Hope springs eternal for brokers facing slow winter

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New home sales in the GTA are down 8.3 per cent for the first half of February compared to 2012, but brokers are looking ahead to the spring for a rebound.

“It’s not a big surprise,” says Kim Gibbons, Mortgage Intelligence. “What with the tightening of the mortgage rules back in the summer, I am looking forward to March and April.”

In fact, Gibbons banked on the fact that numbers would go down this month.

“That’s why I went away for a two-week vacation; I just got back,” she laughs, still going through hundreds of emails and dozens of phone messages. “I always believe this is the time to get away – if you are a broker.”

The drop in February, compared to the slight pickup in sales in January, was likely driven by the low number of new listings, which helped push prices up 4 per cent to an average of $509,061, according to the latest numbers from TREB.

The February slump is in line with expectations from TREB itself, as new listings fell to 2,196 from 2,465 in the 416 area code.

Average prices in the surrounding 905 region jumped to $480,030 from $458,071 by mid-February, with a concurrent drop in new listings from 3,540 to 3,323.

The red-hot Toronto condo market cooled considerably in the resale sector, which dropped 14 per cent (compared to a 4 per cent decline in detached home sales and a 10 per cent drop in semi-detached sales. Uniquely, townhome sales rose an astonishing 17 per cent.

“That was expected, the slowdown,” says Tino Brelak, who is busily making the transition to Concierge Mortgage Group/Mortgage Intelligence. “All the (condo) builders have slowed down.”

Hardest hit by slumping sales in the 416 region in mid-February year over year were resale condos, which were down more than 14 per cent, compared to a 4 per cent decline in detached home sales and an almost 10 per cent drop in semi-detached sales.

The sales of townhomes, however, were up 17 per cent in Toronto.

Resale condo prices slumped 8.4 per cent in Toronto year over year, while detached houses were up almost 6 per cent, semi-detached prices were up more than 5 per cent and townhouses almost 16 per cent, the TREB figures show.

Like Gibbons, Brelak has chosen the traditionally slow winter months to retool and revamp a website in preparation for what he hopes will be a busy spring.

He may have reason to be hopeful.

The slow February may, in fact, set up the market for an active spring, suggest some market economists, pointing to pent-up demand that could explode come March as buyers realize that prices simply aren’t falling.

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