Bubble Trouble: the latest (and heartening) analyses of Toronto’s housing market

Bubble Trouble: the latest (and heartening) analyses of Toronto’s housing market

Sometimes it feels like real estate watchers aren’t even talking about the same city when they’re discussing Toronto’s market. Mere weeks ago, columnists and analysts predicted government regulation and oversupply could sap some of the energy from Toronto’s condo boom and hot home sales. Now, the latest flurry of opinions on the market are, confusingly, optimistic. 

The latest yay-sayers:

• A report by Central 1 Credit Union posits that Toronto home values will keep climbing for the next three years and could hit an average of $523,000 by the beginning of 2014 (the current average home price in Toronto is about $500,000). The report also suggests the hysteria over an oversupply of condos is unwarranted. Thanks to the city’s burgeoning population and low-ish interest rates, Helmut Pastrick, Central 1’s chief economist, believes the market will hold steady for a really, really long time: “My 25-year projection for prices would be upward.”

• The Globe and Mail took a look at demographics (with charts!) and concluded that a steady increase in young folks will keep things afloat. Unlike in many developed nations, the number of 20-to-44-year-olds in Canada has been growing steadily since 2007. And since that’s the main home-buying demographic, the logic goes, property values won’t tank.

• In a breathless article, the New York Times focuses on the demand for downtown condos, making the condo boom sound not only sensible but pretty too. The story contains nary a peep about a possible bubble burst or even a market cool-down, but it describes Toronto’s gleaming towers and a “skyline shimmering like a diamond necklace.”

That’s all very reassuring, but would-be buyers would be wrong to think Toronto real estate is a risk-free investment. Over the weekend, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney warned buyers to be careful. Though he didn’t say Toronto might be heading toward a bubble, Carney did offer a few sober words: “In some of our major cities, without question, valuations are extremely firm…and so some caution is warranted in that environment.” Maybe one of those new condos right off the Gardiner isn’t such a great idea after all?

• Toronto real estate cooling? Nah [Moneyville.ca]
• Why our young may save the housing market from tumbling [Globe and Mail]
• Feeling at Home in the Heart of Toronto [New York Times]
• Carney urges caution over hot housing market [Toronto Star]