May 5, 2015 -- Toronto Real Estate Board President Paul Etherington announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 11,303 sales in April 2015. This was the highest sales result on record for the month of April and represented a 17 per cent increase in comparison to April 2014. While sales increased strongly on a year-over-year basis, new listings were up over the same period by a more moderate five per cent.
“The record April result clearly points to the fact that a growing number of GTA households view ownership housing as a high quality, long-term investment. This is evidenced by the strong sales growth we have experienced in Toronto and surrounding regions for all major home types. Firsttime buyers and existing homeowners remain very active in today’s market,” said Mr.Etherington.
The overall average selling price, which accounts for all homes reported sold by GTA REALTORS® in April 2015, was up by 10 per cent year-over-year to $635,932. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark, which estimates the price of a benchmark home with the same attributes from one period to the next, was up by 8.4 per cent over the same period. The fact that average price growth outpaced growth for the MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark, suggests that a greater share of higher-end homes changed hands this year compared to last.
Irrespective of the indicator used, price growth in the GTA was strongest for low-rise home types. However, the better supplied condominium apartment segment also remained healthy with price growth above the rate of inflation.
“Demand for ownership housing was very high relative to the number of homes available for sale in April. This situation is not expected to change markedly as we move through the remainder of 2015. Until we experience a sustained period in which listings grow at a faster pace than sales, annual rates of home price growth will remain strong,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.
Canada’s two-speed housing market has regulators in a bind
Canada’s housing market has been a study in contrasts ever since a drop in oil prices and an interest-rate cut cooled home sales in Alberta and Saskatchewan while fuelling double-digit growth in Toronto and Vancouver.
A series of new national home price numbers out this week for April, the height of the spring market, will likely paint an even more dramatic picture of that emerging trend.
“This sort of two-speed, if not multi-speed, market is likely to be the central theme for the year,” said Royal Bank of Canada senior economist Robert Hogue.
Several local real estate boards have already reported their sales numbers for April ahead of the Teranet-National Bank House Price Index due out on Wednesday and Canadian Real Estate Association’s measure of national resale prices set to be released Friday. Nationally, average prices rose 9.4 per cent in March compared to a year earlier, to $439,114. Strip out Toronto and Vancouver, however, and prices rose just 2.4 per cent, the Canadian Real Estate Association said. It’s expected to be more of the same in April, as hot markets in Toronto and Vancouver most likely drove up national home prices once again.
After witnessing a 50-per-cent yearly gain in March, home sales slowed in the Vancouver region resale market last month, but only slightly. Sales rose by 37 per cent compared to a year earlier, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported. Prices soared too, by 8.5 per cent for the year. The benchmark price of a detached home in the Greater Vancouver Area hit a record high of $1,002,200.
It’s much the same picture in Toronto, where sales rose 17 per cent in April, compared to a year earlier, and prices jumped by 8.4 per cent, the Toronto Real Estate Board reported.
On the other extreme, home sales in Alberta and Saskatchewan have plunged this year and economists widely expect prices to follow, dropping by roughly 10 per cent in Alberta by the end of the year. The market for expensive, high-end homes is bearing the brunt of the price drop in Calgary, helping to drive down average prices, said Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Diana Petramala. Prices have also fallen in Regina, while Saskatoon’s housing market has been less affected.
Atlantic Canada is also expected to feel the pinch of the oil-price rout, with layoffs in the oil-sands industry hitting workers who were being flown in from the East Coast, affecting what was already a fairly weak housing market in some parts of the Maritimes, as well as Newfoundland.
Quebec’s housing market seems poised for a modest turnaround this year, after struggling last year. Median resale prices in Montreal rose 5 per cent in April, the local real estate board reported. Housing starts fell sharply across Quebec last month, with condos dropping by 50 per cent across the province’s six largest metropolitan areas. That’s likely to help strengthen Quebec’s housing market this year, given that an oversupply, particularly of condos, had been pushing prices down in recent years.
Can markets in Toronto and Vancouver keep up the frenetic pace of activity for the rest of the year? Not likely, economists say. A 30-basis-point drop in mortgage rates since the start of the year has given those markets a big boost. A drop of that magnitude in mortgage rates usually runs its course within six months, Ms. Petramala said, meaning those markets should settle down by the fall. Government bond yields, which affect mortgage rates, are already trending higher and are likely to keep rising toward the end of the year, even if the Bank of Canada doesn’t raise interest rates, as it’s not expected to do until some time in 2016. With buyers already stretched in Toronto and Vancouver, even small increases in mortgage costs will be deeply felt, Ms. Petramala said.
“Vancouver, because its homes are so expensive, it tends to be very sensitive to interest-rate movements, so we could see some weakness there,” she said. “In Toronto, it’s the same story. Prices have shot up significantly faster than incomes so any small movements in interest rates will have a dampening effect.”
The country’s two-speed housing market leaves policy-makers in a bind. Since the financial crisis, federal regulators have steadily tinkered with rules around mortgage insurance and financial regulations aimed at limiting the government’s exposure to the housing market. Many experts see few available options left to try to let the steam out in just two cities.
Not that Ottawa seems particularly interested in engineering a soft landing by restricting the growth in the housing market, especially in an election year. “The policy-making in Ottawa has been primarily about limiting the exposure of the federal government to the housing market and the mortgage market specifically” Mr. Hogue said. “My read would be that’s still their objective. It’s not about focusing on cooling any markets in Canada.”
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Create a no-stick shovel.
Spray your favorite garden shovel with a silicone or Teflon lubricant to make shoveling a breeze.
Plenty of Sunlight
Vegetable plants need sunlight to grow properly and process soil and water nutrients. When choosing your garden spot, make sure that the area gets enough sun to grow the plants you want to put there.
Over- or Underfertilizing
Too much, too little or the wrong type or timing of fertilizer will not allow your garden plants to produce healthy, vigorous growth.
Seedlings should never dry out, so water daily while they are small. Taper off as the plants get larger. New transplants also need frequent watering -- every other day or so -- until their roots become established.
12 largefresh mushrooms, stems removed
1 (6 ounce) packagechicken flavored dry stuffing mix
1 (8 ounce) packagecream cheese, softened
1/2 poundimitation crabmeat, flaked
2 clovesgarlic, peeled and minced
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
crushed red pepper to taste
1.Arrange mushroom caps on a medium baking sheet, bottoms up. Chop and reserve mushroom stems.
2.Prepare chicken flavored dry stuffing mix according to package directions.
3.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
4.In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Mix in garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
5.In a medium bowl, mix together reserved mushroom stems, prepared dry stuffing mix, cream cheese and imitation crabmeat. Liberally stuff mushrooms with the mixture. Drizzle with the butter and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and crushed red pepper.
6.Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 10 to 12 minutes, or until stuffing is lightly browned.
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