Andre Kutyan always has an ear to the ground.
The Harvey Kalles sales representative has been an agent for 15 years. In 2017, Kutyan was contacted by the The Globe and Mail and asked how he was able to get multiple offers on a home in mid-town Toronto. This was after the introduction of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan, when he had been the Canadian media’s go-to real estate prognosticator. Now, he’s been quoted in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star multiple times.
Since Kutyan always makes it his business to know what’s going on in Toronto’s housing market and tell the public about it, he seemed like a natural fit for this week’s question.
What is the three-to-five-year outlook for real estate sales in Toronto and the GTA? What are the top 5 trends?
It really depends what type of real estate you’re looking at. Are we talking about detached homes, condominiums, townhomes or semi-detached and what area of the city are you looking at? My answer is going to vary depending on what I’m looking at.
Ultimately, I think the long-term outlook for any real estate sales in the city is going to be upward. We’re in a growing metropolis that looks more and more attractive on the world stage considering what’s going on with our neighbours to the south and what’s happening with the UK and Brexit. On the world stage, Canada and Toronto specifically are very attractive. Ontario brings in 110,000 permanent residents per year and most of them move into the GTA, so in the next seven or eight years we’ll have another million people living in Toronto.
Now, not all these people are buying one million, two million or three million dollar homes, but it puts upward pressure on demand so if supply is limited then it’s a simple math equation where prices will go up.
In the short-term, we’re going to see some fluctuation and that depends on the type of property and the location. There’s a real shortage in mid-town Toronto for properties between $800,000 and $1.2 million where I’ll get multiple offers. I’ll get four to five thousand hits on the listing in five to seven days. I’ll have two hundred plus people through in a week and I’ll end up with ten or twelve offers with property selling for significantly over my asking price.
But then in certain areas of the city, like Bayview, York Mills and Willowdale, there’s a lot of inventory on the market. If I look in Bayview and York Mills at prices between three to six million dollars for detached two-storey homes on 50 to 70-foot lots, there are 86 homes on the market right now. If I look at the number of homes that have sold over the course of six months and divide by the number of months it comes out to 2.83 sales per month, which means there is almost 31 months worth of inventory still on the market in those areas.
Most of the price growth in Toronto has been in condominiums because the majority of the buyers are not in the million plus range, so if you look at the $500,000 to $800,000, that’s where most of the buyers are. What can you buy at that price point? It’s going to be condos. There have been price increases on those for sure. As for trends, here are my main ones:
Shortage of large condos
The other flip side I’m seeing with the condo market is the high-end or the larger units have real lack of inventory in central Toronto.
What’s happening is there’s a big cohort of baby boomers who are looking to downsize, but there’s no one to sell them to. There are only a handful of buildings in Toronto that have fairly large units and they’re few and far between. I’m seeing multiple offers and big prices I haven’t seen before on these units because of the demand.
The problem is the homes they’re selling have gone down in price, while the condos they want to buy have gone up.
Boomers staying in homes longer creates housing shortage for millennial buyers
The gap is widening between what they’re leaving and what they’re looking to buy, so what’s happening is a lot of these people are holding on to their homes longer than they should.
Their house may be under used for their needs, but unless they have to move due to health they’re not going anywhere, which creates a housing shortage in certain areas for millennial buyers.
More long-term renters
As a result, young buyers will have to change their outlook on what home ownership is going to be for them. There’s the age old rent versus own conversation. This generation is used to living in freehold homes within the city, but that may change.
People might look at renting more now and if you look at Canada in general, we have one of the highest percentage home ownership rates in the western world, but it’s something ingrained in our mentality to be home owners. But this might change. People may shift to being permanent renters and focus on putting the rest of their money elsewhere.
Buyers owning homes outside Toronto means increased dependency on public transit
If people are going to own something, they’re going to have to change what their view of that is going to be.
We’re all used to growing up in freehold homes in suburban Toronto or within Toronto, but since income has not kept up with the way pricing has gone, if people want to live in the city, it’s not going to be in a freehold house it’s going to be in a condo or some kind of multi-residential home like a duplex or townhome.
If they want to live in a house, they will have to live in the suburbs and when I say suburbs, I’m not talking about Scarborough and Etobicoke. I’m talking about Oshawa, Ajax, Burlington, Hamilton and Barrie. They’re going to use GO Transit and other forms of public transit to commute into the city and work at even greater numbers than they already do.
The city has allowed for laneway housing now and I think that’s going to be something we’re going to see more and more of moving forward. There are hundreds of kilometres of unused laneways in Toronto, so why not use them?
There are companies here in Toronto that are specifically geared towards building and getting approval for laneway housing. What you’re going to see is either someone is going to put in a laneway home to augment their income or subsidize their mortgage or because they need more space.
Perhaps they need a studio space, an apartment for a parent they need to take care of or a space for an adult child to live at home. This is going to be a big trend and I have clients now who are specifically only looking for houses on lanes. These are investor clients who are looking to do something.