I read an article in the Toronto Star on the weekend talking about the "luxury market," which they consider $5,000,000 and up.
The drawback of being obsessive-compulsive and a complete control-freak is that I never trust anybody else's numbers.
So I sat down on Sunday night, opened up Microsoft Excel, and started downloading data.
Let's look at some numbers from the first five months of the year which I think will shock you…
What do you consider "luxury?"
I know, I know – you've heard this from me before.
I'm pretty sure I've crunched numbers like this in a blog post (or two or three…) before.
And each time we talk about the "luxury" market, I ask what that means to you, the reader.
I think it's only fitting that I go back to this example, given we just lost Adam West on the weekend.
But when I think of how the definition of "rich" or "luxury" changes as time goes on, I think about the 1960's Batman TV series. The narrator always said "Millionaire, Bruce Wayne," and stressed "Millionaire" like Robin Leach would have.
Bruce Wayne owned a massive estate, a family company, and God knows what else (along with the Bat-Cave…), and for somebody in 2017 to have what he had on that show, or in the 2000's cinema remakes with Christian Bale, Bruce Wayne would have to be close to a billionaire.
What is a millionaire today anyways? Is it significant any longer?
So when we're considering real estate, and looking at "luxury," we could look at any number of price points.
The term "luxury" is one that certain real estate brokerages in Toronto use, since it's a term that luxury buyers want to hear associated with their purchases.
But the rest of us use the term "high-end" for that lot of real estate, since there's really nothing "luxurious" about a $3,000,000 house in Toronto anymore. In fact, some people pay that for raw land…
The Toronto Star article on Saturday, which you can read HERE, noted that Sotheby's Real Estate reported a 62.5% increase in the sale of properties $4,000,000 and up between January 1st and May 31st, and so I just had to check and see if I came up with the same number.
I did not.
In fact, my numbers show me that there was a 120.5% increase in the number of sales of properties $4,000,000 and up in that time period.
The article says "Toronto-area," so perhaps they're looking at the 905? Or Mississauga? Or Oakville?
In any event, my point wasn't about who had what number, but rather that as soon as I started looking at the numbers, I couldn't stop.
Game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoffs is on right now, but honestly, I'd much rather be looking at these numbers.
So let me first start by looking at all the sales in Toronto in the first five months of the year:
January, 2016: 4,670
February, 2016: 7,583
March, 2016: 10,260
April, 2016: 12,016
May, 2016: 12,790
January, 2017: 5,188
February, 2017: 8,014
March, 2017: 12,072
April, 2017: 11,630
May, 2017: 10,196
So the sales figures for the first five months of the year are virtually identical.
And as we know, the average home price in May of 2017 was up 14.9% from May of 2016. This is important because as we look at the increase in sales of properties in the so-called "luxury" brackets, one might argue that if prices were up 30%, then last year's $2.4 Million sale would be included in this year's $3M++ statistics.
But as you'll see, the numbers are so big, that the increase in average home price doesn't really play a factor.
Let's start with the freehold properties.
Here are the number of sales from January 1st to May 31st, posted on the TREB MLS system, in both 2016 and 2017 in the $3M, $4M, and $5M price brackets
I don't know about you, but I'm shocked by those numbers.
And I would have thought that as the price bracket goes up, the percentage increase would go down.
To see a 95.7% increase in sales over $3,000,000 is eye-opening.
But how about the sales over $5,000,000? Going from 28 to 81? What's that about?
Indeed, what is this all about?
Is this attributable to new construction – more McMansions being built while the market is hot, and more buyers for $5,000,000 homes that didn't exist in years' previous?
Does this have more to do with Baby-Boomers "cashing out," and thus the market has been flooded with luxury homes?
Let's look at the same data for condominiums, and see if the trend continues:
Calculating the percentage increase with such a small sample size is silly, but what the heck.
Although as quick as you might be to dismiss the significance of these numbers because of the small numbers, I don't think that's fair.
Sure, only three condos sold for over $5,000,000 in the first five months of 2016, and maybe we can't draw much of a conclusion from that. But if seven sold in the same time period this year, along with the increases in the $4M and $3M ranges respectively, can't we take those at face value?
So adding together the condominium and freehold numbers gives us this:
The percentages don't change that dramatically, but at least this gives us a completely accurate picture of what's happened in the market.
So let me ask you guys – what's more eye-opening, the number of sales over $3,000,000 going from 220 to 431? Or the 183.9% increase in sales over $5,000,000, which is a price point that, a decade ago, was reserved for a small number of homes on Post Road?
With the dramatic increase in prices over the last few years, the $2M houses became $3M a lot faster than anybody could have predicted.
I've had a few experiences in this price point so far in 2017, and I couldn't believe what I saw.
How about 28 offers on a land-value-only home, that sold for almost $1M over asking?
How about 7 offers on a $3.6M house, that sold for $4.7M?
There's a common misconception among the buyer pool that the higher you go in price, the easier it gets.
It feels, to many buyers, like the sub-$1M market is just oh-so-difficult, due to the CMHC down-payment requirements, and that to get over $1M would ease their pain.
And to the $2.5M buyers, oh what life would be like to escape those move-up buyers in their area, if only they had the extra $1M to get into the next snack bracket.
But try being my client at $3.6M, and seeing a house sell for $1.1M over the list price.
At the end of the day, competition exists at every level.
And the sales numbers so far in 2017 show that there are a lot more people looking to compete…
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