2017 Year End Top Tier Report

Sotheby’s International Realty Canada’s 2017 Year-End Top-Tier Real Estate Report highlights the latest market dynamics within each of the country’s major metropolitan top-tier real estate markets. According to the report, Canada’s top-tier real estate market, anchored by strong local and national economic fundamentals, held steadfast in face of extreme changes brought about by housing and mortgage policy shifts, rising interest rates, tightening mortgage lending policies, and transnational political and economic headwinds in 2017.

In the wake of the April 2017 introduction of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan, market confidence and top-tier sales activity trended downward across the Greater Toronto Area, with the impact on consumer psychology noticeably waning in the fall. $1 million-plus residential real estate sales (condominiums, attached and single family homes) maintained 2016’s historic highs, with a nominal 5% year-over-year increase in sales volume, while luxury sales over $4 million surged 35% year-over-year. The top-tier condominium market led the market in percentage gains, with $1 million-plus sales up 59% over 2016.

In Vancouver, the lull in top-tier sales activity following the August 2016 introduction of the 15% property transfer tax on foreign buyers began to recover in the latter half of 2017. Overall, $1 million-plus residential real estate sales decreased 5% from 2016 and luxury real estate sales over $4 million fell 33%, a result of the disconnect between prospective buyers with expectations of price adjustments in a calmer market and sellers maintaining high selling price goals. Over the year, the city’s unrelenting $1 million-plus condominium market surpassed previous records with a 27% year-over-year increase in sales volume.

Sustained economic and labour market gains, as well as Montreal’s solidifying position on the global real estate stage intensified demand and activity in the $1 million-plus real estate market, resulting in rapidly absorbed inventory, rising prices, stiffening competition between homebuyers and bidding wars. Overall sales of $1 million-plus residential real estate increased 20% year-over-year in 2017, while the city’s condominium market experienced the strongest percentage gains with sales up 49% year-over-year.

Residential real estate sales over $1 million increased a modest 11% year-over-year gain in 2017 as Calgary’s economy continued to recover throughout the year. Progress remained preliminary in the city’s top-tier real estate market as a high unemployment rate, job insecurity, weak in-migration, and the gradual rise of lending rates contributed to wavering consumer confidence.

“Underlying changes in housing supply, demographic trends and consumer expectations ignited unprecedented performance in the top-tier condominium and attached home segments of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal,” says Brad Henderson, President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “The Calgary market also gained ground as economic recovery continued in the city. Overall, Canada’s metropolitan top-tier real estate markets remained bastions of stability, in spite of intervention.”

According to Henderson, affordability challenges in the single family home market, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto, are converging with the lifestyle and financial demands of younger buyers and affluent baby boomers, as well as continued interest from foreign buyers to escalate demand and accelerate price gains in the high-end condominium and attached home market of Canada’s major cities.

Canadian top-tier real estate market highlights included:

VANCOUVER

Strong economic fundamentals and appeal as one of the world’s most livable cities continue to stabilize Vancouver’s top-tier market as it veered in two separate directions in 2017.

  • The city’s $1 million-plus condominium market set new records with a 27% increase to 1,285 units sold. $1 million-plus attached home sales increased 13% year-over-year to 690 units sold.
  • Conversely, single family homes sales over $1 million saw a slowdown in 2017, falling 20% from 2016 levels to 2,307 homes sold in 2017. The most significant adjustment was in the $4 million-plus luxury single family home market, where 336 units sold in 2017, a 35% reduction from 2016.
  • Overall, $1 million-plus residential real estate sales (condominiums, attached and single family homes) held firm with a 5% decline to 4,282 properties sold in 2017.
  • The effects of the 15% property transfer tax on foreign buyers, as well as other policy measures, began to wane in the latter half of 2017, pointing to renewed stability in 2018.

CALGARY

Calgary’s economy continued to exhibit gradual growth throughout 2017, adjusting from the turmoil of years past. While this was reflected in a 24% year-over-year increase in residential sales activity in the city’s $1 million-plus real estate market in the first half of 2017, more recent data reveals that progress remains preliminary in the top-tier segment.

  • Overall residential sales over $1 million increased a modest 11% year-over-year to 677 units (condominiums, attached and single family homes) sold in 2017.
  • Single family home sales, which comprise the majority of Calgary’s $1 million-plus real estate market, remained relatively stable in 2017 with an 8% year-over-year increase to 594 units sold.
  • With a relatively low percentage of condominiums comprising Calgary’s $1 million-plus real estate market, the city saw few sales over the course of 2017; in total, sales of condos over $1 million decreased 37% from 2016 to 12 units sold.

TORONTO

The Greater Toronto Area’s (Durham, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York) top-tier real estate market maintained stamina in face of changes including the April 2017 introduction of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan. Demand and activity remained solid, a result of continued migration into the city, a healthy labour market and resilient consumer confidence.

  • While 2017 sales gains were not as robust as in 2016, residential sales over $1 million (condominiums, attached and single family homes) held ground with a nominal 5% year-over-year increase to 20,623 units sold in 2017, the culmination of several consecutive record-setting years; luxury home sales over $4 million experienced strong year-over-year percentage gains, increasing 35% to 391 units sold in 2017.
  • Sales of $1 million-plus condominiums in the GTA sustained heated growth throughout 2017, with 1,296 units sold, up 59% over 2016, while luxury sales over $4 million saw 91% year-over-year gains to 21 units.
  • Top-tier single family home sales in the Greater Toronto Area remained stable in 2017 with 17,286 units sold over $1 million. In contrast, luxury home sales over $4 million intensified in the GTA, increasing 34% to 365 homes sold respectively.

MONTREAL

As Quebec’s economic growth reached 15-year highs, and as provincial unemployment rates plummeted, soaring consumer optimism, modest net migration into the province, and an uptick in international interest as Canada’s second largest city emerged onto the world’s real estate stage, lifted sales activity and prices in Montreal’s top-tier real estate market.

  • Sales of $1 million-plus residential real estate (condominiums, attached and single family homes) increased 20% from 613 units sold in 2016 to 734 units sold in 2017, limited by available supply.
  • Montreal’s $1 million-plus condominium market experienced the strongest percentage gains of the city’s top-tier housing types in 2017 with sales up 49% over 2016, to 122 units.
  • Following notable growth in 2016, single family home sales over $1 million experienced modest gains in 2017, up 21% year-over-year to 405 homes sold, with healthy demand reflected in a decline in the number of days on market and intense bidding wars in premier luxury neighbourhoods such as Westmount, Town of Mont Royal and Outremont.

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 neighborhoods 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.