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11/13 - Buying

The Buyer’s Advantage: Capitalizing on the Current Real Estate Shift

A Guide to Making the Most of a Buyer’s Market in Toronto:

In the current market slowdown, a golden opportunity emerges for buyers. Our latest article delves into the layers of psychology and strategy in these unprecedented times, elucidating the concept of a “buyer’s market.” It goes beyond the simplistic view of real estate, highlighting why houses and condominiums don’t always mimic the sale frenzy of other commodities. Additionally, this perspective addresses the psychological elements that cause some buyers to hesitate when conditions are most favourable.

For those considering entering the real estate market – be it renters, first-time buyers, or individuals looking to upsize – this is a crucial moment. The market has transitioned into what is known as a buyer’s market, characterized by ample options and choices. Yet, paradoxically, buyers often recede during these times, a phenomenon worth exploring.

A foundational understanding of what characterizes a buyer’s market is crucial.

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Key metrics like days on the market or months of inventory are crucial in delineating the transition from a seller’s market to a balanced one and eventually to a buyer’s market. The current data suggests a pronounced move towards a buyer’s market, particularly in the condominium sector. This shift creates distinct opportunities for first-time homebuyers, those seeking a second property, or individuals aiming to transition from smaller to larger condos. The condo segment, in particular, shows a substantial saturation of inventory, indicating an opportune moment for buyers in this asset class.

As the real estate market approaches a pivotal shift, this period is a crucial opportunity for buyers despite not being fully realized yet. The foundational elements that have bolstered Toronto’s real estate market over the past three decades are only strengthening. Experts suggest that the current turbulence caused by interest rate fluctuations and inflation is temporary. This interim phase presents a remarkable opportunity for astute investments, significant personal and familial wealth, and lifestyle advancements.

This imminent generational opportunity encourages reflection on the future landscape of the market, both in the short and long term. It signifies a favourable turn for buyers, a rarity in the professional experience of many. Despite higher interest rates, opportunities abound to secure properties at reasonable prices without the frenzy of bidding wars. The potential for refinancing when rates decrease only amplifies the wisdom of purchasing in a buyer’s market.

The narratives of successful billionaires and investors often highlight the creation of substantial wealth during recessions and periods of fear. These stories underscore the importance of rational decision-making based on data and market fundamentals, cutting through the emotional noise that often dictates market trends.

Human behaviour tends to follow the herd, and there’s a reluctance to deviate from the norm, often fueled by the fear of being judged. However, those who dare to think differently and make contrarian investment decisions often reap substantial rewards when the market rebounds.

This mindset is crucial, especially when considering market timing. Many wait for the market bottom, but by then, it’s often too late as the market begins its ascent. The current market conditions indicate a valley, making it an opportune time for investment, similar to acquiring undervalued stocks poised for growth. Interest rates, though slightly higher, remain within reasonable bounds. Learning about refinancing can unveil significant opportunities. This period is a clarion call for buyers to break away from the crowd, think independently, and educate themselves on the market dynamics.

Echoing the sentiments of Peter Thiel, a renowned investor and entrepreneur, emphasizes the importance of contrarian thinking. Thiel’s hiring practices focused on finding individuals who could think independently and challenge conventional wisdom. This philosophy is mirrored in the strategies of successful investors like Warren Buffet, who often see and seize opportunities by moving away from the crowd. This black sheep approach is a financial strategy and a life philosophy for those aiming to exceed the “average” outcomes.

At the heart of any market are supply and demand dynamics. Due to the pressure from higher interest rates and inflation impacting housing supply, developers face parallel challenges. Their financing costs have tripled, construction costs have soared, and pre-construction sales have plummeted due to waning demand. As a result, new construction sales have declined to levels reminiscent of 2010-2011, and future supply is expected to be severely curtailed.

This scenario coincides with significant immigration trends, with Canada welcoming over a million people annually, half of whom settle in Ontario. Projections by CMHC indicate a need for 2.5 million new homes in Ontario by 2036 to maintain affordability, far outpacing current production rates. Despite governmental pledges to increase housing, the gap between supply and demand is widening.

This burgeoning demand, fueled by waves of first-time buyers and substantial parental assistance, is set against an increasingly constrained supply, indicating a likely surge in future prices. Interestingly, current high-interest rates have not drastically altered affordability – a home valued at $1.8 million with a 2% mortgage carries similar costs to a $1.5 million home at a 5% mortgage. This situation presents a strategic opportunity for buyers to enter the market and potentially refinance at more favourable rates down the road!

Overcomplicating the market with extraneous or emotional factors detracts from the simplicity of supply and demand dynamics. Citing Ben Meyers, a respected analyst, it’s projected that a one-bedroom condo in downtown Toronto could reach nearly $1.1 million by 2030. This forecast underscores the current phase as the tail end of an interest rate cycle, emphasizing the cyclic nature of economies and the opportunities that arise during periods of fear and uncertainty.

In contrast to the frenetic pace of a seller’s market, where buyers often compromise on their preferences due to intense competition, the current market offers a more thoughtful and deliberate buying process. Buyers now have the luxury of time to conduct due diligence, consider properties that truly meet their criteria, and negotiate terms more favourably. This shift from an emotionally charged, competitive environment to a more reasoned, deliberate approach allows buyers to invest in properties that align with their preferences and needs rather than settle for merely available.

In the current real estate climate, buyers have a unique advantage: they can thoroughly explore and select a property that genuinely resonates with them rather than hastily securing any available option. This period allows for the inclusion of conditions in offers, a significant shift from previous market norms. Such conditions give buyers a sense of security, ensuring complete due diligence before finalizing a purchase, including a condition of finance, inspection or status certificate review.

The advantage of multiple showings in this market is also significant. Buyers can revisit properties, allowing for a more thoughtful decision-making process. This starkly contrasts the rapid pace of a seller’s market, where quick decisions are often necessary. Multiple viewings enable buyers to bring in family members, assess renovation needs, and visualize the property at different times of the day.

The current market also presents the possibility of negotiating longer closing periods. This flexibility is particularly beneficial in Toronto’s market, where buying typically precedes selling. A longer closing period can give buyers time to sell their existing property without rushing or compromising. It also offers sellers the chance to find their next home while still residing in their current one. This mutual benefit leads to an increase in closing periods ranging from 90 to 120 days when it was more commonplace to see closing between 30 and 60 days in a seller’s market.

For buyers, extended closing periods offer additional advantages. Those not in a rush to sell their current property, or those renting, gain valuable time to organize finances, save for renovations, or plan furniture purchases. This buffer period allows for a more structured and less stressful transition into their new home.

In summary, the current market dynamics in Toronto are reshaping the real estate experience, turning it into an environment where buyers have more control, options, and opportunities to make well-informed and considered decisions. The conversation shifts to deal-making in the current Toronto real estate market landscape! Recently, a transaction was executed with a long closing period but with a unique clause allowing the closing date to be moved forward if the buyer manages a quick sale. This flexibility benefits both parties, allowing them to adapt to changing circumstances.

In these uncertain times, markets are unpredictable, and there is a concern that conditions might worsen before improving. This presents risks for both buyers and sellers. For buyers, the challenge lies in selling their current properties, while sellers face the risk of buyers not being able to close. A substantial deposit can mitigate these risks, ensuring commitment from both parties.

The strategic advantage in a buyer’s market varies depending on the buyer’s situation. First-time homebuyers, for example, have a different set of advantages compared to those upgrading or downsizing. The most advantageous position is held by those who can make significant deposits, unaffected by interest rate fluctuations, and can buy without the need to sell. Downsizers, often owning their homes outright, can leverage their assets effectively if they can buy without selling. On the other hand, up-sizers face the most significant challenges as they usually need to sell their current property to finance their next purchase. Make sense?

For buyers feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of choices in this market, the advice is to narrow their focus. They can manage the vast options by deciding between condos and freeholds and then refining their search based on specific needs like the neighbourhood, school district, or proximity to amenities. We hope this encourages buyers to adopt a broader perspective, examining the long-term trajectory of Toronto’s real estate market. This big-picture view helps to understand the current market situation and future direction. Amidst a plethora of information, soundbites, and clickbait, finding one’s truth and sticking to it is crucial. Working with knowledgeable and experienced professionals who can guide you through the decision-making process is invaluable.

We hope this article has emphasized the importance of letting go of the mob mentality and finding trusted advisors who can demystify aspects of the real estate process, whether understanding interest rates or different property types. Trusting one’s instincts and being guided by informed decisions can lead to massively successful outcomes! The market waits for no one, and being well-informed is the key to seizing opportunities!

Contact Fox Marin, Toronto’s downtown luxury real estate brokerage, today to learn more about the advantages of hiring a quality team!

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Kori Marin is a Toronto Broker & Managing Partner at Fox Marin Associates. For high-energy real estate aficionado Kori Marin, a well-lived life is achieved by maintaining an “all-in” attitude that realizes every last ounce of one’s full potential. This mindset has driven successful results in every aspect of her life – from her corporate sales and account management experience to her international travels to her years of fitness training and leadership – and is the hallmark of the exceptional work that she does on behalf of her clients in the residential real estate sector in downtown Toronto.