As Toronto closes the book on 2019, prospective buyers and sellers are eagerly looking to answer one scintillating question:
What will happen in the Toronto Real Estate Market in 2020?
Of course, everyone has an opinion, or thinks they know the answer, but few will ever be proven right. Still, it's fun to see what might play out in the coming year, as one can always look back and see how amazingly right (or disastrously wrong) they were.
Here are some trends to watch out for in the coming year.
The Market will be Stable with Modest Growth
As far as the market overall, realtors are forecasting the market won't change that much in 2020.
“I don't think we're going to see anything different next year from this year,” says Munira Ravji, award-winning realtor at TOrealestategroup. “
“We are expecting a stable growth of between six to eight per cent with a lot of research coming out in recent weeks supporting that. This is pretty much the norm for Toronto. I know it was a bit crazy over the past two years, but we feel things are starting to balance out a little bit,” she says.
“Sellers assume the flowers are in bloom, the grass is green and prices will be up. It's a common myth that there will be more buyers in the spring than there are right now, but in my 15 years in the business, the number of buyers remains constant throughout the year. It's the inventory and listings that fluctuate depending on the time of year. Whatever doesn't sell before Christmas will be re-listed in the spring,” says Kutyan.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel for sellers in neighbourhoods where there's not a lot of inventory and they can charge a higher price..
“There's not a lot of inventory available in central and mid-town Toronto,” says Kutyan.
He names places like Bedford Park, Davisville Village and Allenby where there are still routinely homes with multiple offers and that's going to continue into 2020. The flipside of that is in neighbourhoods north of the 401 Highway into Willowdale, like Bathurst Manor, Bayview Village and York Mills where there is still a ton of inventory on the market.
“Your best case scenario in neighbourhoods like those is prices will be flat,” says Kutyan. “It's simply a supply and demand equation.”
In a place like Bayview Village there are 116 properies still on the market with only 80 sales over the last six months and an average price of $2.938 million.
The Rental Market will Get Even More Competitive
Both Ravji and Kutyan agree that the city, provincial and federal governments will need to work together to find ways to create real estate supply in the city to facilitate affordable housing.
“Affordable housing isn't about you and I being able to afford the house we want to buy, it's really about being able to afford the rents in the city – that's the real affordable housing problem,” says Kutyan.
“I haven't had one rental offer that I've submitted myself or even received myself that wasn't in multiples,” says Ravji. “The rental market is still going to be super tight and we are seeing prices going up.”
She does say that prices will also still be affected by the season like when students start their semesters in September and January.
“My advice to all renters is to get on it,” she says. “Have your paperwork ready before you even start looking. Strike while the iron is hot because when it comes to the rental market, there's no hesitation. You want to start looking at places and be ready to move on them right away because it is that tight.”
The Stress Test Will Become More Elastic
The housing stress test will likely become a little more flexible in 2020 as interest rates stay low.
“The government's going to look at options with the stress test. I don't think they're going to get rid of it and I don't think it's a good idea to get rid of it, but I do think it will be a good idea to loosen some of it based on where we are in the economy and where we fall on interest cycles,” says Kutyan.
The ball has already begun rolling on this one as Justin Trudeau has already asked Finance Minister Bill Morneau to review the test.. Though this wasn't on the Liberal's agenda prior to the election, the Conservatives did pledge to “fix” the stress test.
“Right now we're at an ultra- low [period] with interest rates and I believe it's going to stay that way for quite some time based on what the economists are saying and what's happening with the bond fields. Plus, what it would cost the banks to give you a five-year versus a 10-year mortgage is at its lowest differential, so they're not giving discounts on 10-year mortgages because they're taking the brunt of the risk,” says Kutyan.
“The interest rates might even go down,” says Ravji. “I know that accessibility to housing has been a national conversation. Everyone has really been thinking about the future, millennials, first-time home buyers and how these people are going to get into the market and how we can support them to do that. So moving forward, there has been emphasis placed on making that marketplace more accessible.”
Condo inventory will continue to be scarce
As rentals experience upward pressure, condos will go up in price as well.
“Condos will remain the hottest market in the city with multiple offers and multiple offers across the board – they just can't build them or keep them vacant fast enough,” says Kutyan.
Bill 145 – The Trust in Real Estate Services Act Will Pass
From a professional standpoint, the big hope for the real estate industry in 2020 is the passage of Bill 145 – The Trust in Real Estate Services Act, which has passed second reading in the Ontario Legislature and has been referred to The Standing Committee on General Government.
The Bill aims to amend the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act of 2002 [REBBA] by allowing realtors to incorporate as their own business and strengthen the Real Estate Council of Ontario's ability to levy fines or suspend and revoke a realtor or brokerage's registration when they don't comply with the rules of the business It also increases transparency in the offer process where realtors can disclose details of competing offers at the seller's choosing.
“This is something I've been crossing my fingers and toes for in 2020,” says Ravji.
“Incorporation comes down to tax fairness and the discipline piece brings everyone up to the standard of excellence that everyone should expect from their realtor: the professionals who really know their stuff, play by the rules and provide a level of accountability and trust in their service.”
Ravji predicts that act will be passed in 2020 and that it will change the industry for the better for realtors and consumers. However, it's not a done deal, as it hasn't yet made it to a final vote and there still needs to be some momentum to push it through to full passage.
“This will change the face of our organization from a really professional standpoint. It will definitely raise our standards and that protects consumers which is really important,” she says.