February 2018 Market Review

March 13th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

Once again, there’s a lot of noise and nonsense about the Toronto real estate market. Headlines with words like “plummet” and “slump” make it seem as though the market is in bad shape. It’s not.

Firstly, we typically compare a month (e.g. February) to the same month a year earlier. That’s usually a good measure that captures relative seasonal ups and downs – an apples-to-apples comparison – and it’s a long enough time frame to give us a view of the direction of things. However, when something unusual happens, like the massive price spike we saw in the first quarter of 2017, that measure gets skewed. Last February saw prices jump up 27.7% over February 2016. That was crazy, and it was a good thing that the market came back down in the following months. As I have written previously, 2017 was quite a roller coaster, so as we go through 2018 and do our usual one-year-ago comparison, we have to keep that in mind.

So, saying that the market is in negative territory is wrong. We have to take a broader look – or, put another way, look back a little further, and see how current prices look longer-term. TREB did that in their monthly report. Compared to February 2016, when the average sale price was $685,278, we are up 12%. Not too shabby.

Now, let’s look back over the last few months. The average sale price back in November was $761,757; in December it was $735,021; in January, 2018 it was $736,783; February was $767,818. I think the numbers over the last few months reflect the typical seasonal dip that happens every year. Situation: normal.

Secondly, we also have to look at the segments. It’s certainly very interesting that sales of fully and semi-detached houses were down, as were their average sale prices. The number of sales of townhouses and condos were also down, but prices in those segments were up. As mentioned, the average price in February worked out to $767,818, compared to $876,363 last February – a drop of 12.4%. But, the average townhouse price was up 15.5% and condos were up 10.7%. It seems to me like buyers have shifted away from the highest priced housing types and ‘substituted’ for smaller, cheaper options.

Also of note, the number of new listings edged up slightly, but the overall number of listings increased significantly (147.4%). This serves as a reminder of how tight the market supply was at this time last year. Let’s look at available listings in February over the last several years:

2013 – 15,969

2014 – 14,019

2015 – 12,793

2016 – 10,902

2017 – 5,400

2018 – 13,362

This is why I’m always stressing that supply is a big problem: it declined steadily for five years, then dropped like a stone last  year, and that naturally caused a price spike. Getting the supply back up is key to a healthy market, and we are getting there.

The ‘spring market’ is warming up, too, although this week is March Break, which is usually a bit slower due to travel, etc. I check listings and sales every day, and it looks to me like sales are happening quicker than last month, and usually for over asking. That tells me that there are lots of buyers out there. They now have some more selection, and that is a good thing. Pretty soon the market will have adapted to the latest new mortgage rules, the weather will warm up, and we’ll be able to put ‘bad news’ behind us for a while. 🙂


January 2018 Market Review

February 14th, 2018 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

You may have heard that ‘sales were down’ in January, with the implication that that’s a bad thing. As anyone actively involved in the Toronto real estate market knows, the market is not ‘down’ at all. In fact, it’s crazy busy out there.

The first thing to note is that January 2017 set a record for sales activity with 5,155 sales. So, anything short of a new record would be down, right? I have said before that we don’t have to break records every month to have a great market, and this is another such example; 4,019 sales is decent. For comparison, January 2013 saw 4,375 sales – way below last year, and not much above this year. I’d say that January 2018 looks fine.

The next thing is that January is a relatively slow month, compared to May or October, so fluctuations can be exaggerated. Having 22% fewer sales sounds dramatic, but it’s only about a thousand sales – easily made up at any point throughout the rest of the year.

The good news that I see in the January 2018 stats is the big increase in supply. At the same time last year there were only 5,034 listings on the TorontoMLS. This year we had 11,894, which gave buyers more choice. Looking again at 2013, there were 14,231 active listings in January of that year, so supply could easily go up and still be below past levels. If this year’s increased supply can be maintained – and improved upon – throughout the year we could see a more moderate market, which would be a nice change….

Speaking of moderation, the average sale price dipped by about 4.1%, to $736,783. However, TREB’s weighted average was UP 5.2%, reflecting the number of sales of condos compared to houses i.e. more condos (which are cheaper than houses) sold. Moderation in the price of single family detached (the most expensive type, and the only one that saw a price decline), combined with price increases in other housing types, shows that the market has naturally adapted to high prices for detached houses. I doubt that government intervention had anything to do with that…. 😉

The condo market is nuts these days. Not only did my own condo listing get swamped (over 130 showings in a week, and 11 offers on ‘offer night’), but showing condos to other clients is a gong show. Getting appointments is sometimes tricky, and it seems there’s always at least one other agent poking around the same unit, meaning we sometimes have to wait to get in to see a place. The activity is reflected in the average sale price going up 15.1% last month, despite fewer sales. The condo market remains an attractive segment.

This week precedes a long weekend (Family Day), so we probably won’t see much action, but I expect the market to keep chugging along next week and for the rest of the spring market. If you want/need to buy or sell, feel free to get in touch. 🙂


1113-231 Fort York Blvd **SOLD!!**

February 6th, 2018 Posted by Condos, SOLD!! No Comment yet

Update: We had over 130 showings booked for this great starter condo, and generated 11 offers! The property sold ‘firm’ on offer night. The condo market is hot!


The amount of development around Fort York in recent years has been amazing. Not only have loads of great condos gone up, but the area is also benefiting from other projects. For example, there’s a new Fort York Visitor Centre, and most of us have heard about the new Bentway skating trail that runs under the Gardiner Expressway.

Number 231 Fort York Blvd (‘Atlantis Aquarius’) is right across the street from all that action. Unit 1113 is a well laid-out one bedroom unit with a cute little balcony and a great view. (As the western-most building of the project, it has an unobstructed west-facing view of the city, the waterfront and the lake off in the distance.) Features include laminate wood flooring in the living/dining room, stainless steel appliances and a breakfast bar – great for casual eating or entertaining. The unit comes with an owned parking spot, and extra rental parking spots are sometimes available, too.

The building has some great amenities, including a games room, mulit-purpose room, and the Oasis Club – the fitness room, salt water pool, large Jacuzzi, etc. It all makes for comfortable living. And if you want to get out for a run or a bike ride, Coronation Park and the waterfront trail are right across the street.

It’s a short walk to the streetcar (board at Fleet Street, just down at the corner with Fort York Blvd), or the bus; they’ll take you to Union Station or Bathurst Station – and points in between. Or, pop down to the Lake Shore to hit the Gardiner. There are lots of transportation options from here!

This great little spot is perfect for the first time buyer(s) or small investor. Judging by the showing action so far, it’s a hot commodity! If you are interested, or know somebody who might be, don’t hesitate to call me.



December 2017/Year End Market Review

January 9th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

The Toronto real estate market survived a roller-coaster-like year in 2017. The first quarter (Q1) saw wicked price increases, followed by a hard rebound in prices in Q2, which in turn was followed by a period of relative calm in Q3, then a surge in sales activity in Q4. When the dust settled, the December year-over-year average sale price was up just about 0.7%, but the average price for the year 2017 ended up 12.7% higher than 2016, at $822,681.

Most of that annual gain happened in Q1. That’s when super-tight supply squeezed buyers into making very aggressive bids. Then, the Ontario government gave the market a kick in the teeth with their ‘Fair’ Housing Plan (an Orwellian use of language, as seems to be the style these days…), which scared buyers to the sidelines with speculative talk about ‘foreign buyers’ – the Boogie Man in the Liberals’ pitch. As the TREB report says: “Research from TREB, the provincial government and Statistics Canada showed that foreign home buying was not a major driver of sales in the GTA.” Still, they needed a reason to Do Something, and foreign buyers fit the bill. When buyers retreated, prices plopped back down to where they started the year, and we were into a bit more of a balanced market.

That balance started to shift back towards the sellers’ favour in December. I think that the year-end surge was fuelled by two things: 1) buyers realised that foreign buyers were not behind the steady rise in GTA prices, and the new tax wouldn’t really change anything long-term (after a period of adjustment); and 2) more government intervention, this time in the form of new federal ‘stress test’ rules for buyers in 2018, meant that many folks wanted to get their purchase locked in before those new rules kicked in.

Basically, the wild volatility throughout the year was largely due to government intervention in the market. As mentioned, we’ll see more of that this year, but hopefully less, and with less of a destabilising effect.

TREB also noted that in the second half of 2017, the buyer market shifted away from the most expensive housing type – fully detached homes – to semis, towns and condos. Clearly, the market has the capacity to offer buyers options, which naturally mitigates the need for government intervention, but whaddya do…? Sales activity in the detached segment was down 13.4%, and the average sale price was down 2.1%, to $1,250,235. At the other end of the spectrum, while condo sales volume in the 416 dipped 8.8% in December, the average price was up 14.1%, to $532,700.

So, what does 2018 have in store for us? Life goes on, in spite of policy changes, and lots of folks plan to move for various reasons, so I figure there will be lots of sales this year. The 2017 end-of-year available listing volume sat at 12,926, way up from just 4,746 at the end of 2016. If that can be maintained we might be able to settle in to a ‘liquid’ marketplace that offers buyers choice. There’s no structural shortage of buyers – they just get shooed away by governments from time to time – so more supply will allow more buyers to succeed. With some luck, price appreciation will be lower, which is more sustainable long-term.

What are your plans this year? Feel free to get in touch with me to talk about that! 😉

377 Sammon Ave – detached with private drive ** SOLD**

November 2nd, 2017 Posted by SOLD!! No Comment yet

It took a while, but patience is a virtue and this beauty is now sold! 🙂 Read on for my original thoughts on it.

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 local TDSB elementary school is RH McGregor, which features French immersion – another huge benefit at this great location.

Inside, the super spacious main floor is bright and open, with a neat den/office at the back of the house. It has a brand new, custom built (i.e. with custom cabinetry) kitchen with all new appliances. Note that the home also features two wall mounted heat exchangers. They’re not just air conditioning: on coolish days the unit will actually add heat to the house! Very cool.

The basement is also completely re-done: new concrete pad; water-proofing; a completely new bathroom; two new rooms (e.g. flex and/or rec); pot lights and cork floors. The back door leads to the basement (i.e. there’s a separate entrance), and the laundry room is right at the bottom of the stairs.

Upstairs, the master bedroom is large and has his-and-hers closets. (His has built-ins, hers is a small walk-in.) The second bedroom is plenty big enough, too. The comfortably-sized main bath was renovated by the previous owners; it’s quite nice. Basically, this house is move-in ready (for real!).

In addition to proximity to the hospital and RH McGregor, 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 (playing field, hockey rink and skating pad) 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.

View loads more pics here.


Big news from RE/MAX Hallmark Realty

October 30th, 2017 Posted by In the media No Comment yet

RE/MAX Hallmark was already the biggest (and best!) RE/MAX franchise in the GTA, and today it’s even bigger (and better)! Ken McLachlan, Broker of Record/Owner, just announced the addition of RE/MAX First Real Estate into the RE/MAX Hallmark family, effective immediately.

RE/MAX First has over 130 realtors in four offices across Durham region, in Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Brooklin. In the company’s 25 year history, under the leadership of Broker/Owners Ron Gordon and Brian O’Donoghue, RE/MAX First grew to become a dominant leader in the Durham region. This new chapter not only positions them for more growth, but also equips RE/MAX Hallmark REALTORS to seamlessly represent our clients in the Durham region, and makes us the market leader east of Toronto.

Basically, this gives me four new offices that I can use, all the administrative support we need, and opens up a huge new network of REALTOR colleagues who will make buying and selling easier for my clients. So, if you need a REALTOR in Durham, be sure to give me a call!


The Silver Lining to B-20 – Guest Post by Capital Home Lending

October 27th, 2017 Posted by Guest Post No Comment yet

This week OSFI released the latest update to the Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures (commonly referred to as B-20). Here is a LINK to the statement OSFI made in their press release letter. Should you wish to view the entire document from OSFI, it can be found HERE.

Quite a lot has been said about these changes over the past several weeks, and even more in the past few days. It is expected that purchasers affected by the rule change will see their maximum buying power slashed by upwards of 18%. Let’s keep in mind that this is a reflection of the maximum… buyers shouldn’t be aiming for the absolute most they qualify for to begin with and the good news is that most don’t!

Now that the Feds have added an extra measure to try to cool the markets that concern them the most (GTA & GVR), paired with what the Municipal and Provincial initiatives are aiming for, it is widely thought that the cost of borrowing is expected to remain low for the foreseeable future. We can now see that regulatory changes are to be the new lever, not excessive rate hikes.

Lastly, we want to reiterate that these rules apply only to the federally regulated lenders (see HERE). You can see that Credit Unions are conspicuously absent from this list. At present they have not given any indication that they plan to follow these rules of their own volition. The bottom line is that there are a number of options still available for borrowers. Make sure you have a qualified mortgage professional in your corner to help you to make your dreams come true!



* Contact me if you’d like to speak to a Capital Home Lending mortgage professional.

Market Review September 2017

October 13th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Market Review No Comment yet

The most obvious aspect of the September market was the drop in sales volume. Transactions were down 35.1%, from 9,830 last year to just 6,379 this year. At the same time, the number of active listings surged from 11,255 to 19,021, an increase of 69%. This is, broadly speaking, good for the market. For perspective, there were 21,571 active listings in September ’07, and that was down from 26,363 the previous year; the current number is below historic levels. However, it does make for some stark-looking numbers. Still, the average price did manage to eek up 2.6% year-over-year. That means that, despite the wild roller coaster ride that the market experienced in the first half of the year, we are still in positive territory over-all.

The average sale price for the month was $775,546, well down from the fever-pitched levels that we saw in the first quarter of 2017. I don’t usually track same-year stats, but with the way things have gone in 2017, I think it’s warranted. Average price hit a peak of $920,791 in April, and had trended downwards every month since then, quickly giving up the rapid gains seen in the first few months. The August average was $732,292, so September at least showed its usual strength relative to the summer months.

When discussing the condo market, I always make a point of focusing on sales in the 416 area code (separate from sales in the 905). This month, it’s interesting to note the difference in prices for detached homes in the 416. Last month, the average sale price in Toronto was $1,355,234, up significantly from the $1,191,052 average we saw in August. That indicates a strong market, despite the news. In the 905, the August average was $906,592 and rose just slightly to $912,921 in September. Clearly, the decline in the overall average sale price isn’t because of lower prices for detached homes. As TREB noted in its report, “the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark was up by 12.2 per cent on a year-over-year basis”, which indicates that the ‘decline’ in prices is more due to the mix of home types sold, which is a healthy reaction by the marketplace.

The condo segment was also interesting. Sales in the 416 volume was down 23.2%, but the average sale price was up 24%, to $554,069. Condos seem to have been acting as a ‘relief valve’ for people finding themselves priced out of low-rise dwellings, and the price gap is narrowing in reaction to that….

So, what does it all mean? Who knows! The real estate market has been under constant pressure from the government for a few years now (several rounds of tightened mortgage rules, with more to come; new taxes; enhanced rent controls, etc.) so it’s hard to tease out what’s actually going on. The ‘fundamentals’ are still in favour of a strong, growing market: decent economy, some job creation, historically low interest rates and a growing population. But, with so much meddling by governments, and the natural confusion that causes, the behaviour of the market is not a reflection of fundamentals. It’s probably safe to say that the fundamentals will eventually show through – meaning a resumption of solid price increases – but we may have to wait for the meddling to recede before we see that…. In the meantime, the market is surviving!  😉




OTM: 147 Maclean Ave – Gorgeous Beach Property

September 29th, 2017 Posted by OTM (Off The Market) No Comment yet

Oasis in the City – Recently featured in the Toronto Star, 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 no longer listed for sale on the TorontoMLS. **

26 Irvington Cres in Willowdale – ** SOLD!! **

September 19th, 2017 Posted by SOLD!! No Comment yet

This is a great house in a fantastic area. Willowdale has long been known for its comfortable homes on large lots. In recent years, the area has also become known for rapid growth. The nearby Bayview Subway station has been open for about 15 years, and major public transit infrastructure usually spurs economic growth and housing activity, and that’s what’s been happening.
Irvington Cres is tucked away in a little pocket of just four quiet streets accessible (by vehicle) only via Calvin Ave, southbound off Sheppard Ave E. So, with no ‘through traffic’, the area is rather idyllic, considering that the Bayview/Sheppard intersection is actually quite close by. Kids can play ball hockey, and pedestrians usually have the road to themselves. Plus, there’s foot/bike access to Bayview Ave at the east end of the street, which is super convenient for the locals.
The house itself is fairly original, and will benefit from some updating. It got a new roof in 2007 (and the garage roof in 2009), and a new sliding glass door to the back patio just this year. The back addition family room was done in the late 1980s, and features a wood stove for extra warmth in the winter. There’s loads of wood out back, too, from a couple of old elms that were taken down a couple of years ago.

The layout of the house seems to really encourage air flow; open up the windows on a warm day and a great breeze gets going, right through the house. The long kitchen is bright and roomy, with a nice little eating area right by the back door. There are two bedrooms upstairs, and a full bathroom, while the main floor includes a bedroom/office and a powder room. The basement is partly finished, with an extra bedroom, laundry room and a three piece bathroom. The cold room needs some work, but will be a great place for preserves (and wine!) when that’s done.

The back yard is huge. There’s room for a back patio, the detached garage, piles of wood, a trampoline, and a play structure – and there’s still lots of space! The owners have lived in the house since 2003 and have never used pesticides or herbicides on the lawn, which is great for children and pets.

The Neighbourhood

From Irvington Cres, one can walk to Bayview subway station in 6 minutes, and walk to Bayview Village Mall (Loblaws, Pusateri’s, LCBO, Chapters, Mastermind Toys, and lots more) in about 10 minutes. The Sheppard Centre (Yonge and Sheppard) is getting a Longos and LA Fitness in 2018. Other amenities include a nearby YMCA, places of worship, a ZipCar location and… IKEA!!

Also, there’s a farmers’ market every Tuesday and Friday from May-October just across Sheppard in the People’s Church parking lot. And, there are several parks nearby, including a few within a 10-minute walk: Sheppard East Park, for smaller children, renovated in 2017; Greenfield – Longmore Lands, which is relatively new; and Glendora Park, which has a splash pad and tennis courts. The bike trails of the Don Valley are also easily accessible.

The street is in the catchment areas for Hollywood Public School, Bayview Middle School , and Earl Haig High School. Readers should note that the TDSB cannot guarantee that all local kids will get in to their designated ‘home’ school, due to rapid population growth around some schools. It would be wise to check with the Board before making any decisions!

All the usual chattles are included: fridge, gas stove, Bosch dishwasher; gas dryer, front-loading washer; a gas BBQ and a play structure in the backyard. But, the underlying value is in the lot: 52ft by 150ft. A buyer could renovate the house, or do like so many of the neighbours have done, and start from scratch.

**UPDATE** After a week of marketing, including a busy weekend open house, we received a number of offers on this house on ‘offer night’. The house is now sold to some very happy buyers!