There’s no question the pandemic has changed the real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area.
We’ve asked some of our real estate partners how the market has adapted in the past 15 months, and what advice they might have for homebuyers and sellers in this new normal.
Who: Cameron Miller
Title: Sales Representative, property.ca Realty Inc.; cameronmiller.ca
Area: Downtown Toronto
Specialty: Condos, pre-construction and re-sale
What are some of the changes or precautions we’re seeing taken in the home-buying and selling process right now at this point in the pandemic?
Something that has changed is virtual showings. So when sellers are showcasing their property online, they need to have those virtual tours with their listing. A lot of my clients have bought apartments off of a 3-D tour. It’s nothing that’s going to disappear anytime soon. Buyers need to get comfortable with buying virtually because that’s just the world we live in with COVID.
What do you need to keep in mind when doing these virtual tours? For sellers, how do you have a really great virtual tour?
We need to make the space look as optimal as possible. How do the buyers envision their living room? They want to know where their TV is; they want to know where their couch is. They want those ideas. So a property that’s a one-bedroom condo that’s catered to a guy that’s going to live downtown, you want to stage the property to attract that type of buyer. And in the virtual tour, it’ll show.
So on the flip side, when you’re a buyer, any tips or things to pay attention to, especially if a property doesn’t translate well to a virtual tour?
Virtual tours don’t usually tour the building. So I think if you’re speaking about a condo, doing research on the building is very important. What amenities do they have? How many people are in the building? Who is the property manager? What’s the track record of the property manager? Things like that. It’s important.
In the news, we often hear the terms seller’s market or a buyer’s market. Can you tell us what those mean?
A seller’s market is when there’s more demand than listings, so there are fewer sellers than buyers. That means buyers are competing. A buyer’s market is the complete opposite. It’s when there are more sellers than buyers. We saw that in the rental market last year. The rental market was not plummeting, but doing sort of a nosedive. And it was very much a buyer’s market, or a tenant’s market.
Has there been one type of market in particular that’s dominated during the pandemic?
The cottage market has dominated during the pandemic. It seems like people want more space and appreciate sanctuary living rather than high-density living in the city. Areas like Muskoka, Collingwood, Blue mountain, etc., have experienced tremendous growth in the past year.
Is that still the case or has it switched at all?
I’m noticing in the rental market, it’s definitely stabilized. Buying and selling, there was a time where it was more of a buyer’s market than a seller’s market. It was a very brief time last year that that happened but it went back to a seller’s market very fast. Listings started disappearing very quickly, especially January to March of this year.
The cottage market continues to boom as people’s needs for a home away from the city continues to grow.
Where are things at right now?
Right now it’s an interesting time. Things have cooled down since the first quarter of the year. But maybe buyer fatigue has set in, where buyers are tired of going over asking (price). In the condo market, Listings have increased, demand has slightly dropped but prices have stayed, so we’ll see what happens.
What are some words of wisdom or advice you have for a first time home buyer?
Understand the process because the market — and I’m specifically speaking about the downtown condo market — it’s competitive. That means they would need their ducks in a row beforehand. They need to get pre-approved (for a mortgage). They need to understand the process, and they need to have a deposit check in hand. They need to review the status certificate beforehand, know who their real estate agent is, and know who their lawyer is.
What are your thoughts on the post pandemic real estate market? We often hear about pent-up demand. Is there going to be a correction or will it be full steam ahead?
Nobody has a crystal ball with these things but Toronto Real Estate Board Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer said prices will probably continue to trend upwards as the city starts to grow and things start to open up. We didn’t really have a big population growth last year. But the population continues to grow and the supply continues to shrink when the people who come here absorb it, so prices are probably going to grow.