147 Maclean Ave – Gorgeous Beach Property Offered at $2,995,000

July 20th, 2017 Posted by Hot Listings No Comment yet

Oasis in the City – This beautiful home is a one-of-a-kind Arts and Crafts restoration. Fully finished, it features five bedrooms and four bathrooms over three floors plus a finished basement. There’s plenty of room inside for living and entertaining, as well as several unique outdoor spaces that offer private retreats from the city.

** Check out this awesome 3D interior tour! **

Originally built circa 1917, the home was purchased by the current owners in 2005. With the exception of just the dining room, which was purposely left as the only remaining historically vintage room, the house was taken back to the studs. All of the wiring (including the dining room) and plumbing was replaced, and the home restored using some recovered original woodwork (refinished and put back in place) blended with new, matching woodwork that expanded on the Arts and Crafts style.The restoration project included the addition of a small office on the main floor, plus a third floor/roof (2008) with 2+1 bedrooms and a fabulous, tree-top deck.

Starting at the foyer, every room has character woodwork. The entrance to the living room features oak colonnades, and a massive fireplace and built-in shelving fills the south wall. Nine foot ceilings add to the feeling of size and comfort. The large dining room, with an original built-in Arts and Crafts hutch along one wall, comfortably seats 8, and features an original sun room off the back.

The custom kitchen features hardwood cabinetry (3/4 inch solid quarter-sawn oak), marble counter tops, heated marble floors, and professional-grade appliances, including a Wolf stove and a built-in fridge. The office addition has a built-in desk and shelves, and a walk-out to a gorgeous, landscaped back yard. A cosy sitting area set between the kitchen and dining room features a wall mounted TV; a second oak colonnade provides access between the sitting area and the dining room.

On the second floor, the master bedroom includes an Ensuite bath with heated floors, separate his-and-hers closets, and a very private porch – perfect for a quiet morning cup of coffee. The large second bedroom has a walk-in closet with built-in shelving and a window seat with a great view. The main bath also has heated floors – and a laundry chute!

The third storey addition (8’6” ceilings) includes two bedrooms and a third room suitable for storage or conversion to a bathroom. (Pipes are roughed-in.) The deck off the rear bedroom/media loft puts you up amongst the treetops, and really has to be experienced… don’t miss it!

The basement features: a media room with a built-in entertainment unit and a gas convective heat fireplace; an exercise room; a large bathroom (2017), a laundry room, storage; and a recently completed solid oak liquor/wine cabinet with a seating area. Large, south-facing windows allow for lots of natural light, and there’s a separate side entrance offering nanny suite potential.

The custom landscaped backyard features a garden pool and a raised ‘outdoor kitchen’ with a built-in BBQ, stone counter top, sink, a fridge and seating for 8 under a cedar trellis. It’s very private, which is great for relaxing with the family or entertaining guests. With the beach and boardwalk just a few minutes walk down the street, plus nearby parks and ravines, this home doubles as a cottage in the city!

Generous spacing between homes on the street allows for a private drive. At the back of the lot sits a rare detached, double garage with a 10 foot ceiling and parking for one car; the other side is converted to a workshop.

The front of the home has a classic, Beachy front porch – the perfect spot for watching the sunset down well-treed Crown Park Rd and chatting to the neighbours over a glass of wine. The mature front garden with large oaks, flowering shrubs, natural stone walls and flagstone gives the home fantastic curb appeal.

Other features and improvements include:

  • Water supply
  • Drains
  • Wiring (200 AMP panel in 2005)
  • Plumbing
  • Natural gas boiler (2013)
  • Pool heater w/efficient heat pump (2017)
  • Power to the garage
  • Power to the back shed
  • Aluminium shingles (2008)
  • Rebuilt chimney
  • Double brick main floor and plastered frame for second and third
  • Built in cabinets in kitchen, living room, dining room, third floor and basement are all 3/4 inch solid quarter sawn oak
  • Double closets off of entrance hall
  • Upgraded windows maintain the character of the home
  • 5″ solid quarter sawn oak floors in living and dining room, with front hall and hallway as tile/ same wood (2012)
  • Lots of storage both inside and outside (shed, garage, under sun room)

This fabulous house is on the TorontoMLS (MLS #E38783620). Contact me directly for more info, and/or to arrange your private viewing.

Market Review – June 2017

July 7th, 2017 Posted by Market Review No Comment yet

The Toronto Real Estate market continued to moderate in June. The first point to note is that the average sale price was up 6.3% over June, 2016. Somehow, TREB’s HPI was up 25.3%, which may indicate that the unweighted average was brought down by a higher proportion of sales at the lower end of the market (e.g. condos: in June 2016 about 24% of sales were condos; last month is was closer to 30%). Over the last 12 months, the average price of a detached house was up about 10.2%, and the average price of a condo was up about 23%.

Of course, the louder news is that prices are down from earlier in the year. That’s no surprise, given the severity of the price spike in the first quarter – and, again, it’s a good thing. The market cannot sustain price increases in the 20-30% range. A bit of a pull-back was in order. As for the causes, who knows? Some speculate that it’s because of the 15% foreign buyers tax. Foreign buyers were such a small part of the market (maybe in the range of 5%…?) that it’s hard to say if enough of them have backed out of the market to have a measurable impact. Maybe it’s just buyers taking stock and getting the new lay of the land before proceeding. Or, maybe it’s just the usual spring surge in listings taking the pressure off price escalation. Either way, the market has been unsettled for a few months.

Still, it has been good for buyers – although fewer buyers took advantage of these more favourable conditions. The number of sales was down 37.3% from 2016, to just 7974 (and keep in mind that year-over-year the average sale price was up 6.3%). Those buyers had greater selection: the number of new listings was up 15.9% and the total number of available listings at the end of the month (19,680) was up 59.6%. For reference, the number of available listings in June 2007 was 21,789 – and that was down from 25,393 the year before! The current supply is up over last year, but we are still well below historical supply levels.

The market is not “correcting” in the sense that prices are going to go down below previous years. It’s leveling out. *BUT* these conditions won’t last. The Canadian economy is strong, and job creation is at its quickest pace since 2010. With interest rates set to rise, buyers will want to move quickly to make a purchase and secure as low an interest rate as possible. That’s going to fuel a surge in buying. What that will do to prices remains to be seen. Getting back to 5-10% annual increases would be great – healthy, great for investing, but also sustainable.

I think that sellers should hedge their bets and try to sell into this summer market. Things are going to pick up soon, and you don’t want to miss your buyer. Sure, prices may firm up through the second half of the year, but we’ve seen the top prices for 2017 already. Whatever we see for the rest of this year will be up from last year, but probably not by much. And buyers really should get out there and make their purchase ASAP. Whatever prices do, I doubt that the selection will get much better than it is now. The best time to buy is when nobody else is (or few others are) buying – that’s when you can make your best purchase. Lock in a great rate before they start rising.

The bottom line is: don’t miss your chance!

1415-1369 Bloor St W offered at $399,900 **SOLD!!**

June 27th, 2017 Posted by SOLD!! No Comment yet

Are you looking for a great west-end condo?* Number 1369 Bloor St W is a fantastic building, just a block from Lansdowne subway station, and my great new listing in there could be the one for you! 😉

Coming in at just under 600 square feet (generous by Toronto standards!), the layout is open concept, so it’s airy and bright. The kitchen features granite counters, a breakfast bar, custom back splash and black appliances. The flooring is a type of engineered wood with that ‘finger-scraped’ pattern, which gives it a nice texture. There’s a walk-out from the living room to a great little balcony – perfect for enjoying the morning with a cup/pot of coffee, or a summer evening with a glass of whatever suits you!

On that note, just around the corner and down Sterling Rd is the Henderson Brewing Company – and beside that, the new Drake Commissary. There’s a Loblaws nearby, and an LCBO… honestly – what more do ya need? Whatever it is, you’ll find it along Bloor St W.

Unit 1415 offers a gorgeous, east-facing view of the city. Off to the south is the downtown core – which is walk-able, if you have 45 minutes or so…. The building has great amenities: a theatre, gym, sauna, party/meeting room, an outdoor pool and a fully fenced dog run! Not many buildings offer one of those….

 

This one comes with an underground parking spot, a locker and Ensuite laundry. It’s the complete package! We are on the MLS now and plan to market the property for one week before looking at offers. However, we are keeping our options open in case something irresistible comes along before that. If you are in the market, don’t delay. The condo segment remains strong, and we have a competitive price on this one. Two of my recent listings got multiple ‘bully’ offers, and I won’t be surprised if that happens here, too.

More pics here. 🙂

* After less than 48 hours on the MLS we received a strong ‘pre-emptive’ (AKA ‘bully’) offer and sold this great little place. That’s the real market these days – still very active and competitive for listings in certain price ranges. It’s a great time to buy and sell in this market!

 

 

Coming Soon: 377 Sammon Ave – detached with private drive!

June 20th, 2017 Posted by Hot Listings No Comment yet

Are you in the market for a detached home in East York? This is a great two-bedroom house with a private drive (2+ spots) just a few blocks from Michael Garron (formerly Toronto East General) Hospital – so it could be the perfect house for somebody who works there! 😉

The spacious main floor is bright and open with a small den/office at the back of the house. By the time we hit the market there will be a brand new, custom built (i.e. with custom cabinetry) kitchen with all new appliances. (It’s being worked on now.)

The basement is also being completely re-done: new concrete pad; water-proofing; a completely new bathroom; two new rooms (e.g. flex and/or rec); pot lights, custom shelving and cork floors.

Upstairs the master bedroom is large and has his-and-hers closets. (His has built-ins, hers is a small walk-in.) The comfortably-sized main bath was renovated by the previous owners and is quite nice. Basically, the house will be move-in ready (for real!).

In addition to proximity to the hospital, 377 Sammon Ave is walking distance to the Danforth and all that has to offer: shops, pubs, restaurants, services, and the subway. Fabulous Dieppe Park is just two blocks away, and the East York Civic Centre (city services, a great farmers’ market, a library, tennis courts) is just a ten minute walk. And, if you want to drive somewhere, you are mere moments from the DVP (via either Don Mills or Pottery Rd). This is a great location in lots of ways!

It’s going to take a few weeks to get everything done, but we are open to the idea of showings to qualified buyers, so feel free to get in touch with me if you’d like to see it. Otherwise, stay tuned!

Market Review – May 2017: Double-counting of ‘new listings’ confounds data

June 16th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

Much is being made (e.g. in the media) about the ‘decline’ in sales in Toronto. As I have been saying (writing) for years, it’s one thing for the pace or volume of sales to decline, and another for prices to decline.

It’s true that the volume of sales in May 2017 was lower than sales in 2016. That said, 10,196 transactions is typical for a busy month in the spring market. The number of sales in May 2016 was 12,931, an all-time record for that month. So, we saw fewer sales than the record set last May. Do we have to set a record every month?! I don’t think so.

Also, the average price in May 2017 was $863,910, up 14.9% – or about $112,000 – still a very high increase. It was down from April (which was basically the same as March) because the market was so crazy in the first quarter, and that drove prices up quite dramatically. I’m glad to see that those super-high price increases are behind us.

Much is also being made of the increase in the number of new listings. As noted in the headline, that number is faulty: TREB has double-counted (and in some cases triple-counted) some new listings. Here’s how: a new listing is posted with an eye-catching price. The home-owner wants competition that will drive up that price. Then, due to the slowing activity that we’ve seen in the last six-to-eight weeks, ‘offer night’ comes and goes without a sale. The Realtor cancels the existing listing and posts a new listing with a higher price. TREB (through no fault of its own) can’t yet track that, so that property has appeared twice in the system and gets counted twice. You can imagine that this could easily happen a couple of times with the same property, and it happens all the time across the city. There could be hundreds, if not thousands, of double-counted properties in that “New Listings” number. Clearly, it’s not what it seems.

The better number to track is Active listings, which hit 18,477 last month, up 42.9% over May 2016. This is a good thing! The market has been trapped in a low supply situation for years, and if a bunch of new listings can take off some of the pressure, that would be great. Ten years ago, in May 2007, TREB reported  23,739 active listings (which was down from 26,220 the year before). The city population is higher now, and we are still nowhere near that volume of available listings for all the eager buyers out there. Why would anybody start ringing the alarm bells in conditions like this? My guess is sensationalism. Fear sells, doesn’t it? :/

The supply issue is perhaps more easily understood if one looks at the number of active listings added to sales. That number would provide a sum of the real estate activity for the month. In May 2007 (which I chose as a nice, round ten years ago), there were 23,739 active listings and 11,146 sales, which adds up to 34,885.

Last month there were only 18,477 active listings left at the end of the month and 10,196 sales, which adds up to 28,673, only about 82% of the activity recorded in 2007. With a rising population, solid economy, good job growth and continued low interest rates, we still have less real estate activity now than we did ten years ago. In this supply-constrained, competitive environment, what would cause a correction? There’s certainly a fear factor infecting the market these days, but underneath all that is the relentless supply shortage, and that should absolutely preclude a correction (beyond the simple re-balancing we’ve seen recently).

By the way, looking at the 11,146 sales in May 2007, from that ‘selection’ of 34,885, it’s clear that buyers had a lot more choice then; prices were up a manageable 5% that month. That was a strong market, and we would be lucky if our supply were to increase steadily over the next few months to get us back to that level.

 

52 Robinson Ave – a great starter home ** SOLD! **

June 13th, 2017 Posted by SOLD!! No Comment yet

This great little home once housed a family of five! Featuring a main floor master bedroom, a large upper bedroom and a basement bedroom/rec room, this one has more space than it appears.

The kitchen was updated a few years ago, as was the main bath. The dining room comfortably seats six; it has a closet and a window, too, so it could be used as a bedroom….

The basement bath was renovated this year. There’s a great workshop space and potential cold storage. Plus, there are two separate entrances to the basement: a side door at the private driveway and a walkout at the back of the basement (to the back yard).

The long private drive comfortably fits four or five vehicles, and the detached garage (which needs some work) is large enough for another parking spot, plus storage/workshop. Beside and behind the garage is a large – and very green – back yard. It’s a wonderful space for summer lounging… or perhaps a pool? 😉

Located just a few blocks from Victoria Park subway station, Robinson Ave is a quiet residential street. There’s a nice parkette (Oakridge Park) just at the bottom of the street, and convenient local shops and businesses all along Danforth Ave. The Massey-Taylor park system is close enough to walk or bike. It’s a great little area!

 

** The action on this great listing was fantastic. We received several offers and sold it in just a couple of days!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 2017 Market Review

May 8th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

April was another busy month in the Toronto real estate market. New listings finally started to appear (21,630 new listings for the month, up 33.6% over April 2016) giving buyers more choice. Coupled with 11,630 sales for the month (down 3.3% from the 12,016 recorded in April 2016), that allowed available listings to edge up 3% ,to 12,926 by the end of the month.

Price pressure remained in place, though, with the average sale price up 24.5% to $920,791. Note that the average sale price in March was $916,567, meaning prices remained essentially flat month-to-month. So, although we saw another big year-over-year price, this could be a sign that prices are leveling out, which will come as a relief to buyers.

The condo segment in the 416 had an impressive month. Sales volume was up a modest 8%, but prices soared 32.3%, keeping pace with last month’s increase.

The long-awaited increase in the supply of available listings is great news for the market, but it still leaves us far from historical levels. For example, in April, 2007 TREB reported 22,829 available listings, almost double the current level. The average Days on Market (i.e. how long the average listing took to sell) was around 30 days. Last month it was just 9, indicating how short-lived our supply really is. If we are lucky, we’ll get a couple of months of increasing supply, which should bring some balance to the market.

Right now it looks like the price increases are locked in, but it’s important for sellers to note that the market is not the same as it was in Jan-Feb-March. The new supply is taking some of the heat off buyers, meaning they don’t have to put everything on the line for every house that they see. So, while we are still seeing multiple offers on a lot of houses, we won’t get that for every single listing. Marketing – especially pricing – is more important than ever. But, we’ve seen this before; almost every spring, in fact! We make the adjustment, and move on.

The bottom line is that it’s still a great time to sell, and an even better time to buy.

 

 

 

SOLD!! 18 Gwynne Ave – huge detached home in Parkdale

April 18th, 2017 Posted by Blog, SOLD!! No Comment yet

Parkdale has seen some hard times over the years, and the owners of this huge, detached home have witnessed a fair few of them. When they bought back in the early 1980s, the neighbourhood was known for being a bit run down. But, the gorgeous housing stock from the late 1800s-early 1900s, when the area was a wealthy suburb, was there waiting to be brought back to life. A neighbourhood this close to downtown could only go up!

Parkdale is now better known for beautifully restored homes and the rapid growth of Queen West. Most of the condo and townhouse development in the area is east of Dufferin St (e.g. Liberty Village and the old Massey lands); to the west, it’s still mostly Victorian semi-detached and detached, with some Georgian row houses, so it has a classy, old-Toronto feel to it.

Built in around 1880, 18 Gwynne Ave was expanded a couple of times over the years. At some point, it was duplexed, which is still apparent as you walk through the house. The main floor now features a large living/dining room, a huge eat-in kitchen, and a separate family room. The ‘back porch’ isn’t insulated, but at about 14’x14′ it serves many purposes. The custom deck out the back door is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the weather.

The second floor has five bedrooms, although one of them was gutted and roughed-in for a laundry room some time ago. The back bedroom provides access to stairs to the third floor, and a fantastic custom office.

The basement is mostly unfinished, but with painted joists and recessed lighting, it’s a very usable space. Beyond the huge laundry area is a small finished room that was set up as a sewing room. It could be an office, a kids play area or general crafts room.

The front and back yards have been lovingly cultivated over the years. Flowers bloom almost constantly from spring ’til fall! At the back of the lot is a solid, two car, cinderblock garage, accessed via the lane. There’s room to park one more car behind the garage, too.

Queen West amenities are great, and getting better. Pretty much everything you need is within walking distance. Walkscore.com gives it a rating of 92 – “walker’s paradise”. (And hey – it’s walking distance to the Gladstone Hotel!) The location also offers quick access downtown via the King or Queen streetcars; if you are going uptown, hop on the bus to Dufferin subway station. Walkscore.com gives it a transit rating of 100 – “rider’s paradise”! Sad to say, driving downtown is sometimes the fastest way to go, but cycling is a reasonable alternative (53 rating – “flat as a pancake”). If you need to get out of town, the Gardiner Expressway is 3 minutes away, which is awesome.

This grande ol’ dame is listed for $1,299,000. It’s a fantastic home with unlimited potential, but it needs work. While the mechanicals are sound and the structure is solid, most buyers will want to do substantial renovations. For the right buyer, a full restoration would be the way to go.

More pictures here….

 

 

March 2017 Market Review

April 10th, 2017 Posted by Market Review No Comment yet

The Toronto real estate market blasted through March, 2017. We saw a decent increase in new listings (17,051, up 15.2%), which we expect this time of year, but sales once again gobbled ’em up. There were 12,077 transactions, an increase of 17.7% over March 2016. By the end of the month, only 7,865 listings were left, 35.2% fewer than the same time last year.

This ongoing supply-demand crunch once again drove prices up. The average sale price (all types) hit $916,567 ($688,011 in March, 2016), up 33.2% year-over-year.

Condos in the 416 continued to surge too, with sales up 29% and the average price up 32%, to $550,299. The average price for a townhouse – which can be a bridge between condo apartments and houses – was up 22%, to $761,128. Clearly, there are options for buyers who can’t (yet) afford a semi or fully detached house in Toronto, and the increasing sales numbers in these segments indicate that more and more buyers are going that route.

The biggest numbers are in the fully detached segment, where the average sale price hit $1,561,780! TREB’s HPI, which takes into account differences among housing types, and tries to smooth out the averages, was up 28.6%, slightly lower than the overall average. Still, these are all hefty increases.

The next few months are going to be interesting. We’ll have to wait and see how many new listings come out for the spring market, and whether or not there will be enough to satisfy demand and take the pressure off prices. Sky-high pricing usually brings sellers to market. Again, the lack of options for sellers – i.e. where will they go after they sell? – remains a problem, but anybody motivated to ‘cash out’ will find a way. This market needs that, so I’m not saying that we’ll see a flood of listings and a subsequent correction. At this point, I’m just hoping for something to help ease that pressure.

I’m a big fan of Toronto real estate as an investment – that’s not going to change – but 33% annual increases are not sustainable. Maybe buyers will back off, and do their part to take control of the market (but don’t ask me where they will live while waiting for the market to cool). Of course, even lower price increases won’t likely go below double digits, and real estate should always be a medium-to-long-term investment, so it’s probably still better to buy sooner than later….

Supply and Demand: factors driving the Toronto Real Estate Market

March 31st, 2017 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

We all know that real estate prices in Toronto have been skyrocketing in recent months. Up 22% in January (year-over-year) and 28% in February, the rate of increase has been well above income increases and inflation. While Toronto remains more affordable than Vancouver, and is still well behind super-expensive cities like San Francisco, Melbourne and London, prices are still hard for most locals to fathom – much less keep up with.

There’s plenty of debate about the causes. I have written before (e.g. here and here) about the supply problem – i.e. there are not enough houses (or condos) for all the buyers out there, so buyers have to fight over the listings and that drives up the price. Lose a few such battles and one starts to get more aggressive – maybe due to experience, or maybe desperation – and the price increases escalate. This has been going on for years. In a low interest rate environment with a reasonably good economy, it should come as no surprise that we are where we are.

What’s influencing prices?

The average sale price in 1989 (the previous ‘peak’) was $273,698 (TREB). According to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, that equates to 484,953.97 today. So, when we look at the average selling price today (TREB February, 2017 stats) and see $875,983, it’s important to note that inflation alone accounts for more than a third of the increase (about $211,256). Next, we have to look at other influences.

I’ll start with what seems to be the most overlooked component: renovations. It’s obvious that improving a home through renovations increases its value. Canadians spend billions of dollars every year on renos, and homeowners (or professional renovators) who chose to sell reap the profits of their investment. That said, it’s hard to quantify, isn’t it? Still, we all know how it works, and when we look at price increases, we have to take that into account.

Another obvious influence is migration/immigration. The population of Toronto continues to grow rapidly, and everybody has to live somewhere. Demand for housing from population increase, totally independent of inflation rates or anything else, will put pressure on home prices where land is restricted. By comparison, in sprawling cities like Austin, Tx (one of the fastest growing cities in the US), where it’s easy to expand, we don’t see the same price increases. This is why so many in the housing sector look with frustration at the Green Belt. (For the record, I’m in favour of preserving green spaces. I’m just noting that it’s a factor in our housing market.) So, we have to squeeze more people into a limited space, and that also causes price increases.

Lack of new rental construction has also been a problem for years in Toronto, although the condo boom and small investors renting out some of those condos has somewhat filled the need. Apartment construction in Toronto dropped in the early 90s, and has only started to pick up again in recent years. (In time, that could take some pressure of the re-sale market….) Keep that in mind when you hear another fear-mongering report about ‘investors’ in the Toronto real estate market: they’re not all ‘speculators’.

In fact, it seems that very few are. Numbers are hard to come by, but RE/MAX Hallmark Realty recently looked at our sales over the last three years (about 35,000 of them, so a much bigger sample size than some other ‘studies’ that got wide play recently). By looking for clients who did more than two transactions over that period, we found that only about 12% of our clients might be called ‘investors’. (Taking into account other explanations, like job transfers out of town and divorces, it could be even lower than that.) If close to 90% of buyers are either end-users (they are going to live in the house) or small investors with only one or two properties, then there’s no threat from so-called speculators who might quit the segment en masse and flood the market with properties, which could cause a crash.

Clearly, there are some simple explanations for why the Toronto housing market is so competitive. Still, plenty of people think that we should Do Something about it. Governments are great meddlers these days, and all three levels of government think they have to get involved in the hot Toronto real estate market – but what to do, really? The last time the city government stuck their fingers into the market they gave us the Toronto Land Transfer Tax. Years ago, that was pegged as an early cause of the supply problem in Toronto, as homeowners hunkered down and made renovations (or made do) rather than moved: why pay tens of thousands of dollars *more* in transfer taxes to City Hall? Lots of folks said ‘no thanks’, and that reduced the overall supply.

(For the record, I would rather see City Hall raise annual property taxes, based on the actual sale price plus inflation – NOT based on MPAC assessments. I think it’s fair to assume that a buyer who pays e.g. $850k for a house today has the means to pay property taxes on that house. On the other hand, charging the same tax amount to a senior who paid $30k fifty years ago for a similar house doesn’t seem fair.)

The feds have been playing around the edges of the mortgage market for several years, now. Of course, they knew from the beginning that Canada already had fairly stringent mortgage qualification rules, that our banks were relatively cautious and the mortgage market fairly safe. Also, the buyers  most affected by those rule changes are the first-timers, but I suppose it was easiest to throw that lot under the bus, eh? Honestly, I can’t see how tying the hands of young buyers impacts the million dollar market…. And, obviously, changing mortgage rules haven’t slowed things down.

Now we have talk of the provincial government getting involved. Ugh.

I believe that the bottom line is that we need more homes on the market. Without a steady supply of new listings, we are left with a logjam – almost nobody wants to sell before they buy, because buying is so difficult. What can the government to do help with supply? I’m definitely not going to suggest anything to make it cheaper for builders! They do just fine, and local governments really do need the money from development charges (to upgrade infrastructure to accommodate growth). How about better transit – dare I say a new subway line or two? That’s something that the senior governments could actually help with, and make a real difference. If the subway went farther, and to other parts of the city, the improved transit options would have the effect of adding supply, and it would encourage redevelopment in some areas (e.g. Scarborough). That would take some pressure off central neighbourhoods. Broader transit options that extend beyond Toronto’s borders would also help. TREB has been on about this for some time.

What about a foreign buyer tax? To me, that has a bit of the old “Canada for Canadians” ring to it…. On the other hand, if foreign buyers are treating our housing stock like just another investment, and in a manner that harms Canadians (inflating our market and decreasing our access to it) we have a right to address that. As much as I’m skeptical of government intrusion into markets, this one might help. (Yes, I realize that I’m at odds with TREB and OREA on this.) That would impact the demand side, and in a city growing like Toronto is one can’t say how much of an impact it would have, but if the Vancouver experience is any indication, it could make a difference – but, one that might be filed under Be Careful What You Wish For….

And what conversation is complete without blaming Millennials? Maybe if they could get out on their own, their folks would put the ol’ family homestead on the market and help increase supply! 😉

Without government intrusion, we could see a market that just ‘is what it is’. Builders would build more to meet the demand. Homeowners would sell and cash out, maybe move to a condo or the cottage, or take a work transfer to another city; such things happen all the time. Investors would build more triplexes, or divide up existing houses. Lots of things would happen naturally. What government intrusion into markets does is create uncertainty (“what the hell are they going to do next?”), and that doesn’t help at all. Governments can and should to more about infrastructure, trade and tax reform, and leave real estate markets alone.