In Toronto, condos are your best bet

by Neil Sharma on 09 Jun 2021

Despite rising home prices, more Canadians are determined to buy a home than last year, when prices weren’t as astronomical.

But according to Point2 Homes’ 2021 Homebuyer Survey, that doesn’t mean there isn’t growing consternation among prospective buyers. While 51% of respondents reported no worries buying, 44% said they’re unsure of when they would be able to purchase in light of dwindling inventory and surging prices. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they’re determined to buy as soon as possible.

“By the time I save up enough for a down payment, the overall costs rise up beyond my reach,” said one survey respondent. “It’s a constant game of cat and mouse.”

However, there are ways to navigate the housing market and, specifically, skirt paying exorbitant costs. Using Toronto, Canada’s second most expensive city for housing, Bosley Real Estate broker Davelle Morrison says it would be instructive for buyers, first-timers or otherwise, to study the different segments of housing and submarkets. Condos, for example, are their best bet in Toronto, and depending on the neighbourhood, the price points can become even more affordable.

“I’d send them to the condominium market, absolutely,” Morrison told CREW. “People talk about the lack of affordability in the Toronto housing market because they look at the average price of a Toronto house, but a first-time buyer doesn’t buy a house right away; they start on the first step of the housing ladder with a condo, then it appreciates and you buy a small house, then a larger house. You don’t become CEO on your first day of work; you have to work for it, and it’s the same thing with the property ladder.”

Point2 Homes’ survey also determined 14% of buyers were planning on buying a home within the next six months, down from 31% in 2020, while the percentage of undecided buyers increased to 44% this year from 27% last year.

According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s data for May, the average price of a GTA condo sold for an average of $682,280, which is still not out of reach on a dual household income, even with the B-20 mortgage stress test amendment, which came into effect June 1, raising the qualifying rate from 4.79% to 5.25%.

Using a $600,000 mortgage at 5.25% or 200 basis points—whichever is higher—a borrowing couple would need to show a combined income of $125,000.

“The increase in OSFI’s [Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions] stress test from 4.79% to 5.25% is a margin of only 46 basis points compared to the original 2017 introduction of the stress test that required an additional 200 basis points to qualify—which will only have a marginal impact on borrower affordability or marketing cooling,” said Laura Martin, COO of Matrix Mortgage Global.

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