President's Toronto SUN Column
TREB President's Column as it appears every Friday in the Toronto Sun's Resale Homes and Condos section.
New Mortgage Rules Won’t Hurt Affordability
July 13, 2012 -- Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 9,422 home sales through the TorontoMLS system in June 2012. The number of transactions was down by 5.4 per cent in comparison to June 2011. The year-over-year decline was largest in the City of Toronto, where sales were down by 13 per cent compared to June 2011. Sales in the rest of the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) market area were comparable to a year ago.
Buyers continue to face the substantial upfront cost associated with the City of Toronto’s unfair Land Transfer Tax. Recent polling by TREB suggests that many households are considering home purchases outside of the City of Toronto to avoid paying the Land Transfer Tax. This goes a long way in explaining the disproportionate decline in sales in the City versus surrounding regions.
The average selling price in June was $508,622 – up by 7.3 per cent compared to June 2011. The mortgage payment associated with the average priced home in June, assuming five per cent down and a five-year fixed rate mortgage amortized over 25 years, would account for approximately 35 per cent of the average household’s income in the GTA after adding property tax and utility payments.
I asked Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis to provide some commentary on the monthly stats, and the recent news of new lending guidelines.
“According to new mortgage lending guidelines set out by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the GTA housing market remains affordable. The share of the average household’s income going toward major home ownership payments for the average priced home remains below the 39 per cent ceiling recently announced by Mr. Flaherty,” said Mr. Mercer,.
“The average household in the GTA continues to benefit from a considerable amount of flexibility to account for higher interest rates moving forward,” continued Mercer.
As for the commercial market, TREB’s Commercial Division Members reported almost 3.5 million square feet of total leased space in the second quarter of 2012. This figure represented a decline of 22 per cent compared to 4.4 million leased square feet in Q2 2011. While the amount of space leased was down year-over-year, average lease rates were up for industrial, commercial/retail and office properties.
Industrial properties accounted for close to 80 per cent of total leased space through the TorontoMLS system in the second quarter, with deals completed for over 2.7 million square feet of industrial space – down by seven per cent compared to Q2 2011. The average lease rate for industrial properties transacted on a per square foot net basis and for which pricing was disclosed was $4.92, representing a 13 per cent increase year-over-year.
I asked TREB’s Commercial Division Chair Cynthia Lai to provide further insight.
“Given the degree of economic uncertainty that has characterized the Canadian economy this year, it is not surprising that the amount of space leased was down in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2011. With this said, while some firms may have temporarily taken a step back from further real estate investment, we continued to see enough demand for average lease rates to remain buoyant over the past year,” commented Ms. Lai.
Sales of industrial and commercial properties, with 98 and 95 transactions respectively, were down in comparison to the second quarter of 2011. There were also 50 office transactions representing a slight increase over Q2 2011. Changes in average selling prices compared to last year were mixed. The average price per square foot for sold industrial properties was up substantially on a year-over-year basis, whereas the average selling prices for commercial/retail and office properties were down.
“Price change can often be driven by a change in the composition of sales from one year to the next. This was certainly the case for industrial transactions in the second quarter. Last year, larger industrial properties, which generally sell for less on a per square foot basis, accounted for a much greater share of transactions compared to 2012. This compositional shift was the main driver of the jump in the average industrial selling price,” continued Lai.
Ann Hannah is President of the Toronto Real Estate Board,
a professional association that represents 34,000 REALTORS®
in the Greater Toronto Area.