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Toronto home sales in November up over October but down year-to-year

Last Updated Dec 5, 2017 at 7:21 am EDT

A sold sign is shown in front of west-end Toronto homes on April 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

The Toronto Real Estate Board says demand for home ownership in the Greater Toronto Area bucked a seasonal trend in November with 7,374 homes being sold.

That represents a slight increase of 256 sales over the previous month, but a drop of 13.3 per cent from November 2016.

The board says the average sales price in the GTA for all home types last month was $761,757, down by two per cent compared to November 2016, due in large part to a smaller share of detached home sales versus last year.

High density home types continued to lead the way in terms of price growth, with the average condo price rising 16.4 per cent to $516,965 compared to November 2016.

The average price of a detached home was down 5.8 per cent at $996,527 while the average prices for semi-detached homes and townhouses were up 1.2 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively.

Board president Tim Syrianos says several factors may be responsible for the year-over-year decrease in overall sales.

“Similar to the Greater Vancouver experience, the impact of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan and particularly the foreign buyer tax may be starting to wane,” said Syrianos in a statement.

“On top of this, it is also possible that the upcoming changes to mortgage lending guidelines, which come into effect in January, have prompted some households to speed up their home buying decision.”

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In January, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions will implement new lending guidelines that will require borrowers who do not require mortgage insurance to show they would still be able to make their payments if interest rates were to rise.

In addition, the Bank of Canada has raised interest rates twice in recent months to the current overnight rate of one per cent, signalling a clampdown on cheap borrowing and driving the big bank prime rates and the cost of variable-rate mortgages higher. The cost of new fixed-rate mortgages have also risen as yields on the bond market have also risen.

The board says new listings entered into its MLS system in November amounted to 14,349 — up 37.2 per cent compared to the same period last year when the supply of listings was very low.

“We are still seeing seller’s market conditions for townhouses and condominium apartments in many neighbourhoods versus more balanced market conditions for detached and semi-detached houses,” said Jason Mercer, the board’s director of market analysis.