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The Realty Blog is a platform to describe the Toronto real estate market through my eyes, with my witty opinions, perceptions and descriptions of my day-to-day interactions with buyers, sellers, agents, and the entire cast of characters I come across in this thriving industry.
I’m channelling my inner-Seinfeld with that quote, but seriously folks – I was just shocked by some of the people I met two weeks ago when I had a hot listing for sale, and I couldn’t believe how they approached both the price of the property, as well as the process surrounding the sale.
I’m constantly amazed at how a person can be so intelligent, yet have so little common sense. And during the course of this listing, “those” people were lined up in droves.
You either “get it,” or you don’t. And try explaining to somebody who doesn’t “get it,” and you’re wasting your time…
Remember the good old days of including a photo of your family, and a hand-written note with your offer?
Those days are almost gone, right?
Once upon a time, when prices were lower, and when the spread between the lowest and highest offers was smaller, those personal touches did have an effect.
I remember submitting an offer for a family member back in 2006, with a cute photo, and a note. And although we weren’t the highest offer, we were in the top two – out of twelve. And we were given a chance to improve our offer, and we won.
I’ll be the first person to suggest that no seller out there (save for the one that spawned a much-shared newspaper article a few years back) is going to take substantially less money for his or her home, because the buyers are nice.
But it certainly doesn’t hurt, and in some very unique cases, the home-owners might want to sell to you, and give you a second chance, or give your agent a push.
Whether those days have passed, or not, I don’t think a buyer should take the opposite approach, and go out of their way to be rude to everybody involved in the process.
The following story might be lost on some of you, but I see things through a different set of eyes: those of an agent. I’m constantly amazed by buyers who are completely out of touch with market reality, whether it’s the price of real estate in 2018, or the process, and who fail to accept current market conditions for what they are.
Two weeks ago, I had a listing in North Toronto where the sellers were 90-years-old, and had been in the home for almost a half-century.
The sellers were going to be home for every showing, which ordinarily, as you know from reading this blog, I would never suggest, or allow. But as we had expected 30+ showings in a week, and with the age of the sellers, it just wasn’t feasible for them to leave the property for an hour, several times per day, and we didn’t want to restrict showings by asking for 4-hour’s notice.
In the end, the sellers being home became an asset, as “Gramma,” as we’ll call her in this story, bonded with just about every single set of buyers that came through the door.
I’ll be honest – the interest level was far higher than expected, and although I figured builders could be all over this property due to the age, most of the buyers looked at the home as a classic gem, and planned to do a modest renovation, or even move right in after some minor repairs.
This house was charming, historical, and full of character. I know that real estate agents say that about just about every property in Toronto, but you’ll have to take my word for it here. And as a result, almost every buyer through was looking for the history and character that a house like this could provide, and they loved meeting the owners, and exchanging stories.
For the owners, who had been here for 49 years, this was like a Broadway play being acted out in front of them all day, every day.
They loved it.
Perhaps it’s cliche to say “old people love to chat,” but in this case, it’s an understatement.
“Gramma” got the down-low on every person that came through, and for the most part, it was a two-way street.
I think the word was out pretty quickly that there would be action on this home.
I’ll spare you the surprise – we had nine offers, and we would have had more, but one rescinded right before offer presentation, and several others just didn’t want to get involved.
Suffice it to say, I think most buyers through the house figured, with the sellers present, they should try to make that personal connection that might help them on offer night. As a result, every time I came by the house to do a showing, or check up on the property, I found the sellers engaged in the middle of a story-exchange with the buyers.
Wow, did they talk. Talk, talk, talk, all week long.
But these buyers were savvy! They knew it was a small city, and you’re bound to know some of the same people.
One set of buyers came back with their parents, and their grandparents! And the grandparents lived in the same condo that the sellers would be moving to.
Another set of buyers had a connection to the same vacation complex that the sellers frequented.
Another set of buyers knew the sellers’ friends from bridge.
Over and over, buyers paraded through, and spent an equal amount of time looking at the house, as they did chatting up the sellers.
I showed up one night and saw “Gramma” holding both hands of one young buyer, facing eachother, in a heartfelt moment.
Just about every buyer through, “got it,” and knew how to play the game.
Just about, as the story goes…
I received a cold call on the property, and I had arranged to meet the buyers there at 7:00pm one night.
The house was a revolving door of action, all week. 7pm most nights, there were 3-4 groups through.
So by 7:25pm, when I sent a text message to the cold-caller to ask where he was, he responded, “In the basement.”
Unbeknownst to me, this young couple had waltzed through the front door, didn’t look for “the agent,” being me, and took it upon themselves to walk through at their convenience.
Upon meeting them, and introducing myself, I was asked, “So what can you tell me?” by the 40’ish young gentleman, with his wife in tow.
I gave him the rundown of the home, the pros and cons, and each time I finished a sentence, he responded by essentially putting words in my mouth.
“The house was built in 1936,” I said, to which he replied, “So it clearly isn’t in good shape, right? That’s going to affect the price?”
“There’s a beautiful ravine lot in the back,” I said, to which he replied, “So a lot of buyers looking to put in a pool won’t like it, you mean?”
Over, and over, and over. I know this “type,” and hey – whatever floats your boat. But in this market, and for this property, the attitude made no sense to me whatsoever.
He constantly disagreed with me at every turn, and feigned a real estate expertice that just wasn’t there.
Things went a bit off the rails when I told him that we’d be reviewing offers the following Tuesday.
“Offer date?” he said, with a deliberate throw-back of his head. “You have an offer date? Why? This house isn’t worth even close to the asking price.”
I’ve mentioned on occasion that I don’t blow up, I don’t take bait, I don’t fight back, and I always take the high road. I wasn’t going to argue with him, but I did engage him.
“Well,” I began, “We’ve had over 40 showings so far, I’ve had agents ask about bully offers, and if I had to guess, I’d say we’ll get our asking price, who knows – maybe more.”
“But an offer date?” he said. “Nobody is doing offer dates anymore. That time has passed.”
“Actually, just about every freehold house in Toronto has an offer date,” I told him. “The market is alive and well again.”
“No, it’s not,” he said, so matter-of-factly that your average Joe would be convinced.
Not wanting to belabour the point, I simply said, “Well, I’ll know if I’m wrong, next Tuesday.”
He shrugged, and walked away, and continued to point out issues with the home.
As I said, I know the type. He figures he can create this scenario whereby what he wants, and what he believes, could come true.
Meanwhile, there was a young lady in the kitchen with “Gramma,” laughing and sharing photos of her children. Gramma was one minute from going upstairs to get a photo album…
I walked to the front door with Mr. 40-something and his wife as we finished our tour, and he asked about offer night. He then added, “We don’t have an agent,” to which I said, “I know, I had asked your wife that when we spoke two days ago,” and amazingly he said, “Well…..heh….I mean, we would get one. We know a couple of guys that will do the offer for us and just refund their commission.”
Now the reason I ask cold callers, “Are you working with an agent?” isn’t because I’m trying to pick them up as buyers, and the issue has nothing to do with commission – at least not for me. It’s about clear and identifiable representation, and I’m not going to show somebody else’s client a home, because it puts me in a position I don’t want to be in. It’s a clear conflict of interest.
In any event, I told Mr. 40’ish, “Your wife had told me last week that you didn’t have an agent, that’s why I’m showing you the home. I have to ask, why didn’t you get your agent to show you the home?”
He replied, with an aggressive undertone, “Well, I obviously didn’t waste his time.”
And here’s where I really fail to this guy’s “strategy.” He’s snuck into the house, he’s already gone through the house and criticized it, he’s made no effort to speak to the sellers, and now he’s effectively telling the listing agent, “I want to waste your time.”
I wasn’t hurt, and I wasn’t fussed about the wasted time. I would have lived in that listing if I had to, but I just couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t see the error of his ways.
He went on to explain, “I’m a lawyer, you see, and if I make an offer, I’m going to put some pretty complex language in my offer regarding commission, so I don’t want you to be caught off guard.”
So now he was telling me I’m a moron as well.
I could have told you this guy was a lawyer from the moment I met him, and I’m not knocking lawyers – my father just retired after a 40-year career as a criminal lawyer. My uncle is a lawyer. My aunt is a Supreme Court justice. But I knew this guy was a lawyer, and perhaps it explained why he was trying to create his own narrative.
That following weekend, an agent called me from a brokerage I had never heard of, and said he would have an offer on Tuesday for the property. He said, “My buyer wants to be in the presentation room though, is that okay with you?”
It was an odd request. Sometimes buyers will accompany their agent to the brokerage, but to be in the presentation? I’ve never see that.
I asked the agent simply, “To what end?” and he replied, “He wants to explain his offer, maybe chat with the sellers a little bit.” Right. I read that as, “He want’s to present his own offer.”
My spidey-sense was tingling, and I thought of Mr. 40’ish, so I asked the agent, “Is your client’s name John Smith?”
Of course it was!
This young lawyer, who’s occupation is to make arguments, wanted to come into the presentation room with the sellers, and berate them with reasons why his offer was the best, why they should sell to him, and probably why they should take less money too.
In any event, offer day came, and we had nine offers. We were shocked by the response, as we really didn’t intend to under-price the home, but as is the problem with all of the city right now – there’s just nothing on the market.
The first agent came in to present his offer, and he had with him a letter written by the buyers, complete with a family photo.
I handed it to “Gramma” to read, and she immediately started to cry.
So then I started to read the letter, and as she gently sobbed away, and as “Grampa’s” lip began to quiver, I got emotional as well.
I eventually handed the letter to their grandson to read, which he did. By the end of it, “Gramma” was wiping away tears.
She remembered the buyers from both of their visits to the house. I recall she looked up at the lady at one point and said, “How come you’re so tall……..and I’m so damn short?” while sitting at the kitchen table, knitting away, with people pouring through her home.
They had a good laugh, she explained, “You know…..I used to be a lot taller,” as any old-lady would, and she got to see the whole family on the second viewing when the kids were running rampant through the home.
Their offer was certainly in the mix, but it helped that the sellers liked them.
We went through a few more offers, and eventually in walked an agent I had never heard of, from a company I had never heard of, in an Ontario suburb.
He had a letter of his own, but this one would be very, very different.
The offer, and the letter, was from Mr. 40’ish. And it began with something to the extent of:
“I would have liked to be sitting with you in person right now to present our offer, but unfortunately, your agent advised us this wasn’t possible, so we will have to rely on our agent to present our offer instead.”
As I’m the one reading this, and his letter is already taking a swipe at me, again, I couldn’t understand what he was thinking.
The letter went on to talk a whole lot about the buyers themselves, and less about the sellers and their home.
Then came the clincher:
“Rather get enter into a prolonged negotiation with you, we’ve instructed our agent to make an unconditional offer at your full list price.”
Do you see the problem here?
We had nine offers.
The property sold for a quarter-million over asking.
And his offer was the lowest of the nine offers.
Now at this point, I may have already lost some of you.
Some of you might think this was just a guy, trying to do what was best for his family, or that he didn’t “need” to “over-bid” for the property.
But I don’t see it that way. I see things in black and white, and I live in the reality of our Toronto market.
This young man decided that he was smarter than everybody else, and that he was going to talk his way through the process, and win. That’s his legal background working its way into his personal life, and the competitive world of Toronto real estate.
But honestly, folks, he made a mistake at every possible juncture.
He called the listing agent and said he didn’t have an agent, when he did.
He walked into the house when the front door was open, rather than calling the agent, or ringing the doorbell, and saw nothing wrong with doing so.
He made no effort to connect with the sellers, let alone, say hello to them.
He belittled the house.
He insulted the listing agent, on multiple occasions.
He “hired” a bum agent who was completely unprepared and unqualified to present his offer, because he thought he could save money.
He asked to present his offer in person, which is something I have never seen done before.
He wrote a “me, me, me” letter to the sellers, in which he threw the listing agent under the bus for not allowing him direct access to the sellers.
He offered the list price, and tried to use some sort of reverse psychology in saying “I don’t want to negotiate, so here’s your list price,” to try to sway them.
He did everything wrong, at every possible opportunity.
And in the end, the nice “tall lady” got the house. Her family had the highest offer once the process was completed, and the sellers saved their personal note, along with two others that were just beautiful.
Mr. 40’ish’s letter went in the recycling.
I’m not faulting Mr. 40’ish for not wanting to bid higher; that’s not what this is about. I’ve re-read this post twice now, trying to see it from the perspective of your typical Toronto buyer, to see how the view might differ from that of an agent, and the one thing perhaps you might see, that I didn’t, is that I’m somehow blaming a buyer for not having a crystal ball, or not wanting to spend past their budget.
But this wasn’t about the sale price.
This was about the buyer, who just didn’t “get it.”
From start to finish, there was no common sense. And while I don’t want to turn this into an advertisement for hiring buyer-agents, certainly if this guy had a buyer agent who had two wits about him, the agent would have told him to be a little more courteous, and perhaps that the list price up against eight competing offers, wasn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
There are a lot of buyers in this market who just don’t “get it.”
Buyers who want to create their own narrative, and who hope, pray, wish, and dream about and for market conditions that don’t at all reflect reality.
We can all dream, but most of us snap out of it, and get back to our lives.
Many buyers don’t. And they’re left in the false reality they’ve created, forever.
I have other stories from this listing, and from the last couple of weeks, that underscore this idea of “getting it,” or failing to live in market reality. Perhaps I’ll come back to it on Thursday…
After Monday’s blog, where I think a lot of people were shocked to see the Calgary Home Price Index (HPI) price is only up 4% in the last ten years, I figured perhaps it would be educational to look at a few other selected Canadian cities, and compare their appreciation rates against the Canadian average.
Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Guelph, Ottawa, Moncton, Regina, Saskatoon, and Victoria will be our focus today, and I’ll provide you with the HPI prices for each month over the last decade…
Folks, let’s have some fun.
I know many of you are already rolling your eyes, but I promise – this will be fun, if you have the time, and the desire.
There are ten cities on our list:
Here’s the fun part: put these in order of appreciation over the last decade.
Before you start scrolling through this post, write down the ten cities, and put them in order.
Then grade yourself afterwards, and see how you did.
If I had the time, and the know-how, I’d develop a cool app on here that allows you to do it automatically, and then records your score, and shows you how you fared against others.
But yeah, the whole time thing. And know-how…
I’m hoping at least a few of you will take me up on the challenge, and record your results below.
For the record, I got #1 and #2, and that was it.
I’m going to show you a chart of the monthly HPI Benchmark Index, for ten years, starting in November of 2007 and running to November of 2017. In Monday’s blog, I the month of November because I was comparing real estate values to the stock market, which had taken a huge hit in 2018. So to keep consistent with that theme, and because December is a poor representation of the real estate market, and January’s numbers are not yet complete, we’ll look back one decade from this past November.
And we’ll use a red line over the chart to indicate the Canada-wide HPI.
For those who don’t know what HPI is, you can read about it HERE.
4% in ten years. Wow.
I was so shocked at this number when I presented you with it in Monday’s blog, that it became the impetus for today’s blog.
Many people point to Calgary and Edmonton as two of the most industry-dependant cities in the country, and I can’t argue. If the oil isn’t flowing, then the jobs aren’t to be found. And that’s a bad recipe for real estate prices.
The Calgary HPI dropped by 15.1% from November of 2007 to April of 2009, which was the decade’s low-point.
The high-point of $455,200 was reached in January of 2015 – an increase of 9.7% from our November 2007 start-date, but as you can see from the chart, prices have dropped – to a current (November 2017) price of $430,700, hence the modest 4%, decade-long gain.
I’ve been to 32 of the 50 United States, but I’ve never been to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, or anything outside Quebec.
So I don’t even know how to evaluate the price of real estate in Saskatoon.
As you can see from the chart, there was a huge spike in 2008, when the HPI rose 19.5% inside of 6 months. Ironically, after that spike, Saskatoon became the least volatile of all the cities we’re profiling.
Incredibly, the HPI remained between $300,000 and $320,000 for 64 straight months, from June of 2012 to September of 2017.
The peak HPI was of $319,600, reached twice – July of 2014, and May of 2015, representing a 22% increase from the start of our timeline.
Moncton is probably the most boring of our ten graphs, because it really doesn’t do anything interesting.
Saskatoon was flat for a while, but at least it had a spike!
The peak of Moncton’s HPI was reached in August of 2017, but at $175,600, compared to $175,000 in November, it’s basically at its peak, for all intents and purposes.
This is one of the most slow, gradual inclines you’ll see in the country.
Here begins the start of four cities that have virtually the same increase over the last ten years, although they all got there in very different ways.
Who would have thought, in November of 2007, with an HPI of $437,300 over six years later, in March of 2015, that number would actually be lower.
Yes, it dropped to $436,100. 6 1/2 years later, and prices were down.
Of course, since March of 2015, prices are up 42.6%. Not bad for less than 3 years!
It’s also worth noting that the Victoria HPI started 2007 well above the Canada-wide HPI; $437,300 compared to $354,300, but dropped lower for over four years, before finally climbing back up in July of 2017.
Montreal represents another pretty boring chart.
Nothing really doing here, folks!
Anecdotally, I had heard the Montreal market had dropped significantly through a friend that lived in the downtown core, circa 2008. But perhaps it’s charts like these that show us how stories can differ from stats. Oh, yes, we’re quite familiar with that concept here in Toronto…
Montreal, along with three other cities out of our ten, currently sits at its HPI high, at $330,500, up 42% since November of 2007 as the chart shows.
This chart reminds me a lot of Saskatoon, no?
Saskatoon saw a 19.5% spike inside of 6 months.
Regina saw a whopping 33.9% spike in the same time period.
What was going on in Saskatchewan back then, folks? I honestly can’t remember, but I do remember the story itself.
The peak HPI came in June of 2016 at $299,900, a 50% increase from the start of our time period, as prices have declined modestly since then to an HPI of $284,100.
Ottawa is yet another city with an extremely long period of flat growth.
For a period of 49 months, April 2012 to March 2016, the HPI stayed between $325,000 – $340,000.
That’s a 4.4% band, inside of over four years.
Like Montreal, Victoria, and as you’ll see shortly – Vancouver, Ottawa’s November number represents its 10-year-high, and the last year has been kind to Ottawa, with a 6.7% increase.
I know what you’re thinking: “Guleph, huh?”
Some of you went to school there and never wanted to go back.
Others, have never been.
Still others, say the name “Guelph” five times in a row, and think it’s the oddest sound they’ve ever heard.
But other than the University of Guelph, the city should be known for something important: jobs. The unemployment rate in Guelph has always ranked among the lowest in the country, and according to the last census in 2016, was exactly that – 3.9%, the lowest in the country!
It’s also only 1H 5M from Toronto, and is commutable to some people. My barber lives in Guelph, and he sleeps two nights per week at his in-laws’ in Toronto, and the rest in Guelph.
The peak HPI price in Guelph wasn’t reached too long ago – June of 2017, at $421,800 –
Be honest – did you have this at #1 or #2?
I had Toronto at #1, but it’s totally reasonable if you had Vancouver and Toronto interchanged.
While the HPI in Vancouver is still 40% higher than in Toronto, the appreciation in the last decade still trails.
Vancouver’s HPI actually dropped 10% from November of 2007 to March of 2009, but it’s been rolling ever since.
We know that prices dropped in 2016-17 after the “foreign buyer’s tax” was introduced, but prices have since recovered, going from an HPI of $941,000 in August of 2016, down to $905,800 in January of 2017, and now back up to $1,046,900, which is the decade-long high.
Can you believe there was a time when the Toronto HPI was the same as the entire country?
It didn’t last long, but back in 2007, the numbers were tight.
November of 2007 – The Canada HPI was $354,300, and the Toronto HPI was $358,700.
The two numbers stayed tight through the end of 2008, and then began to diverge.
Like Vancouver, Toronto also saw a dip in the HPI from the start of our timeline, going from $358,700 in November of 2007 down to $343,800 in February of 2009, a modest 4.2% dip, compared to 10% in the same time period in Vancouver.
Also like Vancouver, Toronto saw a drop in the HPI after the foreign buyer’s tax was announced, and this is where things get interesting: do you want to predict our market follows what happened next in Vancouver? Or do you want to predict that we don’t get back to the May, 2017 high-point any time soon?
The $816,400 peak last May represented a whopping 128% increase in the HPI since November of 2007, although it’s since dipped to $744,700, and thus the 108% increase you see above.
Any way you look at it, a 100%+ increase in a decade is impressive.
So now, I welcome the results of your predictions, for those of you that played the game.
And for the record, my order was the following:
10) Calgary (I knew this coming in, obviously)
Two options, two cities, and an infinite number of opinions.
Before this story gets too stale-dated, I wanted to bring it to your attention.
The CBC published a feature a few weeks back about how young people in Calgary are choosing to rent, rather than buy.
Let’s look at the story, the numbers, and then see how this compares to Toronto…
Ah yes, it’s the old “Rent vs. Own” debate once again!
This is an age-old, time-tested debate, and one that never really seems to die.
There are a lot of reasons for the debate, but I think it comes down to the same reason that all debates about real estate exists: passion.
Buyers are passionate about the idea of home ownership, and renters are passionate about the freedom from mortgage debt, and often, the belief that they’re ahead of the game.
Of course, buyers and renters alike are often more passionate, especially on forums like these, when they have a horse in the race.
I’ve often opined that some of the most ardent market bears are those that do not own real estate.
I think it’s fair to say that ‘the guy’ who told all his friends back in 2008 that the 50% market crash was coming, and who has held on to that sentiment like grim death, is going to be the loudest voice in the crowd of market bears, whether they’re touting the benefits of renting rather than owning, and perhaps still predicting the market crash.
But it’s also fair to mention that the folks who bought in 2008 didn’t have a crystal ball. 100% of those buyers will flex their prognostic muscles, in hindsight. But how many bought based on a thousand hours of market analysis?
For many people this was a welcome read, as we’re constantly inundated with stories about buying real estate, especially here in Toronto. Renting, by comparison, isn’t quite as sexy a story.
But what I found most interesting about this article was that it actually contained factual evidence, and statistics. In Toronto, a typical newspaper story about would-be renters is usually a bitch-fest about how unfair the real estate market is. And more often than not, there’s some veiled threat from a millennial who suggests that he or she, and the rest of the brood, will simply “move up north,” and turn their backs on us, with little thought for the fact that Toronto jobs don’t exist in Muskoka…
No, instead of the typical moaning and groaning, we actually met three young professionals who explained why they’re renting instead of buying, as well as explaining what they’re doing with their money now that it’s not tied up in real estate.
From the CBC article:
It all comes down to math.
Prices for a typical, detached house in our city have hovered around the $510,000 mark for the past few years. So says the Calgary Real Estate Board.
To buy that house today would likely cost you about $3,000 per month. That would cover the mortgage, property taxes, insurance and maintenance costs. (We’ll talk more about these estimates later on.)
If you wanted to rent a similar home, meanwhile, you can likely find something for $1,700 a month in the current market, which has seen vacancy rates increase fourfold during the downturn.
Right there, that’s $1,300 you’d save by renting — each and every month.
Add that to the tens of thousands of dollars that you don’t have tied up in a down payment, and now you have some serious capital to feed into in any number of other investments.
This is at the core of the calculations some young people have been making. They’ve considered the more diverse investment opportunities that renting offers, and they’re attracted to the flexibility and reduced exposure to market fluctuations. So they’re in no hurry to buy.
There are a lot of arguments to be made, both for and against the stance taken in the article, but first, let’s look at the numbers.
The article claims that a house costs $3,000 to own, and $1,700 to rent.
The issue I have here is that we don’t know what the house costs. The article references the “average detached home costs $510,000,” and we’re to assume that’s what they’re basing their $3,000 number off of. So let me work with that.
Assuming a 20% down payment, a 5-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 3.39% carries for a little over $2,000 per month.
The article says the $3,000/month figure includes mortgage, property tax, insurance, and maintenance. Let’s assume that totals $1,000/month, and thus the $3,000 number is correct.
I don’t work in Calgary, so I’ll take their figures as given with respect to the $1,700/month rental cost. So I have no issue with their $1,300 “savings,” as the math works.
The one thing I will bring up, however, is that $900 per month of that mortgage payment is principal.
I’ve heard people argue before that this somehow doesn’t matter, and that in the context of renting versus owning, the entire mortgage payment is a sunk cost. But that’s simply not the case.
Of your $2,000 per month mortgage payment, only $1,100 is truly “sunk.” That’s interest that you’ll never get back.
The other $900, however, is taken off your “tab.”
Whether that property goes up in value, or whether it drops and you find yourself under-water, you’re still essentially “paying yourself” each month.
So the argument that a house renting for $1,700 per month is $1,300 cheaper than if you bought and paid $3,000 instead, just isn’t true.
It’s actually only $400 cheaper when you factor in principal repayment.
It doesn’t make the story quite as sexy, however, and that’s likely why this wasn’t included in the calculations. Or, perhaps as I mentioned above, you’ve still got people arguing that it’s “about the monthly carrying cost,” but it’s just not. You can’t ignore principal repayment.
Now let’s compare the rent-vs-own in Calgary to that of Toronto, for a moment.
We know you can’t find a detached home for $510,000 in Toronto, on average.
So let’s look at a $510,000 property, and what it would rent for here.
On Friday, I sold a condo at the Bohemian Embassy for $515,000, off the market. It was to an investor, and we think this unit is going to rent for $2,200 per month.
I know, the rental market is nuts, and $2,200 for a 1-plus-den, 1-bath is tough to believe, but that’s just where we are.
So all things being equal (and they’re not always, but let’s just assume), we have a similar scenario here in Toronto to that in Calgary: a $510,000 property, that costs $3,000 to buy, or $2,200 to rent. That $500/month difference, between the $1,700 it costs to rent in Calgary, and the $2,200 per month it costs to rent in Toronto, is the very reason why people buy in Toronto, and it seems, do not in Calgary.
All things being equal, you go from being $400/month cheaper to rent in Calgary, to $100/month more expensive in Toronto.
I know, many of you are playing around with the numbers – different down payments, opportunity cost, land transfer tax, house expenses versus condo expenses, etc. But as I said – “all things being equal,” which takes a simplistic approach to the analysis, just like the CBC article did.
The article goes on to detail what one of the young renters is doing with his money, now that it’s not in the market:
In Haines’s case, buying a home would have meant missing out on the opportunity to invest his additional cash flow in the stock market. And, he says, those investments have done “really well” over the past couple of years.
“I’m sure they’re doing a lot better than many people’s homes,” he said.
Great, let’s run with that.
So Mr. Haines, who owned a condo in Edmonton for 10 years, and “broke even,” is doing “really well” with his investments in the stock market.
Just for fun, let’s go back a decade and see how the Toronto real estate market, Calgary real estate market, and TSX Composite have fared.
I’m going to use November of 2007 and November of 2017 as our decade, since December in real estate is extremely slow, since I might be accused of having an anti-stock market bias (ie. I sell real estate, so I’m going to convince you it’s a better investment), I’d like to avoid the last month’s significant drop in the stock market.
November of 2007, the Toronto HPI Benchmark price was $358,700.
November of 2007, the Calgary HPI Benchmark price was $415,000
November of 2007, the TSX Composite Index was at 13,619.10.
November of 2017, the Toronto HPI Benchmark price was $744,700
November of 2017, the Calgary HPI Benchmark price was $430,700
November of 2017, the TSX Composite Index was at 16,067.50.
For those of you playing along, that’s respective gains of:
Yes, well, I certainly can see why people are choosing not to buy in Calgary.
But ironically, it has nothing to do with the cost of renting.
And that CBC article could have made an even BETTER argument for renting if they’d talked about the incredibly poor performance of the housing market in Calgary over the past decade, although, now that I think about it, a market bear might not see it that way.
Think about: the saying, “What goes up, must come down” is a favourite of today’s modern bear. So perhaps pointing to a 10-year, 107.6% increase in Toronto, versus a 3.8% increase in Calgary during the same time period, is its own argument for why to buy in Calgary, and not Toronto.
Of course, the people profiled in the article are looking backwards, and not forwards. They’ve all been renting for quite some time now.
So what conclusions can we draw here, other than the fact that nobody will agree on anything, as per usual?
I think in the context of renting versus owning, the CBC nailed the most important argument, which is what the same house costs to rent, versus own. If there’s a monumental gap between the two, and if you want to ignore the impossible-to-value “pride of ownership,” and refuse to put a price on the added marginal utility one gets from going home every night, rather than to a property they rent, then absolutely – renting makes sense, over owning.
And for one of the people profiled in the article, who said he was travelling for work, and was able to pick up and move with more ease as a result of not owning, it makes perfect sense.
But the one thing that “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” which is the Holy Bible for those who choose to rent versus buy, didn’t explain was some of the monumental gains in price that cities around the world have provided property owners with.
All too often in Toronto, people say, “What good is the gain, if you can’t move anywhere? So you paid $500,000 for a semi-detached that’s now worth $1.1 Million. But the $1.4 Million move-up house you’d have wanted is now going to cost $2.3 Million.”
But that’s too simple an argument. That $600,000, tax-free capital gain is still a $600,000, tax-free capital gain, regardless of how other houses, in other areas of the city, and other price brackets have performed.
And as that argument pertains to renting instead of buying? Please. Show me one renter who, even with the “you can’t move anywhere argument,” wouldn’t choose that $600,000, tax-free capital gain, over not earning it.
The CBC article was a great look at the Calgary rental market, but ignoring appreciation was a mistake.
In case you’re interested, there was a follow-up a few days later:
Maybe I’m mellowing as I get closer to obtaining true “middle-aged” status.
Or maybe I simply reached a point where nothing in the world of real estate fazes me anymore.
But here’s something new: there are buyers in the market that didn’t know the price of real estate could fluctuate, and now they’re upset.
This is the p-e-r-f-e-c-t time for me to revive a classic TRB feature, The Friday Rant…
I don’t understand the world today.
And while I know that sounds like something an old man says, I just really, truly seem to have lost touch with the world around me.
The Prime Minister of Canada. Wow. This guy!
Interrupts a young speaker at a town hall meeting, who had the audacity to say “mankind,” to tell her that “we,” whoever we are, prefer to use the term “people-kind,” since it’s more inclusive.
The pendulum has swung so far one way, that it’s about to break through the other side of the universe on the way back.
Sorry, but I don’t like Mr. Trudeau. I think he’s of below-average intelligence, his low self-esteem, ego, and desire to be admired is at the forefront of every decision he makes on behalf of 33,000,000 people, and he has no experience, or ability, to lead.
This is a microcosm of where we’ve gone as a society, and while some think this is steering us in a better direction for peoplekind, I think it’s making us feeble, weak, and eventually we’ll all be incapable of self-care.
The public school systems have done away with “enriched” programs, such as the enriched English programs I took throughout high school that helped make me the writer I am today, so that “everybody can get an equal opportunity.” So in the race to the bottom that has become public education, we’d now rather have a so-called “level playing field,” than ever see an advanced child flourish.
We don’t keep score in children’s sports games anymore. Somebody might get upset to learn that in sports, as in life, there are winners and losers.
Cue the “December Seasonal Concert.”
Change the lyrics to “O Canada,” because it’s one of the worst things plaguing our country today.
Have we ever become softer as a society?
Many of you are already disagreeing, so I won’t go on, with countless more examples, and perhaps better ones, of where our municipal, provincial, and federal leaders have taken us.
But I fear it’s this “guidance” that has brought us to a point where most people in society today refuse to take any responsibility of their actions, especially when those actions are misguided, uninformed, or have consequence of any sort.
As it pertains to real estate, I’m seeing this more and more.
And how could it not transpire, with what we have inflicted upon ourselves?
Recall the story of the “Museum FLTS” condominium project in Toronto, which was cancelled back in November.
The newspapers picked up the story, and made martyrs of these poor souls who entered into legally-binding contracts with a developer who then exercised his right to terminate the project. I wrote about it on my blog, and I was extra nice:
And despite being told by many that I was too nice, I still received hate mail from people who bought into the project – many of them who were obviously well-versed enough in contract law to not spend the $3,000 on a lawyer that might have educated them on the pros and cons of the stack of paper that was thrust upon them by a salesperson, representing the developer.
Oh, the heat I took! Wow!
I try to take the high road folks, I do. And it took every ounce of strength I had not to share with you the self-pitying, naive, wishful-thinking emails I received from buyers into the project, who read my blog, and took issue.
You wouldn’t believe it, if you tried.
But as bad as that example of “not taking responsibility for your actions” truly was, I think we reached a new low point.
Some of you pointed this out last week, so I know I already have your ear.
This story first appeared on the CBC website on January 24th, and to attempt to read it without shaking your head at least once is a fool’s errand.
The very first paragraph tells you all you need to know:
Planned homes in a new Whitby subdivision are on sale for up to $90,000 less than similar homes in the same development were a year ago.
Sooooo……….what’s the story?
A person who can tell time, tie their shoe, and breathe in-and-out, could probably ascertain that the price of real estate, believe it or not, can fluctuate.
Prices go up, prices go down.
Like the stock market, or spot gold. Bonds, or treasury bills. Corn futures, or Bitcoin…
But the story here, folks, is that some of the buyers who purchased real estate last year, and who saw the value decrease, are, well, upset.
“It’s painful,” Astrid Poei said in an interview. (from the article)
That’s fair. Nobody is expecting this person not feel the sting of an on-paper loss, for a property not built, which in effect, doesn’t really mean anything.
“There are no building materials on site, there is no foundation poured, so I don’t understand how we are paying more than someone who bought a couple of weeks ago.” (from the article)
Here’s where things go off the rails a little bit.
The idea of there being “no building materials on site,” and “no foundation poured,” simply goes back to inexperience, and naivety. It’s pre-construction; delays are automatic. I’m not going to belabour this point.
But then somehow attaching the fact that the project hasn’t started building yet to the idea that “we’re paying more than somebody who bought a couple of weeks ago,” doesn’t make sense to me.
What’s the issue here?
That somebody who bought a couple of weeks ago paid less?
God help us, folks.
This is what we’ve done to ourselves, as a society.
By removing scores from children’s soccer games, automatically passing high school students who receive failing grades, and electing left-wing governments that promise everything to everyone, we’ve allowed people to believe that they can’t fail.
Failure is a reality in life.
And when you buy real estate, you should know that the price can go up, or down.
Again, from the article: “To come back a year later and see the same house that we bought is now $90,000 cheaper, that’s not cool,” Thompson, 52, said in an interview.
Is that an economic or legal phrase?
Imagine that, folks. The audacity of a developer to sell properties for prices, as they see fit.
The irony is, if the properties were selling for more money, these people wouldn’t be complaining.
But then what about the second-phase of buyers? Could they complain?
What if somebody said, “To come back a year later, and see the same house that this guy bought only 12 months ago is now $90,000 more, that’s not cool.” Would we accept that?
And now, the kicker:
“…Poei and Thompson, who are not looking forward to meeting their Phase 2 neighbours, knowing they paid tens of thousands of dollars less for the same homes.”
Ain’t it the truth, folks?
I remember once when my best-friend of 22 years bought a set of Callaway irons for $750, for which I had paid $1,000 the previous year. So I did what any normal person would do under those circumstances: I kicked his dog, and then never talked to that motherf*cker again…
I know, I know, I’ve said too much.
But guess what?
I’m far from finished…
The Toronto Star also picked up this story, for some odd reason, since I really don’t think it qualifies as news.
Important point here – I’m not faulting the writer. I think she’s awesome, I’ve done a ton of stories with her, and as I’ve learned over the years – sometimes, the story picks you.
But it’s the quotes in here that really get me.
And even worse than the CBC article – this one shows not only the absolute disillusionment of the buyer, but also the complete and utter lack of qualification!
Mariam Boni was among the buyers caught up in Toronto’s scorching property market last January. She says she got an email from Mattamy when the first phase of the development was released. On the appointed date, she waited three hours in line to get a ticket to return to the sales centre the following day.
When she went back, there were only two lots still available and Boni ended up spending $899,000, plus additional money for upgrades, exceeding her target price of $500,000 to $600,000.
Although she owns a home already, she said Queen’s Common would be a better place to raise her son.
A lot going on here…
So first, we have a woman that stood in line to get a ticket to buy a home. Can you say, “mania?” I hear Bitcoin came down from $20,000, btw…
Second, she spent $900,000, with a budget of $500,000 – $600,000.
And last but not least, she already owns a home. This was a second property, and while she was probably going to sell the first one, it doesn’t remove the speculative nature of the adventure.
The woman added:
“I have a 3-year-old. I’m thinking about his future, I’m thinking this is a good investment. It’s going to go up in price, I’m going to do something nice for my child.”
You thought it was a good investment. You thought it would go up in price.
That’s all you need to know.
There’s no guarantee, nor should there be. If the prices went up, as you thought, would the developer come back to you and cry foul? Would Mattamy Homes go to the Toronto Star to describe the hurt and anguish they feel about selling properties that went up in price, when all the while, they could have held them and made more money?
The developer offered this explanation, which is like explaining to a child how boys and girls are different:
“When (the market) is moving upwards, we obviously raise our prices and when it’s moving downwards, in order to continue to sell and to build and complete the communities, we have to lower our prices to a price point the market will bear.”
Yes, when the market goes up, prices go up. When the market goes down, prices go down. What’s that, Marigold? It’s half-past four?
I honestly can’t believe these stories went to print.
Our imaginations could run wild with the analogies. In fact, some of last week’s readers already beat me to it.
So tell me I’m wrong, folks.
Tell me that these stories were newsworthy.
Tell me that the buyers in these articles have a legitimate beef.
Tell me that peoplekind should be able to buy real estate with absolutely no fear of the price dropping, but with the full expectation that the price will rise.
But do so in the comments below, because I have to leave; I need to go find something sweet. This blog has left me really goddam salty…
I told myself that I didn’t care anymore, and arguing against mainstream media negativity, in the face of evidence to the contrary, was pointless.
And then after a long day, I went home, sat down at midnight, and my fingers started typing…
I don’t like Donald Trump.
I don’t think there are a lot of folks that do.
I think there’s 31% of United States’ population that loves Trump, and most of them also love guns, God, and making either $11,000 per year, or $11,000,000 per year.
I despise everything that he is, and everything that he stands for.
He’s an embarrassment to mankind. Er, “peoplekind,” thank you Justin Trudeau, who I also don’t like, but that’s a topic for another day.
So when I thought about arguing against what the media was putting out, and risking somebody suggest, jokingly or otherwise, that I was referring to “fake news,” that was enough to make me question the post itself.
I hate what Trump has done to supress free speech.
I hate his attempts to undermine those who seek to call him out on his constant stream of organized and intentional lies.
And I hate the words “fake news.”
But from time to time, in the context of real estate, I have been known to point out that there are different ways to “interperet” news, specifically when it comes to statitics.
The Toronto Real Estate Market Is Down 39%
So I paid $1,000,000 for my house, and now it’s worth $610,000? Geez. I might go hang myself.
That number was referring to something else.
Sales Are Down 39% Last Month Compared To Same Period Last Year
That’s something completely different altogether.
I’m growing so tired of the battle for interpretation, and while I understand, “You can make numbers say anything you want,” and I understand that bears and bulls have to co-exist, I have always failed to understand the media’s obsession with providing a false context of the market.
Negativity sells, I know.
And when things were red-hot last year, the stories weren’t about happy buyers – there were reporters camping out in condo open houses to show how “crazy” things were. I would get calls from the media asking, “Do you have any buyers that paid more than they wanted to?” rather than asking me if I had any buyers that paid less than they could afford.
The created-narrative has always been, and always will be, negative.
But at what cost to those that read and believe it?
On Tuesday afternoon, I was standing guard in one of my listings that had become a virtual revolving door, with six showings all booked for 5:00pm, when somebody emailed me the latest National Post article, titled:
I’m not going to lie – I hadn’t looked at the TREB numbers yet.
So by “Ugly,” I assumed the worst.
Then I read further, saw how the article was written, and what data was being used, and I thought, “Here we go again.”
“Sales plunge 22%, weakest January since 2009,” the sub-heading read. And off-hand, being the stats nerd that I am, I knew this was misleading.
What is the “weakest since 2009?”
The drop in sales?
Sales in October were down 26.7%. Sales in September were down 35.1%. Sales in August were down 34.8%. Sales in July were down 40.4%. Sales in June were down 37.3%.
What the hell is the “weakest since 2009?”
Do they mean the January-over-January drop in sales?
Come on, folks. Talk about trying to create an argument here!
That sub-heading is desperately searching for something that says, “worst in a decade.”
I could just as easily argue, “The 22% drop in sales, January-over-January, pales in comparison to the massive declines we saw in mid-2017, signalling………….a busy year ahead for the Toronto real estate market!”
But I’m not looking to create an argument here. I just want people to know what’s really going on.
Sales in January of the past two years were up 11.8% and 8.2% respectively, so perhaps this is just a “returning to normal,” rather than, as the National Post describes it – UGLY.
And that’s the word I have a problem with, since saying, “…and it’s ugly” merely seeks to fire up those chasing the real estate unicorn – you know, the 70% market correction that will finally get them into that lovely North Toronto detached for $500,000.
Underneath the sub-heading that read “Sales plunge 22%, weakest since 2009,” we’re given this:
The average price of a home sold in Toronto was $736,783, down 4.1 per cent from January 2017, though little changed from December.
That’s how much price is down, year-over year.
And the last time I checked, buyers are only buying one home. I’ve never understood this desire to highlight sales volume, especially instead of price.
This article tells us “sales plunged 22%” in a headline, and only then tells us about the modest 4.1% dip in price, adding “…though little has changed from December.”
Great! So prices aren’t down, and the sky isn’t falling since last month?
The next paragraph starts:
Toronto’s once-hot housing market…
This is where I get really frustrated, and where I told myself, “David, forget it. Who cares about the eternal bears, the people who right the headlines, and the people who believe them.”
But you know what? I can’t!
Folks – the market is hot right now, and it doesn’t help me out at all. I work with buyers, I work with sellers, I’d sell just as much real estate if the market were up, down or sideways. But being as passionate as I am about real estate, and being the realist that I am, I can’t read this crap without calling it out!
I have a listing right now for a property in Forest Hill that is somewhere between land value and a renovation waiting to happen. Since we listed on Monday, through Tuesday night, I’ve had 38 showings booked. It was a goddam free-for-all last night.
“Toronto’s once-hot housing market” we’re told.
I have a client looking for a 1-bedroom condo specifically on Fort York Boulevard – an area I admittedly don’t like. The last six sales have all been over asking, in multiple offers.
Even the damn rental market has multiple offers! I’ve had eight offers on a rental listing, and people are making offers 15% over the list price, with several months of rent up front. The Globe even wrote about it: “Multiple Offers Common Now In Toronto Rental Market”
January started slowly, and for a while, it looked as though the December trend would continue.
But what I’ve seen in the past two weeks has been a game-changer.
The market can move faster than any of us can see, and when it changes, it often happens in an instant.
I can’t quite put my finger on the exact day, but about two weeks ago, properties started to move.
And move, and move, and we’ve been seeing 5-6 offers on 1-bedroom condos, and every freehold under $1M is on fire.
Specifically in those two market segments, we’re almost back to spring of 2017 market conditions. Maybe not March, but definitley January and early-February, right before things went nuts.
Folks, I’m out there, every day, pounding the proverbial pavement. I’m in the so-called “trenches” of the real estate market, and I will always maintain that any busy agent with his finger on the pulse of the market can tell you what’s happening, far better than any newspaper article, and/or hand-selected statistics ever can.
All I see right now is hot, hot, hot.
And perhaps that’s just the 416. Perhaps that’s just the core.
But the narrative out there tells a different story.
Ask any active buyer for a sub-$1M freehold in the core, how their search is going. Show me that buyer, on the front page of a newspaper, gloating about buying a $795,000 property for $730,000, conditional on the sale of their Oshawa townhouse.
I’m just dying to see a story about a couple in Leaside who have had their 3-bed, 2-bath semi-detached home on the market for two months, unsold. But alas, the media can’t spin that story, because it doesn’t exist.
And do they want to write about the absolute gut in High Park that got thirteen offers last night? Nope. Not on your life.
Instead, we’ll look at a 4% drop as though the sky were falling.
And you know what? It’s about to get a lot worse.
The average home price in April of 2017 peaked around $920,000. Just think of what the headlines will read when the average home price from March and April are down double-digits. But those headlines, touting those sexy numbers, will completely ignore what’s actually going on in the market.
Maybe there’s a house in April that sells for $1,000,000, that would have sold for $1,100,000 last year. But this year, priced at $799,900, it still sells for $1M, with nine offers.
Where is that narrative?
Because that’s what I’m getting at here, folks.
The headlines aren’t telling us what it’s like to be a buyer, or seller, today. And buyers need to know what kind of market we’re working in.
Mabye you shouldn’t listen to me, and you shouldn’t listen to the media. Get out there, go to open houses, see what the market is like, and then draw your own conclusions.
Evidence and experience beats spin and rhetoric, ten times out of ten. Whether that rhetoric is bullish or bearish, and whether it’s the media’s, or my own…
I have a few things to talk about today, but there’s no one “big” topic per se.
Just a lot of random occurences, questions, annoyances, and/or discussion points. A little bit of something for everyone.
And, I mean, who doesn’t want to talk about lockboxes again? It’s the topic that always stays sexy, am I right?
A client of mine emailed last week to ask about the pros and cons of installing solar panels on the roof of his home.
The reaction to that above sentence really only comes in two forms:
1) How can there be any “cons” to solar panels, duh?
2) Ewww. Solar panels are ugly.
And therein lies the rub…
Installing solar panels on the roof of your home will pay off, no question about it.
As hydro prices continue to soar (or will when Kathleen Wynne’s debt-refinancing BS 8% hydro savings plan is up…), I believe that alternative forms of energy will gain serious momentum.
So solar panels seem like a no-brainer, right?
Not so much.
The problem is – they’re ugly. They’re unsightly. They stand out.
And in the context of Toronto real estate, where home-owners are always concerned about curb appeal, the cost savings associated with solar panels might be mitigated by a buyer’s distaste for the look and feel of the home.
Is that crazy or what?
You would think that spending money on a feature of your home, that saves you money, would add tremendous value to the property, and help marketability. But there is something called a “superadequacy” in real estate, which is a feature of your home that you pay more for, than what it’s worth.
Just because you value a 24K gold toilet, doesn’t mean the next buyer will.
Or from a more realistic perspective, does spending money on solid-core doors increase the value of a simple 1-bed, 1-bath condo? Do those buyers care? Do they notice?
Solar panels aren’t quite the very definition of superadequacies, but they’re close. They’re something that, at least in the present, save money, but offend the delicate senses of much of the buyer pool.
What’s the deal with artist’s renderings?
Has anybody noticed that the artist’s renderings for new condo developments are getting more and more unbelievable?
Or maybe they’re the very definition of believable, since the people they “paint” in their little silhouette’s in the marketing brochures are actually who they’re attracting in the end.
They’ll show the lobby, the party room, or the pool, and everybody is good-looking, in shape, young, and well-dressed.
They all seem to be on their phones as well. So maybe this is an accurate artistic representation?
I’m not sure.
But I do know that most pools at Toronto condos don’t look anything like this, nor do the people dress like this:
Is that girl on the right knitting? Or just rummaging in her Louis Vuitton purse for some beeswax lip balm?
Come to think of it, the topic of “artist’s renderings” is a blog post unto itself. Leave this with me…
I was in a condo the other day, preparing for a listing, and I asked the concierge “What’s the lockbox protocol here in the building?”
Once upon a time, Realtors just stuck the lockbox in the stairwell near the unit, and gave instructions to buyer agents accordingly.
Today, as condo managers have grown to understand the need for clear guidelines when it comes to the sale, and viewing, of real estate, there’s usually a procedure in place.
But not in every building…
I was told by the concierge last week, “We don’t handle lockboxes,” which I took to mean that they don’t keep them at concierge.
I asked, “Is there a dedicated location for them? Down in P1, around the corner in the hallway, or on a rack outside?”
He said, “Lockboxes are not allowed on site.”
I asked, “What about the stairwells near the unit?”
He simply said, “Lockboxes are not allowed on site,” and added, “If they’re found, they will be removed.”
I know some buildings are trickier than others, but surely in this building there must be some understanding of how agents access the building.
So I asked him, “What do real estate agents, or the sellers, do when they want to have buyers and their agents access the building?”
He said, “We don’t care what they do. We’ll have none of it.” And then he said, “If we see a lockbox anywhere on site, or near the building, we’ll cut it off.”
Okay, now he’s saying “near” the building? So I asked him to clarify, and he pointed outside: “See that bike rack right there? If we find lockboxes on there, we’ll cut them off.”
He was almost proud about it.
I went into MLS and looked up the last few condos that had sold in the building, and called one of the listing agents who I knew. She told me, “David, they’re psychotic in that building. It’s like they’re living in the 1980’s. Their expectation is that a buyer will go pick up the key from the seller or some nonsense. I had a lockbox on the fence twenty feet away from the front door, and they cut it off! I had to put it down the alleyway on a random door handle at the back of a restaurant!”
It makes no sense to me.
The property manager enforces rules that were decided upon by the board of directors. The board of directors own real estate. At some point, they’ll sell, and all the while, they should want the property values to increase.
So how does going out of your way to ensure properties are difficult to show, make any sense?
Hey TREB, what the hell are we paying you guys for?
If you think that the Toronto Real Estate Board works for Realtors, you’re sadly mistaken.
It’s so hard to believe, but they tell us what to do, even though technically, they work for us.
And folks like myself, who are living in 2018, think that the people in charge are stuck in 1999, marvelling over the “World Wide Web,” when all the while, our technology is so far behind.
My issue today has to do with open houses.
While you might think that www.realtor.ca is somehow linked to our own www.torontomls.net, alas, it is not.
So if you want to post your listing on “open house,” it matters not what you have on MLS, but rather you have to go an external site.
Check this out:
So once I’ve gone outside of my MLS listing, where I’ve already specified the day/time of my open house, I post it as shown above.
And then amazingly, it takes TWO DAYS to update!
How in the world is this not automatic?
Post the open house on Friday afternoon, and it might not show up for the public to see, at all.
We need some fresh blood at TREB, not to mention CREA.
Some younger blood too.
I did something yesterday that I haven’t done in a long, long time.
No, it has nothing to do with the Superbowl, but rather, I went to open houses on a Sunday.
When showing houses to prospective buyers, I always try to avoid 2-4pm on Saturday & Sunday. What buyers wouldn’t want the house to themselves when trying to make a decision about the largest purchase of their lives?
Yesterday was an absolute mad house in three straight properties.
Looking at properties during the open house hours on a weekend comes with about five or six standard observations and experiences, all of which happen in sequence.
First, you pull onto the street, and there’s not a single place to park on that entire block. There are cars up on the sidewalk, cars double-parked in the driveway of the house, and some people even park in front of fire hydrants and just “risk it.”
Second, you see a host of people loitering out front. Buyers waiting for their agents, agents waiting for their buyers. People waiting for their partners to arrive, and people waiting outside for their partners, stuck inside.
Third, you see enough shoes in the front foyer to start a department at Nordstrom’s.
Fourth, you get a soaker when you take off your shoes or boots. It’s absolutely unavoidable this time of year, and most real estate agents working the open houses do nothing about it.
Fifth, there’s an agent inside, losing his or her mind. Caught halfway between trying to pick up buyers and get “digits” like a frat boy, and actually looking out for the seller’s best interests and protect their home, the agent is bouncing off the walls, trying to figure out what to do.
And last but not least, you get caught going up the stairs, coming down the stairs, moving in and out of a bedroom, and just about anywhere else three or more people can bump into each other, with no idea where to move so that somebody can get by. It’s like Black Friday at the Mall of America.
The sheer volume of people must discourage any buyer in this market. Not all of them are going to make offers. But just the idea that even a crummy house can attract 200 people on a weekend speaks volumes about the Toronto real estate market, and the future of this city.
A word about the Superbowl…
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give my two cents on the Greatest Show on Earth.
I used to hate the New England Patriots, like everybody else who watches football. I thought Tom Brady was soft, I didn’t like how he complained every time he got touched, and yes, I put him in the category of “pretty boy.”
But when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were the target of a witch hunt in 2015 with the laughable “Deflate-gate” saga, and I saw how people around North America reacted, I was stunned.
Instead of realizing how “deflate-gate” was being used in a power struggle between a couple of exceptionally rich old white men, dragging their nonsense through the Supreme Court, people used it as an opportunity to take down Tom Brady – and this was before it became acceptable in 2018 to take down anybody, any time, for any reason, through social media and mainstream media, with no due process. But that’s just an aside.
Random fans of awful teams – be it Miami, be it the Jets, be it Tennessee – all started clamouring about how Brady’s legacy was forever tarnished, he was a career cheater, and his records shouldn’t count, and he should have Superbowls stripped, and his children should be sold as slaves, and just about anything else you can think of.
I was amazed at how people could turn nothing into something, all to justify their own teams’ failures, and take down the greatest football player of all time.
So you know what?
I went from being a hater, to a fan. And I started to cheer for Tom Brady and the Patriots. I was that turned off by how people piled on to the farce that was “deflate-gate.”
Now, I don’t know what happened in last night’s game. I do know that two Philadelphia touchdowns would not have been touchdowns two weeks ago, and even though I don’t agree with the interpretation of a “catch” in 2017’s NFL, I think you have to keep the game consistent.
It seems to me, the rule (which had to be addressed this off-season, since it was so ridiculous), was silently changed two days before the Superbowl, or dare I say during the Superbowl.
Nobody wanted New England to win, and it just felt that way, at every turn.
Don’t get me wrong – the outcome was far more meaningful than a sixth Tom Brady win would have been. Philadelphia has never won the Superbowl, their city and their fans deserve it, and there’s a lot of great stories via the players on that team.
I just didn’t care for how the outcome came about.
Well that’s all I’ve got for this crisp Monday morning.
And remember to look around your office today and see who called in sick. Could there be anything more obvious than somebody who came down with the flu, the morning after the Superbowl?
Oh, and don’t look now – but the market is starting to heat up again. As unimaginable as it would have seemed, conditions in some segments are eerily reminiscent of this time last year. Perhaps we’ll talk about that on Wednesday or Friday…
New year, same unbelievable MLS photos and captions.
It took me all of three weeks to save up these little ditties, and then some!
Let’s take a look at a few of both today: some ridiculous things written in the “remarks” sections, and some comical photos that make you shake your head. I assure you, the last photo today will keep you guessing all weekend…
“A picture paints a thousand words.”
Very true, in the context of MLS photos.
But what about the actual words themselves? What kind of story can they tell?
Some of the most amusing finds in MLS listings are in the notes themselves. Here are a few doozies…
This listing was for a commercial unit inside a hotel/condo, which already tells me I want no part of it.
But what I found interesting was that the unit, inside the hotel, is being sub-leased to the hotel, by the current lessor!
Then they just throw “your clients will be impressed” in there randomly.
It’s like showing an ad for a guy eating a hamburger at McDonald’s, ands saying, “Your friends will be impressed.”
Not so sure about that 990 year lease assignment.
With the amount of stress I have in my life, I know there’s no way I’ll live past age-970…
I know what you’re going to say, “It’s a language barrier,” I know.
But it’s too funny to pass up:
Personally, I wouldn’t want to move into a “demanding neighbourhood.”
My job is demanding.
My family life is demanding.
I don’t need a demanding neighbourhood too…
This one has no red underlines because I hate the whole thing.
I hate when agents write BS “slices of life” in the MLS remarks, rather than talking about the property:
“It’s been a long day at work?” Really? That is your opening?
Tired toes, bottles of wine, favourite TV shows…
Sorry, but I think describing the house is a better use of the exactly 463 characters that the CLIENT REMARKS section provides.
Sometimes, I think I’m oh-so fortunate to have not one, but two bathrooms, so I don’t have to share one with my wife.
But then when I lay eyes on a standard, ten-bathroom condo, I realize how real Torontonians are living…
Sometimes when listing agents get really desperate, they’ll offer a 2.5% commission, plus $3,000 “if sold by February 15th.”
This agent is either really cheap, or he’s overvaluing our city’s love of bread, cheese, and sauce…
I always tell my sellers, “You can not restrict showings.” Any buyer who would have seen the property, but didn’t, is a lost chance at a sale.
If you’ve got a tenant in the property, you meet with them for coffee, sit them down, and come to an agreement.
This is no way to list real estate in Toronto:
Oh, and they want you to assume the tenant too. The very tenant that will only allow showings for two hours per month?
Sign me up!
Why is it that most photographers don’t know how to shoot bathrooms?
I know bathrooms can be angular, and you want to avoid the classic toilet-shot.
But what the hell is this?
It’s like a photo from the security camera in the top corner of the room…
I don’t know how I feel about this angle.
It’s either way better, or way worse:
And this one, well, I don’t even know to make of it.
It’s as though the photographer was laying on the shower floor.
I’m thinking somebody was knocked unconscious, woke up, and took a picture when calling for help…
I find this to be a very strange way to market a condo kitchen.
There’s just something really creepy about it.
It reminds me of….
Reminds me of…
“Renovated kitchen,” you say?
Yes, there are new cabinets, new appliances…..
…..and a new floor…
You know the property is garbage, as is the agent selling it, when somebody used Paint to draw a red box around the house and the garbage in the front yard:
I don’t know what makes this property less appealing – the giant red box drawn around the house, or the condo under construction in the backyard that’s just dwarfing this rowhouse!
I’m no home inspector, but I’d say the addition on the back of this might not meet Mike Holmes’ standards…
This property has a “water view,” according to the listing.
If you look out the window, over the billboard, and under the giant crane (which is building a condo that will obstruct the view by next year), you can see some water…..in between two buildings…
And last, but oh God – oh most certainly not least, we have a screenshot from Google Street View as the feature photo on an MLS listing, rather than, you know – the listing agent actually going to the property with a camera.
But I can’t help but wonder in this picture: which is the house for sale?