The GTA real estate market has been on fire for about a year now, but latent cooling signs that have emerged in the last couple of months should last through summer.
“I don’t think we’re going to see a repeat of last year and part of that is because of the frantic pace we’ve seen since 2020,” said John Lusink, president of Right at Home Realty. “Some of the excess demand has probably been take out of the market, and from what I can see from our Right at Home stats, which I track daily, I see a decline of new incoming deals, which is very gradual but it’s there, and it signals a combination of what you see in the media about buyer fatigue and the new stress test. As people look forward to being able to do stuff, I think you’ll see a more moderate pace throughout the summer, not a repeat of last year.”
The typically busy spring real estate market was muted in 2020, deferring to summer, but, as COVID-19 inoculation continues spiking and stringent lockdown measures ease, this summer should be routine. A telling sign is that listings are creeping up again, suggesting that demand has waned from its peak a few months ago when homes were scooped up almost as quickly as they were listed.
Rescinding pandemic-induced restrictions isn’t the only reason for the apparent deceleration of homebuying activity, though, says Lusink.
“We’re seeing affordability still being an issue with prices still appreciating, but we’ll probably see more of what you and I thought was a typical summer with people doing stuff outdoors, and it will be a little bit calmer as we head through the summer,” he said. “The issue of prices going up will continue squeezing buyers on the margins of qualifying, and if mortgage rates increase it will have an impact as well.”
Rates aren’t likely to increase, however, and the dip in demand is only temporary because the resumption of mass immigration almost certainly will cause demand to supersede what it was even before the pandemic. Moreover, even with sales declining the last two months, they’re still at record levels.
“If we see immigration starting to come back—and included in that are foreign students—we’re going to see increased (transactions),” said Lusink. “I’m not sure how quickly we will see that happen, but it should be into the fourth quarter, assuming borders open up, and we don’t have the same worries about COVID-19 variants.”
The surging vaccination rate is, arguably, having the biggest impact on the GTA’s real estate market, says Davelle Morrison, because people are travelling again.
“I feel like the market in the summer is going to be slower. A lot of people can take vacations and they’re getting double-vaxxed and they’re ready to spread their wings again. In the housing market, people who are looking for houses usually have cottages. Condos will chug along but the pace won’t pick up. Again, people are so excited to be double-vaxxed to go on vacation,” said Morrison.
“I think everybody is waiting for borders to open in the fall for the market to go crazy again, and until that happens, the market will maintain its slower pace.”