Sotheby’s International Realty Canada’s bi-annual top-tier real estate reports highlights new market dynamics within each of the country’s major metropolitan top-tier real estate markets during the first half of 2017. While the Greater Toronto Area remained the leader in $1 million-plus residential real estate sales, all markets shifted to reflect changes in underlying market influences.
The Greater Toronto Area (Durham, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York) continued to lead Canada’s $1 million-plus residential real estate market in the first half of 2017 with sales gains of 41% year-over-year, while luxury sales over $4 million close to doubled with a 93% surge in activity. The introduction of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan in April 2017 has cooled consumer sentiment, and top-tier activity contracted in the months immediately following.
Following a sales slowdown in the latter half of 2016 due to the implementation of a 15% foreign buyers tax in August 2016, the pace of sales activity calmed in Vancouver’s $1 million-plus real estate market in the first half of the year as sales decreased 23% year-over-year and $4 million-plus activity fell 52%. However, monthly data from the beginning of 2017 revealed uneven performance in top-tier real estate activity, as the market shifted from a period of clear uncertainty earlier in the year to resumed market participation by May 2017. Although the $1 million-plus market slowly regained traction as months progressed, affordability remained a flashpoint for Vancouver homebuyers as prices continued to rise.
A strengthening economy and emboldened consumer confidence lifted Montreal’s $1 million-plus real estate sales by 17% year-over-year in the first half of 2017, building on several years of healthy, annual sales gains. The luxury condominium market surpassed expectations with a 51% year-over-year surge in sales over $1 million. Top-tier real estate activity in Calgary renewed in the first half of the year, as consumer and industry sentiment transitioned to cautious optimism, resulting in sales gains of 24% compared to the first half of 2016.
“New market dynamics emerged in metropolitan luxury real estate markets across Canada in the first half of 2017,” says Brad Henderson, President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “There were several underlying factors that contributed to these shifts. Amongst them were the ongoing repercussions of recently implemented policy interventions in the high demand and low supply Toronto and Vancouver markets, as well as bolder economic and consumer confidence in both Montréal and Calgary, which ultimately strengthened the top-tier real estate markets in these regions.”
According to Henderson, $1 million-plus real estate sales are expected to stabilize in the third quarter of 2017 in the Greater Toronto Area. Vancouver’s top-tier market is expected to regain tentative, albeit inconsistent traction in key segments, particularly in the condominium market. Montréal’s high-end real estate market is poised for new levels of growth, while an increased uptick in activity in Calgary’s top-tier real estate market is expected to continue into the fall.
Canadian top-tier real estate market highlights included:
Following the implementation of a 15% foreign buyers’ tax that came into effect on August 2, 2016, sales activity in the City of Vancouver’s $1 million-plus housing market normalized: annual 2016 sales over $1 million stabilized within 1% (decline) of record 2015 levels, and sales in the first half of 2017 decreased 23% compared to the same period in 2016. In total, 2,385 residential properties (condominiums, attached and single family homes) sold over $1 million across the City of Vancouver in the first half of this year. The number of luxury real estate sales over $4 million fell 52% year-over-year to 211 units.
All Homes: $1M+ Year-Over-Year Sales Volume (Condominiums, Attached and Single Family Homes)
- Although sales volume over $1 million was down in comparison to the first half of 2016’s historic highs, monthly data revealed that the market regained traction as 2017 progressed.
- $1 million-plus residential sales dropped 42% year-over-year in both January and February 2017, March and April 2017 sales were down a more modest 31% and 14% year-over-year compared to the same record spring months in 2016. May saw a slight 6% decrease while June sales over $1 million were down 18% year-over-year.
- Performance diverged between the housing types. While the condominium market calmed in the immediate months following the foreign buyers’ tax implementation, consumer engagement and confidence returned in the first half of 2017.
- 648 condominiums sold over $1 million in the first half of 2017, a slight year-over-year uptick of 5%, however, luxury condominiums sales over $4 million fell 47% year-over-year to 17 units sold between January 1 and June 30, 2017.
- Sales of attached homes over $1 million decreased 12% to 358 units in the first half of 2017 from the same period a year prior.
- Single family home sales over $1 million fell 34% year-over-year in the first half of 2017 to 1,379 units sold as $4 million-plus single family home sales contracted 53% year-over-year with 191 properties selling in the first half of 2017.
Calgary’s $1 million-plus real estate market showed signs of renewal in the first half of the year, as reviving consumer activity resulted in an active, transactional top-tier market. Low interest rates, housing inventory priced to align with market expectations, returning consumer confidence, and signals of an improving provincial economy resulted in overall sales of $1 million-plus real estate (condominiums, attached and single family homes) in Calgary increasing 24% to 395 units in the first six months of the year compared to one year prior.
- Sales of single family homes, which comprised nearly 90% of the city’s $1 million-plus residential sales in the first half of 2017, remained stable compared to 2016 levels with a 22% year-over-year increase to 351 homes sold.
- Attached home sales over $1 million increased 65% year-over-year to 38 units.
- The market for $1 million-plus condominiums contracted 25% compared to the same period in 2016.
Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
Following unprecedented gains in 2016, $1 million-plus residential real estate sales in the Greater Toronto Area (Durham, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York) continued to shatter records in the first half of 2017, cementing the region’s position as the national leader in top-tier sales for the third straight year. Despite a slight contraction in sales activity resulting from newly implemented policy in the second quarter, continued economic strength, steady in-migration and immigration, and low interest rates contributed to a market characterized by sales and pricing increases across every residential housing type.
All Homes: $1M+ Year-Over-Year Sales Volume (Condominiums, Attached and Single Family Homes)
- During the first half of 2017, 14,292 properties (condominiums, attached and single family detached) over $1 million sold in the GTA, a 41% increase compared to the same period in 2016. Sales over $4 million saw the greatest year-over-year percentage gains with a 93% leap to 258 units.
- In the City of Toronto, sales over $1 million increased 25% year-over-year to 5,208 units, and sales over $4 million experienced 84% gains to 189 units.
- Top-tier single family home sales sustained continued growth in the first half of 2017: sales over $1 million were up 33% in the GTA to 12,146 units and sales over $4 million increased 92% to 240 units.
- With consumers seeking alternatives to limited single family home options, $1 million-plus condominium and attached home sales soared. GTA condo sales over $1 million rose 98% year-over-year to 758 units sold in the first half of 2017 while sales over $4 million were up 150% year-over-year to 15 units.
- Sales of attached homes over $1 million experienced the greatest percentage gains of the residential housing types during the first half of 2017, up 111% from the same period in 2016 to 1,388 units sold and with 80% of those homes sold over list price.
Montréal’s conventional and top-tier markets outperformed industry expectations by maintaining healthy momentum into the first half of 2017. Demand and confidence strengthened with continued political stability, as well as improving economic conditions.
- As a result, the city’s $1 million-plus real estate market (condominiums, attached and single family homes) experienced a 17% year-over-year uptick in the first six months of the year compared to one-year prior, resulting in 372 property sales in the first half of 2017 compared to 317 during the same period in 2016.
- Luxury real estate sales over $4 million increased 150% to five units sold in the first half of 2017.
- The market for $1 million-plus single family homes, which comprised over 50% of residential real estate sales over $1 million, increased 17% from the same period in 2016 to 199 units sold.
- The top-tier condominium market posted the greatest percentage gains in sales activity of the residential housing types in the first half of the year: sales over $1 million increased 51% year-over-year to 65 units.
- $1 million-plus attached home sales remained stable with a 4% year-over-year gain to 108 properties sold.
Sotheby’s International Realty Canada’s bi-annual Top-Tier Real Estate Report examines the market for $1 million-plus residential properties sold in Vancouver, Calgary, the Greater Toronto Area and Montréal. The annual report analyzes year-over-year data and key market variables for the first six months of 2017, offering insight into top-tier real estate sales trends in Canada’s key urban centres.
Disclaimer* – The information contained in this report references market data from MLS boards across Canada. Sotheby’s International Realty Canada cautions that MLS market data can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differentials within local markets. This report is published for general information only and not to be relied upon in any way. Although high standards have been used in the preparation of the information and analysis presented in this report, no responsibility or liability whatsoever can be accepted by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada or Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates for any loss or damage resultant from any use of, reliance on, or reference to the contents of this document.