The Ripples of 2008 Slowdown are Now Getting Closer to Home

Real estate figures at the start of the year are now in, and the numbers for both low-rise and high-rise units indicate that we are still in for some bumpy ride in the next few months. The unfolding developments in various real estate markets are giving conflicting signals. For instance, high rise condo units are performing pretty well despite the lingering problems bugging other property segments. In a market report that was recently released, the new high rise home property segment registered an amazing 1,107 units sold for the first month of the year. The figure is by far the highest that was ever achieved by the segment for the last 5 years.

Surprisingly, things were not as rosy for low rise home properties. Total sales performance for the property segment for the same period was only 1,145. The figure is the second lowest for the property segment for the last five years and is only higher to the sales figure for the same period last year, which is admittedly the most difficult year for the real estate market. It was during this period that the market and the economy as a whole were mired in countless challenges including high interest rates, recession and high unemployment rate.

Things are no better in major real estate markets as well. The inventory level of low-rise properties in the Greater Toronto Area continues to decline and is now at 7,238 units. This inventory of home units for sale is more than 60% lower than the ideal level of inventory for the real estate market.

On the other hand, high-rise home properties and resale home units are now going for much higher tag prices due to strong pressures on the demand side in major real estate markets. We are seeing the worst situations on both extreme scenarios, which according to real estate experts and industry analysts is unprecedented.

Towards the end of the month under consideration, new condo properties were being sold by an average price of $407,885 which is 5% higher for the same period of the previous year. The January figure is also higher by $9,710 to the average price of the same home properties towards the end of last year. These numbers indicate that almost half of the incremental increase in prices for the entire year happened in a single month.

On the other hand, the average price of newly built single-family home units for Greater Toronto Area was pegged at $474,035 towards the end of January this year. This figure is a jump of $14,462 from December of last year and an incremental increase of $34,436 for the same period of the preceding year. Market experts observed that 42% of the increase can be attributed to the price shift during a single month.

What are the implications of these major shifts in the real estate markets? Real estate experts agree that the inventory levels of single-family home properties are critical factors that define the directions in the real estate markets. What worries experts is the continuing and fast downtrend in the supply variables of most real estate markets. Stakeholders who have front-seat view of the goings-on in the real estate industry believe that the current state cannot be attributed to one specific variable. Real estate analysts agree that the situation is a confluence of several factors that negate whatever upside changes that we are experiencing right now.

While the challenges in the real estate market can be attributed to the global recession that hit major economies last year, experts are not sure how long the condition will last. This prevailing market condition is the main reason why home buyers are not too keen on going back to the market, and this depressed situation in real estate market has led to fewer projects of developers and home builders.

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