News / Toronto

GTA condo sales, prices up — but rents starting to ease

It could be the year of shrinking condo rents but surging condo “for sale” listings if the first quarter of 2014 is any indication.

Condo sales were up nine per cent in the first three months of this year over last, with 70 per cent of the 4,454 transactions taking place in the City of Toronto, according to figures released by the Toronto Real Estate Board Tuesday.

Prices in the first quarter were up 5.6 per cent, year over year, to an average of $351,213 across the GTA and $376,226 in the City of Toronto.

Realtors say they’ve seen more demand for condos the last few months as the supply of lowrise houses close to the downtown and transit lines has fallen so far below demand, bidding wars are driving prices for houses out of reach of many buyers.

Condo for-sale listings, on the other hand, appear to be headed in the other direction — up. And given that as many as 20,000 new condo units are expected to reach completion this year, more units are likely to hit the market by the end of this year, potentially driving down prices and even rents as owners look to rent or sell into an oversupplied market.

“. . . We could see stronger growth in listings in the second half of 2014 as some investors choose to list their units for sale. If this occurs, buyers would benefit from more choice in the marketplace and thus could have more negotiating power with regard to price,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s senior manager of market analysis.

Already there are some signs that rents may be softening for investors choosing to offer up their units to the growing number of young people, and downsizing baby boomers, looking to live and work in or close to the downtown core.

Condo rental transactions were up 17.8 per cent in Q1 of 2014, year over year, but the total number of listings surged by 27.7 per cent as more investor-owned condos came to completion.

As a result, the rent for a one-bedroom unit in the GTA declined by 1.6 per cent, to $1,573 per month in the first quarter. Rents can run closer to $1,800 in the downtown core. One-bedroom units accounted for 60 per cent of all condo rentals.

Two-bedroom units, which are seeing some increase in demand among young people looking to share the hefty rents, saw rents increase 1.9 per cent in the quarter to $2,155. Two bedrooms accounted for 60 per cent of all condo rental transactions in the first three months of 2014, according to the TREB statistics.

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