Market Commentary - November 2017

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The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has released its figures for October. With 7,118 sales being reported, sales were down 26.7% compared to last year. The average sale price of homes was up a modest 2.3% from last October, while new listings were up 11.8% and total active listings rose 78.5% year-over-year. Though the year-over-year comparisons suggest this is a buyer’s market, we are seeing increased stability when compared to the previous five months.

The average sales price of homes was virtually identical to September, making it the second straight month without a price decrease, and total sales volume was up 11.6% month-over-month. This would suggest that buyers view prices as having reached a low point and are re-entering the housing market. Although there has been a rise in activity, single detached homes continue to present affordability challenges for many. Sales of detached homes were down 25% year-over-year in the 416 and 31.4% in the 905. Further, the average sales price of detached homes was down 2.5% year-over-year and down 0.7% month-over-month, making it the only major housing category with an annual decline or a monthly decline in average price. 

With affordability hampering the low-rise sector, demand for condo apartments grows. Though sales of condos were down nearly 25% compared to last year, they rose 8.9% over September, with average sales prices rising 21.8% year-over-year. In the months ahead, this segment of the market will become more important in meeting the housing needs of the population and there is no expectation for price relief.

Despite modest declines in detached homes, prices appear to have stabilized, however, tighter mortgage conditions coming in the New Year may create further uncertainty and impact affordability.

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July 2017 Market News


The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has recently released its housing data for the month of June. With a total of 7,974 sales reported, not only is this a 37.3% drop from the same time last year, it also represents the lowest sales total for the month of June since 2002. It's now been close to three months since the Ontario Government implemented the Fair Housing Plan, and we're beginning to see its impact with more houses coming to market, longer sales cycles and a reduction in pricing. 

Though the average sales price was up 6.3% year-over-year to $793,915, it should be noted that the average sales price has declined in each of the past two months, from $920,791 in April. A high volume of new listings over the past three months (active listings are up 59.6% year-over-year) suggests that home owners may feel that prices have peaked, while buyers, who suddenly have a larger selection to choose from, are taking their time to find the right property or even sitting on the sidelines as they wait to see the true impact of the government policy. 

As the market changes and the sales cycle becomes a little longer, we are noticing a change in the relationship between list price and sale price. In April, for example, in the City of Toronto, the average time a home was on market prior to sale was 10 days, with the average sale price being 11% over the list price. This June, in the City of Toronto, the average time a home was on the market prior to its sale was 15 days, with the average sale price only 1% over the list price. Though early, this suggests the marketing strategy for listing prices is changing, with sellers coming to market with figures more reflective of their intended sales price. 

Monthly Market Commentary June 2017


The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has released the housing data for May. Following April’s big surge in new listings, last month, Sellers upped the ante and put an additional 25,837 homes on the market for sale. This figure represents the most new listings in a single month in TREB’s history.

Though still early to tell for sure, it would appear that Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan has helped disrupt the market. At the very least, there seems to be enough market uncertainty that owners who had previously been holding onto their asset in hopes of greater gains now feel it’s time to list.

This swell of new listings has helped create a less frenzied sales environment with more choice for the Buyer and less urgency at offer time. While year-over-year price increases are still up (+14.9% on average) and the average sales price still exceeds the average list price by 4%, total sales were down for all product types compared to the same time last year. Furthermore, looking at the market through a more short-term lens, the average sales price is down for all major product categories from only a month ago, most notably detached homes whose average sale price fell to $1,141,041 in May from $1,205,262 in April, and the sales cycle has slowed slightly to 11 days on market from 9 days in April.

Moving forward, we’re encouraged by the increase in housing supply. Though Sellers may be
disappointed to learn that there are no longer 20 families lined up to bid on every listing, 30% year over-year price increases were not sustainable. However, Buyers should be cautioned that even though they have benefitted from a robust increase in active listings, inventory levels still remain low, with less than two months of inventory. So, if you see a home you like that’s within your budget, we would encourage you to make an offer.

LEGAL MATTERS-  Easements and Property Rights
By Garry Shapiro, BCL, LLB, MBA & Evan Shapiro, HBA, JD

Whether you are a current or prospective property owner, it’s important to understand how basements work. Easements are a necessary part of our property law system, granting rights to municipalities, utilities, and other parties that help create or maintain various services to our communities. They can also be a source of frustration when property owners discover that they don’t have total control over their land. 

An easement grants a right of use over the property of another for a specific purpose. It creates a right rather than an ownership. Easements “run with the land,” meaning when the land is sold, the rights and obligations of the easement are transferred, and they are not registered against individuals. Common examples include:
• Utility Easements give service providers the right to operate and maintain water, sanitary,
and storm sewer lines, or other utilities such as telephone and cable lines. 
• Municipal Easements give the municipality the right to install or maintain services to the
subdivision or lot, or deal with development issues like grading.
• Adjacent Property Owner Rights give a neighbour the right to access a shared driveway
or laneway, or a right to cross over the land to access their property (for example, a right of
way). A neighbour may even have a right to enter upon the land to maintain their property.
Easements can prevent or limit a property owner’s ability to develop their land, such as building an extension to a home, a swimming pool, or garden, as the property owner must at all times comply with the easement, allowing unhindered and unimpeded access. If, for example, the property owner constructs a deck covering an easement, they may be legally
required to remove the deck at their own cost.

The best time to understand and deal with an easement  is prior to purchase. Purchasers can
conduct a title search and are entitled to requisition that certain easements be discharged from title. If the seller is unwilling or unable to discharge the easement, or insure against it, the purchase agreement may end.

There are other types of easements which the Purchaser must accept. Section 10 of the standard OREA Agreement of Purchase and Sale states that the Purchaser will take title to the property, even if there is: “…(c) any minor easements for the supply of domestic utility or telephone services to the property or adjacent properties; and (d) any easements for drainage, storm or sanitary sewers, public utility lines, telephone lines, cable television lines or other services which do not materially affect the use of the property...” Reference to use in this section implies current use, rather than any future use which may occur by way of development.

A property owner can attempt to have an easement removed by obtaining the consent of the party who’s been granted the easement or obtaining a court order. They will, however, not disappear simply through non-use.

An owner may discover that their renovation dreams are not legally possible. So, before you purchase a property or undertake a renovation, carefully review title and consult a lawyer to ensure there are no easements which may affect your use of the property.

Market Commentary May 2017


The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) recently released its sales figures for the month of April and two items immediately stand out: (i) total GTA sales were down, a modest 3% from the previous year and (ii) for the second consecutive month, new listings were up (+33.6%), leading to a year-over-year rise in total active listings for the first time since July 2013.

To the first point, TREB acknowledges that there were additional holiday days this April when compared to 2016 which may have skewed the numbers slightly. Regarding the second, it’s worth noting that the 21,630 new listings represent the most new listings in an April since the new millennium. In fact, April 2010 was the only other April to exceed 20,000 new listings. This strongly suggests that homeowners are either ready to take advantage of high prices or feel that recent government intervention in the market may have some impact on the future value of their asset. 

It’s too early to determine whether or not Ontario’s new Fair Housing Plan had an impact on total sales. It’s also worth noting that despite any new market uncertainty, average sales prices were still up 24.5% in the GTA, real inflation, as measured by the Home Price Index Composite Benchmark, was up over 31.5%, and the average sale took only 9 days to complete (40% faster than in 2016).

So, despite the slight decrease in total sales and jump in new listings, it remains very much a seller’s market in the GTA. That said, for those looking for greater balance in the market and for a greater selection of product, this is positive news. Moving forward, should more new listings continue to come to market, expect prices to continue their rise; however, it would not be unreasonable to expect price inflation to start resembling something closer to historical norms. It will also be interesting to see if listing prices begin to more closely reflect the seller’s desired sales price. Last month, the average sale price in the City of Toronto exceeded the average listing price by 11%. 

For more information on the market or the new Fair Housing Plan, please call me.

Purchasing properties on Assignment

The severe shortage of listings has created multiple offers, bidding wars and unprecedented price increases. Serious buyers are finding it extremely difficult to find suitable properties. Consequently, many buyers are looking to purchase properties via Assignments. This column will explain the basics of Assignment transactions and what realtors need to know when involved in an Assignment transaction. For clarity, Assignments in this column will refer to an Assignment of a newly constructed home from a builder.

Here are some important things to remember about Assignment transactions:

1. Assignments are not the same as buying a resale property. When purchasing an Assignment, you, as the Assignee Purchaser are purchasing the original contract made between the original Purchaser (Assignor) and the builder.

2. Before doing an Assignment, the Assignor or its realtor should first confirm that the builder will grant its consent to the Assignment. Without this, the Assignment transaction cannot proceed.

3. The Assignee must know and understand what it is purchasing. It is therefore imperative the Assignee has a lawyer review both the Assignment Agreement and the original builder Agreement.

4. Every Assignment Agreement is different and unique and there is no standard or uniform way to draft the Assignment Agreement.

5. Drafting an Assignment Agreement is not like drafting an ordinary resale Agreement. For this reason, it is critical that the realtor insert a clause in the Assignment Agreement making it conditional on lawyer approval.

6. The most confusing aspect of the Assignment Agreement is determining when the Assignment price (deposit paid to the builder and profit) are paid to the Assignors. A carefully drafted Assignment Agreement should address this and other issues.

7. The Assignment Agreement must be conditional on the builder granting consent to the Assignment. The time period for the consent cannot be too short as neither the Assignors nor the Assignee has any control over when the builder will grant consent to the Assignment.

8. For Assignors, it is important to remember that most builder Agreements prohibit the assignors from listing, advertising or posting the sale of the property on the multiple listing service.  Builders also charge a fee for granting the Assignment. The amount of the fee varies from builder to builder.

9. There may be tax consequences relating to the Assignment. Therefore, it is prudent for the parties to obtain tax advice from an accountant.

March 2017 Market Newsletter

Market Commentary
The Toronto Real Estate Board recently released their housing figures for February, and there’s no relief in sight for those waiting for a downturn in prices. In fact, those looking for affordability outside the City of Toronto will have to look further afield than before as the average sales price for a detached house in the 905 came in at $1,106,201 last month, a 35.4% increase from the same period a year ago. In the City of Toronto, the same figure was nearly $1,575,000 with semi-detached homes exceeding $1,085,000 on average. TREB continues to focus on the limited housing supply as the key driver of price growth, with 12.5% fewer new listings coming to market than February 2016 and an astounding 50.5% fewer active listings for buyers to choose from.

There are two key statistics we’ve been monitoring as a result of the housing supply crunch and high cost of single detached homes. The first is the rising cost of more modestly priced housing alternatives like condo apartments. Annual inflation in the condo market skyrocketed in 2016, and currently sits at roughly 19% for the GTA and a little higher within the 416. The second statistic to be aware of is the difference between list price and the final sales price. Remember, the list price is often set to pique interest and start a bidding war. In February, the average GTA home sold for 8% over the initial asking price, while detached homes in the City of Toronto went for 10%. If you’re planning to buy or sell real estate, talk to your Harvey Kalles Real Estate professional to ensure you are prepared with the best information. 

Moving homes can be one of the most stressful events that a family will experience during
any real estate transaction. Fortunately, a little preparation will go a long way to help eliminate a great deal of the moving stress for you and your family.

- Be ready when the movers arrive. Have everything packed and ready to go.

- Make sure that both your origin and destination locations are ready. If you’re  moving to a condo or an apartment, book the elevator in the building and  notify your landlord or building manager of the arrival time of your movers.

- Arrange for street parking if needed.

- Always supervise the loading and unloading process, or arrange for someone else to supervise. If goods are damaged or lost, make note of it and make  sure to notify the moving company immediately.

- When the loading and unloading has been completed, do a walk-through of  your premises to ensure that everything has been loaded and nothing is left behind in closets, behind doors, in attics or in garages. 

- Back up your computer data and take the data and the computer with you.

- Take all important personal documents and valuables (e.g. jewellery, prescriptions) with you, and make special arrangements for perishables (e.g. food, plants) that may be affected by heat or cold.

- Make appropriate arrangements for your pets.

Tight market conditions in November

Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 8,547 home sales through TREB's MLS® System in November 2016. This result represented a 16.5 per cent increase compared to November 2015.

For the TREB market area as a whole, sales were up on a year-over-year basis for all major home types. The strongest annual rates of sales growth were experienced for the townhouse and condominium apartment segments.

"Home buying activity remained strong across all market segments in November. However, many would-be home buyers continued to be frustrated by the lack of listings, as annual sales growth once again outstripped growth in new listings. Seller's market conditions translated into robust rates of price growth," said Mr. Cerqua.

The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark was up by 20.3 per cent compared to November 2015. The average selling price at $776,684 was up by 22.7 per cent on a year-over-year basis. "Recent policy initiatives seeking to address strong home price growth have focused on demand. Going forward, more emphasis needs to be placed on solutions to alleviate the lack of inventory for all home types, especially in the low-rise market segments,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis

From Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

It’s taken two delayed flights, long waiting lines and really bad traffic, but I’m here, albeit about two days later than expected. One of the Orphanage Administrators is away, so that will have to wait until Wednesday when he returns; the other has a partial list of needs, some of which I will have to edit/audit. 

Bought kitchen utensils, pots and pans, a DVD/CD player and a few odds and ends for the girls orphanage. Paid RS 50,000 towards the kitchen renovations—the Administrator said it should be about  RS 150,000 (about $1,500 CDN) to finish.