Real Estate Cheat Sheet: the four things you need to know about Toronto’s housing market right now

Real Estate Cheat Sheet: the four things you need to know about Toronto’s housing market right now

(Image: 20 York Street: image courtesy of Sweeny &Co Architects, Inc.; 156 Front Street West: image courtesy of Cadillac Fairview)

T.S. Elliot wrote that April is the cruelest month, but, considering climate change and the current real-estate outlook, maybe that should be actually be March, when late-winter snows make trudging to open houses even more harrowing than usual. This month, Toronto’s property market remains a deeply divided place. Sellers have the upper hand over buyers, single-family homes are outperforming condos, and different parts of the downtown financial district are competing with one another for flashy new buildings with blue-chip corporate tenants. Here, our look at what’s shaping the city’s real estate landscape right now.

The South Core is a thing

We’re starting to lose track of all the impressively curvaceous new skyscrapers developers are proposing for the South Core, a once-neglected slice of downtown located south of Union Station. In the past two weeks, renderings of 20 York Street and 156 Front Street West, two proposed South Core office towers, have made their way onto the web. (Images of the two buildings are above.) If that weren’t enough, Sun Life Financial recently announced a southward move, and Cisco announced its own South Core-related plans. It’s fair to say that Bay and King streets no longer have a monopoly on prestige—now, if we could only find a better name for the ‘hood.

Condo prices continue to teeter

Experts have been cautioning buyers about oversupply in Toronto’s condo market for years, but those calls took on additional urgency earlier this week with the release of a new TD Economics report. According to the Star, TD’s analysts expect Toronto condo prices to tumble by four per cent in each of the next two years, though researchers from other organizations think the actual price correction is likely to be far less severe.

Lack of single-family home listings is driving buyers insane

Even as the condo market limps along, prices for single-family homes continue to soar. In fact, the sellers’ market is so ridiculously robust that it seems as though buyers are starting to come unhinged. As proof, witness the cottage industry that has sprung up around reporting on insane bidding wars. One study says more than half of home sales in Toronto’s trendiest neighbourhoods close over asking. Another study says Canadians are more willing than ever to bid against other buyers for properties they like. General consensus is that this whole desperate situation is being driven by undersupply: there just aren’t enough properties on the market right now to sate Toronto’s home-buying hordes. A slow market for new-builds means things may not change for quite some time.

New priority neighbourhoods are on the way

Toronto’s “priority neighbourhoods” program has been a source of controversy since the city started it eight years ago. Neighbourhoods that received the designation have had to bear the stigma of being singled out for poverty, but have also been on the receiving end of some investment from government organizations and nonprofits like the United Way. Now, the city has devised a new system for deciding which neighbourhoods should have priority status (the new term is “Neighbourhood Improvement Area”), and it seems as though the list of designated areas is in for some big changes. Will home buyers be incensed to learn that their gritty-but-gentrifying neighbourhoods are suddenly on the poor list? Or, will everyone just be happy that taxpayer and charity dollars are going where they’re evidently needed most?