Condos vs. houses
As I have noted recently – and as has been widely reported in the media – there are two very different markets in Toronto real estate these days: condos and houses. Houses continue to increase in value, due in large part to relatively low supply, but I believe also because they appeal to a broader demographic. Condos, on the other hand, are in great supply (with many new projects situated downtown), often appeal to a different demographic (e.g. folks who can get by in 2 bedrooms or less and don’t want a yard), and have become the ‘whipping boy’ for a whole host of critics (banks, politicians, the media, etc.). It short, it ain’t a great time to be a condo in Toronto!
For those reasons, it’s understandable that buyers have become wary of condos. However, if a condo suits your lifestyle, and if you see the investment value (building equity, capital appreciation, potential income holding down the road) you shouldn’t allow yourself to be scared away. You know (at least, you *should* know…) your financial and life situation better than anybody else, so you can make your own call. Look at this period as an opportunity.
The market is somewhat ‘sideways’ these days – not going up, but not likely to go down much, either. Perhaps at some point we’ll hear about a construction project being cancelled, all the talking heads will say “I told ya so”, and the supply will adjust – and thus shall balance return! 😉
In the meantime, buyers can shop for value. Be extremely careful about your financing, as lenders are apparently getting skittish about condos. Some are afraid of a significant correction, and that’s their prerogative, ’cause it’s mostly their money. Be sure that your lender knows you are shopping for a condo, and ask if that affects the down payment they require as a term of your pre-approval. Whatever your max mortgage load is, be sure to spend a comfortable bit below that. Look for value in the market, and try to negotiate a better price.
These opportunities don’t happen very often in Toronto – the last one was in late 2008-early 2009 – and this one is limited to condos. We figure it will last 3-6 months, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was shorter.
What if you are a seller? People sell for a million different reasons, many of them forced (e.g. job or relationship change). If you really have to sell it’s important to price properly. It really doesn’t matter what a comparable unit sold for 6 months ago. What sold last week – last month at the most? Price to the current market.
Of course, if you don’t really have to sell now is not the time to ‘test the market’. By doing so you are wasting your own time (inconveniencing yourself, or perhaps a tenant) and contributing to the current supply situation. Perhaps you could try again next year….
Whatever happens in the next few months, I am certain of this: the condo sky is not falling. I don’t know why so many people freak out whenever there’s a market correction. Every market (from condos to oil to pork bellies) goes through periodic corrections. As long as we stay within our means (which most of us do), and plan for contingencies, we’ll all be fine. After all, this isn’t exactly the Zombie Apocalypse, ya know!