Real estate agent Elli Davis of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. is seeing a surge in properties for sale in Toronto in May.
After a slow start to the year, the real estate market is picking up. Ms. Davis has listed six properties for sale in the past week.
One reason for the shift, she says, is that some baby boomers who spend their winter down south are now back in town and preparing to sell their large family homes in favour of smaller houses and condos.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of new listings in May,” she says. “The snowbirds are back.”
Ms. Davis typically specializes in midtown Toronto, with listings for houses and condo units in the central core between Bloor Street and Eglinton Avenue. But with listings scarce in recent months, she has taken on a new property in the Beaches and during the winter she ventured as far east as Scarborough.
“I’m happy to do any location as long as the mood of the seller is serious.”
Davelle Morrison, a real estate agent with Bosley Real Estate Ltd., sees a quickening pace on the buyers’ side of the market as well.
“Clients seem to be making up their minds faster than usual.”
Ms. Morrison says house hunters used to take a lot of time to do their research and look around before making a decision.
“I think they just recognize that it’s hard to find what they’re looking for,” she says.
One couple recently made a quick decision to move when a semi-detached house just up the street from their condo arrived on the market. Ms. Morrison says the couple beat out three other buyers with their offer of $1.28-million.
The buyers liked their midtown neighbourhood and wanted their daughter to be able to stay at her current school, she says.
“They bought a semi within a week of it arriving on the market.”
Robert Hogue, senior economist at Royal Bank of Canada, sees evidence the GTA market is turning a corner. The sales rebound in April, plus the rise in benchmark prices for a second month, suggest that the market is recovering from a dismal February hammered by winter storms.
The fact that the turnaround came in April instead of March is likely down to the scant supply of listings in March, he says.
By his calculations, new listings jumped 15 per cent in April from the same month last year. That new supply pulled buyers into play, which signals to him pent-up demand.
Mr. Hogue says he was surprised to see the sudden rebound in sales of detached homes in April because it has been so long since that segment outperformed the others. For the past couple of years, buyers have gravitated to less expensive properties, including condos.
But as detached home prices have tumbled over that time, prices of condos have gained. Mr. Hogue says it’s not yet clear if that narrowing gap is tempting move-up buyers.
“It’s too early to tell whether this is a sign of improving affordability for single-detached homes,” Mr. Hogue says.
The migration from Toronto to the suburbs and beyond is continuing, she says. Ms. Davis has clients looking at real estate in Barrie, Belleville and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
She recently listed a three-bedroom townhouse condo at 630 Kingston Road in the Beaches with an asking price of $1,150,000. The parents of three young children are planning to move out of town for a larger property, she says.
“They’re getting much more for their money,” she says.
Ms. Morrison is also seeing listings pick up in May.
While some agents have moved away from holding offer nights – especially above the $1-million mark – Ms. Morrison says she usually advises sellers to list their properties with a low asking price and a scheduled offer date in an effort to spur competition.
She is listing one condo unit with an asking price of $599,000.
“We hope to get over $700,000.”
Another will be listed with an asking price of $649,000 in the hopes that it will fetch more.
“It’s a strategy that works,” she says.
Looking ahead, Mr. Hogue at RBC says a balance between demand and supply in the overall GTA market is setting the stage for further modest price increases in the near term.
Priscilla Thiagamoorthy, economic analyst at Bank of Montreal, points out that housing starts across Canada roared in April, with Ontario numbers spiking in April.
Ms. Thiagamoorthy says the Toronto area’s housing market has largely steadied.
“Although the Canadian housing market slowed at the start of the year, the latest data suggest the downward momentum has stabilized and could even be picking up again.”