Bear Market Rally?

Maybe it’s the warm weather, or maybe it’s because the Blue Jays are in first place.

Whatever the cause, there’s no denying that the Toronto real estate market has picked up significantly in the last four weeks.

Is this a turn-around?  Or is it just a bear market rally?

bearmarket.jpg

Seriously though, what are the Toronto Blue Jays doing in first place?  Has the whole world gone topsy-turvey?

Here is the definition of a “Bear Market Rally” according to one source:

An increase in prices during a primary trend bear market is called a bear market rally.  A bear market rally is sometimes defined as an increase of 10% – 20%.  Bear market rallies typically begin suddenly and are often short lived.  A notable bear market rally occurred in the Dow Jones Index after the 1929 stock market crash leading down to the market bottom in 1932…”

Now keep in mind that this information on bear market rallies is with respect to the stock market, and not to real estate.

But they’re both markets, right?

Real estate and the stock market are not one and the same, but they’re similar, no?

As has been well documented by just about any informational source in existence, the world economy began to tank in the Fall of 2008, and nobody and nothing was immune.

The Toronto real estate market seemed to have “peaked” around this time last year, although some say the peak actually took place in the Fall of 2007.

September, October, November, and December were very lean months in the Toronto real estate market, and January and February seemed to be the depth of despair.

But as we move into May, things have completely turned around.

And I ask this question: Have we turned a corner?  Or is this just a bear market rally?

Take a look at the graph below, and everything I’m talking about will become more clear.

bear-market-rally.JPG

This graph shows a long-term down-trend, with a bear market rally taking place in between.

All markets fluctuate, but the real estate cycle is much, much longer than that of the financial markets.

So is the recent boom in Toronto’s real estate market a sign that “the worst is over,” or is this just Spring Fever and the market will continue to slide?

In January of this year, my clients, Mike & Elaine, purchased a house up in the Yonge/Sheppard area for $710,000.  The house is simply spectacular, and since it was built and occupied by a developer, the quality of construction is unparallelled when you compare it to other houses on the street.

To say that this house was taking unusually long to sell would be an understatement.  It had been listed twice previously, and was gathering dust on the market after almost four months.

I’m convinced that if this house was listed for sale tomorrow at $749,000, it would sell quickly and for close to that price.

Mike & Elaine bought this house when the market was at its slowest.  And I say “slowest” because I can’t claim that this was a market bottom; I simply don’t know that to be true.

Fast forward three months, and there are far more active buyers out there meaning that properties are moving quickly!

Last week, an agent in my office sold a house in The Beaches for $912,000.  The property was listed at $819,000.

On Friday, a colleague of mine received three offers on his Merton Street townhouse.  The property sold for over-asking.

Also on Friday, another colleague of mine was in multiple offers on a condo with her first-time-buyer client.  There were two offers, and while the property didn’t sell for over-asking, her client wasn’t even in the game offering $315,000 for a $324,900 property.  Not with two offers on the table.

Sure, there are isolated incidents that I have picked to prove my point, but if you look back at January & February, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single property in Toronto that garnered multiple offers.

Properties – Are – Selling.  Period.

They are selling quickly, and frequently.

And our clients who say “I don’t have time tonight,” or “Let’s wait until the weekend,” are often being left quite dissapointed when a property sells in one day and they never had a chance to view it.

There is no denying that prices are down significantly from the real estate peak, but the prices have increased since January as has the volume of sales in our city.

So what do we make of this?

Well, I don’t have a crystal ball, and I will be the very first person to tell my clients or a blind lady playing the violin in the subway, “I have no idea where the market is headed.”

I’m can’t go all out like Brad Lamb and make a glass-over-flowing claim such as “The next real estate boom in Toronto will take place in the Fall of 2009 and last for 3-4 years.”

That’s just ridiculous.

After a seven-year boom, and a five month drop, how can we be in store for seven months of stagnant sales followed by another 3-4 year boom?

I don’t foresee a real estate boom, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a period of moderate growth (ie. 1-2%) for the remainder of 2009.

Or, perhaps April to June of 2009 will be viewed historically as a bear market rally as the world economy implodes and Toronto real estate prices plummet 25% in the next 2-3 years.

I don’t have a crystal ball.

But in the meantime, I’m working with more buyers than I ever have in the past five years and we’re all watching as hot properties hit the market and sell in a day or a week.

We can’t worry ourselves into a tizzy about whether or not we’ve reached the market bottom.  There’s simply nothing we can do but wait for it to play itself out.

And with weather like this, who has time to worry?

Oh, and did I mention the Blue Jays are in first place??

2 Comments

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  1. Krupo says:

    29 C degree weather definitely has to help matters – I imagine a glut of people who’ve been waiting and waiting couldn’t wait any longer – the pot simmered and the actual heat made them boil over and make their move.

    The ridiculously low interest rates can’t possibly hurt either. If you fear inflation (in the US, anyway), converting all that cash into a tangible property probably isn’t far off people’s minds either, I imagine.

  2. Chris Fyvie says:

    If anyone could predict the market they would be a multi-billionaire… or if you can come close to predicting like Donald Trump you’d be a multi-millionaire. To me there’s always a “feeling” about the market. My “feeling” right now is the best timing for commercial office space will be mid summer, when traditionally, the market slows down drastically. You’ll probably get the same deals towards the end of the year as well (December) when landlords have extra space on their books that they simply have to get rid of. If you treat real estate (residential / commercial) as long term you’ll always be ok.

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