Toronto home prices up 4% in January

Realtors are “cautiously optimistic” that Toronto’s housing market is picking up a bit of unexpected steam after six months of slowing sales and softening prices.

The number of houses that changed hands in the first two weeks of January was up 2.4 per cent and the average selling price was up 4 per cent compared to the same period a year ago, according to figures released Wednesday by the Toronto Real Estate Board.

The average price of homes sold in those first two weeks of 2013 was $459,728, according to TREB.

“I am cautiously optimistic about this result. It will be important to watch sales trends closely as we move through the first quarter to see if some of the households who moved to the sidelines as a result of stricter lending guidelines are starting to renew their decision to purchase a home,” said TREB President Ann Hannah.

The condo sector was another story: Sales were down about 4.4 per cent — 5 per cent in the 905 regions compared to 4.2 per cent in Toronto — and prices sank by 3.3 per cent.

Semi-detached homes remained in highest demand, showing a 12.2 per cent increase in sales in the first two weeks of January over a year earlier and price increases across the GTA averaged 11.5 per cent, according to TREB.

Sales of detached homes in the GTA were up by almost 5 per cent overall, despite a 2 per cent decline in the City of Toronto. Prices jumped by an average 4.3 per cent.

The biggest challenge remains low inventory, with not enough homes for sale to meet demand, a problem that has shown no signs of letting up since before the recession, says Jason Mercer, TREB’s senior manager of market analysis.

Realtor Duncan Fremlin is seeing that problem play out a number of his clients who would like to list their current homes and move up, but are frustrated by the lack of choice.

“I always encourage people that if they are selling, they can’t get a better time than January and February because there is almost no product on the market,” says Fremlin.


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