Toronto home prices soar 31% in April, but signs of cooling emerge

By: John Shmuel on May 3, 2017

Toronto home prices have just seen two of the strongest back-to-back months on record, but signs of cooling are starting to emerge.

The Toronto Real Estate Board said Wednesday that prices in the Greater Toronto Area rose 31.7% in April, following a record 33.2% rise in March. The price for all home types rose to $920,791, compared to $739,082 for all home types in April 2016.

But there were some signs that upward momentum could be slowing in the coming months. First, prices from March were nearly flat. Prices for single-detached homes actually fell from March to April, from $1,214,422 to $1,205,262. Finally, sales took a noticeable 3.2% tumble compared to a year ago.

All of that coincided with a flood of new listings in the market — 21,630 homes were listed for sale in the GTA last month, up 33.6% from this time last year.

While the new listings come during the peak spring homebuying season, many buyers may also be trying to take advantage of record market prices to sell their homes.

"The fact that we experienced extremely strong growth in new listings in April means that buyers benefitted from considerably more choice in the marketplace," said TREB president Larry Cerqua. "It is too early to tell whether the increase in new listings was simply due to households reacting to the strong double-digit price growth reported over the past year or if some of the increase was also a reaction to the Ontario Government's recently announced Fair Housing Plan."

April housing numbers are being closely followed because the Ontario government released a set of new housing rules on Apr. 20. The rules include a new speculation tax on foreign buyers and new rent controls that limit rent hikes on buildings built after 1991. It's expected that data in the coming months will more clearly reveal how these new rules will affect the market.

TREB did release additional data Wednesday that painted a clearer picture of who the buyers in the current market are. It said that of the people that bought homes in the Greater Golden Horseshoe between 2008 and April 2017, only 2.3% were foreign buyers. The majority — 87-90% — purchased their homes as a place to live.

TREB also looked into those who own multiple properties — a segment of buyers that some have said are fuelling speculation and leading to abnormal price growth. TREB found that those who own more than one property represent 6.2% of the market — a figure TREB says is "relatively small."