Welcome To The Fall Market!

Business | September 2, 2014

It’s been a long, slow summer in the real estate market, and with the calendar now turned to September, we can come out of our solemn slumber, and get back to work.

I’ve been waiting for this day like a child waiting for Christmas, and now that it’s here, I want to discuss my expectations for the next three months, and perhaps be so bold as to make a few predictions as well.

Whether you’re a buyer, seller, home inspector, or painter – you’re about to get very, very busy…


It almost doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Words like “Fall,” and “September” are appearing before your very eyes, and yet it feels like just yesterday that we were marvelling at a day in early June without rain, and figuring that the long-awaited summer was here!

We got royally screwed this year when it comes to the weather, and specifically the changing of the seasons.

It was a miserable winter, and the spring was essentially an extension of winter anyways.

If you go back four months from today – on May 2nd, the high was 12-degrees.  The high.  Twelve.  MAY!

But alas, here we are, in the month of September, and the summer is gone.  The calendar tells us we have another 19 days, but nobody really considers September to be summer.

On a personal level, I have as much love as I have hate for the end of summer and the beginning of fall.  Fall means NFL football is back, but it marks the end of my golf playing days until next May.  It means Saturday nights enjoying a glass of wine on my terrace are all but over, however it means I’ll most likely be working seven-day weeks again until the end of November.

And that’s not a bad thing, FYI.  I honestly get bored in the summer when the market is slow, and I’m excited to get back to work this fall!

So having said that, what do I expect to see this fall?

Where is the real estate market headed?

I’m not one for predictions, since people rarely remember, and nobody ever goes back and says “I was wrong,” when they surely go back and say “TOLD YOU SO, I was right,” but there are a handful of points I want to discuss, and while I’m at it, I should probably throw my opinion in as well:

Prices Will Rise

I know it sucks, but it’s just the reality of the Toronto market.

In 2013, the average price of a Toronto home in the months of February through June, respectively, was $510,580, $519,879, $526,335, $542,174, and $531,374, for an average of $526,068.

In 2013, the average price of a Toronto home in the months of September through November, respectively, was $533,797, $539,058, $538,881, for an average of $537,245.

Sure, that’s only a modest 2% increase from spring to fall, but it’s an increase nonetheless, and if I were to take “central Toronto,” or “detached houses,” rather than the overall average for the GTA, I think the increase would be even more pronounced.

The average price of Toronto home WILL rise in the fall of 2014, of that, I have no doubt.

We Will See “Offer Dates” On Condos

Through the spring market, I basically refused to show a condo if there was a “hold back” on offers, ie. a set date to review offers, like we see with houses.

That’s not to say that I didn’t inform my buyer-clients of a property that suited their needs if and when it came on the market, but rather it wasn’t something I suggested we go see right away.

Nine times out of ten, the seller of a condo who insists on a hold-back on offers is somebody who has been reading all the media coverage of the “red hot” Toronto housing market, sees houses selling for over-asking and in bidding wars, and fails to distinguish between “house” and “condo.”

It’s those people, and their unrealistic expectations, that I want nothing to do with.  I’d say more than HALF of the listings I saw for condos with a hold-back on offers ended up RAISING their prices after the “offer date” had passed, and again – that’s something I want nothing to do with.

I understand if the listing is a brick-and-beam penthouse the Candy Factory Lofts, overlooking Trinity Bellwoods Park with a gorgeous terrace.  But when it’s some cookie-cutter 1-bedroom condo, worth about $350,000, there’s just no reason for it.

That is, perhaps, until the Fall of 2014.

As much as it pains me to say this, I think that we’re going to see a lot more “offer dates” on condos in the downtown core in the Fall of 2014, and much of it will be warranted.

The toughest condo market I ever worked in was in 2009 when every condo in the core had an offer date, and it was insane to see a simple unit at Mozo or The Hudson end up with five offers.

But with the condo market the way it is, and with inventory for quality condos at a low-point, it won’t surprise me to see a lot more listings for condos come with set offer dates.

It’ll be our job, as agents, to weed out the listings that have no business holding back offers, and advise our clients accordingly.

Mortgage Rates Will Remain Low

Back in June, Stephen Poloz suggested that Canada will move towards an “interest neutral” strategy when it comes to the benchmark lending rate.

Just this past week, Poloz suggested that he may or may not follow the lead of the United States’ Federal Reserve if and when they raise interest rates.

Reading between the lines of those two suggestions by Mr. Poloz, I’d say that interest rates aren’t going up any time soon.

The current 5-year, fixed rate mortgage is between 2.89% and 2.99%, depending on the features of the mortgage.

Despite the fact that rates were as low as 2.49% in the past couple years (again depending on the features of the mortgage), today’s rates are still hysterically low compared to years prior, and perhaps, years ahead.

I don’t see the BOC raising rates for at least a year, and Mr. Poloz suggested at one point that it could take unit mid-2016 for us to see any increase.

As a result, that’s one less catalyst needed for a market reversal, and thus it gives more credibility to my prediction that prices will continue to rise, like it, or not…

Pre-Construction Condo Sales Will Cool

It was just a matter of time until people caught on that the Emperor isn’t actually wearing any clothes!

I believe that the situation with Centrium Condos might actually serve as the catalyst we pre-construction-bears have been waiting years for.

It’s sad that it took this long, and it took hundreds of buyers losing millions of dollars to shine a light on what an absolute farce the pre-construction condo industry has become.  But then again, given the developer for this project had never built before, had no sales centre, no brochure, and no website, perhaps folks got exactly what they bargained for…

NDP MP Rosario Marchese was spearheading an initiative to bring about change in the condo industry by updating portions of the Condominium Act (1997), but he lost the spring election, and is no longer in office.

I really can’t speculate as to whether the Act is updated, whether the industry changes, or whether the folks involved with Centrium will get their money back, but I will make one bold prediction: pre-construction condo sales will cool.

They simply have to.

Enough prudent people have heard the story about Centrium, and it’s enough to give them at least a moment of hesitation before jumping into the fray and making an already-speculative investment.  If that’s the best we can get – just a slight hesitation, then I’ll take it!  For the last few years, nobody batted an eyelash at the idea of dumping $70,000 into an unbreakable contract with a developer for a to-be-determined condominium “investment.”  Hopefully, some good will come from the Centrium debacle, and it’ll serve as a cautionary tale for would-be buyers.

People You Know Will Move Out Of Toronto

Overall, I’d say Toronto’s net migration is huge.  That is, for every person that moves out of the city of Toronto, I’d say there have to be 2-3 moving in.

But we all have a friend, family member, or colleague, who will eventually seek greener pastures, and cheaper real estate, and move out of the city.

Recently, my clients sold their Toronto condo for $368,000, and bought a massive house out in Whitby for slightly more than that amount.  They have more bedrooms than they know what to do with.

A long-time client purchased a $1.7M house in Old Oakville that would cost $3.5M in Rosedale.

We all know somebody that’s moved out of the city, and while many do it because they’ve found jobs in other areas of the Golden Horseshoe, I do have a client who moved out of the city and is going to commute every day!

For the most part, if you work in Toronto, you’re going to live here.  Most folks don’t welcome a 90-minute commute, each way, every day, forever.  But if you have a flexible job (ie. a teacher that asks to be transferred to Kingston, Ontario), you might love the idea of stretching your dollar further when it comes to your primary residence.

The Leafs Will Not Make The Playoffs

Okay, so this has nothing to do with real estate.

But this summer was a classic rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic, and the fact that highly-coveted President Tim Leiweke recently announced, 14 months into a 5-year contract, that he was stepping down from his position, clearly shows that Maple Leaf Sport & Entertainment is a disaster of a business.

The Leafs are miserable, but so too is the entire ownership group.

I’m not going to waste my time this winter watching the Leafs, and I laugh at the idea of actually paying money to go to a game in person, which I haven’t done in five years.

John Tory Will Win The Municipal Election

I think this prediction is based on equal parts of hope and fear.

Our city sits on the precipice of disaster, if Rob Ford prevails, and four more years of Toronto city council squabbling and in-fighting follows.

Toronto needs to move forward, or risk being trampled by its own population.

Did you know that New York City has 468 subway stations, and Toronto has 69?

Chew on that, for the next two days…


Back To Top

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


  1. LJay

    at 7:56 am

    Off topic, but since you mentioned it, teachers actually can’t change boards now without starting at the bottom — applying for an occasional teacher position and battling their way up! This was been the case since Regulation 274 was introduced a couple of years ago.

  2. Jackie

    at 9:02 am

    I think at some point the people moving out of Toronto will increase because the commuting in many cases doesn’t live up to the myth. When the 25 – 35 demographic starts coupling up and they start to realize a 30-40 minute commute from one side of dowtown Toronto to the other is essentially the same as a 30 minute express train ride from Oakville or Pickering a $450,000 townhouse with a yard starts looking better than a $450,000 condo.

    1. jeff316

      at 10:00 am

      The problem is that the myth goes both ways. More often than not, the internal calculation we make when comparing the intra-city trip vs. suburban train route is door-to-door in the former but not in the latter – add in 15 minutes either side for driving to/from station, plus a driven daycare pickup/dropoff on top of that (and additional commuting costs) and sadly, there are no easy decisions.

      1. Joe Q.

        at 11:01 am

        Excellent point. Commute times have to be compared apples-to-apples. The time it might take an Oakville resident to get from home to the GO Train platform is not negligible (especially if he or she has to drive around looking for a parking spot).

        1. Cool Koshur

          at 2:05 pm

          Good points.There are 4 key factors here. 1) How far is your home from GO station (mine is 5 mins drive or 40cents by bus. 2) Parking at GO station (Oakville GO has plenty of parking as compared to other stations. You will always find a spot). 3) Paid Parking (This is free as of now, then it is matter of time that commuters will start paying for it). 4) Trip cost (Oakville GO to Union is $7 one way. No cheap by any standards

          My door – door commute from Oakville to downtown is 1 hour and this is same when I used to live near TTC Main Station.

          Commuters on GO are “civilised” which is priceless as compared to TTC.

    2. Greg

      at 12:52 pm

      My wife and I moved out of a condo into a ‘suburbian dream house’ loaded with bonus rooms that collected dust…we lasted 6 years commuting the 401 everyday between Durham region and Toronto, and it sucked the life out of us. I admit to becoming a bad person on the highways, while I raced to/from daycares on time. We sold and moved back into the city into a smaller home, and we absolutely love it. I have a whole new appreciation for the TTC!

    3. Alex

      at 3:15 pm

      There is a huge difference in terms of stress though when you factor in the train frequency. Nobody worries about when they head home to the subway, because it runs every couple minutes. If your train only runs every 30 minutes though then you have to worry about which one you catch, and if you have to run for it (I take a bus that runs every half hour and it is really annoying). During rush hour it’s a lot better, at least on the Lakeshore lines, with trains every 15 min or so, but it’s still not the same as being able to leave whenever you want. Plus there is just general stress associated with commuting long distances, e.g. traffic or delays. Health-wise a shorter commute is a lot better for you.

  3. Geoff

    at 9:47 am

    John Tory should win the election… but the man can’t get elected dog catcher and will undoubtedly say something stupid, thereby denying the city the opportunity to deny Olivia Chow a government job for the first time in her life.

        1. Libertarian

          at 12:24 pm

          Tory may pull off a Hudak, but I don’t think that Chow will benefit from it. She’s done….unless Tory and Ford both do something incredibly stupid. Here’s hoping Soknacki doesn’t quit the race!

          1. Alex

            at 3:19 pm

            Agreed! I wish Socknacki had more support so I could vote for him without being afraid of Ford getting elected. As it is now I’ll have to vote for Tory, who I don’t think will do a very good job but will be better than Ford. Tory just doesn’t come off as very smart or dedicated based on the ideas he proposes, if he got elected I wish he’d put Socknacki in as his advisor or something.

          2. Joe Q.

            at 11:53 am

            ^ I hope that, at some point, Ontario cities get the ability to do “preference voting” (single transferable ballot / “instant runoff”) for municipal elections, rather than the current first-past-the-post system. Wynne made some comments about this during the election campaign. We’ll see what ends up happening.

  4. Amelia Haynes

    at 1:07 pm

    If the GO train breaks down and it is your only means of getting into the city for work, you’re screwed. At least when you live within the city you have options – ttc, cab, bike, walk, drive.

  5. jj

    at 1:39 pm

    I find that people under estimate their commute times no matter where they live. E.g. Don’t include the 10-15 minutes to walk to and wait for that subway or bus.

    GO trains do break down but they have buses to take over. Albeit longer transit time, but being stranded is not an issue.

    Ultimately I think commute time will become less of a critical issue in housing decisions as more and more investment is made into transportation (e.g. All day, two way electrified GO train service, subway expansion, BRT, LRT, etc) as well as more and more companies allowing employees to work from home.

    1. Amelia Haynes

      at 9:22 am

      It’s 5:30 on a Thursday after work. Your train isn’t running. You and thousands of others are delayed more than an hour getting home, stuck on some platform somewhere. As far as I’m concerned, that’s being stranded. Need to pick up your kids from daycare?! Too bad for you! What about showing up in the AM to find your train isn’t running on time – being late to work isn’t being stranded but it’s not acceptable if it happens regularly. Again, if GO is your only form of transport, you are totally vulnerable to its hickups and that goes for ttc or bike or walking if those are your only form of transport. Obviously everyone is different and what is acceptable to some isn’t to others. I like having choice and living in the city gives me that. I do not depend on any one form of transport. And I can always plan my day to ensure that I am where I want to be – when I want to be there – no matter what. That has HUGE value to me.

      1. jeff316

        at 10:54 am

        To be fair, this happens in Toronto too – I was 30 minutes late to work on Tuesday due to a particularly unlucky run of streetcar and subway delays – but this problem is definitely amplified by reduced train frequency and increased commuting distance.

        I think kid factor is a huge issue that people don’t pick up on until they have a few. It’s not just daycare – it’s sick pick ups, appointments, any off-site trips, day/summer camps. Lots of variables there that make a two-parent Toronto-employed suburban lifestyle challenging.

        Having one parent working out of the suburbs makes the situation much more workable.

      2. Chroscklh

        at 11:09 am

        I am living in downtown, but I recall the younger days in suburb (well actually, I grew up on eel farm, more like the rural) – I understand that those people like their spacious houses and as long as malls always have the parking – is nice to pull right up in front of ‘Few Frills’ and fill your trunk boot with club-pack chicken. And as long as Goat Train operate to downtown on the schedule, is okay. To each, their own. I now like to do the walk everywhere (including work), and street car or subway some places. I consider the Oakville because express train get to work faster than my feet but I get the stress about train schedule, get to train, weekend work…no like to be 40 km from work if I can’t have 99% confidence in train. My father try deliver eels by train to deli – is disaster, made into tv movie of week. For to protect the property value in Toronto and surrounding area, the good reliable transit is critical. Second is mayor who is no crazy nor do the drugs. I understand he wish to keep streets clean by doing all drug himself but he about to explode.

        1. jeff316

          at 1:05 pm

          I think this one is even better than the renting the basement to the bear (not gay man, real bear).

        2. Kyle

          at 2:29 pm

          Chroscklh brings up many good points. While the commute and $/sq ft are important considerations, lets not forget home is more than just a place where you sleep and commute to work. There are other lifestyle considerations fueling the demand in the core, such as, shopping on your high street regularly vs the mall or the “Few Frills” once a week, car dependency vs having many alternative modes to choose from, not having to be a chauffeur for your kids until they learn to drive, feeling of connectedness to your neighbouhood vs isolation, proximity to activities, services, amenities and culture.

      3. Joe Q.

        at 11:51 am

        I agree with Amelia’s points, but concur with jeff316 that this is an issue with any rapid-transit system. Even someone who works downtown but lives at Yonge and Sheppard would be stranded if the YUS line went down (as it sometimes does), they’d be just as screwed as an Oakville resident trying to deal with a GO shutdown. To me it is more of a function of distance than of the transportation method involved.

        1. Kyle

          at 3:25 pm

          While distance is a factor, the reality is issues on the subway are usually temporary or only affect a small section of the line, making it relatively easy to walk, shuttle bus or cab a couple of stations and then continue along on your way. This is definitely not feasible when Go lines crap out.

          1. Greg

            at 4:06 pm

            Kyle, you are correct. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing both the GO transit system and the TTC. When the GO system or train goes down, your commute time can easily increase several hours. I remember a few evenings after work, the train slipped on leafy tracks all the way into Durham. By the time I arrived at the destination station, the bus service was on a 1 per hour schedule where 3 routes were combined into 1 bus. I would get home 2-3 hours later than normal.

            Now, I live in the city and enjoy the frequency of TTC service, multiple routes to travel to a single point, and multiple options should something go wrong. The typical subway delay on the yonge line results in my arrival home no more than 10 minutes later than normal the majority of the time.

  6. Frank

    at 10:10 am

    In the city of Toronto we don’t have the infrastructure to support public transit or driving given our current population. The question is would you rather sit in traffic or sit on a bus/train which is over capacity? Would you rather pay ware and tare on your car or pay TTC fares? its up to you and everyone has their own preference. Building more condo’s while ignoring city planners will not mitigate the problem. We definitely don’t want to jeopardize developer profits and city taxes, that would require some though and consideration for future generations /end sarcasm. All the half assed Band-Aid solutions which are only implemented to ease public outcry are short term and will be ineffective by the time they come to fruition. At the end of the day we will all tolerate these inconveniences at the expense of work-life balance, productivity and mental health.

    1. Libertarian

      at 12:41 pm

      Speaking of more condos, David had a post last week about the gov’t approving lots more development without planning the infrastructure to support those condos and office towers. I made a comment that the downtown core will eventually be filled with pedestrians, cyclists, and cabs. Most people will use one of those three transportation methods. The only way cars and streetcars would be able to function is with the implementation of some radical ideas. Soknacki suggests banning street parking. This would allow one lane for streetcars and one for cars. I think that this is a no-brainer. Other radical ideas are converting King and Queen to one-way streets. Even more radical would be to ban cars on those two streets. I think that it’s a safe assumption that the downtown core will eventually be so congested that most people will walk or cycle everywhere. It will be interesting to see how things evolve.

        1. Libertarian

          at 3:18 pm

          Are you implying that businesses in the downtown core rely on customers in cars? I don’t think that’s the case even today, let alone 10 years from now when there will be more condos and office towers. I work in the financial district, which includes the PATH. Those businesses seem to be doing well without cars. On a side note, those weren’t my ideas….just some ideas that I’ve read on the subject. I like to read about new ideas and the debate of those ideas. We should always be trying to improve ourselves, our city, our society, etc.

      1. Joe Q.

        at 1:33 pm

        This city has a deeply entrenched entitlement mentality about street parking. I suspect that it derives from decades past, when there was plenty of road space available for those who wanted to drive places as well as those who wanted a place to leave their cars. Fast-forward a few decades, and we still treat (and price) street parking as if demand for road space hasn’t changed since the 1970s. We tolerate massive congestion on arterials for the sake a few parking spaces, which in many cases are used free of charge. So while I agree with you that major changes are needed to the way street parking is handled in this city, I don’t expect anything to change soon.

        1. Alex

          at 2:42 pm

          I’ve never understood why drivers defend street parking so vigorously, when they are the ones who are held up in traffic because of it. How often do you park on the street on King or Queen, versus driving down it? If you had to walk an extra 5-10 minutes once in a while to park near it, but every day your drive down that street was reduced by 2 minutes, wouldn’t it be worth it?

          1. Joe Q.

            at 4:24 pm

            In my experience it’s not just drivers that defend street parking, but also businesses. I’m reminded of the big kerfuffle when they started restricting street parking on Dundas West (I’m trying to find articles about it, but I think it was in 2010). Traffic started moving, but local business owners were furious. Eventually street parking was re-introduced.

            Another street where this is an issue is St Clair West.

          2. jeff316

            at 8:16 pm

            Yeah there was a big kerfuffle out on St Clair West when they did the streetcar ROW. Strangely there is now more parking than there was before with some new lots, yet people still complain. (???) Parking between Dufferin and Landsdowne is almost always packed.

            In the St Clair situation I think parking was a bogeyman to take the spotlight away from the fact that a very changing community was rendering a number of old-time businesses unsustainable. That being said, I don’t think lack of street parking isn’t an issue for the “destination” restaurants or the stores you use regularly, but it can be for other unspectacular businesses that you’re not going to frequent while out on a jaunt. You’re probably not going to buy anything particularly perishable, heavy or difficult to carry if streetcar is the only realistic option, and if you can’t find parking you’re probably going to not make any multi-stop trips.

          3. Joe Q.

            at 8:42 pm

            ^ Yes, I live in the area and can concur. Your observation about old-time businesses on St Clair is spot-on. I actually think that many of them were being sustained by out-of-neighbourhood drive-up customers who would make the trek down from Woodbridge or wherever out of a sense of nostalgia or loyalty.

            The main point, though, is that even though there are now two car-accessible lanes on St Clair rather than three, we still allow one of them to be taken up with on-street parking, even during rush hour. The supply-demand balance (for road space) has changed dramatically and yet the price for taking up said road space for hours on end has not changed to reflect that. The city could limit parking on St Clair and push people to the Via Italia Green P (which seems under-used) to really get traffic moving, but there would be an uproar.

          4. jeff316

            at 9:07 am

            Oh hey sorry I didn’t realize you lived out here too. Apologize if I came across as patronizing.

            What I don’t understand is why we limit street parking only in the AM in some spots – I think west of Dufferin you can park during one of the two rush hours. Is there really that much car shopping traffic that occurs on the drive home in a city this trafficky?

          5. Joe Q.

            at 9:42 am

            Not patronizing at all, don’t worry about it. I can’t remember the exact parking rules but there is indeed on-street parking during the afternoon rush-hour. I think the majority of the parking services the restaurants / cafes / Portuguese and Italian soccer bars rather than the retail stores.

    2. Appraiser

      at 9:00 am

      All new condos should have little or no parking. Force people to use transit.

  7. Kyle

    at 5:03 pm

    “People You Know Will Move Out Of Toronto”
    I think what’s interesting is to look at who is moving in and out, especially when you consider why real estate prices have been rising. For the most part it is the middle income earners who are leaving Toronto due to it’s lack of affordability, but more than offsetting that is an increase in high income earners moving to Toronto. This year Toronto ranked 15th in the World for millionaire (net assets not including their primary residence) density:


    A decade ago, i doubt Toronto would even have cracked the top 50.

  8. Libertarian

    at 5:55 pm

    @ Joe Q. (I tried to reply to your comment, but the site won’t let me.)

    I’m not sure where on Dundas West they discussed, but Soknacki’s plan doesn’t call for a ban on street parking on St. Clair West. I found this from an article…..

    “Noted underdog in the race, Soknacki said Friday morning that phasing out street parking on major arteries south of Bloor Street, north of Front Street, east of Spadina Avenue and west of Jarvis Street would work towards curbing road congestion.”

    Here is the link


    People would still be able to park on side streets and parking lots.

    As Alex stated, I think that traffic would move better if there was no parking on the main streets, so I don’t understand why this idea is so controversial. People can’t complain about the traffic but at the same time want to keep street parking. That makes no sense – to me anyway (and to Alex apparently).

    1. A Grant

      at 8:24 pm

      I guess they just need to figure out how to fit on-street parking into “the war on the car” narrative.

    2. Joe Q.

      at 8:48 pm

      Libertarian — the comment system on this site only allows “nesting” comments up to a few levels (that’s why you couldn’t reply).

      Anyway, my comment was not about Soknacki’s plan at all, but rather about events that transpired on Dundas West a few years ago. My recollection is that on-street parking was severely curtailed in order to get traffic moving (and it worked) but there was a huge outcry from local businesses. After a certain amount of time the restrictions were rolled back due to the political pressure.

      The reason why limiting on-street parking for arterials is “controversial” is because local businesses want customers to be able to park close to their storefronts, just as they have for decades (when road space was not as highly coveted). I do agree that fitting the on-street parking issue into the “war on the car” narrative requires some logical contortions, but have no doubt that proponents of that trope will find a way to tie it in somehow.

      1. David Fleming

        at 11:32 am

        @ Joe Q.

        Sorry guys, but we’ve capped nesting at ten comments. Without a cap, it would look really crazy as it edges toward the right border of the page…

        1. Libertarian

          at 12:48 pm

          I know that you weren’t referring to Soknacki’s plan at all.

          The plan on Dundas West didn’t work a few years ago, but things have changed since then and they will continue to change going forward.

          That’s why I think we should implement Soknacki’s idea now, so that we’re prepared for the onslaught of condos and office towers going up. As for businesses crying foul, I believe that there will be so many pedestrians that the businesses won’t rely on car traffic – at least in the district suggested by Soknacki. St. Clair West and Dundas West can keep their street parking.

Back To Comments