Toronto Real Estate Predictions for 2014, Part 1: The Canadian Market Overall

178 Roxborough Street East, currently listed by Harvey Kalles Real Estate agent Dragana Grgic.

What’s ahead for the Canadian real estate market this year? In general, the Canadian Real Estate Association predicts a strong year ahead, with balance coming to markets outside Toronto. Scotiabank chief economist Warren Jestin suggests that the Canadian market is likely to “simmer” – it won’t reach any new heights, but it will stay steady, and there won’t be any sign of a crash. Both of these forecasts rely in upward trends in the general economy at large. In Ontario, Hamilton is leading the rise in prices, with prices increasing there faster than anywhere else.

And what about that oft-predicted “correction”? Royal LePage claims that there have already been several “mini-corrections” across Canadian markets, and we’re unlikely to see anything more significant until the price of money rises, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, the solid 2014 that CREA predicts is driven in part by the supply/demand imbalance in major urban markets like Toronto’s and Vancouver’s. “Housing price gains are always stronger in places where supply is tight relative to demand, such as we’re seeing in Calgary and in parts of southern Ontario including the low rise market in Toronto,” said Gregory Klump, the chief economist at CREA.

One of the drivers of Toronto real estate market is foreign investment; investors from abroad are buying a fair bit of Canada’s luxury real estate. This is part of a global trend in luxury real estate, with buyers from China, Iran, and elsewhere buying up homes in London, New York, and Toronto. In London in particular, home prices have soared in the past few years since the 2008 crash as foreign investors have bought up much of the Square Mile.

While Canadian buyers are used to Canadian interest rates and are situated to this particular context and all the expectations that come with it, foreign buyers have seen higher prices and shakier economies and are more experienced in weathering real estate storms. If they are immigrating, they may also have access to capital and savings as part of the application process. These funds can help make putting together a down payment much easier.

Stay tuned for Part 2, in which we’ll discuss Toronto-specific market trends for 2014!

Categories: Blog

Toronto’s Condo Comeback, Just In Time For The Holidays!

Churchill Park Condominiums in Forest Hill, represented exclusively by Harvey Kalles Real Estate.

It’s the end of the year, which means we’re looking at real estate trends to watch for in 2014, and the media is wondering yet again if we’re on the brink of a bubble. (The “bubble” talk has been going on for years now, with no real estate bubble in sight.) But among the hope, anxiety, and rumour, some things have become quite clear.

For instance: condos are rallying. The Toronto Real Estate Board reports that condos have seen a 5.4% year-over-year price increase. Meanwhile, a report from the Canadian Housing Observer  suggests that under 25% of condos in Toronto are owned by owner-investors who rent the units out, though others debate that number: it doesn’t include free listings on services like Craigslist, or units that are sitting empty. The Toronto Star suggests that as many as 40% of Toronto’s condos might be owned by investors.

So who are these investors? Although some are international buyers looking for a safe place to put money, more and more condo investors in Toronto are young single women, a demographic traditionally neglected by developers and brokers alike. Condos are proving increasingly attractive to these buyers: greater security, luxury amenities, prime locations, and the opportunity to build equity are what a new generation of professional Millennial women want.

These women are only part of a larger trend of urban Canadians living alone, a trend that has bolstered the market for smaller properties. This comes at a time when the Toronto rental market is stranger than it’s ever been, with rents increasing to the point where renters are considering buying.

What remains to be seen is how many families will buy into the condo market. Condos are shrinking in size, but the prices aren’t. What would those amenities look like if layouts took on an extra 100 square feet, and made room for playground space in the courtyard and daycare in the basement?

Categories: Blog

Winter Curb Appeal: Selling Your Home During The Snowy Season

Now is the winter of your discontent — you’re trying to manage the holiday season and trying to sell your home. How can you expedite the process while still keeping a hold of your sanity?

Keep in mind that in the winter, it’s tough to pry hibernating buyers out of their cozy little nests. It’s hard to get casual open-house viewers at this time of year, because they might be going outside less. That’s why you have to boost your curb appeal and attract the attention of the ones who do decide to show up. What can you do?

First, has some good tips, including the first and most important one: make sure your walkway is salted and safe for visitors. This is important for you and your family, too, but more people coming by means more opportunities for injury. Buy your salt now. Keep it ready. Use it early and often. And replace any railings that might be wobbly or too slippery for regular use.

Second, this is a great tip from Homesessive: painting your door with a bolder colour. Black always looks good against brick houses, but this might be the year for a beautiful garnet or indigo. Make sure you pair it with a tasteful wreath, for maximum appeal.

Third, consider adding some plants. As Realtor Magazine points out, there are plenty of winter plants that still look vibrant and interesting when all the other colours have faded. Evergreens, fountain grasses, and decorative purple kale will all work. You can even add these to charming planters and cluster them around doorways and steps.

Fourth, add new lighting. Keep it elegant: if you must do Christmas lights, use soft white ones. Also, consider adding new lighting elements above garages and doorways. Because the sun is setting so much later at this time of year, more buyers will be seeing your home after dark. You want them to be able to see more of it, so they’ll be enticed to come back at a later time.

Fifth: if you have kids, consider how their winter break fits in with your home-staging and open house routine. If they’re at home, you might want to move your open house dates to weekends when all of you can be out together.

It’s a lot of work, but having a new home in the new year will make it all worth it. Good luck, and happy holidays!

Categories: Blog

Luxury Homes and the Toronto – and Global – Real Estate Markets

56 Cluny Drive, listed by Harvey Kalles Real Estate agent Elise Kalles.

What is the role of luxury homes in the real estate market? That can be tough to determine. In Canada, we know that luxury home sales are expected to climb, in part because changes to the Canadian mortgage rules have less impact on wealthier buyers. It’s understandable: buyers who need to save for a down payment often do so by achieving a delicate financial balance, and buyers who have ready cash are better insulated against the shifts in the market. What that means is that while the luxury market is only a small piece of the total Toronto real estate market, it can often be steadier.

With that said, there are still changes to the global luxury real estate market, many of which are coming – or have already come – to Toronto. In New York, foreign investment is taking up a growing portion of luxury real estate, with visitors from China and the Middle East taking up part-time residence in America. What’s more is that these clients are demanding extra special treatment from their agents, almost akin to something like personal management. In this way, the entire suite of services that a broker or agent provides is changing, and brokers are becoming more like consultants. That’s because brokers have to provide more to a smaller segment of customers in order to remain competitive.

A quick glance at the luxury homes available in Ontario shows exactly why these homes remain in high demand despite the ups and downs of the economy in general. Luxury farmhouse estates, downtown mansions, and new modernist wonders are always hot. And that’s because they take advantage of the existing landscape to provide the best attractions to potential buyers, just as Manhattan penthouses do in New York or Spanish revivals do in the Hollywood hills. Connecting buyers to homes means keeping an eye out for how each home functions as an experience in context. Is it an escape into the wild? Is it neck-deep in city life? As with all real estate, the most important thing to know is what your buyer wants most out of the property.

Categories: Blog