People don't like to be wrong. And when it comes to real estate predictions, wrong is what most people are. It doesn't matter if you're a crazy troll making comments on how dumb all Canadians are for buying real estate in the past ten years, or if you are from an analyst from a think tank with all the real estate data and economic algorithms at your finger tips to make predictions. It's not an easy game.
For the 2016 real estate predictions, I think the predictors are becoming aware of how wrong they have been in the past. So, the sky-is-falling predictions seem to be less common this year. I'm seeing a lot more levelled, even non-commital predictions. CMHC, for example, says the housing market in Canada will barely keep up to inflation until 2017. This basically tells us, according to them, that house prices will not rise by leaps and bounds like it has for the past few years, and it tells us that it won't sink either. Not too extreme one way or the other.
In 2015, no one was right on their predictions, not even the very optimistic real estate brokerages of Canada. Everyone called for less gains than 2014, and for some, there were certainties that some kind of correction would occur. Everyone complained about affordability and the number of condos in the Toronto real estate market. What really happened? A better year for price appreciation in 2015 than 2014, one of the stronger years for condos in a long time, and all of those new condo units still seem to have been absorbed in 2015.
It's not just 2015. It's 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and the list goes on. Each year there are predictions on where the real estate market goes, and each year, it's wrong. It's not to say there there could never be a correction or a temporary price slip. Of course there can be. When or if that will happen in 2016 cannot be guaranteed by anyone.
So, instead of offering my 2016 predictions as a whole, let's look at what I think are important factors that could effect the real estate market in 2016.
1. House Supply I'm sure some of you are tired of hearing me say this, but I am saying it again because it is an important point: There is a limited supply of houses in Toronto. This will not change. As the city grows, very few houses are built. So, demand goes up. You are still going to see news stories about how dumpy house in an established hood sold for a million dollars this year in my opinion.
2. Condos Are The New Sponge Condos will absorb more people than ever before. I think over the past five years we are seeing more families with kids in condos. This includes families who prefer to live in condos in central neighbourhoods and those who do not like their options for houses in Toronto. We'll also see a lot more boomers selling their houses for the easier-to-maintain condo. Overall, we still see reasonable demand on condos. In turn, we'll see more demand for community centres and places that would benefit kids in condo neighbourhoods. Condos will not be for retirees, those who hate yard work and young folks exclusively. It will be for everyone.
3. Poor Economic News This may bring some of the air out of the real estate tires as news of a poor Canadian economy over the next year will make Canadians feel less inclined to buy property. It may instill enough fear to disrupt the steam engines of Toronto and Vancouver real estate. Of course, the flip side of this: Ontario and British Columbia will benefit from the low dollar. Alberta, you may be out of luck until oil rebounds.
4. Greater Investment In Toronto Infrastructure This is a good one to look at for investors or for those who would like property with better appreciation. With Trudeau in, we should see a lot more money coming for improvement of our infrastructure. At long last! So, keep an eye out for improved transit lines or even a few new ones.
5. Size Adjustment This is a hard pill to swallow, but Torontonians will have to learn to live with less space. There are a lots of benefits to living in the city. Space is not one of them. The good news is that there will be less to clean. Living in Toronto, like many big cities in the world, will be for the spatially challenged. More so than ever.
6. More Investors Though there are much more foreign investors going to the improving U.S. market, our lower dollar sure makes our higher prices seem lower to others, particularly Americans who will start to see our property as a kind of bargain as the Canadian dollar slips.
7. Interest Rates They won't budge. I could be wrong here. There will be inflation, but I suspect the government won't increase interest rates if they feel the GDP won't grow all that much in 2016, and projections are on the lower side.
8. Conversions, Low Rise and Boutique Condos No matter where the market, houses will still be king. Low rise condos, conversion lofts and townhomes will also do well. This year giant condos may do well depending on their location and the fitness of their reserve fund.
I think that covers most of the broad strokes. Now if I dare to generalize a little, even though I said I wouldn't, I don't think we'll see the wild increases we saw in 2015, but that's exactly what I said after a very strong showing for real estate one year ago. I was wrong then. Maybe I'll be wrong again.