Toronto

GTA home sales flat in March while prices edge up and listings fall

A flattened real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area has the region's real estate board again calling for revisions to stricter mortgage stress tests.

TREB wants revisions to mortgage stress tests

TREB says stress tests — brought in by the federal government to cool excess borrowing and an overheated market — continues to limit the ability of some buyers to qualify for a mortgage. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

A flattened real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area has the region's real estate board again calling for revisions to stricter mortgage stress tests.

"The stress test provisions and mortgage lending guidelines generally, including allowable amortization periods for insured mortgages, should be reviewed," Garry Bhaura, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, said in a statement Wednesday.

The board says the stress tests — brought in by the federal government to cool excess borrowing and an overheated market — continues to limit the ability of some buyers to qualify for a mortgage.

The call for changes to the policy came as March showed flat home sales of 7,187, down by one home from the same month a year earlier.

The average selling price for March was up 0.5 per cent, or $3,821 from a year earlier to $788,335.

"Despite sales being markedly lower than the record levels of 2016 and early 2017, the supply of listings has also receded," said Jason Mercer, the board's chief market analyst, in a statement.

"This means that in many neighbourhoods throughout the GTA, we continue to see competition between buyers for available listings, which provides a level of support for home prices."

New listings in the month were down by 5.1 per cent year-over-year to come in at 13,996.

The board said it has also raised concerns about a proposed increase to the municipal land transfer tax to address homelessness.

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