal homes priced over $1 million took less time to sell.
“Montreal has always suffered from a political instability shadow. But that concern has been pretty quiet over the last three, five or seven years. It has given people more confidence,” he said.
Sales of homes more than $1 million increased 21 per cent year over year in Montreal, “setting the city up for continued strength in 2018,” Sotheby’s said.