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Bully offers and bidding wars are back in the Toronto real estate market – The Globe and Mail



Toronto-area real estate buyers have been enticed into the market by lower prices for properties that range from downtown condo units to large suburban houses.

Bidding contests, offer dates and properties selling for more than the asking price have made a comeback, according to real estate agents.

“There has been a swing,” says Patrick Rocca, broker with Bosley Real Estate Ltd. “In October, the buyers said ‘we’re staying home. We’re going to revisit this in 2023.′”


In the new year, house hunters came out of the gate with a determination to buy when they saw that prices have dropped between 15 and 20 per cent from a year earlier in solid Toronto neighbourhoods.

Mr. Rocca says some of the current buyers are in the market for the first time, while others are moving up to a larger house or more highly-rated school district.

Inventory remains very slim, which means resolute buyers must compete for the most coveted properties.

“There’s still not a lot of product – that’s what’s driving everything.”

Sales in February rose 8.5 per cent from January on a seasonally adjusted bases, according to Daren King, economist at National Bank of Canada.

New listings, meanwhile, dropped 24.5 per cent in February from January on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to Mr. King.

The combination of higher sales and a decrease in new listings led to a 14.6-per-cent retreat in seasonally adjusted active listings, says Mr. King, which marks the first decline in that measure in four months.

Sales in February tumbled 47.3 per cent from February, 2022. That’s the weakest showing for that period of the year since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the economist points out.

The average price in February came in at $1,095,617 in the GTA. That’s a 17.9-per-cent drop from the average price of $1,334,062 in the same month last year.

The sharpest decline in February came in the segment for semi-detached houses in the 905 area code, with the average price falling 25.9 per cent.

Detached houses fell 19.9 per cent and condos 11.8 per cent in the GTA.

Even without further interest rate hikes from the Bank of Canada, the outlook for a recovery in the housing market remains limited, says Mr. King. He expects sales to remain below their historical average in the coming months.

The market’s recent spate of activity has not yet enticed a lot of homeowners to list properties for sale. In early March, there were only seven listings in the Leaside neighbourhood where Mr. Rocca does much of his business, and 14 listings in nearby Davisville.

Mr. Rocca recently listed a detached, three-bedroom house at 67 Glenvale Blvd. in Leaside with an asking price of $1.869-million. After 24 hours on the market, the property had drawn three offers and the house sold for $1,920,100.

The most astonishing outcomes, in Mr. Rocca’s opinion, occur when buyers pay prices in line with those of this time last year.

A semi-detached house in the popular Davisville neighbourhood would likely fetch about $1.9-million in the first quarter of last year. In November, comparable properties were trading hands at about $1.5-million.

Last week a semi-detached house in the area was listed with an asking price of $1.649-million and sold above $1.9-million, he says.

“That’s a 2022 price.”

Still, Mr. Rocca cautions that only the most coveted properties are inspiring buyers to pay large sums above asking.

“It’s not right across the board,” Mr. Rocca says. “Stuff is selling – not everything is going over asking for sure.”

Andre Kutyan, broker with Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., says many buyers have budgeted for the current level of interest rates and have started chasing the limited number of listings.

At 60 Fenn Ave., Mr. Kutyan listed a 1950s-era detached house with an asking price of $1.849-million.

The price was set deliberately low to attract attention, he adds, and an offer deadline was set.

“I knew it was well over $2-million – it was just a question of how much,” Mr. Kutyan says.

By day two, 51 parties had toured the four-bedroom house, including Mr. Kutyan’s own clients, who decided to make a so-called bully offer well before the deadline.

Mr. Kutyan’s clients submitted their $2.55-million bid at 5 p.m. and the agent notified interested agents that an offer was registered.

By 8 p.m., six others had come to the table.

“The shocking thing was to get seven bully offers up front.”

Three of the offers came in above $2.5-million, he says.

Mr. Kutyan believes the sellers would have fetched more in the first quarter of last year. The average price in the area near Bayview and York Mills Avenue had dropped 12.2 per cent in January from the same month last year.

But the competition currently stirring is keeping prices level, Mr. Kutyan adds.

Mr. Kutyan points to a three-bedroom townhouse in midtown Toronto which was listed in October for $2.195-million. The asking price was gradually chiseled down to $1.945-million by late February.

At that point, Mr. Kutyan took his clients to see the three-storey townhouse at 288 St. Clair Ave. W. While they were considering making an offer below asking, another buyer stepped up.

Mr. Kutyan’s clients submitted their own bid and purchased the unit for the full asking price.

“They paid a lot more than they initially anticipated,” he says. “They weren’t willing to pay for it when they were the only ones at the table.”

Mr. Kutyan says not all properties are drawing interest: some overpriced listings have become stale while sitting on the market.

“The difference is, the buyers who have been sitting on the sidelines are now at the table.”

Looking ahead, Mr. Rocca has been contacting homeowners who contemplated selling while the market was in the doldrums but decided to hold off.

Sellers were reluctant to list when a house that would have sold for $3.8-million or so last year would only fetch $3.5-million in the fall.

“All of a sudden there have been a couple of sales that validate high threes,” he says.

But when Mr. Rocca tells homeowners that sales are brisk and prices are firming, some continue to hesitate.

Mr. Rocca advises sellers against trying to time the next peak.

“Ideally, if you can get out now rather than later, it’s in your best interests,” he says. Don’t wait until May or June.”

A swell in listings could extinguish competition, he points out.

“Things can change rather quickly.”

With the current demand, Mr. Rocca is favouring the strategy of listing a house with an attention-getting asking price and a “soft” offer date that doesn’t rule out bully bids from buyers who do not want to wait for a deadline.

“Things have changed. You have to adjust in this market – or any market.”

Claire Fan, economist at Royal Bank of Canada, cautions that weaker overall demand in the Canadian economy is yet to come.

The household debt service ratio has been rising and will continue to increase into the end of 2024, she says.

That, combined with moderating wage gains and rising borrowing costs will continue to drive consumer spending lower, Ms. Fan predicts. That trend will keep downward pressure on inflation as the economy heads into a mild recession later in 2023.

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Three unique real estate listings that caught our eye this week – Western Investor



Western Investor is famous for the breadth of its commercial real estate listings. It is perhaps the only publication in Canada where investors can find a high-rise office tower, a remote waterfront lodge, a golf course, an industrial warehouse or a small-town bowling alley for sale within its pages.

We often have unique listings and there are three this month that stood out.

First is an entire city block for sale in downtown Calgary.

The 2.83-acre site borders the popular East Village, and the land is rezoned for a high-density mixed-use project with a generous floor-ratio-area (FAR) of 20.


Flexible commercial zoning allows for residential rentals, condos or hotel and a variety of commercial uses. Current visions include four high-rise towers, but all options are on the table. It is listed by Goodman Commercial, Vancouver, and NAI Commercial, Calgary, at an asking price of $32.4 million.

Second is a rare listing in B.C.’s Central Okanagan.

The property is the 11.3-acre Vibrant Wine vineyard estates in east Kelowna. The property includes a luxury 9,000-square-foot Italian-style villa. The eight-acre vineyard was named the No.1 winery on Trip Advisor and its product was ranked the Best White Wine in the World in 2013. A proven venture that can be expanded, the entire property and equipment is co-listed by HM Commercial and Jane Hoffman Realty, Kelowna, at $13.5 million.

Third of the unique listings is a productive gold mine.

With a private residence and a two-title acreage in the Cariboo, the property covers 3.2 acres near the original Gold Rush town of Likely, B.C.

The land includes an updated three-bedroom house, but the attraction is the operating gold mine. A two person operation on a five-year renewable permit that covers a 100-acre bench, only nine acres have been worked so far, but there has been a consistent average return of 1 ounce of gold per 100 yards mined, with the highest return of 8 ounces in under 100 yards. Note: the price of gold now is around US$1,980 per ounce. The entire operation, including all the mining machinery, is listed by 3A Group, Re/Max Nyda Realty in Agassiz, B.C., at $1.45 million.

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Simcoe County's real estate market shows signs of recovery – CTV News Barrie



Real estate experts paint a cautiously optimistic outlook after a year of downward market trends across the country.

Trends in Simcoe County show an increase in viewings and buyers re-entering the market after key interest rate hikes from the Bank of Canada warded off many last year.

Lance Chilton, the broker of record at Re/Max Hallmark Chilton Realty, calls the local market “more or less balanced.”


“Inventory conditions are the same as they once were in 2018,” he noted.” From 2020 to 2022, prices rose to about 43 per cent, which was rather rapid.”

Chilton said key interest rate hikes eventually bottomed out the local market by about September – that’s when home prices that peaked at around $1 million dropped to about $730,000.

“Since then, it’s recovered by about five per cent,” Chilton said. “In fact, we actually saw showings increase for the first time in about six months.”

The Barrie and District Association of Realtors (BDAR) confirms that showings have picked up again, with people getting that “spring fever.”

However, the one key issue that remains is low inventory.

“We saw prices dip because of interest rates and people pulling out of the market, but we never saw that supply come back online,” said Luc Woolsey, BDAR president, adding the situation creates multi-offer bids.

“So there’s still a lot of people having to come in firm, waiving conditions and inspections because they’re having to compete.”

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‘Million Dollar Listing’ star warns CA mansion tax will deliver ‘hardest hit’ to market since 2007 – Fox Business



Though it’s home to some of the most luxurious and expensive real estate listings in America, California is readying to pass a housing bill that one “Million Dollar Listing” agent warned could create the “hardest hit” to the market since the 2007-08 crash.

“In about ten days or so, there’s a measure called the ULA measure that’s going to go into effect, which is going to be probably the hardest hit to the real estate market that we’ve seen since 2007,” broker and television personality Josh Altman said on “Varney & Co.” Monday.


Altman’s comments come in response to the recently-passed “United to House L.A.” (ULA) measure in California, which adopts a so-called “mansion tax” on property sales or transfers over a certain value to pay for affordable housing.

Properties sold above $5 million but below $10 million are subject to a 4% sales or transfer tax, while properties that sold for more than $10 million will face a 5.5% tax, according to the city clerk’s voter information pamphlet.


At least 92% of taxpayers’ money would “fund affordable housing under the Affordable Housing Program and tenant assistance programs under the Homeless Prevention Program,” the pamphlet also clarified.

Luxury home for sale in California

California’s “United to House L.A.” measure will create “the hardest hit to the real estate market” since 2007, “Million Dollar Listing” star Josh Altman said on “Varney & Co.” Monday. (Getty Images)

“The way that this ULA measure was passed is just mind-boggling to me,” Altman added, “and I think it’s one of the most ridiculous bills that I have ever seen in my entire 20-year career.”

The Los Angeles city administrative officer estimated the proposed tax could generate $600 million to $1.1 billion in revenue each year. However, he noted it would “fluctuate” based on how many property transactions with values within the scope of the tax actually occur.

While those who support the measure argue it could help solve L.A.’s housing affordability and homeless crisis, others like Altman caution the tax policy would lead to higher home prices and bureaucracy.

“Think about these people that bought houses three years ago for $5 million and they want to sell now,” Altman hypothesized. “The market’s down, rates are up, that happens. But now they got to cut a check for $200,000 out of their own pocket because there’s no profit on that. So it’s really going to rock the real estate market that we’re in here in Los Angeles.”

California’s real estate market, the “Million Dollar Listing” star further argued, is on “a race to the bottom” over the next 10 days as buyers try to close deals before the mansion tax is enacted.

Josh Altman tours California home

Josh Altman of “Million Dollar Listing” warns California’s “mansion tax” will “trickle down” to working and middle-class households. (Getty Images)

“I’m seeing deals get done that should never have gotten done,” the L.A. agent said. “I’ve even done as much as, on a $28 million listing that I have, we have offered a $1,000,000 bonus for anybody who buys and closes before April 1.”

The “main issue” with the ULA measure remains its “trickle down” effect — not on mansion or luxury homeowners, but on working and middle-class California families.


“People who voted who said, ‘Oh, I don’t have a $5 million house,’ which by the way, is not a mansion in L.A., we’re talking about a four-bedroom, 4,000 square-foot house in L.A. is $5 million, so this isn’t a mansion tax,” Altman said.

“This isn’t a $30, $40, $50 million house tax – these are regular people that work bill to bill, that have to pay their mortgage just like everybody else, and now they’re being penalized here.”


FOX Business’ Aislinn Murphy contributed to this report.

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