Could the communications team at the Toronto Real Estate Board be the worst in the city? Granted, TREB is the lobby group representing realtors, know most for erratic capitalization and repeated punctuation marks. And, OK, it’s hard to put out press release after press release about a deflating market after years of hyperbolic boasting about strength, robustness, and all-time records. But all that aside, the strategy behind communicating the June sales figures is bizarre.
The teaser message on the TREB website points out that while sales this June were down 18% from last June, last June was an all-time record. Fair enough. Then, in an effort to make the dramatic drop in sales even less shocking, TREB helpfully points out that June 2008 was not the first — second — third — or fourth best June on record, but the fifth. Is that really a point to recommend it?
The release itself is confusing because it tries to explain that the 2008 to 2007 drop in sales isn’t really so bad because the increase in 2006 to 2007 was so large. That would make some sense if 2008 was the, say, second best June on record, but the fact that it’s the fifth suggests there’s more backtracking than simply an easing off last year’s peak.
The release leads with the inevitable increase in prices, which has continued despite the double-digit decrease in sales (oddly, not mentioned until the sixth paragraph).
Sales of resale housing in the GTA were down 18% in June 2008 over June 2007. But, as the release points out, there was a 20% increase in sales between 2006 and 2007. So 2008 sales were down only 1% compared to June 2006. Um… great?
And here, more confusing comparisons without any conclusion to comfort you about the healthy, balanced GTA housing market:
In the City of Toronto, sales for the first two quarters declined 15 per cent to 17,370 from 20,574 in 2007 and down 8 per cent from 18,917 in 2006. In the 905 Region sales declined 12 per cent to 26,315 from 30,074 in 2007 and down 2 per cent from 26,880 in 2006. However, when you compare the first two quarters of 2007 with the same period in 2006, sales increased by 9 per
cent in the City of Toronto and by 12 per cent in the 905 Region.
Does the “however” really fit there? Do the 2007/2006 comparisons somehow negate the drop between 2008/2007? If phrased another way, I suppose they could provide useful context, but here, they really don’t: sales are down, but last year they were up. Huh.
Houses — don’t know how many, since TREB only releases inventory information when it’s in its interest, not when inventory is reaching rumoured all-time highs — are taking longer to sell, but according to TREB head Maureen O’Neill, that’s a good thing: “This has given buyers and sellers a little more time to make well-considered decisions.”
Where are the hot spots in the GTA, you wonder? Well, there’s Brooklin. Where? Brooklin, Ontario, population 15,000.
Wonder how many additional house sales were needed in Brooklin to increase over 35% last year’s June sales — 5?