Changes in tax and mortgage regulations have led to changes in the Toronto real estate market, naturally. It’s easy to get confused or discouraged by these upheavals, so we’ve reached out to Josie Stern, one of the top agents in the Greater Toronto Area, for advice and explanations on the latest market trends and on how to better adapt to the shifting climate.
Tell us a few words about The Josie Stern Team and the role you are playing in it.
The Josie Stern team has two senior agents – Valerie and myself, who each have 28 years of real estate experience. We have a strong support staff, allowing Valerie and I to concentrate on providing the most qualified and expert advice to our client base. Our goal is to remain a “small team” because our philosophy is to provide our clients with seasoned realtors to assist them with the most important financial decision any of them will ever make.
What does your job as a real estate professional entail? What do you love most about your job?
We are committed to our clients and placing their best interest above all else. We work tirelessly to get the seller the highest price possible by implementing state of the art marketing techniques, and we are committed to find the most suitable house for our buyers by selling them the “right house” not just “any house”. We strive to make the process as smooth and as stress free as possible for our clients.
What we love most about our job is the trust our clients place in us. Sometimes clients, and even total strangers, reach out to us for advice on matters like accepting a standing private offer, renovation ideas and help with designing floor plans, and even personal matters that are not real estate related at all. We strive to be “realtors you can trust” and when people reach out to us, it makes our job the most rewarding.
What is the single most difficult part of a real estate professional’s job?
This is not a nine to five job, so the most difficult part is the impact it has on family life.
Another one is witnessing the lack of professionalism in the industry and the bad behaviour agents get away with. Lack of transparency, lack of rule enforcement by regulators and brokers, and the rule breaking agents get away with, all of these are very hard to watch. This is why we write many blogs about ethics, with the intent to educate the public to make the most informed decision when choosing a realtor.
Also, heartbroken buyers and sellers.
What can we expect in terms of prices and inventory in 2017 in Toronto’s Real Estate Market?
The year started on a very strong note. We don’t usually list houses at the beginning of January, but because the market did not take a breather even during the holiday season in December, we decided to list earlier than usual this year. We had a property listed at 799K and it had 107 showings within a six-day period in early January. The market is like a stampede, and unless inventory rises, it will remain this way for the rest of the year. Furthermore, supply is low because people don’t know where to move to, so they are staying put and renovating their homes.
Have you spotted any interesting trends recently in the home buying process?
Considering run away house prices, buyers are looking for alternate ways to combat affordability. Buyers are looking at different housing styles and alternate neighborhoods with a more open mind, just to get in to the market, fearing they will be wiped out of it completely. Here’s a summary of a blog post we’ve written on the topic:
High rise living has caught on big time. Condo prices are skyrocketing because of the recent phenomenon of bidding wars taking place. This is because single family home prices have gone up so much, that many people who don’t want to leave the city are having to move to condos, and the supply is low enough to encourage fierce bidding.
Multiple family dwellings are more popular than ever. The perspective on multiple family homes has shifted. Instead of being mainly attractive to real estate investors, in terms of return on investment, these types of dwellings now attract more kinds of buyers, from foreign investors trying to secure their capital in more stable countries, to empty-nesters avoiding condos for the benefit of having more green space available to them. And of course, affordability is making multiple generation cohabitation more and more frequent, in which case multiple family homes are an excellent solution.
Buyers are more open to the idea of living on high trafficked streets. Some criteria that would drive house prices down until now are beginning to lose importance from a buyer’s perspective. With such low supply, even houses on busy streets are getting far more offers than before, while prices still remain more affordable.
Outskirt areas are more acceptable. Buyers are also turning their sights on areas which used to be hard sells – a wave of gentrification is headed towards areas considered outskirts, as buyers are more willing to move further away from the city core in search for more affordable properties.
Are there any particular struggles that your clients complain about in the home buying process?
Buyers especially dislike bully offers. The listing is published with an offer date and suddenly, days before, a pre-emptive offer comes in, and now they are out of the running. And this can happen multiple times.
Buyers feel duped when a property is listed at $999,000 for example, and the seller receives just one offer at the list price and will not accept it – which is a seller’s right.
What criteria should home buyers consider when choosing their REALTOR©?
I have written many blogs on this topic. The absolute most important criterion is choosing an agent you can trust. The commission dollars are very high and, unless the agent has an unbending moral fiber, they will, as I have seen many times before, place their commission above a client’s best interest. Do your homework when selecting an agent!