Over the last few weeks, we’ve been watching the real estate market like hawks. Even MORE than usual (which is a lot).
Appointments and the number of registered offers are both down about 70-75%. We have “flattened the curve” and balanced out at about a 40% sales-to-new listings ratio. The goalposts from our best and worst markets from the last 15 years have been about 15% on the low side to about 80% on the high side.
Earlier in 2020, we were hovering at a 70% sales-to-new listings ratio in Milton (and a lot of other Greater Toronto Area communities). Sales-to-new listings is a measure of new incoming supply compared to the number of successful sales and demand for those opportunities. On its own, it’s one of the best measurements for the overall strength of a market.
But here’s what I really wanted to figure out this week…
Have prices in Milton ACTUALLY fallen or not?
We looked at three different “slices” of the market to get an answer.
(condominium apartments, condominium townhouses)
First example we’ll use is the Origin condo buildings. I like these floor plans for comparison, because there are at least a few sales every month, and three different layouts of the two-bedrooms are the EXACT same 818 square feet, which makes comparing prices pretty straightforward.
Here are the most recent sales. Five from February, one from this week’s list at the end.
Not much of a difference there. I expected that… there are so many more buyers in the entry-point range than the upper range.
Middle of the market
(larger townhouses, mid-size semis and small detached)
What about mid-point prices? I’ll use two sales for the comparison here. On April 8th, a semi-detached, 1,500 square feet and an unfinished basement sold for $707,000, slightly above the low asking price of $699,000.
A month earlier, a newer version of the same model WITH a finished basement and backing onto greenspace, only sold for $715,000. There were a few other higher sales of different models around the same time that were a little higher in the $720,000 to $740,000 range… so my feeling for semi-detached and other mid-point homes is they have either stayed the same, or dropped up to a maximum of 5% from the absolute peak March pricing.
I also expected that. In this market, it takes more time to sell (one of the effects of a lower sales-to-new listings ratio). This is where we start to see the differences in sales on a short time-frame… the buyers that NEED to buy and pay top dollar, and the sellers that NEED to sell and take a little less.
If someone doesn’t HAVE to sell, then they either wait it out to get the right number, or they just won’t put their home on the market. Buyers are the same… they’ll either try to scoop a deal or they’ll wait. We’ve had quite a few calls and offers from “predatory” buyers, and not once have any of our clients accepted the proposal.
Our sellers know that things have changed and things are taking longer, but they’re not going to GIVE their homes away. The example I’ve been using with people is what I call my $20 proposal:
If you had a $20 gift certificate to a store, how much would you sell it for? Maybe if you HAD to sell it in the next 24 hours, you would take $17-19 for it… but really, you know deep down that it’s worth $20. Even if times are a little bit harder and there are less people that want your $20 card right now compared to a month ago… you know SOMEONE will want it.
The biggest noticeable difference between the mid-point and entry-point is that the range of value starts to open up here, with wider variations in sale prices in the last 30 days.
(mostly double-garage detached)
We’re seeing even more variation here. Not only in pricing, but it also gets more difficult to compare apples-to-apples. Homes have wider variations in finishes and locations that will swing values. Comparing 3,000 square foot properties is NOT the same as comparing two-bedroom condos with identical square footage in the same building.
From a subjective standpoint, I’m seeing very similar trends to the mid-point range. No more than a 5% or so difference in prices from peak. The difference here is likely going to be MORE days on the market.
These homes are going to need to work harder with marketing and staging/appearance to stand out against a growing list of competitors.
So to sum it up… if you divide the market in three parts, you’ll get something that looks like this:
First slice (the first 33% of the market)
Prices roughly the same, variations of 2% up or down, days on market mostly the same.
Second slice (the middle 33% of the market)
Prices roughly the same to 5% down, slightly higher days on market.
Third slice (the top 33% of the market)
Prices more likely to be down up to 5%, much higher days on market, expanding competition.
Fortunately, we came into this “pause” in the market at the right time, if it was going to happen.
In the first quarter of 2020, unemployment rates were the lowest they’ve been in 40+ years, and housing prices were surging like 2017. This would have been MUCH worse if we entered the COVID-19 pandemic in a weakened state.
Even with a 5% adjustment in value for SOME properties, most of us still have homes that are worth more than they were at the end of 2019.
The underlying supply and demand factors have not changed. Interest rates are still low.
Real estate is very likely to come back swinging.
It’s a very strong possibility that we’ve hit a real estate market stability point right now in mid-April, which will only continue to improve from here based on what we’re seeing in other geographic areas with similar infection curves like Asia and even British Columbia.
Of course, things are changing daily. Oil prices, interest rates, and government policy are all going to influence the real estate market in the next few weeks and months.
We’ll continue to watch things closely during this very interesting time. If you’re wondering about the best strategy to get your home sold before OR after life gets back to “normal”, let us know.