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Housing market showing signs of tightening: Toronto real estate board

FILE - A "for sale" sign hangs from a post outside of a vacant business building in Belleville, N.J., Thursday, May 3, 2018. T. AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Toronto’s housing market continued to tighten last month as prices edged up four per cent from March and sales moved closer to the level they were at last April, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board revealed Wednesday.

April’s average price tumbled 7.8 per cent to $1,153,269, but was roughly four per cent higher than the $1,108,499 the average buyer paid in March.

Sales for the month hit 7,531, down 5.2 per cent from a year ago but up about nine per cent from March.

Those sales outpaced new listings, which were down by over a third from a year before, fuelling more competition between buyers who were too hesitant to buy homes earlier this year.

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Pushing these buyers to the sidelines were eight consecutive interest rate hikes, which took a bite out of their borrowing power, even as prices started to tumble.

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Their hesitance and those lower prices weighed on sellers too as many held off listing their homes because they won’t fetch the big sums or bidding wars their neighbours had in 2021 and early 2022.

But real estate agents have started to see the market turn in recent months.

Davelle Morrison, a Toronto broker with Bosley Real Estate Ltd., saw bidding wars become the norm last month.

“My colleague and I listed a house a couple of weeks ago in the Parkwood area and we were shocked we had 92 showings,” she said.

“We had 25 offers at offer time and this was for a house that was a fixer upper. It was not even move-in ready, so the demand out there for homes is huge.”

TRREB president Paul Baron suspects the demand is coming from buyers who have come to terms with higher borrowing costs and are taking advantage of lower selling prices compared to this time last year.

The challenge ahead will be meeting the rising demand with adequate supply, he said in a statement.

April’s supply level was much lower than the city has seen in the past. New listings for the month totalled 11,364, down 38.3 per cent from a year ago.

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Inventory levels signal sellers “remain at odds with timing the market,” said Penelope Graham, director of content at Ratehub.ca, a mortgage rate comparison site.

“There’s a perception that prices still have further to recover, while others are likely reluctant to become buyers in today’s market environment, given higher mortgage rates, and tight inventory,” she said in a statement.

“This is fuelling the catch-22 constraining supply, and driving competition in the market.”

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Prices still remain down from last year’s levels.

Detached homes fell 8.3 per cent since last April to $1,489,258, while semi-detached properties dropped 9.8 per cent to $1,135,599.

Townhouses slid 3.2 per cent to $986,121 over the same time period and condos were down eight per cent to $724,118.

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“I think some of the people who are sitting on the sidelines keep thinking, ‘I’m just still waiting for the bottom of the market to happen,’ but of course, the bottom of the market seems to have passed them by because things are going back up again,” said Morrison.

“I think there’s this impression that there’s going to be a deal out there for them, when really the deal seems to have gone.”

Toronto’s data was released a day after the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver published its April data, which it said showed home sales are staging a comeback and headed toward levels seen last spring.

Last month’s Vancouver area sales totalled 2,741, almost 16 per cent below the 10-year seasonal average and 16.5 per cent below the April 2022 level.

The composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver hit $1,170,700 last month, down 7.4 per cent from a year ago but up 2.4 per cent from March.

There were 4,307 new listings last month, a 29.7 per cent decrease, when compared with the prior April and a 22 per cent drop from the 10-year seasonal average of 5,525.

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