Today Is The Greatest, Day……To Buy a Home!

Business | January 20, 2016

I love that play on words.  But then again, part of me is stuck in the ’90’s…

January 20th.  That’s the day.  It’s almost science!

That’s the best day of the year to buy a home, and I’m not just saying this because, well, today happens to be that very day!

Does anybody remember the article that showed up in Toronto newspapers one year ago?  Let’s take a look at it, and discuss the pros and cons of buying a home in January…


Okay, what the hell, I’m in the mood…

Free $50 Home Depot gift card to the first person who can post in the comments section below:

1) The name of the song I’m referencing as it appears on the album.
2) The album name.
3) The name of the lead singer’s 2001 side project band that played at Kool Haus in Toronto.

If you can get all that correct, without the help of Google, then I applaud both your love, and obsession, of 90’s and early-2000’s alternative music…

So with that said, did you know that today is the greatest day to buy a house?

It’s true.  Sort of.  Depends…

A lot of buyers were enamoured with this article from last year’s Financial Post:

“Today Is The Best Day To Buy A House In Toronto, Study Says”

Read the article, and decide for yourselves whether there’s merit to the hypothesis, or whether it was just a marketing gimmick by folks at TheRedPin.

I have numbers of my own that I’d like to explore, and while the “average sale price” is a metric that has merit, I want to look at the sales to listings ratios.

Why sales to listings?

Well one of the decisions a buyer has to make is whether they want more choice and inventory along with more competition, or whether they want a historically lower average sale price.

It’s like anything else in life, I suppose.

Personally, I don’t see the value in waiting in line for food.  Every Sunday, I see these suckers outside “Petit Dejuner” on King Street, who will wait in (-8) degree temperatures, for an HOUR, to go inside and eat brunch.

I’d rather walk down to “The Jason George,” sit at the table with my back to the fireplace, and order food that I think is just as good, and by the time I have arrived, ordered, eaten, and finished, I walk back up to King Street and past the Petit Dejuner, the folks who were at the back of the line are now at the front.

Maybe I’m just busier.  Maybe I just value my time more.

Or maybe I’m wrong, and those folks are getting more enjoyment out of life.  Who knows…

But with any product or service, you have to balance the value, the price, the time, the hassle, the competition, and in the end, find a happy medium.

If you’re a home-buyer in the January market, and you have two options in a given week, but you want to have twelve, then you should probably wait until May or June when, historically, there is far more inventory.

But if you’re going to be in that market, with far more inventory, there’s going to be far more competition as well.

Let’s look at the ratio of sales to new listings, and sales to active listings, from January to June of last year.  The ratio of sales/listings are in parenthesis.

4,355 Sales
9,596 New Listings (45.4%)
11,600 Active Listings (37.5%)

6,338 Sales
10,503 New Listings (60.3%)
12,793 Active Listings (49.5%)

8,801 Sales
14,829 New Listings (59.3%)
16,543 Active Listings (53.0%)

11,303 Sales
18,117 New Listings (62.4%)
17,182 Active Listings (65.8%)

11,706 Sales
18,697 New Listings (62.6%)
18,585 Active Listings (63.0%)

11,992 Sales
17,746 New Listings (67.6%)
17,972 Active Listings (66.7%)


The numbers tell the story, do they not?

The only outlier I see here is that the February ratio of sales to new listings was over 60%. Usually the difference between the sales-to-new-listings ratio and the sales-to-active-listings ratio is a lot less than the 10.8% we saw in February.  It’s around 1% in April/May/June.

And amazingly, the sales-to-active-listings ratio was bigger than the sales-to-new-listings ratio in both April and May.

That literally is an example of “we sell this stuff as soon as it gets through the door.”  Listings couldn’t come fast enough in those months!

So if the market is that competitive in May and June, and if there’s a lower proportion of sales to listings in January, then why doesn’t everybody look in January?


Plain and simple.

It’s a bit of that “double-edged sword” philosophy.

There’s eighty percent more new listings in May/June than in January.

There’s far more choice, and in this market, people want choice.

With this big a decision at stake – buying a $700,000, $1 Million, or $2 Million house, people want variety, and they want choice.

January is like this:


May and June are like this:


At the end of the day, it’s up to the buyer to decide where the value lays.

Do you want to buy the only product left on the shelf, at a discount?

Or do you want a selection, and know you might pay more?

I can’t say there’s a right and wrong here, but if, apparently, January 20th is the best day of the year to buy a property, then you – reading this, right now, might want to think about it…

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  1. Mark S.

    at 8:12 am

    No Google. huge fan.

    1) The name of the song I’m referencing as it appears on the album.
    2) The album name.
    Siamese Dream
    3) The name of the lead singer’s 2001 side project band that played at Kool Haus in Toronto.
    Zwan. I was there. It might have been the Opera House though.

    1. David Fleming

      at 11:19 am

      @ Mark S.

      You made my day with this!

      I owe you a $50 gift card, and it was well worth it. Email me your address and I’ll send it out today.

      When I was in University in 2001, I was a big ticket scalper. Er, “broker.” Hate me if you want to, but I was a kid in business school, trying to “apply” what I was learning, rather than just read a texbook and memorize. I sold tickets to probably a hundred bands, and along came this band called “Zwan.” I bought tickets to Zwan for $30 each, went to Laurier for the weekend (this was before smart phones, and before you could check home email from elsewhere), and when I came back on Sunday night, I had people offering me $500 per ticket for this sold-out show. I had never seen anything like it. The die-hards would have paid anything to see that show. I think there were only 1,500 – 1,800 tickets.

      Wow, and now I’m stuck down memory lane…

  2. Dan

    at 8:34 am

    As Mark S above

    1)Track 3 – Today
    2) Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins
    3) Billy Corgan’s -Zwan

  3. Marina

    at 8:59 am

    I bet the skew is even bigger for single family homes. Once you have kids, you are not going to move in the middle of the school year. Unless it’s down the street, but even then summer is better.
    When it comes time for us to move to a bigger place, you can bet we’ll try to time it to sell May / June and move June / July.

  4. Kyle

    at 10:26 am

    Unfortunately for the bears the best time to buy is in the past, but I agree with Appraiser the best time to buy going forward is when you find the right house that can be afforded comfortably. Trying to “time the market” is unwise.

    1. Boris

      at 10:05 am

      This obsession in bringing up “bears” in EVERY unrelated posing is borderline psychotic behaviour!!

      I’ll add that the concept of “bears” here is kinda like describing a ginger stepchild as “special”, insofar as the fact that the vehicles to effectively

      Go get laid, smoke a joint, have a whisky. Hey guess what – Hitler invaded Poland. It’s not news that rez re has appreciated….good move on!!

      It’s like the drooling retard in gym class who keeps mumbling “I got da ball!” for 40 minutes after he received a basketball in the face when someone actually passed it to him.

      On a side bar, there really is very little inventory right now in the 1.3-3mm range. And what’s out there is for the most part shitty, overpriced, stale listing or all of the above..

      Carry on…

      1. Kyle

        at 12:13 pm

        I’ll stop bringing up the bears and pointing out all the flaws in the rubbish they post, when they start accepting reality and stop posting rubbish. Like i said before if you don’t like my comments, you don’t have to read them.

        By the way your attempts to use shock and extreme examples in your comments is also borderline psychotic and way beyond tired. So , tell you what i’ll stop mentioning bears, if you start making points without having to resort to vulgar language and comparing everything to Hitler or some other ridiculously extreme nonsensical example.

        1. Boris

          at 2:46 pm

          Who is this mysterious person you are referring to? What ‘bears’ are you posting to that post here? Are they really, bears, are they short GTA houses? Will they get stung if prices rise further?

          Shock and extreme examples – it’s how I talk you little PC mope! HItler comment = South Park reference. Smarten up and remove said dildo from bum.

          1. Kyle

            at 3:05 pm

            How you talk is a reflection of you not me. I’m not PC at all, in fact i couldn’t care less how you talk. I”m just telling you, that despite what you think, your schtick IS BORING!

          2. Boris

            at 9:04 am

            Oh Kyle, you little saucepot.

            Blah blah bears, blah blah. That’s as boring as it gets fella.

            You obviously could care less how I talk as you brought it up, you little dick tickler!!

          3. Kyle

            at 9:17 am

            LOL, you think you’re offending me when you talk like Trump’s mini-me? Seriously, you act like you’re the first person to ever swear on the internet or something. I’m not asking you to stop because i’m bothered or offended by you, i’m asking you to stop because it’s lame and i’m embarassed for you. The whole fucking internet is embarassed for you, buddy. You put in WAY too much effort to add machismo and bravado into each and every single thing you say, that it is super-obvious how desperately you are OVER-COMPENSATING FOR YOUR SHORT-COMINGS. Seriously dude you are the biggest try-hard on the whole internet. But hey if you need to be a jerk wad to feel satisffied with yourself, carry on.

          4. Kyle

            at 11:02 am

            OMG, i just figured it all out. It all adds up now!

            All your machismo and bravado, all your over-the-top crudeness in an attempt to look like a manly-man. You aren’t (just) over-compensating for short-comings you’re over-compensating for something much more obvious. I’m not sure why i didn’t see it before, but everything you wrote shows your conflict and denial. This shoul dhave been a dead giveaway, “Go get laid, smoke a joint, have a whisky” Sorry bud, straight guys don’t talk like that.

          5. Boris

            at 12:34 pm

            1) Your clearly obsessed with this, you just wrote a lot of words about something you said you didn’t care about.

            2) You accused me of being childish, and you just said, in more words “Yeah but you’re gay!!” Really? If I was (I am not) then so what? That a problem?

            3) I talk the way on here I do with my friends. Suck it. If you think it’s ‘crude’ then clearly what you are used to is a very pussified way of communicating. You PC, SJW weiner!!! Lol.

          6. Kyle

            at 1:36 pm

            Of course you talk in that over-compensating way around your friends, those are the people you are most afraid of finding out – DUH! Anyhow if they don’t want to be your friends after you come out, they weren’t your real friends anyway.

          7. Boris

            at 3:51 pm

            1) You are accusing me of being ‘gay’ like one might growing up in the late 80’s int eh schoolyard. Is that an insult these days? I’m not, but it isn’t really an insult at all.

            2) You used the word “Duh” !!

            3) You are the incantation of Troy from the Goonies. Right era, right lame sense of humor, you;re both massive douchebags. And remember how it ends for him…


          8. Kyle

            at 4:06 pm

            LOL, i don’t consider being gay an insult. In fact i’m actually not trying to insult you, i’m just pointing out the obvious truth. And you’re totally fucking text book.

            By the way your last comment was much better. When you don’t try so hard to come off as a “bro” by talking about dildos, dick tickling and the such, you sound a lot less like a fake straight guy. You may even be able to continue fooling your friends.

          9. Kyle

            at 9:15 am

            And as for your original question, about who these mysterious “bears” i’m addressing are. See comments here for examples of the kind of people i’m addressing:

            People who obviously have no experience and know nothing about real estate or economics, but who consider themselves experts because they’ve read some idiot’s blog. Every real estate website, article or blog out there is polluted with this garbage, except for this one. TRB is one of the few places where one can find useful information about Toronto real estate. And IMO, that didn’t happen by accident. That happens because that kind of garbage gets challenged, bullshit gets called, misinformation gets corrected, and in your case insufferable assholes get a LONG OVERDUE lesson in self-awareness.

      2. Appraiser

        at 12:25 pm

        @Boris: Maybe this is the answer to the inventory issue. TREB mid-month sales report.

        January 20, 2016 – Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 1,583 sales through TREB’s MLS® System during the first 14 days of January 2016. This result represented a 15 per cent increase compared to 1,376 sales reported during the same time frame in 2015. Annual rates of sales growth were stronger in the areas surrounding the City of Toronto for all major home types.

        While the number of sales increased strongly on a year-over-year basis, the number of new listings reported by TREB Members was down slightly compared to the first 14 days of 2015. This suggests that market conditions were tighter this year compared to last, with more competition between buyers in many market segments and areas in the GTA. The average selling price for the first two weeks of January 2016 was $594,969 – up 16.5 per cent compared to the average of $510,575 reported for the same period in 2015.

  5. Julia

    at 10:58 am

    David, the Smashing Pumpkins reference alone, cements you as my future realtor.

    1. David Fleming

      at 12:10 pm

      @ Julia

      “Despite all my rage I am still just a rate in a cage.”

      That’s one of my favourite song lyrics of all time.

      Not to get too philosophical here, but it just speaks to me. It unfortunately reminds me of my place in this world; it serves as a reality check. Every time I open my CBC News app and read about a myriad of topics and stories that frustrate and anger me to no end, I unfortunately realize that there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m not accepting defeat, but rather, reality.

      Reality is under-valued in today’s society.

  6. Libertarian

    at 12:42 pm

    Hi David – I know that you’re busy, but if you have time, could you please explain the meaning of all those monthly numbers to those of us not involved in the real estate industry. My interpretation of it is that in January there were 11,600 active listings, of which 9,596 were new that month. There were 4,355 sales, which means that January ended with 7,245 unsold listings (11,600 minus 4,355) . February then had 10,503 new listings, which would suggest there were 17,748 active listings (7,245 plus 10,503). But the number you provide is 12,793. I realize that agents remove listings after a few weeks if the house isn’t sold, but that can’t possibly represent the difference. Or does it? Is my math wrong?

    Something else I noticed is that it seems that every month there is at least 5,000 listings that go unsold. Both the “New Listings” and “Active Listings” outnumber “Sales” by thousands. Is that normal? Is that commented on by TREB, CREA, etc.? Is there a reason the media never reports all 3 numbers as you just did?

    You are always saying that demand exceeds supply, but if there are thousands of unsold listings every month, how can there be less supply than demand? Are all of the unsold listings condos? Pre-construction condos?

    Perhaps I am asking for too much “behind the scenes” information, but if you can shed any light whatsoever on the math, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. David Fleming

      at 2:13 pm

      @ Libertarian

      Don’t worry about “behind the scenes” numbers. You know I’ll share anything and everything, so long as it doesn’t get me fined!

      I’ll have a follow-up post on Friday looking at prices, as opposed to sales and listings, which you all should find interesting.

      As for the definition of those numbers.

      A “new listing” is any listing that came onto the market that month. But keep in mind that if 123 Smith Street was listed for sale on January 5th, then re-listed on January 21st (say, after a failed attempt to get multiple offers) it counts as two listings.

      An “active listing” is any listing that was available for sale on MLS at any point during the month. So even if a listing was terminated, and is no longer available in that month, or going into the next month, it still counts.

      Demand does exceed supply in many cases, but not all.

      Demand exceeds supply for just about any freehold properties. But there are freehold properties that are oddly-listed, over-priced, and might sit on the market for a half-year, while being re-listed over and over. And then there are freehold listings not in prime areas. Anything in the central core is prime, but these numbers look at all of Toronto. Picture a sub-division in the 905 with a “FOR SALE” sign on every lawn, compared to the lone 2-bed, 2-bath freehold home in Danforth Village listed any given week.

      Demand exceeds supply for many styles and types of condos. Depending on the locations, and the type of property, demand exceeds supply. But then you have the crappy listings – not just the CityPlaces of the world, but the pre-construction condos, the assignments, the listings for properties “finished” but not registered, the buildings that don’t sell (not everything is downtown Toronto), and all the while, they can be listed over and over and over.

      So while you’re trying to add/subtract each and every month, you have no way of accounting for duplicate listings, and terminations, of which there are thousands.

      1. Libertarian

        at 5:25 pm

        Thanks for the info David! Seems much more complicated than need be. How is anybody suppose to get an accurate picture of the market from those kind of stats? I realize that it’s the job of the real estate agent, but I’m guessing that most agents aren’t math whizzes.

        1. Appraiser

          at 6:41 pm

          @ Libertarian:

          TREB mid-month stats for January indicate sales are up 15% and prices are up 16.5% compared to the same time period last year. How much clearer can the picture be?

          Is that too complicated for you Mr. math-wizzard?

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