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What's Muskoka got that the Hamptons don't? A hearty property market

Briefing highlights

  • Muskoka property market thriving
  • Toronto, Victoria named hottest luxury cities
  • Toronto, Victoria, Hamilton on fire
  • CIBC wins approval for PrivateBancorp
  • Home Capital in no rush to sell

Muskoka vs. the Hamptons

Ontario’s Muskoka playground may not be quite as famous as the Hamptons, but its real estate market is faring far better.

Indeed, says a new report, real estate in “Toronto’s weekend resort market” is booming while the Hamptons suffer the uncertainties of New York.

“Especially notable is that certain second-home resort markets that are closely tied to a major urban area are often at the mercy of these feeder markets,” said the study released this week by Christie’s International Real Estate and Toronto’s Chestnut Park Real Estate, its Canadian affiliate.

“The upside of this trend can be seen in Toronto’s weekend resort market of Muskoka,” it added.

“This seasonal resort destination experienced a remarkable year of recreational property sales, echoing trends in sales and price activity in the Greater Toronto Area which saw values increase by 20 per cent in 2016 alone.”

Then there’s the other side of that phenomenon.

“Conversely, the downside of this trend can be difficult for second-home resort markets that rely on the fortunes of other cities, such as New York and the Hamptons, and London with various resort markets including Barbados,” the report said.

Sales of properties worth $1-million or more in second-home resort markets surged 36 per cent last year, while slipping 3 per cent in the U.S., where potential purchasers often don't buy in an election year.

Here’s a direct look at Muskoka versus its counterparts:

“Ironically, the increase in sales volume is having a dramatic impact on supply, consistent with the urban market experience,” Chris Kapches, Chestnut Park’s chief executive officer, said of Muskoka.

“The recreational marketplace is beginning to mirror Toronto,” he added in the report.

Canada’s luxury markets are faring well across the board, though “luxury” may take on a different meaning when the average price of a detached homes tops the $1.5-million mark, as it does in Toronto.

The report also ranked Toronto and Victoria as the world’s hottest luxury markets.

World's hottest luxury property markets

1Auckland, New ZealandToronto, Ontario
2Toronto, OntarioVictoria, B.C.
3Victoria, B.C.San Francisco, California
4Valencia, SpainAustin, Texas
5San Francisco, CaliforniaCharleston, S. Carolina
6Jackson Hole, WyomingAuckland, New Zealand
7Costa Smeralda, SardiniaParis, France
8Portland, OregonPortland, Oregon
9Sydney, AustraliaSydney, Australia
10Stockholm, SwedenSan Diego, California


“Toronto recorded the shortest time to sell a luxury property (17 days on market, down from 28 days the year prior), fuelled by incredibly low inventory and rapid price increases that prompted both buyers and sellers to act,” the report said, suggesting that Ontario’s recent market-cooling measures may cool things off.

“Toronto was joined atop the rankings by another Canadian city, Victoria, which witnessed its best year ever for luxury home sales,” it added.

“The provincial capital saw a significant uptick from affluent international buyers who were deterred by nearby Vancouver’s new 15 per-cent tax on overseas purchases and opted for Victoria instead.”

Like Toronto’s, that Vancouver area tax is levied by the province.

Home prices climb

The Toronto and Hamilton housing markets are in record price territory.


Victoria is also coming on strong.

Toronto prices surged 26.3 per cent in April from a year earlier, the fastest ever registered by the Teranet-National Bank home price index, the group said today.

Hamilton also saw a record, of 22.9 per cent, from a year earlier, while Victoria soared 19.2 per cent.

These numbers are certain to again spark questions over the frothy markets in and around Toronto, and whether foreign money is being pushed to Victoria in the wake of the Vancouver foreign-buyer tax.

Ontario, too, has implemented a similar levy, though only recently.

“It is no surprise to find the Canadian Real Estate Association reporting these three markets as very tight by the yardstick of ratio of new listings to sales,” said National Bank senior economist Marc Pinnsoneault.

“In Toronto, it was a 13th month in a row of accelerating 12-month home price inflation.”

Prices in Vancouver rose 9.7 per cent from a year earlier, though dipped 0.1 per cent on a monthly basis.

Month over month, Toronto prices rose 2.6 per cent, Hamilton 2.1 per cent, and Victoria 1.5 per cent.

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