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LACKIE: In Toronto real estate, the party's over – Toronto Sun

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I think we can all safely say that Toronto’s pandemic real estate boom is officially over.

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It isn’t a consensus we arrived at easily, to be sure, but even the denialists have finally come around to admit that what we are now seeing is far from the seasonal slowdown or simple “market recalibration” one might remember from the Beforetimes.

The market has pretty much ground to a halt with sales falling off a cliff. Average sale prices in some parts of the GTA are down over 20% from February’s peak. I’m not being dramatic or sensationalistic, that’s quite literally what the data shows.

The only debate right now is whether or not we now find ourselves in real estate crash territory or simply in the midst of a correction.

Well, given that the definition of a real estate crash is a sudden downturn resulting in a loss of value more than 10% from the 52-week peak value, we’re not quite there yet as year-over-year our numbers aren’t faring too badly. But looking month-over-month there should be absolutely zero question that we are in the throes of a strong correction.

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And given the froth of the past several years, I’m not sure anyone should be surprised.

What has been surprising to me, however, is how quickly this came on. Sure, there were signs this winter that buyer sentiment was shifting almost in lockstep with heightened anticipation of interest rate hikes, but this is not that.

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This [gesturing wildly] is a clear response to the Bank of Canada hiking interest rates far faster and far more furiously than anyone ever anticipated in response to out-of-control inflation. Add-in broader economic uncertainty, stock market instability, a war in Europe, and reasonable fears of impending recession, the almighty buyer sentiment couldn’t really be any worse.

Now, you’re likely expecting me to now launch into a tirade about how the sky is falling and we’re all doomed, but I am not there yet. I do, however, believe that what lies ahead is going to be messy and on the other side will almost certainly be a near-total wash of the pandemic gains to Canadian home values.

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Why? Because that’s pretty much the point at which our real estate market became wholly untethered from any semblance of market fundamentals. And given that housing values have risen 50% Canada-wide over the past two years, it will be a long descent.

But what it also means is that we are now heading into an entrenched downmarket, territory that many will remember but will almost certainly feel foreign to broad swathes of Canadians.

Once buyers manage to wrap their heads around these new rates, and in time they absolutely will, they will find that the game has changed.

Does anyone in Toronto remember the time before bidding wars? When great properties still took weeks and months to sell? When market value was based on comparables and not established on the basis of whatever some crazed buyer also at the offer table was willing to spend to outbid you?

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For all the talk of blind bidding being the driver of the madness, what say you now that multiple offers will likely be the exception rather than the rule in the months ahead? Would it be safe to say that blind bidding was merely a symptom rather than the disease itself?

The sellers who have gotten used to being in the driver’s seat are going to have to accept that this new reality is just that — their new reality. February prices are long gone. Offers will likely include conditions. And for those who have to sell right now, it will likely be a tough pill to swallow, particularly if they are depending on the proceeds to close on another property.

Moving forward, the smart move will almost invariably be to sell before even thinking about buying.

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And for the Toronto agents who have enjoyed the boom, especially the ones who rushed to get licensed during the pandemic, this business is about to get rough. The best are going to have to work infinitely harder to compete for a fraction of the business. And the ones who joined the party in hopes of catching the quick and easy deals will likely go back to their day jobs.

Professionalism, competency and ethics will mean everything in the coming months and years. And our relationships with one another will never matter more. I think it’s going to be a welcome change to get to flex our negotiation muscle again, a skill that became mostly redundant once success in a bidding war became almost entirely dependent on how much a buyer was willing to spend.

So yes, things aren’t great at the moment and will almost certainly get worse before getting better. And for those likely to be the most affected, the buyers who bought-in over the past two years and will be upside down on their mortgages for a while, we should all wish them well as they hunker down and ride this out.

For everyone else, let’s stop treating real estate like a national religion and return our focus to the things that matter again.

@brynnlackie

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Which GTA region has seen the biggest decline in real estate prices since February market peak? – Toronto.com

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Real estate prices across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have taken a pounding since reaching record highs in February.

In February, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reported an average GTA sale price for all dwelling types combined of $1,334,544. In TRREB’s July report, that average fell to $1,074,754 — a 19.5 per cent decline in just five months.

Prices have fallen further in some areas than others, with Durham Region leading the way with a 26.6 per cent decline. Southern areas of Simcoe County were a close second with a 24.8 per cent decline in average prices, followed by York Region at 19.7 and Peel Region at 19 per cent. Real estate prices have fallen 18.1 per cent and 15.8 per cent in Halton Region and Toronto, respectively.



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Graph showing average sale price for all dwelling types combined in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Halton Region, Durham Region and parts of Simcoe County between February 2022 and July 2022.




Durham Region led the way in price declines for detached homes, seeing a 29.1 per cent decline, followed by Toronto and Simcoe County both at 26.9 per cent. Detached units sold for 20.7 per cent less on average in July compared to February, while detached ditched home in Peel Region have dropped 20.3 per cent and 19.9 per cent in Halton Region.



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Graph showing average sale price for detached homes in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Halton Region, Durham Region and parts of Simcoe County between February 2022 and July 2022.




Semi-detached homes broke down a little differently. Durham also saw the steepest decline for that segment at 25.8 per cent, followed by York at 25.4 per cent and Peel at 25 per cent. Semi -detached home prices in Halton declined by an average of 22.9 per cent, with Simcoe seeing a 15.5 per cent drop followed closely by Toronto with 15.4 per cent decline in average price for semi-detached units.



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Graph showing average sale price for semi-detached homes in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Halton Region, Durham Region and parts of Simcoe County between February 2022 and July 2022.




Condo apartment prices have fared a little better in most regions outside of Simcoe, which has seen condo prices tumble 35.2 per cent since February. Durham condo apartments have lost 17.3 per cent in value over the past five months, with Peel Region and York Region condos seeing 15.3 and 13.5 per cent declines, respectively.

Toronto condos fared a little better, seeing only a 9.5 per cent decline between February and January. Condos in Halton Region have held their value the best so far, only declining by 4.2 per cent.



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Graph showing average sale price for condo apartments in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Halton Region, Durham Region and parts of Simcoe County between February 2022 and July 2022.




The table below shows a breakdown of how much the average price for all dwelling types combined in all cities and towns monitored by TRREB have fallen since the GTA market peaked in February.



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Table showing how much average real estate prices have fallen since peaking in February 2022 in all GTA markets monitored by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board.




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A real estate transaction gave me neighbours. A car crash taught me to value them – CBC.ca

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This First Person article is the experience of Becky Sarafinchan who lives in Calgary. For more information about CBC’s First Person stories, please see the FAQ.

The crush of glass and metal silenced us mid-phrase, the kids and I on that early spring day. I saw their frozen expressions as I wondered if I had really heard or felt that sound. We ran outside. 

Across our busy street, a SUV straddled the yellow line. Its grill faced the crumpled remains of our neighbour’s two parked cars. Two cars, swiped by one driver. My neighbours stared in shock at the sad mix of wreckage, nose to bumper.

But this is a feel-good story. It’s not about race track streets or distracted drivers. It’s about neighbours. It’s about me discovering that I care what happens to the people across the street, even when their lives merge little with mine. It’s about the unexpected cheer that brings.

For most of my 16 years on Coventry Hills Way, in the suburbs of north central Calgary, the greatest common bond I shared with my neighbours was geographical. The random act of real estate mixed me up with folks I only knew in smiles and waves outside our garage doors. My life was filled with kids and work; I rarely thought of those who lived around me.

Until the pandemic, that is. Until human interaction became a source of anxiety worldwide and we were told to run for cover. In those long and bizarre periods of isolation when I couldn’t see friends and family, I could still see my neighbours walking by every evening. We could share a weary smile and sometimes — from a distance — we talked. 

A group of five people stand around talking on a driveway.
Front driveways are a natural gathering place on this street in Calgary’s Coventry Hills. From left to right: Gina Williams, Jennifer Robinson, Jesse Williams, Becky Sarafinchan and Glen McLaughlan. (Elise Stolte/CBC)

On the afternoon of the accident, I noticed Jennifer standing with the stunned car owners on the other side of the street. She was talking and pointing; the first to offer assistance. Although I’ve only ever spoken with Jennifer a few times, I knew she was open and kindhearted. It relieved me when I saw her talking with the neighbours. It felt like they were in good hands.

Someone called the police and a few people left to check their home security cameras for footage. Another neighbour motioned for the driver of the SUV to move to the sidewalk; he was still standing in the street. 

A group of teens, armed with the vehicle description, headed off to find an eyewitness who had left the scene. The adults compared stories of what each had seen and felt. 

Across the road, a young man dragged the bumper of his car onto his lawn. He crossed the street to a group of us, onlookers, huddled in a semicircle. He was debating if he should accept the offer: should he just settle with the driver of the SUV?

The group reacted at once: No! You can get help. It will be OK.

We lingered on the sidewalk and a conversation expanded beyond the crash. We began to talk about hockey and school; about work and the vacations we hoped to take. Normal stuff, but I had never stood and talked, never opened up about anything with my neighbours before. It felt new. 

People stand beside a residential street with vehicles driving past.
The street in front of Becky Sarafinchan’s house can feel like a race way. (Elise Stolte/CBC)

Soon the teenagers returned from their search for an eyewitness. “We found the guy who left the scene!” they grinned, triumphant. They had checked his vehicle. “We even felt the tailpipe on his truck and it’s still warm!” To their delight, the police wanted to know.

I watched those tall boys talk, eager to share and flush with their success. 

Standing in this group of people, suddenly feeling that they were my people, I felt lighter. It took me by surprise. I’d never thought of them as my people before. In the past, I was aloof and comfortable — a wave and smile would suffice for neighbourliness.

In truth, we don’t share interests; we don’t share the same ethnic backgrounds or weekend habits. We weren’t all on the same page about COVID-19 – some of us were supportive and others against mask and vaccine mandates. 

Maybe that’s what makes the huddled conversation on the day of the accident so special. It doesn’t matter if we’d naturally be friends had we not physically lived beside each other. It doesn’t matter that we have different views and beliefs. We are neighbours. That counts for something.

In the months since the accident I’ve thought a lot about what changed for me that day. It’s like the pieces fit together and I was able to discover a gift I’d never seen before.

We visit more now. We share gardening tips and someone suggested a block party. There’s even – imagine! – an inside joke or two we share. Community is growing where once I saw a street of strangers. I don’t ever want to lose sight of that gift.


Telling your story 

CBC Calgary is running a series of in-person writing workshops across the city to support community members telling their own stories.

Read more from the workshop hosted by the Northern Hills Community Association:

To find out more about our writing workshops or to propose a community organization to help host, email CBC producer Elise Stolte

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Here's what you need to know about Squamish Real Estate – Squamish Chief

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With Canada’s annual inflation rates spiking in June and a market still reeling from a global pandemic, local real estate in Squamish has seen its fair share of unpredictable ups and downs. 

“In May, I started saying that it felt like someone had flipped a switch,” said Jennifer Sale, a local Realtor in Squamish with Sutton West Coast Realty. “I’d say the peak was probably end of March, beginning of April. That was when I [saw] multiple offers and things going for quite a bit over. That has definitely changed.”

With various factors coming into play, such as higher mortgage rates and low inventory, Sale says that some buyers appear to be growing wary of the local market while having trouble qualifying for a mortgage.  

“We were experiencing a really hot period earlier in the year because the inventory was so low that there were so many more multiple offers versus pent-up demand,” Sale said. “So buyers were competing for properties.”

“Now with the increased rates … it’s really tapered off the number of sales,” she said. “There were only eight detached home sales in July.” 

(See prices and trends for the last 28 days in Squamish.)

Feeling the pinch

“Everybody’s feeling the pinch in one way or another,” said Lisa Bjornson of Royal LePage. “Since the beginning of June, probably into May, we started to see a shift in market trends in that … multiple offers are off the table, days on the market have lengthened, inventory has come up somewhat. So it’s definitely slowed the market down.” 

Yet historically, real estate sales during the summer are often low. 

“Summers traditionally aren’t a hugely active market in the Squamish area,” said Bjornson. “It’s not uncommon to have July and August be on the slower side.” 

However, looking back at summer sales in Squamish real estate from last year, Bjornson says there has been a drastic difference.

“Last year was a record-breaking year,” she said. “We’d never seen the likes of it in Squamish, in B.C., in Canada.”

COVID factor

Originally when the pandemic first hit in 2020, Bjornson says that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation advised realtors that housing was going to plummet with a market drop of 20%. Yet their predictions were incorrect, with sales going up at the same rate they thought they would fall.

“COVID had the opposite effect of what everyone anticipated,” said Sale. “Since then, we’ve had these unprecedented increases not only in Squamish, but throughout B.C..”

When remote work became more of an option during the pandemic, many people realized that they did not have to remain in cities and began looking to buy outside of urban areas. Those within the Vancouver region who were of middle to high income were able to afford the prices just outside of the city, bringing an influx of buyers to Squamish. 

“It locked everybody up, changed everybody’s mindset,” Bjornson said. “Many people started to work from home and people started to homeschool. People thought, ‘I’m not putting my loved one in care’. We’re going to generationally live. How people viewed housing and what their needs were changed drastically.”

Over the course of the two years from March of 2020 to now, other challenges such as supply chain issues and labour became evident and began to affect real estate. 

“There’s so many forces at play when it comes to what makes up a housing market.” 

In addition to an influx of people leaving the city to be in smaller areas, Sale says that she has also noticed single people moving between townhomes to condos to half-duplexes.  

“People are always a little worried about getting out of the market. So it’s always nice to move within the same market,” said Sale. “Now that it’s slowed down, I think that’s gonna be a lot easier for many people.”

Overall, though interest rates are currently high, real estate prices in Squamish are seeing a return to relative normalcy. 

“We’re not seeing multiple offers. We’re not seeing things go for $200,000 over ask,” said Bjornson. “We’re seeing negotiations, we’re seeing prices moderate.”

As for the coming months heading into fall, Bjornson says that she predicts longer days on the market.

“If we suddenly get an uptick COVID coming into the fall of winter, does that change people again about how they’re feeling and what their wants and needs are? Hard to say,” she said. “The general feeling kind of across the board is that we had a tremendous run-up for 20 plus months and for any real estate cycle that was long. So the normal calming and settling of the market is to be expected.”

For those currently looking to sell in Squamish, Bjornson recommends that people be reasonable and pay attention to what the market is currently doing. “It’s still an OK market; you’re not losing anything. Govern yourself according to what the market conditions are. And if you’re a buyer, get your pre-qualification and know what price point you should be shopping in.”

“I would say to list a realistic price point,” concurred Sale. “Take the advice of your realtor and watch the market carefully.” 

Sale adds that comparing prices month to month with your neighbours is not helpful when trying to place a price on a home. 

“It’s always hard to see what your neighbour sold for in February or March,” she said. “You have to work within the market that we’re in.”

“The last couple of years there’s greater demand for people wanting to be in Squamish,” said Sale. “I don’t think there’s going to be a big drop-off. I think now it’s changed from a seller’s market, shifted briefly into a balanced market, and I think in some product categories, it’s definitely a buyers market.”

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