Toronto turnaround could benefit investors

Mid-month figures point to a 2.5 per cent rise in home sales compared to the year-ago period. Prices have gone one better, revealing a 4 per cent leap, even in the face of an expected drop because of tighter mortgage rules.

The data came courtesy of the Toronto Real Estate Board Wednesday, and stand in contrast to the 22 per cent decline in sales for December compared to the same month in 2011.

If January's turnaround lasts, investors may see the rental market for condos at least shift, with prospective tenants fewer and farther in between. Still, the fundaments of the market suggest it will remain a landlord's one for the next two years.

Investors may more directly benefit from an upturn in the market if it prompts lenders to loosen their purse strings for rental properties.

That stinginess continues to present a challenge to investors with acquisition on their minds and facing interest rate premiums that compromise cash flow.

So all eyes are on the indomitable Toronto, say analysts.

“It will be important to watch sales trends closely as we move through the first quarter to see if some of the households who moved to the sidelines as a result of stricter lending guidelines are starting to renew their decision to purchase a home,” said Ann Hannah, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board.

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