Hot Toronto condo market weathering a cold snap

See the complete article in The Star

The chill that has crept over some segments of the Toronto housing market may soon extend to one of its persistent hot spots: condominiums.

Evidence of a slowdown is emerging as new rules make it tougher to get a mortgage and borrowing costs rise for the first time in almost a decade. That’s reducing the appeal of Toronto condos, whose average price now exceeds $560,000. Projects are taking longer to sell and, in some areas, developers are using incentives to move units.

“There are cash incentives being offered, discount parking being offered,” said Robert Gidwani, a broker at REsource Realty. “We’ve seen a bit more incentives especially in the resale market, we are seeing fewer multiple offers coming in.”

Christopher Bibby, a broker at RE/MAX Hallmark Bibby Group Realty, said demand is still “extremely active” for condos with “wow factor,” such as a one-bedroom unit near Bloor St. with unobstructed views of the water that sold for the list price of $629,900 in less than 48 hours.

But more generic inventory is taking longer to sell. “You’re not seeing the same pace of growth or aggressiveness on the buyer side,” he said.

The question is whether condos will join the slump in the single-family home segment, signalling a broader correction in the Canadian housing market, a risk policymakers have flagged for several years but which has so far failed to materialize. Condos accounted for 30 per cent of total Toronto sales in May.

Some developers are starting to give buyers longer than the usual six months to come up with a down payment, which usually ranges from 15 to 25 per cent. “That really increases the affordability level for people who are saving and paying as they go,” Gidwani said.

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