Sales of homes across the GTA slipped by 2.1 per cent in April, but prices were up 2 per cent, as the usually hot spring market suffered through another wet, cold month.
Surprisingly, downtown condos saw the biggest spike in prices — up 5.6 per cent to an average of $379,266 — and a decline in sales of just 1.3 per cent over last April, according to statistics released Friday by the Toronto Real Estate Board.
Suburban condo sales were the flip side of the coin, however, in a market that continues to glide to a soft landing rather than the devastating crash many economics and housing experts had predicted just last fall.
Resale condo prices were down almost 6 per cent across the 905 regions, to an average of $273,832. Sales of suburban condos took the biggest hit of any housing sector across the GTA in April — next to sales of detached homes in the 416 region — dropping 7.3 per cent in April.
“The condominium apartment segment in the City of Toronto was a key driver of price growth in April,” which suggests that first-time buyers are out house hunting again, almost a year after Ottawa moved to tighten mortgage lending rules, said TREB president Ann Hannah in a statement.
Economist Will Dunning points out, however, that this April had 22 weekdays — when sales tend to be recorded by TREB — compared to 20 in 2012. When sales figures are adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, the sales downturn of 2 per cent reported by TREB is probably closer to 14 per cent, he noted.
Most interesting about the condo numbers, said Dunning, is that the total number of units for sale in the 416 region was up 8 per cent, helping keep the market stable, while there was a 16 per cent jump in the 905 regions, now a buyer’s market.
“There’s still not a lot of urgency in the marketplace,” said downtown realtor Andrew la Fleur, who focuses largely on the downtown condo market. “There’s still a lot of wait-and-see mindset.”
Detached homes took the biggest hit in April. Sales in the City of Toronto plummeted almost 12 per cent over last April, although prices were up 2.5 per cent to an average of $852,090, according to TREB’s figures. That may reflect, at least in part, the lack of enough detached homes on the market to meet demand, which has been an ongoing issue, especially in Toronto, for three or four years and has contributed to bidding wars — and escalating prices even in a softening market — in coveted neighbourhoods close to downtown jobs and transit lines.
Sales of detached homes in the 905 were up 2.5 per cent year over year, and prices were up 2.2 per cent to an average of $588,784, according to TREB.
Semi-detached homes in the 416 region saw a 5.5 per cent sales downturn in April, year over year, but prices were up 2.4 per cent to an average of $595,398. In the suburbs, the sale of semis were up 1.3 per cent and prices up 4.3 per cent, to an average sale price of $410,739.
Townhouse sales declined 3.6 per cent in the city, but the average sales price was $433,710, up 2.3 per cent over last April. In the 905 region, townhouse transactions declined by 1.2 per cent, although prices were up 3.5 per cent, to an average sales price of $375,269.
Despite an unrelenting winter that lingered through most of April, dampening the enthusiasm of both buyers and sellers, some of whom were holding out for their pricey landscaping to be in bloom, new listings were up almost 11 per cent year over year.
The time it takes to sell a house climbed slightly, to 23 days compared to 21 days in April of 2012. Condos, on the other hand, are averaging 32 days on the market.