A Real Estate Conversation With My Father!


13 minute read

April 3, 2020

Blog reader Jimbo had asked a question in the comments section on Monday’s blog, and I realized, at first, that I needed clarification.

Upon calling my father, and starting to chat, I realized that this conversation is a blog post unto its own.

I’ve heard bits and pieces of the following stories at least a dozen times each over the course of my life, and for the most part, the facts and figures are the same.  But time has a way of distorting the details, so I wanted to start from the very beginning, and get the full story on my parents’ real estate endeavours.

What started in 1978 when my parents were 31-years-old and 30-years-old respectively, lasted until 1992 when they made their final purchase, on behalf of the family, that is.

The markets described in these stories, as well as the market participants, the process, and the real estate industry itself, are completely different from what we found find today.  So at the risk of confusing the timing of this post with the COVID-19 pandemic, and insinuating that similar tough times are ahead, let me be clear: this post is merely for fun, and the timing is coincidental.

Thanks for reading!





David: “So are you bored or what?”

Dad: (long pause)……….yeaaaaaaaah

David: “Don’t worry, we only have two more months of this…”

Dad: “Are you keeping busy?”

David: “Yeah, I mean, I’m spending at least twenty-four hours per day growing my moustache.

Dad laughs.

David: “One of my blog readers was asking a question today and I wanted to get some clarity before I responded.  I had written something about the two spec properties you bought on Logan and Carlaw, and I got everything jumbled up with Parkhurst.”

Dad: “Heward.  It was Logan and Heward.”

David: “Ah, okay!  Well, I meant to ask the other day, what did you pay for 128 Parkhurst Boulevard?”

Dad: “$261,000.”

David: “You remember exactly, eh?  After forty years?”

Dad: “I’ll never forget it!  I overpaid, and I flogged myself for years!”

David: “Dad, you sound like every single buyer that ever purchased real estate – that you overpaid.”

Dad: “No, I did!  I overpaid!  $261,000 and it was way more than I needed to, I found out in the end.”

David: “Yeah, Dad, but again, this is like every conversation I have with a buyer….”

Dad: “Dave, the house was listed at $239,900 and there were two bids of $239,900.  I came in with a bid, and Duncan (not his real name, agent is still in the business) told me that I’d have to come in higher.  So I bid $261,000, and weeks later, Duncan told me that the one guy only came up five grand.”

David: “Geez, that’s crazy!  It’s like the same process forty years later?”

Dad: “There were two bids at the full list price, I came in at $261,000, and Duncan told me that the one guy stuck to his guns, and the other guy came up to $245,000.  So I bid $261,000, overpaid, and I flogged myself for years after.”

David: “So how did you come up with that number: $261,000?”

Dad: “I was stoned.”

David: “You were what?”

Dad laughs.

Dad: “It was 1981, I used to smoke dope every night back then.  So I was totally stoned, and I overpaid.”

This is about the time when I realized that these stories could make for an interesting blog post.

While the industry has changed, the process is different, and the market cycles are not aligned, perhaps we can learn from stories of yesteryear.  If not, then at the very least it makes for an interesting blog.

David: “Dad, I assume you have nothing better to do right now, so let me start from the beginning.”

Dad cracks the seal on a Diet Coke.

David: “What did you pay for Airdrie?”

Dad: “Eighty-eight thousand.”

David: “Wow, you remember that, and this was, what year?”

Dad: “1978.  Just before Julie was born.  We were living in an apartment on Saint Mary Street and we looked all over the place, but we ended up at Airdrie.”

David: “Do you remember the number on Airdrie?”

Dad: “169, I think?  Or 69?  No, it was 269!  269 Airdrie Road.  I think.  Ask your mother.”

David: “So you paid $88,000 for Airdrie and that was in 1978, and then you bought 128 Parkhurst Boulevard in, what, 1981?”

Dad: “Yep.  You were born at Aidrie in 1980.  It was a really neat little house.  Tiny though.  Three bedrooms and a bathroom, small kitchen, little dining room and a little living room at the front.”

All the Leaside semi-detached are the same original footprint, and I’ve been in a hundred of them.  But my Dad is reminiscing!

David: “So 1981 comes along and you need more space, and Duncan shows you Parkhurst?”

Dad: “No, Ralph.”

David: “Ralph.  Ralph?  Wait, Ralph?  Oh my God, I remember that name.  I remember Mom talking about him.  Wasn’t he a hairdresser?”

Dad: “No, he was a real estate agent, then he became a hairdresser!”

David: “Oh, right.  So like half the agents who will be out of the business when this COVID-19 business dies down then.

Dad laughs.

David: “So you bought Parkhurst through Ralph, not Duncan?”

Dad: “Yep.  Duncan was the listing agent and I hadn’t met him yet.  I was very loyal to Ralph, perhaps to a fault.  He was a really terrible agent.”

David: “So was he stoned too, when you put together that bid for $261,000?”

Dad laughs.

David: “So you bought Parkhurst for $261,000 in 1981 after winning a 3-person ‘bidding war,’ and then what happened with Airdrie?”

Dad: “Well we listed with Ralph…”

David: “Oh God…”

Dad: “Yep, it didn’t go well.  I think I listed at something like…….$239,900.”

David: “Wait, you paid $261,000 for a 4-bedroom detached, and then listed a 3-bedroom semi-detached for $239,900?”

Dad: “Yep.  It was a mistake.  The market is gangbusters and you become irrational.  You think you’re gonna get your price.  But it was a mistake.”

David: “No kidding.”

Dad: “Ralph never said ‘no’ to me, he just went along with it.  He didn’t offer any advice.”

David: “We have a lot of those agents in the business now, they’re just order-takers.  They let their clients tell them what to do, because they’re afraid that if they stand up to the client, then they’ll lose the business, even though they’ll lose the business if they don’t stand up to the client.”

Dad: “Yep.  That’s what happened with Ralph.  We were on the market at $239,900 and it was way too much, just a God-awful amount of money.  Then the market turned, and things got nasty.”

David: “The market turned that quickly?”

Dad: “Yep.  We were in a 90-day contract with Ralph and it was awful.  Nobody was showing the house and Ralph had no clients of his own.  He was a terrible agent.  But he was sharp though, he had a Masters Degree in Chemistry from York University.  The brokerage was called Canada Permanent Trust.  His broker let us out of the agreement.”

David: “So then you ended up listing with Duncan?”

Dad: “Duncan came to us.  He was worried.  He had three or four deals in the balance that could have gone south, and he listed Airdrie and took no fee.”

David: “Really?   He listed it for free?”

Dad: “Yes!  It was his idea!  He was the listing agent for Parkhurst, and if we couldn’t sell Airdrie, then we couldn’t close Parkhurst.  And the seller of Parkhurst was Mr. Goulding, who had bought up the street, which was another property that Duncan had listed.”

Mr. Goulding was the father of one of my best friends, Fraser, who I met in Grade One.  Ironically, Fraser and I were born on the exact same day.  My mother saved the “Birth Notices” in the newspaper, and his birth was the one listed immediately after mine.

David: “So this was a true domino-effect.  If you didn’t sell Airdrie, then Duncan would lose three deals.”

Dad: “Possibly more, because who knows what the sellers of the house up the street had bought.  They probably bought through Duncan, and it could have been another one of his listings.  The domino-effect was awful back then.  Deposits were small, people could get out of deals.”

David: “So you switch from Ralph to Duncan, and this is somewhere around three months later?”

Dad: “Correct.”

David: “What did you sell Airdrie for in the end?”

Dad: “$148,000.”

David: “WHAT?  You started at $239,900 and you got $148,000?”

Dad: “Yep.  The price was high to start, I’ll admit.  But then the market went south in a short period of time.”

David: “And the purchase of Parkhurst was firm, right?  Not conditional on the sale of Airdrie?  I guess that wasn’t uncommon back then?”

Dad: “At that time, yes, it was uncommon.  It depends on the market.  There were times when houses were sold conditional on the sale of existing homes, but not at that time.  Not when the market was roaring like it was.  We bought Parkhurst unconditionally so we had to sell Airdrie.”

David: “So you sold Airdrie, moved into Parkhurst, closed Airdrie, and what was the interest rate back then?”

Dad: “We paid $88,000 for Airdrie in 1978 and I think the rate was about 10.5%.  Then we bought Parkhurst and the rate was probably about 13-14%?”

I immediately get out my mortgage calculator.

David: “So if you paid $261,000 for Parkhurst and you, for argument’s sake, put down 20%, then with a 14% interest rate, on a 25-year amortization, you’d be paying $2,526.31 per month.  Oh, and only 97% of that payment is interest.”

Dad: “That’s how it was in those days.”

David: “And rates went up even higher, right?  This is when you bought those two spec properties?”

Dad: “Yep.  22.5%.  I’ll never forget it.”

I’m showing the historical peak online at 21.46% so Dad is right.

David: So Logan and Heward?”

Dad: “Yep.  48 Heward Avenue, and if I recall……..I think it was 240 Logan Avenue.”

David: “What year was this?”

Dad: “1981 or 1982, that I don’t remember exactly.  But I paid $42,000 for Logan and $48,000 for Heward.”

$48,000 for 48 Heward sounds a bit too coincidental.  I looked it up, and there is no 48 Heward Avenue.  I really wanted to know which property this was!

Dad: “I was partners with two other guys: Jimmy, who was my friend from many years prior, and a lawyer in my office named Donald Jones.”

(Not their real names.  My Dad made me change the lawyer’s name, even though I told him that a 73-year-old retired lawyer probably didn’t frequent TRB)

Dad: “They were both pieces of work.  Partners are the worst.  I learned the hard way, don’t have partners, just do it yourself.”

David: “Yeah you’ve told me that a lot over the years, but I’ve discovered that myself through my own adventures.”

Dad: “Jimmy was a piece of work.  He really was.  Let me tell you – I caught him at our wedding, me and your Mom’s, he was sneaking out of the wedding with a full bottle of scotch under his arm.  Who does that?  Who steals from their buddy’s wedding?”

One of my wife’s “best friends” invited two wedding crashers to our wedding.  The best-friend pretended afterwards that she didn’t know them, and had no idea why they showed up, but we saw the three of them on video dancing and talking all night.  He was a sex addict who was cheating on his wife, and she was his assistant.  My wife isn’t friend’s with that girl anymore, than God.

Dad: “And Donald, boy, he was a miserable, cheap son of a bitch.  His father taught him to nickel-and-dime every chance got.  Skim, shave, fight for every penny.”

David: “So great partners, you say?”

Dad: “Well, Donald put up the deposits, Jimmy did the renovations, and I took out the mortgages in my name and paid the monthlies.  I ran the properties.  But we were all supposed to share in the costs, and those two didn’t pay a dime.  They both cried poor.”

David: “So when did you sell them, and for how much?’

Dad: “We were paying 22 1/2% interest and it was killing us.  The houses were rented for, I think, $600, and $700 each.”

Paying $42,000 for a house, with an $8,400 down payment (that’s 20%), and paying 22.5% interest over a 25-year amortization means a monthly payment of $605.28.  So if these houses were rented for $600 and $700 each, with minimal property tax, no land transfer tax on the purchase, and minimal utilities, these were basically cash flow neutral.  But with a mere $3 of the $605.28 per month going towards principal repayment, there’s no return, like there is in 2020 when you’ve got a 50/50 split between principal/interest.

David: “Okay Dad, so I ran the numbers and the property was break-even.”

Dad: “No, it wasn’t the cost that was killing us, it was the work!  Landlording is tough, Dave.  It’s miserable.”

David: “Give me some examples.”

Dad: “The toilet is plugged, and some tenant doesn’t own a plunger.  You can leave it be, and risk a flood that you have to fix, or you can get down there on a Sunday and unclog their shitter.  How about the lawn?  Mow the lawn?  Mow my lawn, your tenant tells you?  I had a hand-mower from Parkhurst that I’d put in the back-seat of my Cadillac Seville and after a day at the courthouse, I’d go down there and mow the goddam lawn in a three-piece suit.”

David: “I didn’t like being a landlord either.”

Dad: “Well I was doing all the work myself.  I put a third-storey on Logan – with a sun-deck!  I probably spent $20-$25K on that.  I renovated Logan too.  But Jimmy and Donald didn’t pay a penny.  I had to take out a line of credit to get the funds, and the interest rate was criminal.”

David: “So when did you sell?”

Dad: “I sold Logan for $102,000, I think in 1982 or 1983.  Another lawyer bought it, and she was speculating.  She put a renter in there.  I made money on it, but not much.”

David: “What about Heward?”

Dad: “The person who rented Heward was disabled and she put in a ramp.  I didn’t have the heart to sell the house and kick her out, so I kept it another year or two.  She left, and the market actually went up in that time, so I made money.”

David: “Anything else memorable about this?”

Dad: “I hired some bikers to do the reno on Logan.  That’s what they did back then.  But I ran out of money because the two other guys wouldn’t pay a cent, so the property sat there, gutted, vacant, for some time.  I remember that, boy!”

David: “Did the other guys show up to get their profits?”

Dad lets out a huge laugh…

Dad: Yeah, that was the best part.  Donald Jones, that piece of shit.  Just a miserable man with bad character.  What a crook.  I never saw him once when we owned those houses, but I’ll never forget him showing up at Parkhurst, driving a shiny red Corvette, getting out and walking up the driveway to pick up his cheque.”

David: “So you didn’t transact in real estate again until you bought Bessborough in 1992.  I wrote about this on my blog last year, I think.  I remember you and Mom looking at real estate for what seemed like years.”

Dad: “Yeah that’s true, we were in Parkhurst in 1981, and had a spare bedroom.  Neil was born in 1982, and you guys were growing.  We’d need a bigger house eventually.”

David: “You looked for years, right?”

Dad: “Yeah, we did.  Duncan was our guy by then.  Ralph was out of the business very soon after we sold Airdrie and bought Parkhurst, and Duncan knew we wanted a bigger house so he was always calling us with listings.”

Notice how Duncan “called,” because there was no email, and no Internet, and all the listings were found via word-of-mouth, and the “hot sheets” that were printed by the Toronto Real Estate Board, and always several days out-of-date.

David: “I remember the listings for Bessborough.  You had them on the dining room table at Parkhurst, and I was 11-years-old, and couldn’t understand why the seller kept reducing his price.”

Dad: “The seller was in big financial trouble.  He had lost his job and he was offering the house privately at $999,900.”

David: “I also remember you on the phone with Duncan saying ‘the lot’ over and over.  I had no idea what a lot was.”

Dad: “Well it was a double-lot!  It was a 70-foot frontage in Leaside!  Semi-detached were on 25’s.  Detached started at 28, there were 30-footers, and the bigger ones were on 35’s and 36’s.  But this was a 70 x 150!”

David: “Yeah I learned that pretty quickly when I saw the house for the first time.  So what happened with the purchase?  How long did this take?”

Dad: “Well the seller had it privately for $999,900 for some time, and then he was at $899,900.  I only learned this after the fact, since I guess it was such a monster price that nobody looked at it.  He had it at $799,900 too, I think.  Or maybe that was the price he was going to market with?”

David: “So Duncan called you about it, when?”

Dad: “He called me and said, ‘You gotta see this house, it’s on a double-lot, and the seller needs to sell.’  This was on a Friday morning, and the guy was going to market on the following Monday, I think at $799,900?”

David: “Dad, that can’t be right, you bought it for $565,000.”

Dad: “No, I think so.  I think it was $799,900.  Or maybe it was $699,900.  But we saw it on Friday morning, and we bid $565,000 on Friday night because he was going to the MLS on Monday.  Then the guy signed back, and I said ‘fuck it.’  Take it or leave it.”

David: “Do you remember what he signed back at?  Was it over $600K?  Closer to his list?”

Dad: “No.  I don’t.”

David: “Okay, so then he came back and said he’d take $565,000?”

Dad: “Yep.  And it was a done deal.  $565,000, our first bid price, and the list was $699,900.  Or maybe $799,900 but I don’t know.”

David: “Yeah I wrote about this on my blog last year.  I’ll never forget, answering the phone – Julie’s hand-me-down pink phone, and you said, ‘We bought it.’  Then I dropped the phone and started to cry.”

Dad: “Yeah you weren’t real happy about that.”

David: “So then what happened with Parkhurst?”

Dad: “Well we listed with Duncan immediately, and I think we started at $399,900.  Then as you know, we were $389,900, $379,900, and $369,900.”

David: “Any action?”

Dad: “We had a low bid early on from the guy who eventually bought it.  I think he was at like $320,000 or something.”

David: “I remember the listing sheets on the dining room table, and the price coming down by $10,000 at a time.”

Dad: “The guy came back a month later and offered $360,000.”

David: “I thought you sold for $362,000?”

Dad: “I did.  I signed it back for $362,000.”

David: “Oh my God, Dad.”

Dad: “I wasn’t kidding when I said I flogged myself for overpaying on Parkhurst in 1981.  That $261,000 stuck with me for years, buddy.  You have no idea what $21,000 was back then, it was a lot of money.  You can’t even imagine.”

I told my Dad that the other bid was $245,000, so it was really only $16,000 and not $21,000, and he would have still had to beat the other bid by a few thousand, etc.  You can’t always win by $1.

Dad: “Twenty-one thousand dollars!”

David: “So the guy accepted $362,000?”

Dad: “Duncan said to me, ‘You’re not really going to do this, are you?’  And I said, ‘Watch me.’  The guy took the $362,000 and it was done.  They’ve been there now for twice as long as we were there.  We were there from 1981 to 1992, and they’ve been there from 1992 to 2020.”

David: “I tried to sabotage that sale many times.  I took down the FOR SALE sign twice.  I threw my rubber fake vomit on the floor when I knew buyers were coming through.”

Dad: “Yeah, you had it reaaaaal bad.  Moving to a big house and all…”

David: “I was a kid, I didn’t know any better.  The new house was like living in a different city, to me.”

Dad: “Don’t forget, we bought the house in April and didn’t move until September.  We renovated; put on an addition.”

David: “So you paid $565,000 and how much was the renovation?”

Dad: “The contract price was $351,000, but I learned pretty quickly how little that means.  I fought with Keith every single day for months on end.  He was a crook.  Substituting materials, taking short-cuts, arguing that features and finishes weren’t in the contract and were additional.”

David: “So how much did you pay in the end?”

Dad: “Oh, I paid close to the contract price because I’m a mean son of a bitch and I was all over him.  He couldn’t wait to be done with me.  But if you add in the extras, the landscaping, I probably paid $400,000.”

David: “Okay so you’re in for $965,000 for a house in 1992 and you sell in 2007 for $2,400,000.  Not bad.”

Dad: “Yeah, and what would it be worth now?”

David: “Oh geez, tell me you’re gonna ‘flog yourself’ again over this?”

Dad: “I could have kept it and made a lot more.”

David: “Right, but you also could have sold for $1,900,000 in 2008-2009 when the market turned.”

Dad: “Yeah.”

I believe our conversation then segued into hockey cards, and that was the end of the story.

I find this fascinating, but then again, I work in real estate.  I live and breathe it.  Some of you might not be able to understand the market back then, or might be bored out of your wits with this dialogue.  Some of you might not be reading this, because I lost you somewhere around 1982.

Then again, many of you lived through this, and have similar stories.

I’d love hear them.  I really would.

We might not be putting the kids to bed right now, but I’d love story-time, if any of you are willing…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

Find Out More About David Read More Posts

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  1. Francesca

    at 7:33 am

    David very interesting story. Amazing that your dad’s memory is still so sharp after so many years and distinct transactions. My dad used to work for a large Italian bank and we moved around a lot when I was a kid and always rented as my dad’s job covered the rent. I still remember hearing my parents discuss how much a house we had lived in had sold for after we were forced to move out with a bit of regret years later of not having purchased it as an investment. When my parents finally decided to stay in Toronto long term and buy it was 1997-98. I would have been 23-24 and I remember going to see houses with my parents in their current neighbourhood of Bayview and York Mills. I believe the real estate market wasn’t very good at the time as there were a ton of houses at the time and prices kept dropping with some houses on the market for months on end. My parents took months to decide amongst a list of maybe 10 houses which one they wanted to buy. There was no sense of urgency whatsoever I remember. They were able to negotiate down with the sellers who were moving down to the USA and bought their current house for 550k in 1998. We stayed in our rental house a few blocks away for six months while they did some renovations to their house which at the time would have been roughly 20 years old already. I feel that they were super lucky as they bought when prices were pretty low (my understanding is that prices had been higher in previous years in the 90s). I can’t remember what the mortgage rate was at the time though. Now their house would probably be worth in the 2.2-2.5 range so not bad of an appreciation in 22 years! I think overall if you hold real estate long enough in Toronto you can’t go wrong even if you may have slightly over paid for a house like your dad thought he had and don’t have to sell during a downturn market.

    1. Condodweller

      at 11:03 pm

      The market bottomed out right around that time so your parents lucked out buying near the bottom in the last 30 years. I don’t know what average prices were back then but houses could be had for around 200k back then.

      If one buys near the top it could be a long wait until prices recover. I knew someone who bought just before the peak in 89 and didn’t break even including inflation until the mid 2010s.

  2. Ed

    at 8:23 am

    David as soon as you wrote “I’d love story time” I thought to myself where’s Francesca.
    Francesca, please note this is not a dig at you, I enjoy your comments very much.

    1. Francesca

      at 8:45 am

      Thanks Ed! I appreciate it!

  3. Ed

    at 8:40 am

    David I see a theme here with your dad’s acquaintances.
    Ralph- sketchy agent turned hairdresser
    Jimmy- booze thief partner
    Donald Jones- cheap prick partner
    Bikers who sideline doing renos
    Keith- crook contractor

    He sure did business with a lot of “characters”

  4. Wendy

    at 9:34 am

    David, what a wonderful tale! Despite the market slowdown, you continue to entertain us. These stories are getting better and better. Keep it up, and thanks for sharing!

  5. RPG

    at 9:38 am

    Your old man sounds like a riot! Now I see where you get it from.

  6. Jeff

    at 9:46 am

    2 months seems optimistic. Based on past pandemics a range of 6 to 12 months including multiple waves would be more realistic. Hopefully, it doesn’t go beyond that.

  7. Chris

    at 9:55 am

    Scott Ingram with some great analysis and commentary on today’s TRREB Market Watch:

    “For me condos are the most interesting thing to watch over the rest of year. Up 17% makes it due for some “regression to the mean” and I’m predicting as the severity of the recession deepens/lengthens, a bunch of mom & pop investors are going to sell. Either to cash out while they’re up, or because they can’t afford the negative cash flow – especially if they lose their own jobs. We’ve already seen former Airbnbs dumped on the resale and rental market since revenues dropped to zero in a snap.”Only goes up in value” doesn’t seem so certain anymore, eh? Especially when the top 3 indicators that TRREB tracks are going to get worse. Also that immigration that everyone always banks on for pop’n growth looks to be on hold for awhile.”


    1. Natrx

      at 6:59 pm

      On top, Ritual, a bellweather for the start-up VC funded industry laid off 115 ppl in Toronto due to its sponsor pulling funding. Grant it they were in a business that is the most hurt by this (food pickup.. while popular, doesn’t make up for all the other ones shut down), it just shows job losses in Toronto’s vaunted ‘tech’ sector are not immune to global investment deflationary forces.

      This is where I question how certain people don’t make the connection… huge losses in the stock market has devastating impact to many companies that rely on external funding to fuel their growth. This leads to job losses in high pay jobs, most often where people were renting in urban settings (i.e. condo), or buying those entry level condos, which in turn, fueled the step up semi-SFHs.

      1. Chris

        at 7:34 pm

        Because, Natrx, Toronto real estate will simply plow right through any recession. It’s unstoppable. Immune to global economic forces. Didn’t you listen when appraiser said so?

        1. Clifford

          at 1:54 am

          Who has said that? O one on this planet has ever said real estate is a straight line of appreciation. There are peaks and valleys and what we are experiencing is a once in a lifetime event. Everything will be affected. I don’t get this take.

          1. Verbal Kint

            at 10:53 am

            Yep, when Canada sets immigration at 300k/year and the jobs reports are good, Appraiser confidently — and ceaselessly — predicts that the future is up. But when immigration is halted and 2 million Canadians apply for EI in two weeks, he claims “nobody has a crystal ball” — as if the near term future of real estate was difficult to discern.

          2. Chris

            at 11:36 am

            Bingo, Kint.

            Predictions and anecdotes were all well and good when the market was climbing, or if they fit his selected narrative.

            If they run counter to bullish sentiment though, they’re just useless “anecdata” or crystal ball gazing.

            In the unlikely event that anyone here still ascribes a shred of credibility to appraiser’s commentary, you would be well advised to give your head a shake.

  8. Appraiser

    at 9:58 am

    TRREB sales data for March:

    “The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark price was up by 11.1 per cent year-over-year in March 2020. The average selling price for March 2020 as a whole was $902,680 – up 14.5 per cent compared to March 2019. The average selling price for sales reported between March 15 and March 31, was $862,563 – down from the first half of March 2020, but still up by 10.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.”

    1. Chris

      at 10:19 am

      “Uncertainty surrounding the outbreak’s impact on the broader economy and the onset of the necessary social distancing measures resulted in the decline in sales since March 15,” said TRREB president Michael Collins in a release. “Sales figures for April will give us a better sense as to the trajectory of the market while all levels of government take the required action to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

  9. McBloggert

    at 10:20 am

    What a great post and feels very appropriate to reflect back on others experience at this time. For many of us, we have only known one thing – the market always goes up – there are always multiple buyers lined up for your house (unless you screw up the pricing and marketing).

    It is a nice story to help us wrap our heads around – how a normal functioning market works – there will be periods where it will seem easy – and then there will be periods where things change and you have to adapt.

    What is also reassuring is resiliency. If we do enter into a turbulent period – over a long enough time frame – things bounce back – it could be months like in 2008-2009 or hopefully not as prolonged as the 90s.

    I for one like story time – keep it up Dave!

    1. Natrx

      at 7:03 pm

      ‘When’ things do bounce back, it will bounce back huge, due to unprecedented amount of money that’s been injected into the system. This is the first time in history that Canada has engaged in Quantitative Easing (i.e. money printing). Unlike the US, we are not a reserve currency, so the long-term impact can be very dire/volatile since we are actually impacted by foreign capital balances, unlike the US.

  10. Appraiser

    at 11:13 am

    Love that pic with you and your dad. Priceless.

    Was someone eating chocolate just before that polaroid was snapped?

    1. David Fleming

      at 12:11 pm

      @ Appraiser

      I didn’t notice the chocolate moustache, I was too busy looking at the decor!

      That’s our basement at 128 Parkhurst Boulevard. Look at the walls – like a wood-cabin! I don’t think the walls were actually built of logs, but this was the style at the time.

  11. Jimbo

    at 1:27 pm

    A very good read, what is it that is so different this time from then? They had multiple bids, they had lawyers and other “well to do” people entering the market on multiple homes to get a rental income and reach for a higher sale price. Not all realtors were prepared back then and during a downturn they left the business. I’m not trying to sound smartass but I am very curious as to how you quantify what is different. I can think of technology and I’m guessing more realtors double ended on their deals then Vs now or at least depth with other realtors in their brokerage.

    I would also like to put some numbers in to perspective and I don’t have them yet but will before I finish this post. Before I lay them out I know it isn’t as simple as just saying wow that gain was only 300k over 30yrs as in most cases you have to live somewhere and it is almost impossible to put a value on making that $1m or 100k after inflation, what ever it ends up being. Especially after you consider you could raise a family in a safe and healthy environment etc etc.

    Bought for $88,000 in 1978 which is $342k in today’s money and $118k in 1981’s money. Sold for $148k in 1981 which is $429k in today’s money.

    $261k in 1981 was $756k in today’s money and $459k in 1992 money. Sold for $362k in 1992 which was $597k in today’s money.

    In 1992 a house with renovation cost $965k which is $1.6m in today’s money and $1.3m in 2007. Sold for $2.4m which is $3m in today’s money.

    Without renovation the cost would be $747k in 2007 money and $931k in today’s money.

    Not even close to as clear as monthly payments I guess but it was a bit of fun to put together.

    You could argue all day on if a lose happened in 1992, your father would look at it like most people and say it was a $101k gain in 11 years. I mean theoretically there was a $97k loss but the question is, would you save that $9k a year while you were renting to replace that gained equity? You wouldn’t have gained much equity in the mortgage payment, but there was still a good gain in equity.

    It all comes down to sacrifice and outside of student debt and getting a good enough job before 24 contribute to the need for help but I honestly don’t think buying a house now is any harder than in the 80s and 90s. We have just replaced 6 years of savings with borrowing from parents. I don’t think it paid to wait to buy once you could afford to buy.

    When I looked at this last year the outstanding amount owed to banks in 1988-1991 was the same as 2017 after 25 years of payments without a change in interest rates which I found interesting. I think this will lead to much bigger profits for them if rates go up, which should be sustainable for the average person if their wage goes up.

  12. Chris

    at 1:39 pm

    “The post-virus economy: China goes back to work – But not back to normal

    When China went into lockdown in late January, economists thought that its growth trajectory would be V-shaped. There would be a sharp slowdown, followed by a swift rebound as soon as the virus was under control, as happened with China’s outbreak of SARS in 2003. They were right about the slowdown.

    The prediction of a quick, strong recovery is more debatable… on the supply side, the overall picture is encouraging.

    Resuscitating demand is proving more difficult. It involves two things that are harder for the government to manage: global growth and public anxiety about the disease.

    For consumption to recover, people must feel confident. They do not. Most provinces have reduced their emergency-alert levels. Even Hubei, the worst-hit, has started to let people (other than residents of Wuhan, the capital) travel elsewhere. But anxiety abounds. Except in a few remote regions, schools are into their second month of closure. Only about 500 of the country’s 11,000 cinemas have re-opened.”


  13. Chris

    at 1:41 pm

    “Ontario coronavirus modelling suggests that without intervention, province would have had 6,000 deaths by end of April. On track for 1,600, but could go down to 200 if people follow guidelines. Number of cases would have been 300,000; on track for 80,000, could go down to 12,500.

    Number of COVID-19 deaths in Ontario over the anticipated length of the pandemic (up to 2 years) could have hit 100,000 without public health measures, officials say. Modelling now projects 3,000 to 15,000 deaths, which is largely dependent on whether people follow guidelines.

    Ontario health officials say removing physical distancing restrictions ‘some way off.’ They say the goal is driving down COVID-19’s reproductive rate and ‘chopping the top off the curve’ before considering if there are places where restrictions can be ‘selectively lifted.'”


    1. Chris

      at 1:45 pm

      “Hopefully normal means: The media will stop fear mongering about CVirus.”

      – Appraiser, March 16, 2020

      “Each year in Canada, it is estimated that influenza causes approximately: 12,200 hospitalizations, 3,500 deaths

      That’s almost 10 deaths every day from seasonal influenza.

      Canada has had 1 death from COVID-19 thus far.”

      – Appraiser, March 12, 2020

      Wow, these comments aged worse than milk. And significantly faster than it, too!

      1. J G

        at 2:42 pm

        “Toronto RE market unstoppable“
        -Appraiser, 2-3 weeks ago

        1. Chris

          at 3:21 pm

          “Tired of being wrong yet?”

          – Appraiser


  14. Yesi Merino

    at 1:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing your conversation with your dad, kept me very entertained!

  15. ventolin

    at 3:05 pm

    General Information Here this outcome

  16. Appraiser

    at 3:06 pm

    Real Estate still on newly modified list of essential services.

    Financial services
    Businesses that provide the following financial services:
    Capital markets and related securities trading and advisory services.
    Banking/credit union activities including credit intermediation.
    Land registration services.
    Real estate agent services.
    Pension and benefits payment services.
    Financial services including payroll and payment processing and accounting and tax services.


    1. Bal

      at 4:23 pm

      What did they remove?

        1. Bal

          at 5:28 pm

          Thanks…i think all they removed is cannabis and some construction…..i will still need to go to work on Monday…lol

      1. Ed

        at 5:26 pm

        cannabis only allowed online

        1. Bal

          at 5:29 pm

          May be time for me to start smoking weed…lol

          1. Ed

            at 5:39 pm

            look at you, you got the lingo down already

  17. Chris

    at 7:50 pm

    “Hopes for a quick return to where we would have ended up pre-virus ignores what we’re hearing from epidemiologists and the lessons of past shocks. The experts suggest that until a vaccine or cure is available, some base line level of infection will still circulate in the population (perhaps seasonally), and our exit strategy will be to move from a mass lockdown to aggressive testing, contact tracing, and localized bouts of enforced isolation and workplace shutdowns.

    During that period which could extend through 2021, cross-border travel will be at least partially restricted or subject to strict quarantine rules until all countries are on the same page. Large conventions and other mass gatherings might be viewed warily. Not quite happy days are here again. A few sectors that caught negative headlines, including cruise lines and retirement homes, could face lingering reputation issues. Other sectors, including airlines and oil & gas, have simply lost so much demand that even a respectable climb back will almost certainly be a long road.

    Even after more typical shocks, economies often struggle to return to the level of real GDP that the prior growth trend would have implied. After the global financial crisis, the US and Canada attained healthy growth rates but left a permanent gap in real GDP versus its 2001-07 trend. (Chart 1) Reflecting that tendency, our base case outlook has the level of real GDP in Q4 2021 still roughly 2% softer in the US and Canada relative to what we had projected at the start of the year (i.e. before the virus hit)”


  18. Chris

    at 7:54 pm

    “COVID-19 Hit to Housing Market is Just the Beginning of a Tough Period

    Early results from local real estate boards show a sharp drop-off in home resales in the second half of the month after what was a strong first half. We expect activity to slow to a crawl in most markets across the country in April and for as long as social distancing and lock-down measures are in place. Home prices held up well overall in March—strengthening further in both Toronto and Vancouver—though it’s unclear how long this can continue. We expect property values to come under increasing downward pressure the longer restrictions persist and the deeper the recession gets. Super thin activity also makes the market prone to erratic price moves.

    The Toronto Region Real Estate Board indicated Toronto-area home resales were up 49% y/y in the first 14 days of March and then plummeted -16% in the remainder of the month. On the whole, March resales were 12% above the level a year ago. This marked a significant slowing from the 44% y/y increase recorded in February. By our own rough calculation, March activity shrunk about 23% from February on a seasonally-adjusted basis. We also estimate new listings fell 9%. Demand-supply conditions loosened somewhat as a result though remained in balanced territory —at least, overall in the month—maintaining support for prices. The rate of increase in the MLS Home Price Index accelerated to 11.1% y/y. We expect price support to wear down in the weeks ahead. Still we see a low risk of a collapse at this point. We believe the extraordinary policy response from all levels of government and the Bank of Canada, as well as accommodating measures offered by financial institutions will soften the blow.”


    Sounds like Hogue’s turned a touch more pessimistic since his last real estate update four days ago.

  19. Natrx

    at 7:44 am

    For the first time in Canada’s history, we’re doing quantitative easy, a la US style. Dangerous territory.

  20. Appraiser

    at 9:09 am

    Is Jason Kirby taking crazy pills? Why would he tweet about an article by Better Dwelling filled with accurate and factual data about the GTA real estate market?

    “Over 3,300 People Bought Toronto Real Estate – After The Lockdown”

    “After March 15, there were 3,369 sales in the remainder of the month, down 15% from last year. Considering TRREB recommended a stop of all face-to-face business on March 24, a surprising amount of people still bought”


  21. Chris

    at 11:42 am

    “Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins in November said the bank’s research had found Canada “would be hit particularly hard” by a scenario where rising uncertainty worsens a global economic slowdown, which is quite similar to the situation we’re experiencing now.

    Canada’s housing sector, a prime driver of economic growth for the past decade, is not immune either.

    For years, rising prices and high levels of debt led to skepticism about the real estate market’s soundness. When pressed, though, lenders would point to Canada’s low jobless rate. Rising home prices also meant households’ overall wealth was increasing, a development some economists said mitigated the debt threat.

    But both the employment and wealth arguments might now be tested. Recent reports by the Royal Bank of Canada’s economics unit have predicted unemployment could rise past 11 per cent (or about double where it was in February) and that property values could fall for a short period if “tight-squeezed sellers” are forced to make concessions.

    “An increase in defaults from highly leveraged households could be seen in the medium term,” noted another recent report by DBRS Morningstar.”


    1. Chris

      at 11:44 am

      “Now that the aggravated costs of excessive household borrowing are playing out, I sincerely hope we can work together with the reale estate industry to help protect first time homebuyers from the peril of too much debt.“

      – Evan Siddall, President and CEO, CMHC


  22. johnny chase

    at 1:42 pm

    240 Logan of for sale today. You AND you dad can buy it for $7M.

  23. Chris

    at 5:44 pm

    “Toronto is Now a Buyers’ Market Due to COVID-19

    Using data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), Zoocasa reviewed how real estate market activity evolved in tandem with these emergency measures being put into effect.

    According to our calculations, the sales-to-new-listings ratio (SNLR) – a measure of market competition calculated by dividing the number of sales by the number of new listings – dropped to 38 per cent for detached and semi-detached homes in the GTA between March 17-23; compared to 53 per cent for the week prior to the emergency declaration. For condo apartments and condo townhouses, the SNLR dropped from 55 per cent to 40 per cent for the same time period. When the SNLR is between 40% – 60%, this indicates a balanced market, while above and below that threshold reveals sellers’ and buyers’ markets, respectively. As such, these numbers represent a visible shift in market conditions over a very short period of time.”


    1. Derek

      at 6:34 pm

      Chris, fwiiw, I think our LG was poo-pooing the methodology and / or conclusions about being a buyers market, at least right now on the tweeter. I was quickly skimming but I think that was the gyst. Again, fwiiw.

      1. Daniel

        at 7:03 pm

        Who is this LG you guys keep referring to?

        1. Chris

          at 7:14 pm

          John Pasalis, humorously referred to by some as LG, short for Lord God.

          1. Derek

            at 1:00 am

            True story lol. I like to think of him as our LG because his Word is cited by either side when it’s convenient ????????

          2. Chris

            at 9:56 am

            Both him and Scott Ingram do great analysis and tend to have pretty balanced assessments. Neither are overly bullish or bearish, just call it as the data shows it to be.

      2. Chris

        at 7:03 pm

        I saw that as well. Pasalis is going based on MOI, whereas Zoocasa is using SNLR.

        New listings isn’t the best metric, so I would probably lean more towards Pasalis’ assessment.

        But interesting to see nonetheless.

    2. Appraiser

      at 8:26 pm


      Bear-Boner Alert! Bear-Boner Alert !

      1. Chris

        at 9:07 pm

        Zoo-CACA, and bear-boner?

        What are you, 12 years old?


  24. Margo

    at 7:08 pm

    The agent described in this story has to be Richard Byford. He’s the only person that could have been consistently listing real estate in Leaside in 1978 and who is still active today.

    David, I have lived in Leaside since 1975 and this was a treat to read. I recognize the street names and the houses you describe and I remember those prices and interest rates like it was yesterday. Young buyers today pay a heck of a lot more for houses but they’ll never know anything close to 22 per cent interest.

    1. Condodweller

      at 10:31 pm

      That’s awesome.

  25. Condodweller

    at 11:29 pm

    This is a great story and a trip down memory lane. What I find interesting is the two investment properties for $42 and 48k in the early 80’s.

    That’s quite the rise to the top in the late 80’s. I thought prices would have been higher by the early 80’s as I had a relative who bought a house in the 70’s in the $30k range and anecdotally houses were ~20k in the 50’s.

  26. Shannah

    at 1:39 pm

    The article below echoed the sentiment of your above discussion. It’s an astute time to revisit the past, especially for those of us who have never experienced market conditions that might be around the corner. Thank you for posting! I just found your blog and pleased to read a more perceptive view on the subject.

    Below, in describing the medium-term potential impact of global stimulus payments “suggests the inflation is already happening now, but is disguised by the temporary COVID-caused crash in demand. If we do see a return to inflation, it’s hard to predict how it will play out. But central banks likely will start raising rates to keep it in hand.

    The value of assets such as housing will fall as borrowing costs rise. Outstanding consumer loans will become a bigger burden.

    Employment incomes that rise with inflation will be a better source of money for the working young than cash piles held by the rich and old. Spending money now will be better than waiting, because the price of things you want will go nowhere but up. And a generation who’s never seen it will have to figure out inflation all over again.”


  27. Ebdaa

    at 3:41 am

    It’s really amazing information, these days more and more people are taking interest in property because in this business profite level on highest peak. Thank you very much for sharing this information. Ebdaa Developments

Pick5 is a weekly series comparing and analyzing five residential properties based on price, style, location, and neighbourhood.

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