toronto housing market

Experts insist that Toronto's overblown housing market isn't actually tanking

Doom and gloom headlines have been the big story in the Toronto real estate world through 2022 and into the new year, but for all the negative forecasts about spiking interest rates and furrowed brows of experts, there is new evidence that things aren't actually all that terrible in the housing market.

The RE/MAX Canada 2023 Canada Housing Barometer Report delved into average price and new mortgage values published by CMHC-Equifax Canada in a dozen major markets across Canada, including right here in Toronto.

And, surprisingly, data suggests that the city's unpredictable market may actually be on better footing to handle the Bank of Canada's string of interest rate hikes than previously anticipated.

RE/MAX examined the loan-to-value (LTV) ratios of these 12 cities between Q3 2012 and Q3 2022, with Toronto reaching 53 per cent in the third quarter of 2022, down a whopping ten points from the 63 per cent figure reported a decade earlier in 2012.

"While a volatile housing market triggered growing concerns over homeowner exposure to higher interest rates in 2022, third quarter loan-to-value ratios suggest the market may be better positioned than originally anticipated," states the report.

Despite an ongoing shortage of available homes for sale in Canada's largest metropolitan area, prices held steady in the final quarter of 2022.

A phenomenon of buyers entering the market with large down payments in the last decade is one RE/MAX attributes to a combination of strong equity gains and inter-generational wealth transfer (thanks boomers), factors that might not be hard-hit by the massive increases in interest rates seen in recent months.

The Bank of Canada's tightening of interest rates — which resulted in a 400-basis point hike over a nine-month period last year — has forced banks to tighten their own lending practices. This has translated to lower appraisals that put buyers in a last-minute scramble to cover the difference.

And the fun is far from over, as overnight rates are expected to see at least two more hikes in the first half of 2023, further testing the market.

As the saying goes, it often gets worse before it gets better, and RE/MAX predicts better news for the second half of 2023.

The report says that "several factors are expected to support the housing market in the year ahead, including a low supply of inventory listed for sale and a significant uptick in the provincial population, with the vast majority choosing to settle in Toronto."

"While challenges certainly exist in today's high interest rate environment, risk factors for the overall housing market are greatly reduced when homeowners own a larger proportion of their homes," says Christopher Alexander, President, RE/MAX Canada.

"At the end of the day, what's evident by the loan-to-value ratios and by policies to discourage speculation and over-extension is that real estate is and will always be a long-term hold," says Alexander, continuing, "The bottom line is that the dream and desire for home ownership is unmistakable."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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