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Montreal’s luxury house prices post double digit gains outpacing Toronto and Vancouver since onset of COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO, September 29, 2020 – According to Royal LePage research, the median price of a luxury house and condominium has risen in many but not all regions since the pandemic disrupted the Canadian real estate market in mid-March. The lower price threshold defining a luxury home varies greatly by region, from $1,000,000 for a Montreal condominium, to $3,500,000 for a detached house in Greater Vancouver.
Nationally, an entry-level luxury house and condominium is defined as $2,000,000 and $1,000,000, respectively. Overall in Canada, the national median price of a luxury house increased 1.0 per cent year-over-year to $2,500,000, while the median price of a luxury condominium remained constant at $1,250,000. Recent steep increases in overall Canadian home prices have pushed more properties over the national lower price threshold, increasing the overall quantity of Canadian homes defined as luxury properties.
In four of Canada’s largest major urban centres, luxury detached houses showed healthy price appreciation since mid-March compared to the same period in 2019. The median price of a luxury condominium decreased modestly in both the Toronto and Montreal regions, while the median price of a condominium in the City of Vancouver posted double digit growth.
“In recent years, baby boomers and older millennials have been migrating to suburban communities and smaller cities, driven by retirements and growing families, respectively. The quest for affordable space has been supercharged by the pandemic, and no property class has benefited more than the large, detached home,” stated Phil Soper, President and CEO of Royal LePage. “Demand far exceeds the supply of detached houses in Canada. Such is not the case in the luxury condominium space, where some owners have been discouraged by the restrictions on access to shared amenities, such as party rooms and pools, and higher density living in general. As a result, the condo segment is more balanced, with people seeking large condos roughly equal to those planning to escape elegant downtown tower living for the ‘burbs.”
Price data, which includes both resale and new build, is provided by Royal LePage’s sister company RPS Real Property Solutions, a leading Canadian real estate valuation company.
Greater Toronto Area
Since the onset of the pandemic, the median price of a luxury house in the City of Toronto has risen 5.4 per cent year-over-year to $3,187,500, while the median price of a luxury condominium dipped 1.6 per cent year-over-year to $1,870,000. During the same period, the median price of a luxury house in the Greater Toronto Area increased 5.9 per cent year-over-year to $3,177,500 and the median price of a luxury condominium decreased 3.6 per cent year-over-year to $1,830,000.
“The Toronto luxury real estate market has been resilient in the face of the global pandemic. Demand has been driven by low inventory, low interest rates and a renewed focus on lifestyle to accommodate for our new normal,” said Cailey Heaps, managing director & sales representative, Royal LePage Real Estate Services, Heaps Estrin Team.
Heaps added that buyers seeking luxury property are focused on lifestyle when looking for their perfect home. With travel off the table for the near future and many working from home, features such as a home office, outdoor space, a pool and walkability are becoming increasingly important in their search criteria. Appropriately priced homes in the established Central Toronto neighbourhoods such as Rosedale, Leaside & Lawrence Park often sell in a matter of days. Multiple offer situations still occur but to a lesser degree than in the pre-COVID landscape, giving buyers an opportunity to purchase in a slightly less competitive market.
“The luxury condominium market has faced some challenges over the recent months. The new rules with respect to short-term rentals, higher inventory and the increased risk that comes with communal spaces or common areas have meant that condos did not perform as well as the freehold market. However buyers will find more selection compared to the inventory of luxury houses,” said Heaps.
Heaps noted that while all luxury buyer demographics are still active, boomers are more quiet this year than previous years. However, often cautious boomers selling their luxury home have the opportunity to stay at their cottage or a secondary property as an additional option during the pandemic.
Looking towards the remainder of the year, Heaps noted that current demand is slowing, which is typical of fourth quarter activity.
Greater Montreal Area
Since the onset of the pandemic, the median price of a luxury house in the City of Montreal rose 15.9 per cent year-over-year to $1,975,000, while the median price of a luxury condominium decreased slightly by 1.5 per cent year-over-year to $1,254,000. The double digit price increase in the city’s luxury house segment was the largest gain of both property types across all regions surveyed.
According to Marie-Yvonne Paint, real estate broker specializing in luxury listings with Royal LePage Heritage in Montreal city, demand for larger properties and land in the region fueled luxury home prices since the resumption of real estate activity on May 11th. This sustained demand has put upward pressure on luxury home prices in the city. While properties in the upper end of the luxury segment are seeing softer demand, listings between $1.5 and $3 million sell quickly. Paint stated that despite rising home prices, the current luxury market is healthy, with a better balance between buyers and sellers than a few years ago.
“Luxury condo buyers will find good selection in the Montreal core, which has seen less demand as a result of COVID-19,” said Paint. “We continue to witness the exodus to the suburbs, new listings in the luxury condominium category are increasing as buyers favour larger outdoor spaces.”
Paint said that the market saw the opposite trend about five years ago with buyers seeking the best of the city through downtown condo living. Paint believes this trend will naturally wind down and the market will become more balanced, offering more equal opportunities to buyers.
Paint added she remains very optimistic for the remainder of 2020, despite a further expected economic downturn.
“There is concern for job loss and our economy but this typically has limited impact on buyers purchasing luxury properties. A more important factor is continued low interest rates, which have the ability to fuel the market,” said Paint.
In the greater region, the lack of inventory in the detached market, coupled with pent up demand has pushed prices upward in the luxury segment, similar to the overall residential real estate market.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the median price of a luxury house in the Greater Montreal Area rose 4.6 per cent year-over-year to $1,925,000, while the median price of a luxury condominium decreased 2.0 per cent year-over-year to $1,254,000.
According to Suzanne Havard Grisé, real estate broker with Royal LePage Privilège in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, on the South Shore of Montreal, areas such as Brossard, Longueuil, Boucherville, Candiac, Carignan and Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville have seen multiple offers scenarios for most of the spring and summer season.
“Being house-bound for months has definitely influenced homeowners’ quest for an improved lifestyle and for many that starts with a larger home,” said Havard Grisé. “There was considerable pent up demand, which included both those who had to put their purchasing plans on hold and those who decided during the pandemic that they needed more from their home. By May, the pace of activity quickly picked up without any signs of slowing down for the detached luxury segment.”
Havard Grisé stated that the region’s condominium market is beginning to see a decline in demand and an increase in new listings, putting slight downward pressure on prices. However, 2019 was a record year in sales across housing categories with a strong sellers market. We could expect a return to a more balanced market in the luxury condominium segment in 2021, although these units, especially outside the Montreal city core, offer more square feet for the price and consequently, great value given the demand for space as a result of the pandemic.
Vancouver’s luxury home market is well on its way to recovery. The median price of a luxury house showed healthy year-over-year price appreciation, rising 3.9 per cent in the City of Vancouver to $4,010,000 and 8.6 per cent to $4,180,000 in the greater region since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March. During the same period, the median price of a luxury condominium rose 11.2 per cent to $2,065,000 in the City of Vancouver and 10.0 per cent to $2,035,000 in the greater region.
In the City of Vancouver, the brisk pace of luxury condominium price appreciation compared to luxury detached homes is attributed to the housing type’s relative affordability. The gain in median price for luxury properties in the suburban Lower Mainland region reflects buyers taking advantage of the lower price per square foot, allowing them to buy a larger home.
“Vancouver’s real estate market has been recovering slowly upward from the entry-level segment and is now emerging in the luxury segment. While activity has been brisk for properties priced below $4 million, it has only been the past few months that we have seen clear signs of improving demand and price appreciation for properties above $5 million,” said Jason Soprovich, sales representative, Royal LePage Sussex.
Recent year-over-year luxury home price gains are seen as recovered equity after a sustained correction of price softening and low sales. In addition to the impact from the region’s market correction, luxury properties in the region’s upper end of the market saw significant price declines due to taxation policy targeting homes valued above $3 million.
“Consumer confidence is back but buyers remain price sensitive. The best strategy for a successful sale is accurate pricing from the start,” said Soprovich.
The comparable median dollar values of respective housing types in the City of Vancouver and the greater region reflect weaker sales at the lower price threshold, which defines the luxury segment, outside of the city centre.
Soprovich added that if interest rates remain low and economic conditions remain stable, he expects pent up demand for luxury properties to continue through the remainder of the year.
“Buyers took advantage of price softening of luxury homes priced below $4 million but those opportunities are becoming more rare,” said Soprovich. “The gap between the asking price and selling price is quickly narrowing for homes priced over $5 million but there are still many buying opportunities.”
“While the Ottawa real estate market continues to post significant price appreciation, price growth in the region’s luxury market has been relatively modest,” said Charles Sezlik, sales representative, Royal LePage Team Realty. “Where we are seeing the big numbers in the luxury market is in demand. Year-to-date, sales of luxury houses over $1.5 million have doubled compared to the same period last year.”
Sezlik added that many buyers purchasing luxury property are local homeowners who are trading up for a larger home where they can live, work and play.
“Many buyers want to stay in their older, centrally located neighbourhood but they also want a home office and a pool. Due to the sizable backlog for contractors, they are looking for properties that already have these features,” said Sezlik. “This demand is driving sales in the entry level of the luxury market and putting upward pressure on prices.”
As affordability wanes in the Ottawa region, how buyers define luxury real estate in the region has changed over the past few years.
“There are homes across the city that are considered luxury now that would not have been considered luxury 5 years ago. Consistently high price appreciation over the years has pushed more desirable properties in good neighbourhoods into the luxury segment as they become increasingly out of reach for many Ottawa buyers,” said Sezlik.
According to Sezlik, current demand for luxury properties in Ottawa remains healthy.
“I expect that we will continue to see multiple offers on homes valued around $1.5 million for the remainder of the year if economic conditions and interest rates remain the same,” said Sezlik.
Royal LePage Luxury Real Estate
Luxury home price lower thresholds: Canada house ($2,000,000); Canada condominium ($1,000,000); Greater Toronto Area/City of Toronto house ($2,500,000); Greater Toronto Area/City of Toronto condominium ($1,500,000); Greater Montreal Area/City of Montreal house ($1,500,000); Greater Montreal Area/City of Montreal condominium ($1,000,000); Greater Vancouver/City of Vancouver house ($3,500,000); Greater Vancouver/City of Vancouver condominium ($1,500,000); Ottawa house ($1,500,000).
About the Royal LePage Luxury Property Market Release
The Royal LePage Luxury Property Market Release provides information on the two most common types of luxury housing in four of Canada’s largest real estate markets. Data is provided by Royal LePage’s sister company, RPS Real Property Solutions, the trusted source for residential real estate intelligence and analytics in Canada. Commentary on real estate markets are provided by Royal LePage residential luxury real estate experts, based on their opinions and market knowledge.