HIGHER BORROWING COSTS CONTINUE TO IMPACT HOUSING MARKET IN AUGUST
Record immigration levels alone will assure this. In the short term, we will likely continue to see some volatility in terms of sales and home prices, as buyers and sellers wait for more certainty on the direction of borrowing costs and the overall economy.
Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 5,294 sales in August 2023 – down by 5.2 per cent compared to August 2022. New listings were up by 16.2 per cent year-over-over, providing some relief on the supply front, but year-to-date listings are still down substantially compared to the same period last year.
Seasonally adjusted sales were down slightly by one per cent month-over-month compared to July 2023, while new listings were up slightly by 1.3 per cent compared to July.
More balanced market conditions this summer compared to the tighter spring market resulted in selling prices hovering at last year’s levels and dipping slightly compared to July. As interest rates continued to increase in May, after a pause in the winter and early spring, many buyers have had to adjust their offers in order to qualify for higher monthly payments. Not all sellers have chosen to take lower than expected selling prices, resulting in fewer sales.
The MLS® Home Price Index Composite benchmark for August 2023 was up by 2.5 per cent year-overyear. The average selling price was also up, but by less than one per cent to $1,082,496 over the same timeframe. On a month-over-month seasonally adjusted basis, the MLS® HPI Composite benchmark was virtually unchanged and the average price edged lower by 1.6 per cent.
While higher interest rates have certainly impacted affordability, the prospect of higher taxes will also hit households’ balance sheets, especially younger buyers with limited savings. With the City of Toronto moving to raise the municipal land transfer tax (MLTT) rate on properties over $3 million as a revenue tool, it must also consider helping first-time home buyers struggling to enter the market by adjusting their tax rebate threshold to reflect today’s higher home prices.
All three levels of government need to be focused on the key issue impacting affordability in the GTA: lack of supply. Right now, there continues to be a policy mismatch between population growth through immigration and temporary migration and bringing online enough housing to accommodate this population growth. If we can’t house newcomers, they will look elsewhere, and Canada and the GTA will lose its competitive edge on the global stage.