Over A Recent 90 Day Period, I Discovered 1 In 4 Sellers Of Downtown Toronto Lofts Lost Money

Real Estate, Tales From The Real Estate Trenches

 

Welcome to my blog on housing, culture, and design! I’m Steve Fudge and I’m celebrating 34 years as a realtor and property consultant in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Not only is the Toronto real estate market in flux (think air turbulence on a Boeing 737 Max 9 with a missing door plug), but one of its core power dynamics is flipping in an unfamiliar way. Toronto’s (arguably) decades-long ‘Sellers’ Market’ is turning on its head, with Sellers losing control and Buyers gaining altitude to varying degrees. This sudden, unexpected (and rather dramatic) turn of events – characterized by inverse interests and motivations – is changing the playing field completely.

Selling conditions were pretty similar in Toronto for two decades, until March 2020 when the Bank of Canada began increasing interest rates to control inflation. Since then our market has been like a spinning top losing its momentum, making it wonky and extremely unpredictable.  You may have been reading headlines about Buyers of pre-construction condos walking away from deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars, power of sales that are listed for $1,800,000 less than their original asking price and still not selling after a month on the market, or the spontaneous combustion of dozens of new homes nearing completion across the GTA that are likely occurring because the Buyers can’t close on their purchase.

 

 

To this point, media headlines went bonkers over data released in an Equifax report at the beginning of the month, which painted a bleak portrait of financially strapped Canadians trying to cope with credit payments. Of particular note, mortgage delinquency rates over the last 12 months saw a 52.3 percent increase across the country! (You can read the National Post’s story here: “Equifax Canada Report Reveals Increased Financial Strain as Credit Delinquencies Continue to Rise“.)

According to the report, Ontario has been particularly affected, with mortgage delinquency rates soaring 135.2 percent compared to Q4 2022, surpassing pre-pandemic levels: “The effect of high-interest rates on consumers renewing their mortgages continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2023. Post-renewal, monthly mortgage payments increased by $457 on average, with even higher spikes observed in Ontario and British Columbia where this increase exceeded $680.”

Financially stressed mortgage holders are also increasingly missing payments on their credit cards. Missed payment levels in Ontario and BC are primarily being driven by younger homeowners (defined as 36 years of age and under) where both balance and account delinquency rates are now higher than in 2019.

And we’re still in the early days when it comes to mortgage renewals, with the largest percentage of Canadian households with a mortgage still to renew:

 

 

Based on the current data, for the next 30 months, owners renewing their mortgages will suffer some hefty hikes in payment costs. While that is unfolding, the concern is that real estate values will decline followed by a period of stagnation or stagflation. What is optimistically being presented as a 3-year transition may become a 10-year drag. As I wrote in Toronto Real Estate Then & Now: The Lost Decade Of The 1990s, in the 90s people were selling their residences for the sums they’d paid a decade earlier, not accounting for buying and selling costs. The parallels to the 1990s are that, as the country navigates recession territory, there is some fear that the federal, provincial, and municipal government deficits will result in rising taxes and austerity measures further dampening the economy.

At the time of this post going live, I’d say it’s highly likely Canada is going to have a repeat of the 1990s again.

 

 

 

Let’s Look At 55 Recent Downtown Loft Sales

During a recent MLS deep dive to research property sales, I took a look at the downtown Toronto loft market which comprises a solid chunk of my business. There I discovered a noteworthy trend that aligns with many of the predictions pundits have been making of late.

From December 1st, 2023 to March 5th, 2024, a total of 55 condominiums designated as ‘lofts’ by their listing brokers (some that I don’t consider to be lofts, actually) in MLS Districts C01, C02 & C08 sold. The sale prices of these 55 lofts ranged from $470,000 to $2,325,000. As I started looking at the sales history of these properties, I started noticing that many of the Sellers had extracted themselves from the market making modest returns. But many were skating close to the edge with thin margins, prompting me to grab my calculator and do the math.

By and large, a property needs to increase in value by about 7% to ‘break even’ after taking into account the buying (here’s my post Dear Urbaneer: What Are The Closing Costs For A Property Purchase?) and selling costs associated with the purchase and sale of Toronto real estate. In particular, the land transfer tax that is payable when purchasing and the typical real estate commission payable when an owner sells in Toronto are substantial.

What I found is that 13 of these sales – 24%, or nearly 1 in 4 – that were purchased by these Sellers from 2018 to 2021, sold for sums that resulted in the Seller losing money. By as much as $335,000!

Seriously?

Here’s the pertinent data – meaning the acquisition and sale price before taking into account the buying and selling costs – with the specific unit numbers redacted:

 

25 Stafford
Sold March 2019 for $510,000
Sold January 2024 for $499,000

 

127 Queen East
Sold December 2020 for $495,000
Sold January 2024 for $500,000

 

318 King East
Sold June 2019 $525,000
Sold January 2024 $558,000

 

11 Charlotte
Sold March 2018 $575,000
Sold January 2024 $615,000

 

569 King East
Sold July 2020 $665,500
Sold January 2024 $635,000

 

637 Lake Shore Blvd West
Sold January 2020 $700,000
Sold January 2024 $680,000

 

160 Baldwin
Sold August 2021$687,000
Sold January 2024 $720,000

 

955 Queen West
Sold September 2020 $765,000
Sold January 2024 $800,000

 

700 King West
Sold July 2020 $804,000
Sold January 2024 $851,000

 

43 Hanna
Sold October 2020 $821,900
Sold January 2024 $880,000

 

155 Dalhousie
Sold March 2018 $1,100,000
Sold January 2024 $1,125,000

 

510 King East
Sold August 2019 $1,199,880
Sold December 2023 $1,255,000

 

43 Hanna
Sold March 2019 $1,727,500
Sold January 2024 $1,542,875
A $335,000 Loss

 

I’m not new to this rodeo and, as I wrote in When Dreams Of Domesticity Became Nightmares: A Recollection Of The 1989 Toronto Housing Market Crash, it took six years for Toronto real estate prices to stop declining and another four years for them to flatline before the next Boom Cycle began. Right now we’re entering Year 3 since the Bank of Canada began increasing interest rates and, based on the number of households who have yet to renew their existing mortgages currently at a crazy low interest rate, and the number of new condo purchasers who will be taking delivery of their units – estimated to be 32,000 according to Urbanation – that will unlikely appraise at their original purchase price, we have yet to see the potential declines in values I anticipate.

Or will we? On The Loonie Hour – a macroeconomic podcast covering newsworthy events across the globe and how they will impact Canadians – in Episode 126 on March 10th, 2024 called – Canadian Businesses are Failing at the Highest Rate Since 2006 – they discuss the emerging practice of “blanket appraisals” by big banks on new condos. These big banks are setting blanket appraisals on new condos that are aligned with the original sale prices of the buildings rendering a new appraisal unnecessary. In the podcast, they cite situations where Buyers who originally purchased a unit pre-construction have forfeited their deposit and been released from their contract, and the new Buyer who has purchased said assigned unit at the original purchase price less the deposit is closing with 20% down but then going back to the bank and refinancing based on the original blanket appraisal sum. This effectively means the unit is then financed at 100% Loan-To-Value. This smoke-and-mirrors tactic is similar to the practice of banks helping homeowners extend the amortization period of their mortgages to align with their original monthly payments even if it means they’re not even paying the full interest cost of their debt, which means their mortgage is getting bigger not smaller. And the practice of banks allowing homeowners to consolidate their credit card debt by adding it to their mortgage which may already be in negative equity. I don’t want to suggest that these homeowners should be forced to sell, but I do want to point out that these practices are not supposed to occur based on the rules of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada.

So exercise caution, ok?

 


 

Do you love loft living?

If you hate the high rents landlords are charging, and prefer the stability of tenure that accompanies homeownership, this well-priced 741 square foot brick and beam loft located steps to St. Lawrence Market has come to market by its original owners who are moving to a larger loft within the same complex.

Check out –> A Heritage Hard Loft In The Heart Of Historic St. Lawrence Market ….NOW SOLD!!

 

This loft has a fantastic, efficient layout; we always prefer having private zones tucked away from an open-plan entertainment space. But more than that, this intelligently designed suite – with its careful preservation of original details – is a great example of scale and proportion, allowing you flexibility and fun in tailoring it to your liking. Blonde laminate wood floors ground and unify this one-bedroom suite, and you can’t help but be drawn in by the south-facing windows that glow with natural light.

If you’re a ‘make-it-happen’ millennial looking for a swag pad in one of Toronto’s most historic neighbourhoods, a busy professional couple who doesn’t have time for the maintenance of a house with a yard, or a downsizing Zoomer seeking turn-key swish in proximity to your downtown-dwelling kids (and grandkids), these dare-to-dream downtown digs like these are worth your consideration!

 

 


 

If you love loft living, check out these past Urbaneer.com articles:

Exploring Vintage Brick & Beam Factory Conversions & Concrete ‘N Cool Contemporary Lofts In Toronto

Edwardian Architecture At Printers Row Lofts In Riverdale, Toronto

How Urbaneer’s Custom Marketing Program Sold This Authentic Broadview Loft In Riverside, Toronto

What Is The Difference Between A Hard Loft & A Soft Loft?

The 8 Largest Loft Condominium Conversions In Toronto

Before & After: A Builder Grade Toronto Condo Goes Back To Its Factory Roots

Housing As A Symbol Of Self

A Conversation About Corner Store Conversions In Toronto

12 Recent Adaptive Reuse, Live/Work, Storefront & Coach House Conversion Sales In Toronto

More Adaptive Reuse Sales: Churches, Factories, Coach Houses, Dairies & Garage Conversions In Toronto

 


 

If you liked this post, here are some others you may enjoy:

It’s A Different Toronto Real Estate Market, Folks!

Is The Toronto Real Estate Market Crashing?

Dear Urbaneer: Who Is Buying Toronto Real Estate In 2023?

Dear Urbaneer: Which Property Owners Are Selling Their Toronto Real Estate Now In 2023?

Dear Urbaneer: A Question About Letters Of Opinion And Estimating Fair Market Value
 


 

Want to have someone on your side?

Since 1989, I’ve steered my career through a real estate market crash and burn; survived a slow painful cross-country recession; completed an M.E.S. graduate degree from York University called ‘Planning Housing Environments’; executed the concept, sales & marketing of multiple new condo and vintage loft conversions; and guided hundreds of clients through the purchase and sale of hundreds of freehold and condominium dwellings across the original City of Toronto. From a gritty port industrial city into a glittering post-industrial global centre, I’ve navigated the ebbs and flows of a property market as a consistent Top Producer. And I remain as passionate about it today as when I started.

Consider contacting me at 416-845-9905 or email me at Steve@urbaneer.com. It would be my pleasure to personally introduce our services.

We’d love to introduce our services to you.

Serving first and second-time Buyers, relocations, renovators, and those building their long-term property portfolios, our mandate is to help clients choose the property that will realize the highest future return on their investment while ensuring the property best serves their practical needs and their dream of “Home” during their ownership.

Are you considering selling? We welcome providing you with a comprehensive assessment free of charge, including determining your Buyer profile, ways to optimize your return on investment, and tailoring the listing process to suit your circumstances. Check out How Urbaneer’s Custom Marketing Program Sold This Authentic Broadview Loft In Riverside to learn more about what we do!

Consider letting Urbaneer guide you through your Buying or Selling process, without pressure, or hassle.

We are here to help!

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

-The Urbaneer Team

Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-800

 

– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –

Celebrating Thirty-Four Years As A Top-Producing Toronto Realtor

 

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*Love Canadian Housing? Check out Steve’s University Student Mentorship site called Canadian Real Estate, Housing & Home which focuses on architecture, landscape, design, products, and real estate in Canada!

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