Market News: Healthy high-rise sales so far

How is the 2012 new high-rise market faring compared to last year? As it happens, it depends on whom you ask.
Using numbers supplied by the market analysts at RealNet Canada, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) showed a 20% decrease in high-rise sector sales from January to April this year, over the same period in 2011. By March, they had logged 3,705 year-to-date high-rise sales, and by April that number rose to 7,047. “It’s very much a stabilizing and averaging of the market,” says BILD president and CEO Bryan Tuckey.
Market research firm Urbanation, meanwhile, released its numbers last month for the first quarter of 2012, and for them it was a record Q1 for the Greater Toronto Area’s high-rise market. They recorded 6,070 condo sales from January to March, up from 5,201 in the first quarter of 2011.
“I don’t know why our numbers differ,” says Ben Myers, executive vice-president and editor of Urbanation. “Developers will put a project up for sale [solely] to their broker community, and then it has its VIP broker event, and then they’ll have their friends and family event — so it’s difficult to ascertain when a project is officially on sale. So I think there’s a little discrepancy in terms of what they tracked and what we track in terms of new openings. So that may have accounted for some of the differences in numbers.”.
Fed by different sets of numbers, the two groups also have varying outlooks for the year ahead. While BILD sees a healthy and stable 2012, Mr. Myers is tentatively considering a year that could even beat out 2011’s record numbers.
“I think 2012 will be interesting because there’s a lot of product coming online. We could have as many as 35,000 new units come online this year,” he says. “Last year was a 25% increase — up to 28,000 new units launched to the market. To think we could up that to 35,000 would be pretty crazy.”
Investors are still a key part of the market’s ongoing success, he adds, but there’s evidence they’re getting choosier, opting for prime sites with the best locations. That seems evident in Urbanation’s first-quarter numbers, anyway, where just four projects made up 30% of the GTA’s high-rise sales. Those four sites — INDX, The Massey Tower, Casa II and PSV — are all in central locations: The first three close to downtown Toronto amenities, and the fourth in Mississauga’s City Centre.
BILD also reported successful housing sales in the Region of Peel, where Mississauga is located. There they recorded an increase of 56% across the low- and high-rise markets. “We attribute that largely to an increase in high-rise unit sales,” Mr. Tuckey says. High-rise sales there increased from 88 in April 2011 to 370 in April 2012. “The high-rise market is strengthening right across the GTA, but is obviously really strong in Peel right now