Condo sales grew in 2014, but is it sustainable?

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Condo sales in Canada’s major cities – and the three metropolitans that CREA reports on – were way up in the full year 2014. And, despite sinking oil prices and uncertainty surrounding mortgage rates, analysts and agents alike say this year will hold more of the same.

 Late last year, Re/Max suggested first-time homebuyers – the largest demographic buying into the condo market – would be less likely to buy real estate due to tighter lending rules and, now, potentially higher mortgage rates.

 “Many first-time buyers continued to feel the impact of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s tightened lending criteria, which were revised in 2012,” Re/Max said in its 2015 Housing Market Outlook Report. “The new mortgage lending regulations have delayed the entry of first-time buyers into the market in many regions.”

 However, that impact certainly wasn’t felt in 2014. Calgary reported the strongest growth, with a 21.7 per cent increase in year-over-year condo sales. Annual sales in Vancouver and Toronto also rose, increasing 14.1 per cent and 10.2 per cent, respectively.

Prices were up, too, with Vancouver’s 3.8 per cent increase boosting the average sales price of a condo to $458,462, the highest in Canada. Prices in Calgary increased 7.7 per cent to $314,761, while Toronto condo prices rose 5.2 per cent to $361,836.

Still, those prices are pennies compared to those in the single-family detached market. That’s another reason why many agents don’t predict a decline in condos.

“I think this will be another solid year,” said Matt Elkind, an agent with The Condo Store in Toronto. “The demand is going to continue. That trend away from houses, just with the prices of housing going up dramatically, more people are happy being downtown and living the condo lifestyle.”

 For the month of December, sales increased most in Toronto – up 10.4 per cent from the same month a year ago. Calgary sales increased 5.8 per cent over December 2013, while Vancouver sales were up 7.7 per cent year-over-year.

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