February 2024: Toronto Real Estate Market Update

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I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. If you have questions or need help navigating the Toronto real estate market click here.

Key Developments

  • Interest Rate Steady: The Bank of Canada decided to keep its policy interest rate unchanged at 5% in January. Their next upcoming meeting is on March 6th, 2024.
  • Inflation Watch: January’s inflation numbers are due on February 20th. December saw CPI Inflation increase to 3.4% from 3.1% in November. It’s an essential metric, as it can influence future decisions on interest rates.
  • Mortgage Rates Check: For those in the house-hunting phase or considering a refinance, the best 5-year fixed mortgage rate from the Big 6 Banks is currently sitting at 5.14% (source: ratehub.ca) which continues the downward trend on fixed rates. If you’re in need of a mortgage professional, get in touch and I’m happy to recommend someone I know, like, and trust.

Much like the stock market, the January real estate market activity is a good indicator of the direction we can expect for the rest of the calendar year. That being said, we are still in an inflationary environment with higher borrowing costs than we are used to over the last decade, so we have to tread lightly making any sort of predictions about what may or may not happen.

I’ve talked a lot about absorption rate over the last few market updates, and I want to continue with that trend this month as it is a decent barometer for whether we are in a buyer’s or seller’s market.

As of November, we saw a 40.2% absorption rate, which indicates a buyer’s market. This came off the all-time low absorption rates we saw in September (28.6%) and October 2023 (32.3%). I am going to leave out December because the lack of listings that time of year always pushes it artificially high (it was 88.6% for the record).

Overall, we have been gradually trending towards higher buyer demand since the start of the 2023 fall market. That trend continued in January when the absorption rate was 50.8%. For context, once we hit around 60%, we would consider it a seller’s market. From the offer nights I’ve seen in the second half of January, I would argue we are well on our way back to a seller’s market (more on that in a bit).

Another market indicator I like to look at is the sold-to-active listing ratio. The sold-to-active listing ratio is a measure of how fast inventory is moving. The active listings number is the total number of properties available on MLS on the last day of the month and is compared with how many listings we sold in that month.

At the end of November, there were 7,266 active listings in Toronto with merely 1,680 transactions in the entire month. This equals a 23% sold-to-active listing ratio (very sluggish).

At the end of January, there were 4,723 active listings in Toronto and 1,470 transactions. This equals a 31.1%  sold-to-active listing ratio. While still slower, it is trending in the same direction as the absorption rate.

Data aside, I am seeing a noticeable increase in buyer activity and competition on the ground, especially to start February.

What’s Been Happening on Offer Nights

I’ve been continuing to track offer nights, though I’ve scaled back a bit. The sample size isn’t large enough this spring to compare to the fall market, so I’ll speak from my experience, and from those I have been tracking for active clients.

We’re starting to see a shift back to competitive offer nights. One property in Mississauga got 85 offers! That is not a typo. 85. Even compared to the peak of the market, I probably only ever saw 50 at the most, and even that was uncommon!

It was definitely an outlier as it was priced well under market value, and was a semi in the sub $1 million price point that is highly competitive for first-time buyers, but still, that is an absurd amount of offers.

That offer night aside, I have seen several offer nights fetch 10, 15, or 20+ offers. For context, the most offers I saw on a property out of the 1,059 I tracked in the fall was 14, and only 12 fetched 10+ offers. I’ve already seen over 12 properties get 10+ offers this spring.

Not only that, all but one of these properties fetched $200,000 over ask. The lowest was $150,000 and the highest was $450,000. The average was about $300,000 over ask.

All this to say I am seeing buyer demand pick up to start this spring market, and I expect to see that continue as fixed mortgage rates continue to fall. The only thing I could see pulling back demand is if the Bank of Canada pivoted and raised rates instead of cutting them at some point this year, and/or the market is flooded with new inventory.

The first two months of January were extremely quiet, which is typical.  They are usually reserved for relists from the fall of 2023 – ideally February will share a more complete picture of how the Spring Market is fairing.

January 2024 TRREB Stats

Average Sale Price (Month-over-month)

Compared to December 2023, average sale price fell 5.35% across TRREB, and 9.7% in Toronto (see table below).

Average Sale Prices Month-over-month (All Property Types, January 2024 vs December 2023)

Average Sale Prices Month-over-month (All Property Types, January 2024 vs December 2023)

I’m not going to lie. I was pretty surprised by these drops in sale prices. Market activity and buyer sentiment picked up in the latter half of January. I believe the proportions of detached & semi-detached vs condo sales in December and January is the reason the stats are showing such a big “drop”.

You can see in the table below that in December 2023, detached & semi-detached homes made up about 40% of sales and condos made up 50%, whereas in January semi-detached & detached sales made up only 30% of sales and condos made up 60%.

A table showing breakdown of sales by property type. Comparing January 2024 to December 2023
Sales by Property Type (January 2024 vs December 2023)

Since the average sale price of a Condo is so much lower, that artificially drags down the average sale price. In the last 20 years, January to February has never seen a decline in sale price and averages about a 6% increase, so I think we see a jump in next month’s data.

Average Sale Price (Year-over-year)

January 2023 was the lowest average sale price we’ve seen across both TRREB and Toronto since the market peaked in February/March 2022. It also marks the first time Toronto’s average sale price dipped below $1,000,000 since January 2023 (see table below).

Average Sale Prices Year-over-year (All Property Types, January 2024 vs 2023)

Average Sale Prices Year-over-year (All Property Types, January 2024 vs 2023)

I think the discrepancy in sold property types is still part of the equation here, but I’ll know better when I can compare February’s data. I expect to be back above the $1,000,000 mark when we see February’s data.

New Listings

New listings fell ~34% across all of TRREB and ~41% in Toronto vs January 2023. This means much tighter conditions for buyers as there were over 4,000 fewer properties on the market this January. This could be one of the factors playing into busier offer nights.

New Listings Year-over-year (All Property Types, January 2024 vs 2023)

New Listings Year-over-year (All Property Types, January 2024 vs 2023)

Sales

Sales fell 20% across TRREB and ~31% in Toronto. This is not surprising considering there were a lot fewer properties on the market than last January. I would defer to what I talked about earlier in terms of absorption rate and the sold-to-active listing ratio. More of what is being listed is being scooped up to start 2024.

Sales Year-over-year (All Property Types, January 2024 vs 2023)

Sales Year-over-year (All Property Types, January 2024 vs 2023)

Final Thoughts

Over the last 5 years (outside of 2020 at the start of the pandemic) we’ve had strong spring markets. Without fail, the average sale price has surpassed the peak of the previous fall market (which was around $1,130,000 in fall 2023). If we continue to follow that trend, that would be a minimum of a 10% increase from where we currently sit. I’m not saying that will happen, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised based on the buyer demand and market sentiment I’m seeing out there.

As always if you have more specific questions, need advice, or want to talk about what I’m seeing out there, get in touch. I’m always happy to talk shop!

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Toronto Real Estate Agent, Aimee Fairweather

Aimee Fairweather

Sales Representative

No BS, energetic, raspy-voiced Toronto realtor; I tell it like it is and have strong opinions about the market.

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just sound advice.

Urgent? Call Aimee: (647) 296 – 4843