Welcome to November's Homewatch post. In this installment, we discuss how to put yourself in a realistic and healthy mindset before you begin your property search. After all, knowledge and perspective are your greatest assets in navigating the emotional rollercoaster that is searching for a property in Toronto!
Have you been at your property search for several months and are beginning to feel extremely frustrated? Do you have your heart set on owning a detached dwelling, and have a plan in place that has been years in the making, including making sacrifices to amass savings for a down payment and spending hours doing research? Despite this, you can’t seem to buy a home. Maybe you’ve lost out on bidding wars, including a few heartbreakers. And as the months go by, prices just keep getting higher, causing stress. Even though you are doing everything right- including being patient, you probably feel like it’s just not fair. What to do?
The Benevolent Reality Check
It all comes down to affordability – that elastic band that ultimately shapes the market, with economic and socio-economic implications. While affordability will determine who buys what, there are other, more human elements present, namely expectations around housing – which may be playing into your frustration.
A recent report from CAAMP (Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals) examined what homebuyers would be willing to compromise on when buying a home. The majority said that they could reduce their lot size, accept a longer commute and a downgrade on interior finishes. Not up for discussion: Proximity to amenities, community itself, property type and size of dwelling. And herein lies the rub for so many homebuyers, unwilling to relinquish that vision of homeownership, specifically when it comes to an unwavering attachment to size and property type. You’re up against a shortage of stock and a surge in demand for a very specific property type, which not only makes it difficult to find and acquire these properties.
And truthfully, if you are already at or near the bounds of your budget, as many are, without a base of affordability to work from, you are always going to fall short in your very specific property search, which is going to make you feel disappointed and frustrated. And affordability isn’t the bad guy who is stomping on your dreams. Affordability is that economic thread that works hard to keep balance, and to prevent you from taking on more than you can manage, which is a good thing. Really it is.
Why do you want to buy a home?
What you need to ask yourself is, what does home ownership really mean to you? Furthermore, why do you want to buy a home – and most importantly – what does your life look like while you are living there? So what is your lure towards home ownership? Is it status? Is it investment? Is it shelter? Is it a chance to establish roots with those you love? Is it somewhere to express your true self? Is owning a home something that you’ve always expected that you’d do because your parents did? Or is it all of these? And perhaps most importantly, what are you willing to give up to achieve that? Can you still maintain a quality of life that appeals to you? Have you compromised and does it balance out?
What property type (and price point) ticks all of those boxes? Let’s say you pull out all the stops and max out your house hunting budget with CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance to secure that single family dwelling. Are you house poor? Are you able to access convenient amenities easily? Is carrying all of that debt worth it to you?
On the flip side, if you decide that condominium living is the way you’ll go, can you reconcile your desires that you might have had for a freehold dwelling? Will it balance out? Once you’ve determined what your underlying motivations are for property ownership, you may be open to other possibilities and conversations.
Think Beyond the Walls
What's most important is not the walls themselves that construct your dwelling, but the quality of life that unfolds there. This has as much to do with connection with community, sense of pride in ownership and convenient access to amenities as it does with the physical configuration of the walls. We’re not suggesting that you abandon your house hunt or dash your dreams. We’re playing Devil’s Advocate to help you do a little housing soul searching – to realize that your housing hunt is not bleak – but still ripe with opportunity. It’s about understanding the market and how to manoeuver it most successfully. That said, how you're feeling isn't uncommon.
With over two decades of experience at urbaneer, we’ve seen it all – and we’ve provided emotional, intelligent support to many house hunters over the years that are experiencing the highs and lows that Toronto’s property market brings. It’s all about sensitive insight backed up with research, knowledge and tried and true experience, which brings weight to our message. Can we help?