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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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Buying a home in Toronto? Know that even a no-frills semi can spark a bidding war

Carolyn Ireland – The Globe and Mail

Michael and Carly Telpner weren’t sure what offer night would bring for their semi-detached Toronto house with one bathroom and no parking.

They certainly didn’t imagine it would bring $954,000. But after two rounds of bidding and a last-minute flurry, that price clinched the deal for their three-bedroom house at 512 Balliol Street The house had been listed with an asking price of $799,900. The final tally shows how tight the race can be.

On the night scheduled for reviewing offers, six prospective buyers submitted bids. Three were invited to a second round.

One came in at $950,000 and another at $951,000, Mr. Telpner says. The agent for the prevailing couple just made it under the wire with an offer of $954,000, Mr. Telpner says of the breathless final moments.

Even with all of the bids so close, Mr. Telpner says he wasn’t tempted to aim for a third round.

Comment: But then the 2nd round would have been just to get more money. If you were trying to create a clear winner, 3 bids within $4,000 of each other is a virtual tie. Another round might separate one from the rest. But if they were tied after first bids, then why go to a 2nd round that had them still tied?

Toronto semi detached house
“I didn’t want to be obnoxious,” he says, and he knew it was a tough evening for all the buyers. “I didn’t want someone to lose out over $2,000 or $3,000, but that was the process we laid out.”

The numbers show why so many sellers are grappling with multiple offers: The Toronto Real Estate Board reported this week that sales in the GTA jumped 11.8% in the first two weeks of March from a year earlier. New listings increased 8.4% in the first half of the month compared with the same period in 2014.

Comment: Sales keep outpacing new listings, causing supply to drop every day. Most months have negative listings growth, making the problem even worse.

The average selling price in the GTA rose 10.6% to $620,106 in the first half of March from a year earlier. TREB says the growth in prices was driven by gains in houses and townhouses.

Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis, points out that a greater share of sales came from high-end detached houses changing hands. That dynamic helped to push up the average price.

In Toronto, the average price of a detached house jumped a whopping 21.3% in the first half of March from a year earlier. The average price of a semi gained 13.3%, and a townhouse 11.6%.

Comment: Don’t read too much into the price in 2 weeks of March vs. last year. Let’s see where the numbers are at the end of the month.

In the Toronto condo market, sales swelled 12.9% in the first two weeks of the month from a year earlier while the average price edged down 0.8%.

Those who are wading into competition know how tense it can be. If you wonder if it’s worth trying to appeal to the emotions of the sellers – as many agents do these days with hand-written notes and stories about their clients – Mr. Telpner says having the best offer is most important but he was also slightly swayed.

Mr. Telpner is a triathlete and he learned that the buyers were particularly keen on the gym he had built in the basement. “Price is first,” he says, “but I was kind of gunning for them.”

But he was also felt badly for a couple waiting outside in a car with their children. He figures they would have made good new custodians as well. “There’s one asset and not everyone can win. I know the others were disappointed.”

Mr. Telpner knows because he phoned the real estate agents of the runnersup the following day to thank them for showing up at the table.

“I wanted to make sure that everyone had a very positive experience,” he says. “I was happy with the process.”

Mr. Telpner, who works in international banking at Bank of Nova Scotia, says the outcome was “very surprising” for the couple’s first property sale.

The price was a record for a comparable house in the area near Davisville Avenue. and Mount Pleasant Road, he says, adding the couple would have been happy with a selling price of $855,000 or $860,000. The other half of the semi had sold last October for $847,000.

Comment: It is a hot area and prices are high there. I remember trying to convince my wife to buy a semi on Soudan in 2003 for $289,000. She thought it was a dump and too expensive. That house is worth $900,000 now. Hindsight… sigh…

Still, they thought the lack of parking could hold back the price. “That was what we thought was going to be our biggest hurdle,” he says.

Comment: But parking is generally rare, especially in the smaller semis. Buyers know this.

Real estate agent Sarah O’Neill of Royal LePage Signature Realty, who represented the Telpners, says people are vying to be in that pocket near Davisville.

“It was incredibly close,” she says of the competition.

She points out that the couple had invested quite a bit in the mechanics and insulation of the house since buying it in 2007, and the interior was also nicely designed.

She says potential buyers are savvy these days and they can tell the difference between a house that has had solid investments and one that has just been fixed up to look better for sale.

Ms. O’Neill says buyers at this time of year often have frayed nerves. Multiple offer situations are very emotional she says, and even more so when there’s a second round. “People have to decide very quickly what price to go to. It’s tough.”

As for the Telpners, they bought a detached house near Avenue Road and Eglinton Avenue in the fall, when buyers were more hesitant.

“People were wondering what was going to happen in the next year,” Mr. Telpner says of the speculation about interest rates and other economic factors.

Comment: Um, not really. September saw sales rise 11% and prices almost 8%. October sales rose almost 8% and prices 9%. There was no hesitation in the fall…

The property was listed with “offers any time.”

The couple had looked around a bit but hadn’t been serious enough about any of the houses they had seen to even make an offer.

The couple offered slightly above asking and the owners accepted. “We kind of lucked out,” says Mr. Telpner of the timing of both transactions.

Comment: Wait, what? They offered over asking on a house with no bid date and no other offers? In a period they thought was slow? Why?

The market this week is a bit quieter one in Toronto, Ms. O’Neill says, because most agents will wait until after March break to put new listings on the market.

Plenty of buyers are likely to be circulating: This week the Bank of Montreal made news when it cut its posted rate on a five-year fixed mortgage to 2.79% from 2.99%.

Meanwhile, organizations including the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of Canada have warned that markets in some Canadian cities – including Toronto – appear overvalued.

Comment: And RBC and others say the opposite. And the BoC said MAYBE things were overvalued, the market MIGHT be. And they said it in the fall, almost 6 months ago now. It isn’t something recent.

Some economists warn that ultra-low interest rates are creating too much froth.

Comment: No, it is the lack of supply. If we suddenly had 5 times the number if listings tomorrow, it would alleviate some bidding wars. Which would help rein in prices. Sales would go through the roof, mind you.

Ms. O’Neill believes that bidding contests will likely lose some intensity as the spring market gathers momentum: Typically the action is most fervid in the early part of the year when there are few listings and a lot of pent-up demand. As move-up buyers find new homes, they in turn list their current properties and the supply loosens up.

Comment: Not really. More buyers come out and listings don’t go up. That is not a recipe for things to calm down.

She expects that more listings will come on after the public and private school breaks, but the big surge in listings will follow the Easter and Passover holidays.

“I predict it will be gangbusters after that.”

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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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Spike in Toronto condo completions may help alleviate shortage of rental units

John Clinkard – Daily Commercial News

A recent research report published by the Royal Bank of Canada could well raise some red flags regarding the health of Toronto’s housing market.

Comment: But the RBC CEO also says he is bullish on the Canadian real estate market – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/housing/rbc-ceo-david-mckay-bullish-on-canadian-housing/article23397854/ – so that kinda kills the red flags.

The report notes that following the completion of a record 10,368 apartment units (mostly condos) in December of 2014, the number of completed and unoccupied condo units in the metro area jumped from 917 in December to 1,602 in January, its highest point since March of 1993.

Comment: Completed and unsold units, occupancy has nothing to do with it. And it does need to be pointed out that the unsold units, as a percentage of all new condos, is still the 10-year average range. The value only rose because more condos were completed. But the percentage is still the same. Everyone needs to remember that 95% of new condos are sold. And think about perspective, there were 31,000-odd condos completed from January 1, 2014 to January 31, 2015 – plus almost 92,000 resales in 2014 (houses and condos). Add in another 40,000 new house and condo sales in 2014 and you get over 160,000 new and resale transactions. And everyone is freaking out about 1,602? That isn’t even 1% of the total annual market. Forget about it.

However, before we declare that Toronto’s housing market is headed over a cliff, it is useful to assess the health of the key drivers of housing demand in the city in order to determine if they are about to run out of gas.

Comment: Why would you declare it heading off a cliff? It grows stronger every day, there is no cliff anywhere in sight.

Condo Construction
First, despite the fact that over 10,000 units were completed in January, the fact that the number of completed and unoccupied multiple units only increased by 701 in the month suggests that the majority of the newly completed units are not quite ready to be occupied.

Comment: No, you have it wrong, you don’t understand the numbers you are writing about. First, 1,602 minus 917 is 685 – NOT 701. Second, those units are UNSOLD, not unoccupied. There is a good chance that a ton more SOLD condos are not occupied. It is moot. Lastly, that means that 93.4% of those 10,368 units ARE sold. That is a lot – 9,683 sold condos to be exact.

Looking forward, there are a number of indicators which suggest that the fundamental drivers of housing demand in metro Toronto will absorb the increased supply of new condo units coming onto the market over the next 12 to 18 months without to much difficulty.

Comment: The market only has to absorb 1,602 units. The rest are paid for and thus off the market. That is 90-130 a month over 12-18 months. As compared to almost 93,000 MLS sales, that is a drop in the bucket, statistically insignificant.

Second, despite the jump in completions in January, the ratio of completed and unoccupied multiple dwellings to units under construction at 3.3% is only slightly above its ten-year average of 1.9%.

Comment: Right, so with completions in 13 months that are usually seen in 24 months, and we are in line with long-term trends? There is no bad news in that. It means that everything is as it should be, as it has been historically.

Third, while the most recent RBC Housing Trends and Affordability report indicated that overall housing affordability in the Toronto CMA deteriorated slightly in the final quarter of 2014, this rise in the cost of carrying a home in the metro area is entirely due to higher prices for bungalows and two-storey detached dwellings.

Indeed while bungalow prices were up by 8.5% year over year and prices for two-storey homes rose by 9.1% year over year, the affordability of condominiums in the metro area measured by the percentage of pre-tax income necessary to service principal, interest, taxes and utilities actually improved slightly.

Comment: Condo prices in the 416 actually dropped a touch in February, down 0.9%. And as of mid-March, down another 0.8%. Combine that with a 20 point mortgage rate drop and condos are looking more and more affordable.

Fourth, despite the fact that the Toronto Census Metro Area is home to 17% of the country’s population, over the past ten years it has attracted approximately one out of every four immigrants to the country.

Comment: And they all need somewhere to live. StatsCan predicts that the GTA will gain another 3,000,000 residents in the next 26 years… over 115,000 each year.

Over the past several years there has been strong evidence that a significant portion of the new arrivals do not remain in the CMA but have decided to move further west to Alberta.

However, given the evidence of a slowdown in energy investment and a softening of hiring in the West in general and in the oil patch in particular, plus improving prospects for manufacturing in Central Canada, we expect that an increased proportion of new arrivals will choose to remain in the Toronto CMA thereby expanding the pool of first-time home buyers.

Finally, according to CMHC’s most recent Rental Market Report, the average vacancy rate for purpose-built housing was unchanged at 1.6% in late 2014 and the average condominium-apartment vacancy rate in the GTA declined from 1.8% in 2013 to 1.3% in the fall of 2014. This suggests that overall demand for rental accommodation in the GTA is quite strong and that owners of vacant condo units will have little difficulty in renting them if they feel it is necessary.

Comment: Which continues to fuel the condo market.

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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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Home prices are cooling everywhere but red-hot Vancouver, Toronto

JamieSturgeon – Global News

National home prices continue to post bigger-than-expected gains as the still-red hot markets of Vancouver and Toronto skew averages higher, the country’s real estate association said Friday.

Comment: Don’t you mean that the falling markets in Alberta and Saskatchewan are skewing the prices lower?

Most everywhere else, price momentum is slowing and in the case of some markets, has fallen into negative territory.

Comment: Only the oil patch is really dropping. Quebec and the Maritimes are flat, as always. And BC and Ontario are strong, as always.

Total sales of existing homes trading hands last month moved higher by 1%, the Canadian Real Estate Association, which represents agents across the country, said.

The rise was in line with expectations as activity remains brisk in some bigger markets and cools in others, like Calgary where a deep dive in oil prices has taken considerable steam out of real estate demand.

Vancouver
Fueled by buyers tapping ultra-low interest rates that have drifted lower this year, the average benchmark price for a home in Canada however continued to rise at a surprisingly strong pace last month, climbing 6.3%, to $431,812.

Comment: Imagine if you took Calgary out of the mix, how high would the price rise be then?

Bank of Montreal economists suggested before the release prices would rise by about 5%. “Benchmark prices up could rise 5%, led by, you guessed it, Vancouver and Toronto,” BMO economist Sal Guatieri said.

CREA acknowledged that continued strength in the country’s two most expensive real estate markets is driving national averages higher, while regionally, price growth is slowing across wide swaths of the country.

Comment: And the converse is true, where the falling markets in Calgary, Edmonton and Regina are driving national averages lower.

“The national average home price remains skewed by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets,” the association said.

Comment: Why do we ALWAYS have to talk about strong markets skewing the numbers, when the weak markets affect it just as much, in the other direction.

Cooling off

Comment: Nothing is really cooling off, not sure where that subhead comes from.

Excluding those two markets, the average price gain last month would come in at a much tamer 1.5%, to an average price of $326,910.

Comment: And what would it be if we excluded every market with negative sales and price growth?

Calgary, formerly the hottest housing market in the country as higher oil prices bolstered an active market, still saw average prices climb nearly 6% last month, according to CREA. But “the increase was far smaller than gains posted last year and the smallest since December 2012,” the association said.

“In other markets from West to East, prices were up compared to year-ago levels by between 2% and 2-1/2% in the Fraser Valley, Victoria, and Vancouver Island, while holding steady in Saskatoon, Ottawa, and Greater Montreal, and falling in Regina and Greater Moncton,” CREA said.

Comment: So remove the falling markets and let’s see what the numbers are.

In contrast, demand for homes in Vancouver and Toronto remains red hot amid historically low borrowing rates, particularly for detached homes which have seen prices surge well ahead of other housing types in recent years.

“While demand has cooled across much of the country, buyers in these two cities continue to outbid each other for coveted detached homes,” BMO’s Guatieri said.

Comment: Because that is where immigrants move to, where internal national migration heads, where economies are strong.

Home prices rose 7.8% in the greater Toronto area, and were 6.4% higher in Vancouver last month compared to February 2014.

“Is it a bubble? It’s hard to say given that demand reflects more strong fundamentals than rampant speculation. But something’s not right. For most goods, high prices discourage demand. But in these two cities, first-time buyers are fearful of getting shut out of the market. So they keep buying despite worsening affordability, a trend last seen in the late 1980s,” the economist said.

Comment: There you go. It is not a bubble because demand reflects strong fundamentals. Simple. And the late 1980s say people buying on spec, hoping to resell later as prices rose. And with much higher interest rates then – in the 11-14% range – there was a lot more pressure to sell when things went south. I remember the house across from my father’s house. It hit $750,000 in the early 1990s. It took 15 years for the same house to hit a similar value after the fall. So a $750,000 house at 12.5% would have been around $12,750 a month in inflation-adjusted mortgage payments. Let that sink in for a second. Over $150,000 a year just in mortgage payments. Today, that same house would cost $3,325 a month with a 2.59% mortgage rate.

“And that did not end well.”

Comment: But it is different today, you know that as well as I do.

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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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