Waterloo Region was one of the hottest housing markets in all of Canada in 2017. At times in early 2017, housing values were rising close to 5% a month. Housing regulations introduced by the provincial government had a slight dampening effect on the local market through the summer of 2017, but by the fall housing values began climbing again.
More recently, the Federal government passed further regulatory measures. Starting in January 2018, mortgage providers were required to place added stress test on applicants, even those who had a 20% downpayment; this effectively reduced the overall purchasing power of the average Buyer. The result has been a chilling effect on residential real estate in the upper end of the market (more expensive homes). This is most visible in the major metropolitan areas where real estate values are highest, for example, Toronto has seen a 14% reduction in value year over year on the average residential transaction. Anecdotally, we hear of Toronto Buyers who make $80k+ per year but can hardly qualify to buy a $400k condo. Interestingly, in Toronto, the condo market has continued to remain strong as Buyers forego the higher purchasing costs of freehold property.
Waterloo Region Detached Values Outperform Toronto
In Waterloo Region, the considerable value run of 2017 was widely seen to be driven by Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Buyers seeking more affordable housing and a low inventory of homes for sale. That interest from the GTA has continued, and although inventory levels have come up some, they are still below historical averages, this makes the difference between our two markets. Housing prices in KW have held firm compared to the peak prices of 2017. There has been a cooling response locally on properties sold above the average benchmark prices, for example, homes listed above $500k in April 2017 took only 10 days to sell on average, this year the average is 24 days. The most recent statistics from the Kitchener-Waterloo Real Estate Association for the month of April show that the median sale price for detached homes was down 3.9% from April of 2017 while the average residential sale price for April is down 6% year over year. Meanwhile, condos have seen a 10% increase which hints that even in our local market Buyer affordability has eroded marginally under the tightened regulations.
Sellers should still feel confident, multiple offer situations continue to be common among affordable properties that are well priced and show nicely. However, Buyers can take comfort that the market has become more receptive to conditional offers should they find a property not under siege by multiple bids.