Toronto’s Housing Market Gets Off to Surging Start in 2015

Toronto’s housing market is the main winner from the downturn in oil prices and rock-bottom interest rates. Home sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) rose 6.1% in January compared to a year earlier, according to new figures from the Toronto Real Estate Board. Average prices jumped 4.9% even as the region saw a 9.5% spike in new listings. January buyers instead flocked to the suburbs, sending sales of condos soaring 23%, while detached home sales jumped 10%. The shift is almost certainly driven by affordability as the average detached home in Toronto sold for nearly $950,000 in January compared to $650,000 outside the city.

It’s the second month of strong growth for the region’s housing market even as winter is considered the slowest time of year for home sales. December sales rose by nearly 10% compared to a year earlier while average prices were up by 7%.

Despite a strong start to the housing market, Toronto is feeling the effects of the broader economic uncertainty from falling oil prices and the plummeting loonie. The amount of industrial space leased in the region dropped 25% in January compared to the same time last year, while leased office space fell 3.3%. The sales price of most commercial buildings also dropped across the region, with industrial prices falling 40% to $80 per sq. ft. But on the other hand, the potential positive impacts of the lower Canadian dollar on exports from southern Ontario may play a beneficial role in Ontario's economy.

(Edited from the Globe and Mail)

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