Real estate sales improving after steep decline
Real estate sales in Toronto are gaining strength after suffering a steep decline over the past few months, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.
March statistics show that sales are down by seven per cent from the same time last year, a number that condo expert Brad J. Lamb calls a "very strong margin."
"Statistics are showing us now that the bottom of Ontario's real estate market was probably December, at the peak of pessimism," he said in an interview on Canada AM Monday. "It's clawed its way back. Each month since then, it's gotten better and better."
Jason Mercer, senior manager of market analysis with the Toronto Real Estate Board agreed with Lamb, calling March numbers a "marked improvement" over the first months of 2009.
"While it's still a decline it's a marked improvement over what we saw during February and January where sales were down by a third and then 50 per cent respectively," he said.
He said Toronto's housing prices have seen a five per cent slump over this time last year.
Still the recession has forced some buyers to reconsider investing their money in real estate.
Sharyn and Glenn Tarver, who were interviewed last year by Canada AM while they were looking to purchase a condo, said they've decided to stay put for now.
Especially with the economic times right now, we've decided to back off looking probably for five years," said Sharyn Tarver in a recent interview with Canada AM
At the time, the Tarvers were empty-nesters who had paid off their mortgage on their home and were looking to downsize. Their daughter Laura, a professional cook, was also looking to buy her first home.
Today, Laura has moved back into the family home along with her brother Mark who is a college student.
Glenn Tarver said he worries that the cost of buying a condominium would have an impact on their lifestyle.
"I would say the recession has affected us somewhat because we can't do quite as many things as we used to do but our lifestyle is pretty good," he said.
"I'm a little worried that if we move into a condo our lifestyle might suffer a bit because we might end up trading a property here that is mortgage-free for something we'd be back paying a mortgage for."
Lamb said Toronto's real estate market has not suffered as much as other municipalities during the recession and the proof is in the strength of residential construction projects that are currently underway.
Condo developers in other cities have had to scale back their operations after failing to sell the majority of their units but Toronto has been spared, he said.
"Basically (in Toronto) we haven't had any large-scale construction project stop. Most of them -- I'd say about 99 per cent of them -- have gone forward," said the "Big City Broker" host.
"It's not a situation where someone has put a deposit down and then lost the right to buy a condominium in Ontario."