[TRUTH] First Time Buyers Need To Make Sacrifices

Breaking! Toronto Buyer gets chewed up and spit out by Toronto Real Estate Market.

FML Listings, The Mash (To be fair, The Mash isn’t a doom and gloom site) and a handful of other real estate doom and gloom sites have gained in popularity over the years as people like Garth Turner (love his insights though) and a handful of other economists run around screaming “The Sky is falling the sky is falling!” With oil prices coming down, who knows, maybe there is something around the corner but these people have been screaming for years, decades even!

Melissa Hart, founder of FML Listings and host of Toronto’s most recent pity party was recently featured in a Toronto Star article Want some cheese with that whine?called “Stuck on the Sidelines”  Go read it and come back.

Back? Good. Now we’re not an unsympathetic bunch here at Spring Realty. Honestly, we’ve seen clients come and go. Some have bought some have waited till the “crash” so they can save a bunch of money (still waiting) and some have sucked it up and bought in a neighbourhood that wasn’t their first choice but that’s what had to be done to get their foot on the property ladder.

What’s happened here is we’ve got a Buyer who’s neighbourhood expectations are out of whack with the Toronto Real Estate market.

Hart states that she’s been approved for $600K mortgage. Yes, a fully renovated house in Leslieville or really anywhere that’s super hot right now isn’t going to work but what about neighbourhoods like Birchcliffe Village? That’s a BOOMING community where we’ve actually sold two detached bungalows for under $500K in the past 3 years. You can still get in there for under $600K. What’s happened here is we’ve got a Buyer who’s neighbourhood expectations are out of whack with the Toronto Real Estate market.

When you’re a first time buyer, you don’t get to have everything. You haven’t earned it yet. Sacrifice is part of the game and you need to feel some pain before you’re rewarded with that dream home. Sure, some are luckier than others but when you have to struggle to buy your first home, you make some neighbourhood compromises, you make size compromises, you make any compromise you can as long as you’re keeping your family safe to make that first deal happen.

When you’re a first time buyer, you don’t get to have everything. You haven’t earned it yet.

Sorry, Mrs. Hart. We don’t feel sorry for you. Had you spent as much energy on finding a neighbourhood you could afford and aligning your expectations with current market conditions instead of focusing on the negative you’d be on your way to your dream house by now. You still have options. You really do.

[Before & After] Your wallpaper is ugly.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Hope you’ve all recovered from your BIG turkey dinners and are ready for a booming new week ahead! So let’s talk quickly about Selling your home and a couple things you need to trust us (the experts) with:

We’re usually not as blunt as the title of this post but that’s because we know how to not be dicks during listing presentations. I mean, we do the work for you and pay for it anyway so the only thing you need to do is allow access…simple right? So why do so many homeowners resist our design suggestions?

We’re in the business of actually selling properties…not having them sit on the market or sell for below market value. Some of your design choices (that are awesome in their own way) are turning Buyers off. I know it’s silly to think that someone won’t buy a place because of the colour of the paint, or the room full of chachkies that you adore. It may just be a colour or clutter but people make purchasing decisions emotionally (whether they know it or not) and if your home doesn’t allow for a strong emotional connection or doesn’t elicit some feeling other than WTF…you’ve lost them. Get it now? So next time we suggest improvements….just let us do it. We pay for it anyway (along with full staging). You’ll get more for your home and it will sell quicker. See this one below? It was on the market for 3 months until my crew got all over it and sold it in a week with a serious transformation.

Before After 3 Before After 2 before after 1

Hey house flippers: Get more creative, or else!

Flipping houses 101 – $#!^ just got realugly house reno

We’ve just about had enough with the generic bullshit that wanna-be house flippers are slapping together these days. Seems as though this hot Seller’s market has tickled the lazy bone in investors.

Guess what: Buyers see right through you and aren’t making offers on your crappy renovations! Home Buyers have been through a lot in the past decade. Well, we’ve reached a tipping point and Buyers have become more educated. Not only are they making stronger buying decisions, they’ve started to realize they may have a bit more power than previously thought.

East of the DVP was prime for flipping a few years back and many took advantage with their boring “home depot” renovations with little thought to how people actually use homes. Now we’re seeing unique, well designed, and thoughtfully planned homes sell for absurd amounts of money…and rightfully so. Why shouldn’t the creativity of a savvy flipper be rewarded? After all the Buyer is being rewarded with a well built, efficient home right?

A warning to you flipper/investors: Get more creative or lose your Buyer and lose your shirt. Stop cutting corners. Spend more time and money in your architects and engineers and hire general contractors that share a common vision. We promise you’ll be rewarded with Buyers’ hard earned money…well the banks mortgage money anyway.

Happy flipping!

Spring is the best time to sell right? Um, no.

Leslieville & Riverside Low on Condo/Loft Inventory

This happens every year yet most Agents stick to the same story: “Sell in the Spring”. Well, that’s not always the best plan. We’ve had more success selling properties when inventory is low. Oh and sorry we keep calling your homes inventory.

So there is no cookie cutter answer to when you should sell but we can say that typically inventory is lowest in the late Summer/early Fall and in the dead of Winter. We saw more multiple offers and sky high prices this past Winter than we saw this Spring.

Right now we haven’t had any GOOD new condos/lofts or detached houses on the market East of the DVP to Coxwell since we had this place up at 233 Carlaw and this one at 118 Galt Ave. The same 29 stale listings of overpriced, cookiecutter, or poorly marketed properties keep showing up on my daily feed.

What does this mean to you?

Well, it means that if you have a condo at 233 Carlaw, 68 Broadview, 747 Queen St, 245 Carlaw, or even a larger space at 88 Colgate it’s time to get that sucker on the market. Here’s what’ll happen: You will get an offer, you will sell it for more than the previous sale, and you’ll move on to bigger and better things.


Stay in control of your investment. Buy Re-Sale.

People buy real estate for various reasons. There are Investors which include: Flippers, Landlords, and speculators. Then there are the End Users: Buying real estate for you and your family to call home. Both types of Buyers ask us the same question:

How much will this place be worth in a couple years?

Since we haven’t invested in a crystal ball yet, we really can’t answer that question. Fact is, it could be worth more, could be worth less, or could be just the same. If you’re buying as an investor or end user, you should be prepared to hold the property for as long as possible. Sure, there were the days where you could buy a pre-construction condo and make an easy $100K a couple of years later upon completion but the sun has set on that little gem. In fact, buying pre-construction as an investment is not that great right now.

Prices of most new developments have either caught up to resale or even exceeded them in some cases. Think about it, these developers want you to put in up to 20% down over the course of 270 days. Most entry level (under 600sqft) condos will cost you about $330K (sure there are less expensive options out there but we’re talking downtown here). As in investor you’re coughing up $66K that’s going to sit in a lawyers trust account for 4 years while the place is being built not providing any sort of return. Even a Canada Savings bond is a better investment! You can put that same cash into a resale property and have it earn you rental income from day 1. Pretty easy decision there. If you rally really really want to buy pre-construction for an investment, be prepared to hold on for a long time. By the time you’re done paying occupancy fees, development charges, upgrades etc… you may not get your money back on resale for a while. Just get a tenant in there and start building some equity.  Want positive cash flow? Sorry pal, not happening. You need to invest in a multi-plex for that. (see below)

Fact is, it could be worth more, could be worth less, or could be just the same.

Looking at that same purchase from an end user perspective we come across different problems that most buyers ignore. Say you’re 26 years old and you put your hard earned $66K on that same sub 600sqft condo (if you have 66K). Do you think you’ll want to live in a 400sqft condo when you’re 30? A lot can change in your life from 26 to 30. Buy resale, enjoy your 20’s then move on when you’re ready. You’re in total control, not the developer. Now if you’re lucky enough to be able to buy your dream condo or townhouse pre-construction that’s a different story. A place that you’re going to call home for the long run and you’re willing to wait knowing you’ll be staying there for a while…go for it! Just be prepared for tens of thousands of dollars in upgrade charges and thousands more in developments charges over and above typical closing costs. The sales rep will tell you not to worry because they’ll cap the closing costs…think again, the cap doesn’t cover everything.

Be prepared to pay an additional $16,608 in development charges for units under 685sqft – $25, 944 for units under 1350sqft – and $33,044 for units larger than 1351sqft the “cap” offered by most developers will help reduce some of these charges but not by that much in most cases. Contact us for a break down of what’s included in these charges.

Bottom line: Stay in control of your investment, buy resale.

Looking at investing in Freehold property (non condo)? That’s a different ball game that requires much more capital and some balls. For experienced landlords the name of the game is Cash Flow and you don’t get cash flow in single unit properties (like a single family home or a condo), unless you’ve paid an unnecessarily large down-payment. Cash-flow is commonly associated with multi-unit investment properties starting at triplexes and above. A solid duplex may get you some positive cash flow but nothing to write home about. These investors could care less about what the place may be worth in a couple of years, they buy and hold and take their cheques to the bank each month. Barrier to entry is high here with entry level prices are well over $600K in most cases.

Lastly, the End User, the people keeping this hot market going and going. They’re always concerned with how much the place will be worth in a couple of years. Listen, if you’re spending your last penny on a home and think you may need to sell in a couple of years: DON’T BUY. You will not make money, you may even lose money when you factor in closing costs. If you’re buying a place to live, buy the appropriate place that suites your (your family’s) lifestyle and be prepared to ride out dips in the market for as long as it takes.

Love talking about this stuff so contact us to start the conversation.


Check out these Toronto Real Estate Resources:

1. The Worlds Greatest Toronto Real Estate Search Tool (shhhh, we give you more info than the MLS)

2. The Worlds Greatest Guide to Investing

3. The Worlds Greatest 1st Time Buyers’ Guide

4. Check us on Facebook & Twitter

Here’s why you still see some Sold properties online.

I don’t think we’ve ever worked with a first time buyer that hasn’t asked us this question. Let’s make this post short and sweet you can read much more about the Buying process as a first timer in our World’s greatest first time buyer guide. 

So you’ve found a great place and you call up your agent and he says: “Sorry dudes, it’s already sold” and you’re like “but how can that be, I still see it on MLS” Well, here’s the answer.

There are different levels of “Sold” one is Sold Conditional and another Sold Firm.

Sold Conditional

This means that the property is under contract (bought) but the Buyer still has some outs. They likely have to complete a home inspection and confirm their financing. Of course there are various other conditions but these are the most common two. Occasionally these deals do fall through so it’s important to keep an eye on them but best to spend your time focussing on other, acutal available properties. As long as the property is in the conditional phase, you’ll still see it on MLS. 

Sold Firm

You won’t see this one on MLS. Once a Buyer satisfies him/herself of all the condtions. The sale goes firm and now the Buyer just waits to move in. This is when the place comes off of MLS.

Does this clarify things a bit for you? Any more questions? Just ask. 

Happy Easter!

Home is where you take your pants off!

Here at Spring Realty we’re always studying consumer habits. What drives people to make purchasing decisions, etc… We’ve come up with a fool proof “Should I buy this home” test. So without further ado, here it is!

How do you know a home is a good fit for you? Simple: when you walk in, do you feel like taking off your pants? I’ve lived in a lot of apartments in Toronto and finally the house that I live in now. I can honestly say that this place is the only place I truly love. Why? When I walk in the door, I want to immediately remove my pants and relax. That’s what it feels like to be home. So when you’re out searching for a home, just think of one thing: Does this place make me want to take off my pants? You’ll usually know the answer before you finish the thought.

Happy house hunting!

People want a Home, not an Agent.

Our previous post titled: “Just show up in places and be human” got us all excited at Spring HQ. It also helped us realize that people want a home, not an Agent. So we’ve decided to stop talking so much about ourselves and focus on the ultimate goal of finding or selling your home! Sure, we’ll still share when we come up with new and exciting ideas, creative marketing pieces, and accomplish milestones but 99% of our energy, content, and money will be spent on YOU.

Promise 1: We promise to work your way

We promise to work your way. Sure, we’re about as tech savvy as you can get in Toronto Real Estate but we understand that not everyone is as comfortable with tech and social as we are. If you prefer the face to face vs. emailing documents back and forth: we can do that. Not a fan of texting? I think we still remember how to dial a phone.

Promise 2: We’ll speak less and listen more

There’s no doubt we love to talk talk talk about how great a particular neighbourhood is, or how awesome this street is, or how great the schools are but sometimes during all that talking we forget to listen. We promise to stop talking so much and do a lot more listening. Sound good?

Keep coming back to our blog or following our Facebook page for the next post where I’ll reveal Promise #3 and 4!

Show Up in Places & be Human

Show up in places and be human. This phrase has been resonating through my body since one of my favourite speakers, Seth Price of placester.com said it during his talk at Agent Reboot in Seattle this past week. How simple is that? Just show up, and be human.

What does this mean to us?

This means we operate in a “No Hard Sell” zone. Just follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get a taste. When we meet, the goal is to get to know you, not to sell you. We want to build a relationship with you. We want to earn your trust and work hard for you. 2014 is the year of customer service, and we want to service the heck out of you!

What does this mean to you?

We may not be a good fit for you. It’s as simple as that. If after a couple of meetings we’re not connecting at a natural, human level, we’ll have you move on to another Sales Rep. It’s happened before, and it’s likely to happen again. We just prefer to wake up in the morning and like the people we work with. Wouldn’t you like that too?

2014 is the year of customer service, and we want to service the heck out of you!