Toronto Housing Market Steadies as Seller Bide Their Time

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(Bloomberg) -- Toronto’s housing market was little changed in March as sellers stayed on the sidelines.

Home sales in Canada’s biggest city totaled 7,187 in the month, one sale shy of the same month a year ago, the Toronto Real Estate Board reported Wednesday. Benchmark prices, which adjust for the type of home sold, rose 2.6 percent to C$779,100 ($584,164) from the same period last year. New listings declined 5.1 percent to 13,996 over the year.

The average price was C$788,335 in March, up from C$781,192 in February.

“Market conditions have remained tight enough to support a moderate pace of price growth,” Jason Mercer, TREB’s chief market analyst, said in the report. “Despite sales being markedly lower than the record levels of 2016 and early 2017, the supply of listings has also receded,” which is providing support for prices, he said.

TREB reiterated its plea that the government relax mortgage lending regulations and that amortizations be lengthened, saying new stress tests continue to impact buyers’ ability to qualify for a mortgage. And it slammed a proposal to increase the municipal land transfer tax on higher priced properties, as been done in Vancouver and New York.

The tax “is not a sustainable revenue source from which to fund municipal programs,” TREB Chief Executive Officer John Di Michele, said in the statement.

Toronto Housing Market Steadies as Seller Bide Their Time

Toronto’s housing market has seen a decline in transactions over the past year after the federal government instituted harsher mortgage-lending rules, which include stress testing for higher interest rates. Last month, it gave some relief to first time buyers, outlining a plan to for its housing agency to spend up to C$1.25 billion to take equity positions in the purchases.

The townhouse segment was the best performer with sales rising 12 percent in March compared with last year; condos fell the most at 9.7 percent. Still, condo benchmark prices led the pack with a 7.2 percent gain to C$522,300.

The number of condos that were rented through the TREB system rose 7.7 percent in the first quarter compared with last year, with rent on the average one-bedroom jumping 7.4 percent to C$2,143.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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