By now, most people have heard of the deadly acetylene gas explosion at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The disaster has cost hundreds of lives, killed hundreds of workers and forced millions of people from their homes.
But the real estate market has not yet recovered from the carnage.
And the market has been hit by a wave of new bubbles, like those caused by the recent surge in housing prices.
In fact, the average home value in Toronto is nearly twice what it was in December.
So when the city’s real estate board released a new report Wednesday that said the average Toronto home price in December reached $2.1 million, there was plenty of room for a few speculators to take advantage of the situation.
According to the report, the biggest buyers of new Toronto homes in December were those who bought a condo or townhouse in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) or the Greater Vancouver Area (VIA).
And while the report notes that the average price for a condo in the GTA jumped 9.9 per cent from a year ago, it also says the average sale price of a townhouse jumped nearly 10 per cent.
In total, Toronto is home to around 4.4 million residents.
While the number of new homes sold in the city has increased since December, the number who bought condos jumped more than 10 per.cent in the same period.
(The GTA has roughly twice the population of the city of Toronto.)
In addition, the report found that the number buying condos in the area increased by almost 50 per cent in the 12 months ended in December compared to the previous 12 months.
That is a huge shift from last year, when the number selling condos was almost exactly the same as it was last December.
But in the end, the Toronto housing market remains very resilient, said Paul Zandi, chief economist at CIBC World Markets.
The real estate report shows that demand for homes is relatively strong, especially in the suburbs, he said.
“That is good news,” he said, “and that should give the market a chance to recover.”
In fact of the 10 per in-line-buyers, it’s the two largest buyers who are likely to benefit the most from the increase in sales.
In the GTA, two-thirds of buyers and sellers were buying homes in their first two years, according to the CIBC report.
And in the Vancouver market, nearly three-quarters of buyers are buying a condo within the first two or three years of purchase.
So the market will be more resilient as the market moves forward, said Zandi.
And there’s another factor at play here, too.
“There is a lot of speculation in the real world, but we have to look at that in terms of our real estate fundamentals,” he added.
“So if you’re thinking about buying a house and looking to do it within the next year or two, you might not have a very solid foundation in place, because you don’t have a strong base in place.”
In a sense, that’s why many people are buying in the first place.
The GTA and Vancouver are booming and have a lot going for them.
And if the economy continues to grow at its current pace, there is a good chance that many people will be able to get a condo by the end of next year.
And because prices have been so high for the past year, a condo market will probably grow even stronger.
As for the market’s resilience, Zandi said it’s possible for the housing market to return to the pre-crash level.
But he cautioned that it’s still too early to tell.
The Toronto real estate sector was already seeing some signs of recovery.
After a tough few years, sales have been picking up, he added, but he expects that to continue to remain true for some time.
“We are not looking at an immediate return to pre-2007 levels, but the fundamentals of the market are still there,” he noted.
As it stands now, he thinks there is “no reason to be overly worried about a return to crisis levels.”
Still, he did say that there is room for concern.
“It’s always possible that there will be some sort of downturn and it will cause some problems in the market, and those are always exciting,” he concluded.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Toronto released its report Wednesday, and it’s worth reading for anyone interested in how the GTA and its suburbs compare to the rest of the country.
In addition to the GTA’s soaring home prices, there are a number of other things that have contributed to the condo boom, too: rising property taxes in some parts of the GTA; the high cost of real estate in Toronto; and a shortage of jobs, according a recent report from CIBC.
“The GTA’s real value has also grown significantly, while the rest [of the GTA] has stagnated,” said Zanki.
But there are also plenty of positives to take from the