Toronto condo rents climb 11% in past year as new mortgage rules lock out buyers

The average cost to rent a condominium in the Greater Toronto Area has risen by almost 11 per cent in the past year, partly because tougher mortgage rules have shut out new buyers and flooded the market with renters, a new report by research firm Urbanation says.

Research firm calculates that standard buyer better off renting as ownership costs have surged

The average monthly rent of a condo in the GTA has topped $2,200 a month, Urbanation says. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

The average cost to rent a condominium in the Greater Toronto Area has risen by almost 11 per cent in the past year partly because tougher mortgage rules have shut out new buyers and flooded the market with renters, a new report by research firm Urbanation says.

Urbanation calculates that the average monthly rent of a condo in the GTA has risen by $214 in the past year and is now at $2,206. In the city proper, the average rent is even higher — $2,432. 

"Renters have started to gravitate toward less expensive options in the rental market, as evidenced by an increased share of leases for studio and one-bedroom-without-den units, which averaged rents of $1,640 and $1,907, respectively," the report said.

A major factor in the rent surge is people being shut out from being able to buy. In January, new rules were implemented that make it much harder to get a mortgage. And the impact on Toronto's condo market has been significant, and immediate.

"Renters in the GTA are facing very strong market forces that are pushing hard on demand while new supply remains stubbornly low,' Urbanation's senior vice president Shaun Hildebrand said.

Based on the most up-to-date data, Urbanation calculated that an "average" 714-square-foot condo in the GTA would cost $558,000 in the first quarter of 2018,

A year earlier, a buyer would have needed an income of $77,000 to purchase that average condo, based on mortgage rules at the time, and assuming the buyer could come up with a 20 per cent down payment. 

Today, with higher prices and tougher rules, one would need more than $100,000 in annual income to buy the same condo.

While Urbanation's data is bad news for renters, there is a silver lining in the numbers. Based on the company's calculations, it's a much better financial move to rent than to buy at the moment.

That's because based on current mortgage rates and assuming the buyer can come up with 20 per cent down up front, that same average condo would cost  $170 more every month in ownership costs that it would be able to generate in rental income.

So a standard buyer on that theoretical condo would be under water every month, and banking solely on making up for it by selling for a higher price down the line.