Sale price of your home up, but good luck finding another

If you’re a midtown homeowner planning to sell and move out of the city, February’s real estate prices will give you reason to finally pack your bags.

If, however, you’re thinking of downsizing but would like to stay in your neighbourhood — or even the GTA — you’ll be facing the same problem homeowners across the city now find themselves grappling with: finding a new home for a low enough price to justify selling your old one.

“The majority of homeowners in central Toronto wouldn’t have trouble selling their home today in the marketplace,” says Jason Mercer, Toronto Real Estate Board market analysis director.

“The real issue is what are they going to buy afterward?” he adds. “That’s resulted in a bit of a vicious circle where you’re seeing people deciding to renovate rather than list their home for sale.”

For homeowners secure in their decision to move to, say, Barrie, the numbers are spectacular.

In Forest Hill south and Yonge-Eglinton, for example, the average sale price of a detached home rose from $1,275,000 in January to $2,747,397 in February alone.

(If that jump seems excessive, keep in mind the averages are based on the number and value of houses sold in a given month. In January only four detached houses were sold in the area, while 20 were sold in February.)

Yonge and St. Clair, Casa Loma, Wychwood, and the Annex all saw the average sale price of a detached home rise from $1,897,558 to $2,443,750 in February.

Elsewhere, prices rose by comparatively modest but still quite impressive rates, with the sale price of an average detached reaching $2,146,833 in Mount Pleasant, $4,160,891 in Rosedale, $2,469,565 in Lawrence Park and Forest Hill North; and $2,162,613 in Leaside.

The lowest gains were posted in the Bridle Path, Sunnybrook, and York Mills area, where the average sale price for a detached rose from $3,978,120 in January to $3,986,692 in February.

But continuing a trend seen last year, the number of listings across Toronto fell. Detached home listings in central Toronto dropped from 460 new listings and 392 active listings in February 2016 to 386 new and 256 active listings in February 2017.

These conditions have been typical for some time in midtown, Mercer says. It’s evidence of a tight market in the low-rise detached, semi, and townhome segments. But recently even condominium apartments are experiencing a drop in listings.

“Regardless of the type of home you’re speaking about in the city of Toronto today, you’re experiencing tight market conditions,” he says. “We’re seeing it across the GTA. If you look at the growth in home prices in the city of Toronto versus the surrounding regions it’s very, very similar.”

The silver lining is that if a homeowner — especially of a detached house — chooses to renovate rather than sell, the property’s eventual sale price apparently has nowhere to go but up.

“As long as we’re seeing the type of tight market conditions that we are, it’s difficult to forecast for anything but continued price growth,” Mercer says.