This Fall Real Estate Season is Different: What Buyers and Sellers Should Know

With record-breaking temperatures in the city, it is easy to forget that fall is actually upon us. Traditionally a busy period for the real estate business, home sales tend to increase as the foliage changes colour. Summer and winter are usually downtimes for home sales, so from September to December is when many buyers become more active. However, the 2017 fall real estate market, following the Ontario government’s Fair Housing Plan, reflects changing circumstances for the industry.

In its most recent update, the Toronto Real Estate Board revealed that August home sales in the region were down 34.8 per cent compared to August 2016. It’s a significant drop, but prices remain high, with an average selling price for all home types of $732,292 –a 3-per-cent increase compared to the same month last year.

A New Home Buyer Mentality

The sentiment among buyers has clearly shifted since the spring, although to call Toronto or the wider GTA a “buyer’s market” isn’t exactly correct either, explains Zoocasa sales agent Alex Kupiec.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say we are in a buyer’s market, it is more of a balanced market,” he says. “The homes that tick a lot of the boxes that clients have – the homes that are completely renovated, they are in a great neighbourhood – they are still receiving multiple offers and are still going over asking price.”

It explains why, despite increasing inventory and slowing sales over the summer, prices remain high in Canada’s largest city. The good news is pressure is off for buyers, who can take more time to mull their options without fear that the market will spike by 20 per cent in the meantime.

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A Little Home Improvement Investment Goes a Long Way

However, it makes selling a home a little more difficult, so proper preparation and attention to detail is required if you want to receive your asking price.

“If your house is in good shape, you have maintained it over the years and it is decorated properly, you will still sell it for over what your asking price is,” says Kupiec. “It all depends on how your home is marketed.”

Marketing in this case means using professional photography to properly showcase the property. Ensuring the home is well presented during staging is another decisive factor to attract buyers. It usually means spending money to make money, but as Kupiec explains, it’s an investment worth making when listing your home for sale.

“The homes that have an agent going round taking photos with their phone, or have wallpaper from the ‘80s – those are the homes that aren’t going for the value they potentially could,” he says. “Some people are constrained by their budget when it comes to getting their home ready for sale, but generally speaking, if you are listing you have to make sure it looks the best it possibly can.”

Adjusting to New Market Conditions

A combination of the summer months and the Fair Housing Plan saw sales decrease significantly across the GTA between May and August. The September–December period should see a reversal of that trend, although the days of hyper-inflation in the property market are likely over for the foreseeable future, says Kupiec.

“Buyers are more conscious of what they want, and they are being a little more stubborn,” says Kupiec. “Since the new rules came in, I have had clients get into neighbourhoods that a year ago they felt they couldn’t because every house was receiving five to 10 offers. Now the buyers have more power, but I wouldn’t say all the power has shifted to the buyers. It is more balanced.”

About Daibhead O’Ceallacháin

Daibhead O’Ceallacháin is a freelance writer from Ireland that moved to Toronto in 2010. Writing for his local newspaper, he covered real estate during Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” era and the subsequent housing crash and financial crisis. Today he writes about real estate, finance and politics in Canada, the U.S., Ireland and England.