Sunday, April 19, 2009

The signs are everywhere ... here in the GTA and in several U.S. markets. Buyers are well, buying again!

Now that the cost of home ownership (lower home prices plus falling mortgage rates) get low enough, people realize the value of owning compared to renting.

In the U.S., February sales were up 5% compared to one year ago ... and in the U.S. Northeast, sales were up 16% and condominium sales overall were up 11.4%.
Mortgage rates south of the border are at six-decade lows right now. But they're nowhere near the low rates we're seeing here in Canada.

Although foreclosures take up almost 50% of the sales each month in some markets, agents are seeing multiple offers on some of them due to the low prices. These prices can often be below the cost of construction for 1-5 year old houses.

Miami Herald newspaper was quoted recently saying "Buyers are starting to
think that prices are where they should be and that the market is near a bottom".

The stock market experts are starting to talk about an economic recovery from the 'Great Recession' by the end of 2009 to early 2010. Although jobless numbers are still high, the psychological effects of the G20 meeting recently in London are definitely positive.

The Toronto real estate market is really blessed. Out of almost 23,000 Toronto Real Estate Board MLS listings available for sale, a microscopic 0.80% are Power Of Sale have-to-sell homes (properties being sold by lenders - our equivalent of foreclosure in the U.S. or western Canada).

As a result, we have not been faced with the severe downward pressure on prices that many US markets have encountered.

Let's talk about the ratio of sales-to-listings in the Toronto real estate market for a minute. By the way, a "neutral" market is 24-28%. Above that is a "seller's" market and below 24% is a "buyer's" market.

Looking at the sales-to-listings for the period from January
2008 to March 2009, you'd see that we hit a low of around 13% during the months November, December and January and then the ratio started to climb again. That was big time buyer's market territory according to those ratios mentioned above. By the month of March the ratio was back up and in high neutral-market territory at 26.8%.

It's impossible to know where the bottom is until after the fact. Maybe we're still on the way down and just hit a speed-bump, at the bottom or the bottom has already passed. The point is, nobody knows so don't listen to someone who says they do.

Currently, mortgage brokers have interest rates for a 5-year fixed term ranging from 4.05% down to 3.69% - historic lows to say the very least. In January 2009 this same mortgage was 4.99% making for savings on a $300,000 mortgage payment to be about $175 monthly - that drop in just 90 days. Combine this with Toronto home price declines of about 10-15% since last September and it's no wonder the market is moving faster now!

Recently we heard of a realtor's client coordinator booking buyer showing appointments. 30 or so listings were contacted but 16 of them were already sold or had multiple offers on them after just a few days on the market.

So what should YOU do? Stay on the fence? Test the waters? Maybe attend a home buyer's seminar? There are several available in different locations across the GTA offered by many different resources.

Here's a better idea. For those who don't want to run around and add to an already hectic life, why not contact a mortgage broker and have them do it for you? Unbiased advice and access to all lenders at the same time sure do make it easy for you to save time and money.

There's an old stock market adage about trying to catch a falling knife. If applies well here in the real estate and mortgage market. Get pre-approved, be ready to pounce on the property, take advantage of these historic low rates and take advantage of this once in a lifetime situation.

No comments: