Christie's Real Estate says Toronto has the hottest market for luxury homes on Earth, with a price point of $3 million US being the starting point for what the high-end real estate firm says qualifies as luxury.
In its annual ranking, the real estate company — best known for being an auction house — says the volume of luxury home sales rose by 37 per cent in Toronto last year, much higher than increases seen elsewhere.
- Baby boomers driving Toronto's luxury home market
- Million-dollar home sales booming in Toronto, Sotheby's says
Christie's polled 1,350 of its associated realtors in more than 70 markets around the world before arriving at its conclusion. Overall, the company came up with a list of the 10 "best of the best" cities for luxury real estate.
- Los Angeles.
- Hong Kong.
- New York.
- San Francisco.
Of that group, only Toronto saw more luxury home sales in 2014 than the previous year.
So, what does luxury mean? The price varies from place to place, but in Toronto, Christie's says it starts in homes worth $3 million US — about $3.6 million Cdn — and up. Across all the cities included in the survey, the average starting price for luxury is $2 million. That floor sinks as low as $750,000 US in Durban in South Africa, and as high as $8 million US in Beverly Hills, Calif.
In addition to seeing the largest growth in home sales, Toronto also had the fastest turnaround time to sell, with the average luxury home selling just 31 days after listing.
In New York, it took an average of 87 days for a luxury home to sell last year. In Hong Kong, it took the better part of a year at 225 days.
That's partly because a relative lack of homes for sale drives up demand and interest in the ones that are. Extremely low supply of homes in Toronto has pushed prices to $1 to $2 million for what Christie's calls "relatively average homes in the city" and up to $2 to $4 million for larger homes or those in the most desirable neighbourhoods.
The shortage of homes pushed luxury condo prices above $1 million as well in 2014.
Justine Deluce, of Chestnut Park Real Estate, said 2014 was Toronto's second-best sales year on record.
"If there had been more inventory, the record would easily have been shattered."
Muskoka market booming, too
Toronto's booming luxury home market is also spilling north of the city, as Christie's reports a better-than-normal market in the cottage country district of Muskoka.
Last year, the part of Ontario that the New York Times once described as "the Malibu of the North" saw a marked increase in sales of luxury homes.
"The jump in luxury sales volumes does not necessarily show that average sale prices increased, but does indicate that buyers had an appetite for more expensive recreational properties — something that has not occurred since before the recession of 2008," Deluce said.
In that part of cottage country, Christie's says the cut-off for what is considered luxury is $1 million. Sales in that segment of the market increased by 66 per cent compared to 2013's level, the real estate firm said. The most expensive cottage sale of the year in the area came in at a cool $7 million.