After 12 months of declining property values in Toronto’s downtown core, condominiums here are no longer in the red. Since Ontario declared its first state-of-emergency in March last year, properties lost an average of about 20% in value. But data so far for the month of April shows the downtown market is firmly back in the black at +3.5% year-over-year.
After a year of decreased spending due to COVID-19 restrictions, demand is hot among potential homebuyers finally looking to make a move. In the past 30 days alone, downtown saw 775 condo transactions with an average sale price of $812,000.
If you’re wondering why downtown values are on the rise following a year of declines, the answer may lie in family decisions. Realtors note that Ontario’s baby boomers are selling their (typically-larger) homes to help their kids break into the housing market.
“When seniors would sell in the past, it was strictly to downsize. But there’s this trend where older homeowners are cashing out, so they can help their children with a downpayment,” says Galina Sheveleva, a real estate agent at Strata.ca.
But despite that help from mom and dad, many adult children are worried how much mortgage they’ll be allowed to take on. Cliff Liu, also a Strata.ca realtor, attributes that anxiety to tougher lending rules coming in June.
“This new stress test is going to cripple a lot of people because it will be much harder to qualify for the mortgage they want. A lot of my clients are feeling the pressure to jump in before June because they think this might be their last chance at home ownership,” says Liu.
He’s referring to a proposal from Canada’s top banking regulator to raise the mortgage stress test level to either 5.25% or two percentage points above the market rate; whichever is higher. This means borrowers will have to prove they can afford a mortgage at that higher rate, no matter what the bank is willing to lend them. If the proposal is passed, these new rules will be in effect for uninsured loans as of June 1st.
Downtown’s rental market remains down by -15% year-over-year. But come June, potential homebuyers forced to change course could reverse all that. Many of them will come to realize that the best time to buy was actually last November. That’s when you could get a unit for about $690,000.
“Ongoing lockdowns forced many people to cancel their weddings and vacations, then redirect their savings to a down payment instead. If you’re one of those people intent on buying this year, the most affordable neighbourhoods are Cabbagetown and Regent Park,” says Osman Omaid, a real estate agent at Strata.ca.
The average price for a condo in those neighbourhoods is $643,000 and $672,000 respectively.
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