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Condos in Toronto

I started off selling mainly condos, helping first time buyers get a foothold in the Toronto real estate market. Now working with investors and helping empty nesters find that perfect luxury suite.

Toronto Real Estate

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Toronto Real Estate

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Printers Row Lofts - 525 Logan AvenueRare, stunning loft conversion by Bob Mitchell, known as Printer’s Row. This vintage architectural gem located in the heart of Riverdale features soaring ceilings and 15-foot windows with a south view. This boutique 12 unit loft building is nestled in a lovely residential area. The suite’s walkout to private terrace was the original entrance to the building and overlooks a picturesque garden. Large master bedroom with two closets. Open concept main floor has a spacious upper loft overlooking the living room. MORE DETAILS HERE

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Toronto condo sales falter over winter, but new home sales are healthy, report says

Duncan McAllister – Metro

As we head into the spring season, real estate’s busiest time, Metro looks at what’s in store for the Toronto market for highrise and otherwise. One report has GTA condo sales down 25% in January, and the price gap between highrise and single-family homes continues to widen as the city-wide demand for houses outpaces supply.

Comment: Um, what? Condo resales in Toronto rose 11.2% in January, powered by a massive 23.3% rise in 905 region condo sales. New condo sales were lower, mind you, down 32.5%. But new condo sales were up by 2 sales in December, then rose 8.6% in February. Let’s not take one measure of one segment for one month and try to turn it into something it is not.

Toronto new condos
The latest report from RealNet Canada says that new highrise sales in the GTA fell 25% in January. Is this a bad omen for unsold condo inventory? No need to panic: RealNet says the new home sales are healthy, as they’re in line with historical averages.

Comment: Especially since they went up in December and then again in Februaruy. January was a slow month, it happens. I guess people bought resale condos instead, as their sales jumped 11.2% that month.

It’s a different story if you factor in single-family homes. According to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), GTA home sales actually surged nearly 15% in the first half of February. That’s based on sales of existing homes in the first two weeks of February, a 14.9% jump over the same point in 2014.

Comment: Wait, you can’t suddenly jump from new condo sales in January to resale freehold sales in 2 weeks in February. But the point is solid, Toronto real estate is strong and not slowing down.

And nationally, it’s a different story altogether, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Home sales across the board in Canada fell 3.1% between December and January. The average reflects weakened activity in oil provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, although the weakness in these markets is not believed to affect other Canadian markets at this stage.

What say the agents? Re/max sales representative, David Batori works in Toronto’s Forest Hill North area. “January and February this year have exceeded my last year, which was one of the busiest years for my business in the 25 years I’ve been doing this.”

Like many real estate agents, Batori is optimistic that Toronto is headed into a strong housing market this year. “There’s been continued negativity from different analysts and different individuals in the Economist magazine, the World Bank, all these different organizations are basically stating that Toronto is 20, 30, 40% overvalued. That may be the case, but in the meantime, inventory levels remain low and there are still more buyers than there are listings, so that continues to prop up our prices and continues this ongoing strength.”

Harvey Kalles sales representative Jennifer Greenberg is cautiously optimistic. “I think it’ll have a similar strength as we saw last year. Every year things increase in value, so that doesn’t surprise me that we’ll see slightly higher sale prices than what we saw from last year.”

Comment: I think we are actually going to have higher numbers this year. Which scares me. But listings are flirting with rising, they are not down every time we measure. Mortgage rates have gone down. With strong demand, a little more supply and lower interest rates – the stage is set for surging numbers.

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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Don’t be misled by false reports

Ben Myers – Toronto Sun

Fortress Real Developments conducts a robust investigation of the health of the Canadian housing market twice a year. The findings are summarized in a report called The Market Manuscript.

We make the report available to download for free on our website as well as distributing it to our developer partners, to individuals that invest in Fortress projects, and to investors that have bought homes at our developments. My goal with this report is to bring together several forecasts from top analysts and economists, and debunk many of the flawed findings that grab national attention.

A frequent topic of discussion among our partners and clients is the barrage of conclusions that the Canadian housing market is overvalued.

Housing values
For example, recent reports have suggested that Canadian houses are overvalued by up to 63%! That number was a bit unbelievable to me, so I took a hard look at the topic in the spring 2015 Market Manuscript.

I found that conclusions are often based on price-to-rent and price-to-income ratio studies. These studies, according to the Bank of Canada, are popular because they are simple to construct and easy to compare across countries.

But the Bank also concluded that these studies are misleading, because they ignore interest rate changes and the differences in data definitions, demographic factors and government regulation.

I think these studies are too simplistic, but I wanted to see if other top Canadian analysts did, too.

I emailed a number of top economists an online survey, and asked them which ratio was the best at predicting future house price movements in our country.

Interestingly 94% of respondents clicked ‘none of the above': that no simple ratio study has the power to predict prices.

RBC Global Asset Management came to the same conclusion. They concluded that the best available measure of determining value in the Canadian housing market is the ‘average house price to average monthly carrying-cost ratio’.

Comment: Which is what I have been saying for years.

This ratio takes into consideration the low cost of borrowing.

When using this method, they concluded that a home financed with a variable-rate mortgage in Canada is actually 4% cheaper than it should be!

Whether or not we think Canadian housing is valued correctly or not, the most respected real estate analysts in Canada expect prices to increase nationally in 2015.

Please don’t base the biggest purchase of your life on these misleading reports.

If you can afford it and you love it, buy a new home this year.

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

—————————————————————————————————–

In Toronto, home buyers find price counts – but speed counts more

Carolyn Ireland – The Globe and Mail

As fast-paced as Toronto’s real estate market has been for years, it always seems to find a new gear.

Even buyers in the echelons well above the average price of $1,040,018 – the new milestone achieved in February – feel pressured to move with blistering speed.

Our recent “Home of the Week” at 128 Sherwood Avenue was listed with an asking price of $1.795-million and sold to a “bully” the first day it came to the market.

The bully turned out to be Toronto-based restaurateur Sebastien Centner.

“I only had a chance to see it for half an hour before we had to make a decision,” says Mr. Centner of making the leap with his wife, Sheila Centner.

The Toronto Real Estate Board’s latest data show how sizzling the market has been: For the Greater Toronto Area, sales jumped 11.3% in February from a year earlier.

Last week, it was headline news when the same report showed the average price of a detached house in Toronto had broken through the $1-million mark.

Comment: And now at $1.099m for the first half of March.

128 Sherwood Avenue
Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter believes the Bank of Canada’s surprise interest rate cut in January may be fuelling some of the current enthusiasm among prospective buyers in Toronto and Vancouver.

Comment: Nah, rates were low and the market was hot before that.

Headlines about price gains in those those cities also keeps their markets tilted in favour of sellers, Mr. Porter said following a speech at a Queen’s University real estate investment seminar in Toronto. “Strength often begets strength. There is a sense among some buyers that they have to get in before things rise even further.”

Comment: They do. It isn’t just a feeling. If they don’t buy now, prices and/or mortgage rates will be higher in the future. Or both. Think about it this way: if a house is $1-million today, with rates of 2.79%, then a mortgage payment with 10% down would be $4,262.73. Now, if prices rise 8.6% in the next 12 months and mortgage rates rise 1%, then the monthly payment rises to $5,151.40. That is an increase of almost 21% per month, almost $900 more… over $10,000 per year just in mortgage costs. Then there is the added $8,600 in down payment cash required. Income requirements rise from $165,000 for the current mortgage to around $179,000 in 12 months. And you wonder where the pressure comes from for people to buy RIGHT NOW.

Mr. Porter told seminar participants he is not worried about overvaluation in the broad Canadian housing market. Still, the central bank’s move did make him worry that such low rates could lead to overheating in markets that have already had a long run.

Comment: Note that he said he is “not worried about overvaluation”.

“I did think there is the risk it could get overdone. I’ve been covering the Toronto housing market for 30 years and the last time it came even close to this feel is the late 1980s.”

Mr. Porter observes that the recent shift in Calgary’s real estate market could actually help to buoy housing in Vancouver and Toronto because fewer people are likely to leave those cities for the oil patch. As energy prices have tumbled, home sales in Calgary have seen double digit drops while listings have surged. Mr. Porter warns that that dynamic inevitably will lead to a drop in prices if it continues.

Comment: And people could move from Calgary to Ontario. Happened 6-8 years ago when their market bubbled the last time.

He doesn’t expect Calgary’s problems to spread to Vancouver or Toronto. Vancouver’s market has lots of support from overseas investors, he says. Toronto’s market will likely benefit from an improving economic outlook in Ontario, which he ties to the strength of the recovery in the U.S. economy and the lower Canadian dollar.

Comment: Seeing as we don’t have an oil-based economy, how could it spread here?

Still, he says, a severe downturn in Calgary’s real estate market could undermine the confidence of buyers in other cities. “It might make them think twice.”

Comment: I doubt it. The average home buyer in Toronto, or Montreal, they aren’t thinking about Calgary. Vancouver, maybe.

Over all, Mr. Porter has a cautious view of the Canadian economy, which has been roiled by the decline in commodity prices. The fall of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. currency and signals from the long-term bond market also point to caution, he adds. “We can almost feel the landscape shifting below our feet.”

Comment: But the lower dollar helps Canada. Tourism increases, manufacturers benefit, exporters sell more. It helps the US economy, in an indirect way, which then helps Canada even more indirectly. Some banks estimate that a 10% drop in the CAD could translate into a 1.5% GDP increase. And, if it does lower the longer-term markets, that brings interest rates down, which further decreases mortgage rates. The betting line is still 50-50 on whether or not Poloz will drop the overnight rate further, to 0.5%.

On a more positive note, the U.S. consumer seems to be putting some steam back into that country’s economy. “At long last the U.S. economy is finally finding its stride. That is unambiguously good news for Canada.”

As for Mr. Centner in Toronto, he had never actually heard the term “bully offer” before, but agent Ronit Barzilay of Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd. advised the couple not to wait a week for the night scheduled for reviewing offers by listing agent Cailey Heaps Estrin of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.

The Centners didn’t know it but within hours the first bully offer had already been made at the full asking price. Owners Gina and Peter Schafrick turned it down. Typically, a “pre-emptive offer,” as real estate agents sometimes call them, comes with a large premium above the asking price so that sellers won’t be tempted to hold out for the offer night.

The Centners offered $1.9-million, or $105,000 above the asking price. The Schafricks quickly accepted.

Mr. Centner acknowledges that the deal didn’t come together without some angst. He and his wife never fight, he says, but that night over dinner she had to persuade him to push ahead. “We had a huge fight,” he says with a laugh. “I couldn’t wrap my head around it.”

The couple had been only loosely contemplating the idea of moving closer to Bay and Bloor from the North York home where they had lived for nearly two decades.

As the president and chief executive officer of catering company Eatertainment, he heads most days to the Manulife Centre to oversee the company’s two establishments, the Bloor Street Diner and The One Eighty (formerly known as the Panorama).

But once Ms. Centner saw 128 Sherwood land on the market, she immediately called her husband.

The circa-1980 house near Mount Pleasant and Eglinton was designed by Ms. Schafrick, an architect, for her own family.

The Centners loved the open plan, Bulthaup kitchen and modern design. “All of the lines in the house were so clean,” Mr. Centner says. “It just screamed attention to detail.”

He felt even more certain when he turned over a dining room chair and saw that it was a genuine Eames and not a knock-off of the style designed by Charles and Ray Eames. “That told us that they did not cut corners,” he says.

He says he has developed a real appreciation over the years for how precise the design of a modern house must be because flaws can’t be hidden behind elements, such as baseboards and mouldings. “Everything has to be perfect.”

The couple was confident they could afford to spend $1.9-million for a house and this one was move-in ready. From their research, they had figured they would need between $2.5-million and $3-million for a Toronto house with top-quality finishes.

The kitchen was particularly appealing to Mr. Centner, who says the two are “serial partiers” who constantly entertain.

Still, Mr. Centner says he had a sleepless night after the agreement was signed not least because the next morning the couple had to think about selling their own house. Fortunately, he says, their home near Yonge and Sheppard didn’t need a lot of staging or preparation.

Eighteen years earlier, the Centners had purchased the small house at 98 Franklin Avenue in the popular Lansing-Westgate neighbourhood.

Thirteen years ago, they had architect Lorne Rose design a large, modern addition at the rear while maintaining the appearance at the front. “When we renovated we basically blew off the back.”

A few years after that, an in-ground swimming pool and entertaining area were added in the backyard.

As soon as the deal for Sherwood was struck, they speedily listed the house with an asking price of $1.699-million and set an offer date a week later. They received a bid a few days in, but declined and invited the bully to return on offer night.

The bully didn’t show up but they did get two other offers. They had a bit of back-and-forth with one purchaser and signed the deal for $1.899-million, or $200,000 over asking.

“It was unexpected,” says Ms. Barzilay, who adds that everyone was elated when the negotiations were over. “We celebrated with champagne with the new buyers.”

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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