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Comparing some of Canada's top-tier real estate markets

Jessy Bains
Luxury house in Montreal (Getty)
Luxury house in Montreal (Getty)

After a slow start to 2019, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) led the country in top-tier real estate performance.

Sotheby’s looked at homes that sold for at least $1 million in the GTA, Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal. Don Kottick, President and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty Canada, says he realizes a true ‘luxury’ home costs double, and even triple, that in some markets.

“What constitutes ‘luxury’ not only varies significantly between housing types and cities, it also varies with the perspective of each potential home buyer,” Kottick told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“For most Canadians and many new immigrants however, $1 million is a significant financial investment and a benchmark for many people's financial goals and aspirations. It's important to recognize this benchmark, even as we report on a number of different segments of the luxury market that have evolved to exceed it."

Sales in the segment for all types of homes across the GTA (Durham, Halton, Peel, Toronto and York) rose 23 per cent year-over-year. For homes $4 million and up, sales were up 5 per cent, though Sotheby’s says sellers shifted listings away from Multiple Listings Service (MLS) to other platforms.

Shifting trends in Vancouver

Despite a second-half rally, sales in Vancouver’s $1 million-plus market were down 6 per cent and 25 per cent for homes over $4 million.

Kottick says international buyers have shifted their attention away from Vancouver in the wake of its foreign buyer and vacancy taxes. Instead, they are putting money to work in Toronto and increasingly in Montreal.

“The fluid political and societal landscapes in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Mexico and South America have ignited interest in Canada as high net worth individuals and families explore safe havens for their families and their investments,” he said.

“China’s restrictions on outbound investments have also reduced Canadian real estate investment from this country, as it has in other global cities."

Mixed bag for other cities

Montreal was a star performer with $1 million-plus home sales rising 13 per cent, and an astonishing 64 per cent rise for those costing $4 million or more.

A slowdown in economic growth and increase in political anxiety led to a 13 per cent drop in Calgary’s $1 million-plus market and only two $4 million-plus homes were sold in 2019.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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