Toronto affordability might improve after COVID-19 – economists

by Ephraim Vecina on 20 May 2020

First-time homebuyers might actually find post-pandemic Toronto considerably more welcoming, according to market observers.

Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper said that any such bargains – with plenty of listings running for 2% to 5% lower than their March prices – would almost certainly be short-lived, however.

“The longer you wait, the less an opportunity there will be for a cheaper purchase,” Soper told The Toronto Star. “In any market correction, buyers are the earliest to react to a potential downturn and adjust their expectations lower as far as price goes. Sellers are the last in and the first out.”

Soper said that would-be buyers should remain wary of market volatility, which will likely prevail until at least next year.

“There is a risk premium for trading in any financial crisis, and frankly it’s justified because there are so many unknowns,” Soper said.

Some sectors might still find it difficult to take advantage of these lower prices, nevertheless. Chief among these high-risk cohorts are young adults 25 to 35 years old, according to David Macdonald of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“If you were in that age category and a third of your friends lost their jobs, you might be pretty reticent to take on a big mortgage because you might be next,” Macdonald said. “You’ve got to be lucky enough to keep your job, and we need to see big declines in house prices, which itself would be devastating to the economy because people would feel a lot poorer as a result of their houses being worth much less.”

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