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The winners and losers of the absolutely outrageous viciously competitive record-breaking market

 

The Winners and Losers of the Absolutely Outrageous, Viciously Competitive, Record-Breaking Market

For buyers and sellers and those who simply consider real estate a spectator sport, this was the nutty year when the average price of a detached house hit a million. And you’re lucky if those seven figures buy a rickety bungalow next to the tracks. Open houses now require bouncers to control the mobs, buyers eye one another like competitors in a boxing ring, and every week there’s another story of a bidding war that stretched all night and made the seller a killing.

In the following pages, we present a portrait of the manic market. We surveyed the city’s top agents to find the pockets where the fight to own a house is fiercest, and gathered stories from people who’ve wandered into the real estate trenches and barely survived.


Real Esate Mania: Twyford Road

THE STREET WHERE UNRENOVATED BUNGALOWS GO FOR $100,000 OVER ASKING
TWYFORD ROAD, FROM KIPLING TO PRINCESS ANNE CRESCENT

Don’t tell downtowners this, but Etobicoke is technically part of Toronto. And for prospective homebuyers looking for deals on large lots and easy access to downtown (as well as out of town, via the airport and the nearby 400-series highways), the cradle of Ford Nation has become an attractive option. It seems especially true of Twyford Road, a popular street in the upmarket ­Princess Anne Manor ’hood, which is walking distance from the picturesque Glen Agar park, a couple of golf courses and a handful of elementary schools. Twyford strikes a nice balance between the busier thoroughfares in and around The Manor (like The Kingsway and Princess Margaret Boulevard), and the area’s quieter nooks (like Kingsfold Court and Blair Athol Crescent, where houses are sold privately to upsizing Manor-­dwellers). “Most of my clients are people from downtown,” says realtor Ana Santos. “They’re tired of being on top of their neighbours in a 35-foot lot with a one-car garage.” Downtown, you’re lucky to get a renovated townhouse for just over a million dollars. On Twyford, it gets you 80-by-135-foot lots.

Circle Red 1
 52 Twyford
In March, this detached bungalow, walking distance from the neighbourhood’s schools, was listed for $1,188,000 and sold for $1,250,000.
Circle Red 2
 28 Twyford
In February, this two-storey detached with 6,600 square feet of total living space, a quartz kitchen island and a 101-bottle wine fridge was listed for $2,499,000 and sold for $2,475,000.
Circle Red 3
 14 Twyford
In May, this renovated sidesplit property—four bedrooms, three baths, with a finished basement—was listed for $1,099,000 and sold for $1,375,000, $276,000 over asking.


Real Estate Mania: Melbourne Avenue

THE STREET WHERE THE HIPSTERS PAY A MILLION-PLUS FOR SEMIS
MELBOURNE AVENUE, FROM DUFFERIN TO COWAN AVENUE

Week by week, walking along Queen West from Dufferin to Sorauren, you can practically see the 99-cent shops shutter and reopen as hip restaurants before your eyes. At the same time, young couples are fighting for houses that have all the appeal of an Annex Victorian but at a lower price point. This is especially true of the housing stock on ­Melbourne, where Keller ­Williams realtor Mike Gryspeerdt broke the million-­dollar sale ceiling with a semi. Over 50 hopefuls snaked out the door at the open house, drawn by the deep and wide lot as well the house’s proximity to the Drake and Gladstone hotel-bar-party compounds. Rather than flippers, the area is bringing in end-users: buyers willing to pay a premium to make a place their own, and whose love for the property makes the list price academic. Re/Max agent Nicholas Bohr encourages clients to hand-write letters to sellers to forge a personal connection and gain an advantage over competing buyers. “I’ll also google a seller,” he says, “and see if they went to the same university as the buyer to try to create synergy.”

Circle Red 1
 47 Melbourne
In June, this two-storey detached with four bedrooms was listed for $889,000 and sold for $1 million.
Circle Red 2
 189 Cowan
In February, this two-storey semi-detached, split into two large three-bedroom apartments, waslisted for $599,000 and sold for $721,000.
Circle Red 3
 11 Melbourne
In March, this semi with a south-facing garden, a new furnace and a greenhouse was listed for $899,000 and sold for $1,008,000, $109,000 over asking.


Real Estate Mania: Manning Avenue

THE STREET WHERE FLIPPERS ARE MAKING A KILLING
MANNING AVENUE, FROM QUEEN WEST TO DUNDAS WEST

One phrase keeps popping up when you comb through listings of recent sales on Manning: “as is.” Those who want a downtown semi or detached house in a great area, with access to trendy shopping and restaurants, all for under $1 million, can still get it on Manning. But it’ll be as is, and they’ll need to fight for it. The street, one of the last unpolished strips near Trinity Bellwoods Park, is especially attractive to investors and house-flippers. One two-and-a-half-storey multi-unit semi—which came with three fridges and three stoves, all tossed in as is—sold for an astonishing $258,898 over the $649,990 list price. Sometimes, the bigger the mess, the fiercer the bidding, as places requiring more substantial overhauls tend to scare away dabbling flippers and attract more serious contractors willing to pay top dollar. But not everything on the street needs a total ­overhaul: one two-storey townhouse just north of Queen, a stone’s throw from Trinity ­Bellwoods, sold for $803,000. With new windows, and a new roof and furnace, the place didn’t require the sort of gutting and remodelling common on the street.

Circle Red 1
 9 Manning
In April, this two-storey townhouse divided into three units was listed for $815,000 and sold for $885,000.
Circle Red 2
 137 Manning
In late 2013, this fixer-upper two-storey semi was dramatically undervalued at $339,000, and sold for $735,000.
Circle Red 3
 100 Manning
In May, this “as is” townhouse was listed for $399,000 and sold for $541,000.


Real Estate Manina: Wychwood Avenue

THE STREET WHERE BUYERS BATTLE TO BE NEAR THE FARMERS’ MARKET
WYCHWOOD AVENUE, FROM ST. CLAIR TO VAUGHAN ROAD

The mayor and small business owners complained, but the St. Clair streetcar right-of-way has proven successful for the strip, especially the section nearest Bathurst. St. Clair has attracted new businesses like the lunch counter Baker and Scone, which offers 40 different varieties of scones, and brought more traffic to trendy restaurants like the Stockyards, where there’s a nightly lineup for takeout fried chicken. The most competitive street to buy on is the stretch of Wychwood running north from St. Clair, where semis regularly break a million. Buyers like how the street name evokes the prestigious community to the south and are desperate to live within walking distance to the nearby farmers’ market at Wychwood Barns and excellent schools (including Humewood Community School, St. Alphonsus Catholic and Vaughan Road Academy, which offers the International Baccalaureate program).

Circle Red 1
 257 Wychwood
In June, this three-storey detached house with five bedrooms and four baths was listed for $949,000 and sold for $1,100,000.
Circle Red 2
 272 Wychwood
In March, this detached two-storey house fitted with premium appliances was listed for $899,000 and sold for $975,000.
Circle Red 3
 177 Wychwood
In May, this three-storey semi-detached house, with new stainless steel appliances and framed by a beautifully landscaped yard, was listed for $875,000 and sold for $1,020,000.


Real Estate Mania: Cortleigh Boulevard

THE STREET WHERE HOUSES WITH NANNY SUITES GET A DOZEN BIDDERS
CORLEIGH BOULEVARD, FROM ROSEWELL AVENUE TO AVENUE ROAD

Buyers in the multimillion-dollar price range are often too genteel for bidding wars. But when it comes to Cortleigh Boulevard, a leafy patch in Benzes-and-Botox Lytton Park, the gloves come off. It’s one of those rare streets between the north-south arteries of Avenue and Yonge that’s not overrun with traffic. The houses, many of which sport old-timey stone filigree on their ­exteriors and contain nanny suites, are set well off the street, making it feel nearly suburban for a street so close to downtown. It’s a short drive to the establishment private schools and walking distance from prestigious (by TDSB standards) John Ross Robertson Public School, where students do extremely well on EQAO tests.

Circle Red 1
 29 Cortleigh
In May, this two-and-a-half-storey family home with a gourmet kitchen, south-facing garden, four bedrooms and four baths was listed for $1,895,000 and sold for $1,929,000.
Circle Red 2
 18 Cortleigh
In April, this detached three-storey drew 19 bids on its already whopping $1,895,000 list priceand eventually sold for $2.3 million.
Circle Red 3
 5 Cortleigh
In late 2013, an “as-is” house was listed for $999,000 and sold for $1,225,000. The buyers built a new house in its place.


Real Estate Mania: Bessborough Drive

THE STREET WHERE MILLION-PLUS HOUSES SELL IN A COUPLE OF DAYS
BESSBOROUGH DRIVE, FROM MILLWOOD ROAD TO GLENVALE BOULEVARD

Bessborough is the kind of placid Leaside street that has always been in demand. Houses, many with extra-wide yards and centre-hall plans, rarely go on sale, and when they do there’s intense demand, with the average property going a hundred thousand or more over asking. Hopefuls put in bully bids and draft letters to owners of nice houses encouraging them to sell. (Agents also do a lot of door knocking, to the same end.) Some lots are so spacious, developers try to subdivide them (one such proposal was recently met with fiery opposition). Open houses on the street draw 50-plus potential buyers in one afternoon. “People call it ‘stupid street,’ because people do stupid things to live there,” says agent Patrick Rocca, whose own house is on Bessborough. “But I paid the highest price at the time,” he says. “So if anything, I’m the stupidest one.”

Circle Red 1
 309 Bessborough
In May, this four-bedroom, three-bath detached home on a rambling 38-foot lot was listed for $1,339,000 and sold for $1,477,100. That’s $138,100 over asking.
Circle Red 2
 247 Bessborough
In May, this red-brick detached, recently renovated to the tune of over $200,000, was listed for $1,299,000 and sold for $1,530,000. That’s a full $231,000 over asking.
Circle Red 3
 214 Bessborough
In May, this 2,000-square-foot detached two-storey house, with original stained glass windows and an elaborate garden, was listed for $1,299,000 and sold for $1,396,000.


Real Estate Mania: Hamilton Street

THE STREET WHERE TEARDOWNS GO FOR $100,000 OVER ASKING
HAMILTON STREET, FROM GERRARD STREET TO QUEEN

The under-a-million neighbourhoods are where the most furious bidding wars play out—especially on streets like Riverdale’s Hamilton. Ramshackle aluminum-sided bungalows, cheap enough to rip down and start fresh, offer some of the best bargains close to downtown. Buyers see a pocket in transition now that Bridgepoint Health has replaced the old Don Jail, and the infamous Jilly’s strip club at Queen and Broadview has closed, likely to be redeveloped as a Gladstone-type hotel. For fans of hootenannies and hoedowns, there’s also the nearby Boots and Bourbon Saloon, which set up shop in the former site of the seedier Blue Moon Pub on Queen. In 2014, the biggest sales on the street have closed around $100,000 over asking.

 

Circle Red 1
 77 Hamilton
In May, this rental property was listed for $699,000. The house received seven bids and eventually sold for $806,000. “I accepted offers the day after the Jilly’s sale was announced,” the seller says. “The timing couldn’t have been better.”
Circle Red 2
 148 Hamilton
In late 2013, this oversized detached bungalow, with a huge rear deck and a basement rental unit, was listed for $749,900 and sold for $747,900.
Circle Red 3
 192 Hamilton
In April, this two-storey semi was listed for $749,000 and sold for $845,000. It last sold a year ago for $545,000.


Real Estate Mania: Wellesley Street East

THE STREET WHERE A MILLION FOR A SEMI IS CONSIDERED A BARGAIN
WELLESLEY STREET EAST, FROM PARLIAMENT STREET TO WELLESLEY PARK

Cabbagetown’s rows of pretty, fastidiously preserved victorians are eerily calm despite being so close to the downtown core. Wellesley is one of the most idyllic streets in the neighbourhood, so whenever a house goes on the market, it’s swarmed and the subject of intense bidding wars. Chestnut Park sales rep Kara Reed booked 30 showings over a weekend for a semi, which ended up selling for a couple hundred thousand over its asking price. The most prized properties are on the eastern stretch, where Wellesley dead-ends at a park of mature trees and the Toronto Necropolis. One bungalow on Wellesley Cottages, a miniscule side street/alley running behind Wellesley proper, went for $246,000 over its million-plus asking in June.

Circle Red 1
401 Wellesley E.
In May, this immaculately renovated Victorian with two parking spaces, 10-foot ceilings and built-in speakers was listed for $1,358,000 and sold for $1,600,000.
Circle Red 2
357 Wellesley E.
In January, this lavish rebuild of a Victorian-era home (complete with a media room and a second-floor study) was listed for $2,369,000 and sold for $2,400,000.
Circle Red 3
459 Wellesley E.
In July, this semi-detached, two-and-a-half-storey house was listed for $899,000 and sold for $1,040,000.


Real Estate Mania: Hiawatha Road

THE STREET WHERE ENTER-AT-YOUR-OWN RISK HOUSES SELL FOR $100,000 OVER ASKING
HIAWATHA ROAD, FROM DUNDAS TO WALPOLE AVENUE

Maybe it’s the proximity to the all-you-can-gorge buffets of the Gerrard India Bazaar. Maybe it’s the increasingly elusive under-a-million price tags. Or maybe it’s all the coach houses tucked behind so many of the homes—which make great rental properties. Most likely it’s all these things. As conspicuous as all the For Sale signs lining Hiawatha are the building notices, with some lots currently undergoing total tear-downs and rebuilds—a sure sign that the property itself is just as valuable, if not more so, than the hundred-year-old home sitting on top. One three-storey detached home sold for $795,000—nearly $100,000 over asking. It had been previously sold only six months before, and the seller netted a tidy $100,000 without making many improvements. The street is especially lusted after by young families, who want the short walk to Greenwood Park and alternative TDSB schools like Equinox Holistic.

Circle Red 1
227 Hiawatha
In July, this semi-detached two-storey home was offered as is—“please do not enter the garage,” the listing noted, forebodingly. It was listed for $350,000 and sold for $557,500.
Circle Red 2
166 Hiawatha
In June, this 100 year-old, two-storey, two-bedroom stucco-fronted “condo alternative” on a deep lot was listed for $429,000 and sold for $502,800.
Circle Red 3
59 Hiawatha
In late 2013, this two-storey family home with a fenced-in front yard, back garden, and balcony adjoining the master bedroom was listed for $499,000 and sold for $612,000, kicking off a string of recent activity on the strip.


Real Estate Mania: Munro Park Avenue

THE STREET WHERE IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO SCORE A HOUSE
MUNRO PARK AVENUE, FROM QUEEN TO THE LAKE

There are only 29 houses on Munro Park avenue, the most prestigious street in the Beach, and they rarely come up for sale—only three have gone on the market in the past two years. They’re generally passed down from generation to generation, old money–style, because no one wants to give up the view of the lake or the short stroll to the century-old Balmy Beach Club and its meticulously groomed lawn bowling green. The houses tend to be ornate, stucco and stone-fronted, many with early 20th-century period details like double-sashed windows and stained glass. Lots are massive for the Beach, with 50-foot frontages, and prices climb closer to the lake, often going for half a million or more over list. “It’s hands-down the most coveted street in the Beach,” says Mark Richards of Re/Max, who’s currently selling a renovated $4.3-million house on the street.

Circle Red 1
14 Munro Park
In 2013, this two-storey detached house sold for the asking price of $1,869,000 to a buyer who proceeded with a gut reno.
Circle Red 2
6 Munro Park
In July, this reno’d four-bedroom detached was listed for $4,295,000—a new high for the street. Unsold at our print deadline.
Circle Red 3
48 Munro Park
In late 2013, this detached two-storey home near the businesses on Queen was listed for $1,432,000 and sold for $1,385,000.

Tales from the Front: real estate horror stories from the buyers who lived them

Tales From the Front: The Sale Gone Sour

THE SALE GONE SOUR
CATHERINE STINSON, A 39-YEAR-OLD PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR

I recently moved back to Canada from Germany with my partner, Boris, and our four-year-old daughter. We sublet an apartment while we looked for a house. We saw at least 100 west-end properties and lost out on five offers, sometimes by as much as $100,000. In June, we found a semi in Wallace-­Emerson—it was rundown and an estate sale, but to us it felt like a miracle when the sellers accepted our offer of $667,000. Our inspector found water damage, asbestos, an old roof and bad wiring all over the place, so we dropped our price to $655,000 and asked for a mid-July closing. The sellers agreed, but added a condition of an extra 30 days if they didn’t get their will probated. Our agent told us that will probate is rarely a problem, but we were getting nervous: I was due to give birth to our second child in July, and we were supposed to be out of our apartment by the end of August. As the closing day approached, we heard the will ­probate would take at least three months. The sellers refused to rent us the empty house in the meantime, even when we offered to increase our deposit on the house sale. By the end of August, we gave up hope and signed a mutual release form. We’d already switched our daughter to the new school district and lost thousands on various fees. We’re renting another house while we continue to hunt.

Tales From the Front: Cut Out of a Deal

CUT OUT OF A DEAL
HEATHER BLUMBERG, A 40-YEAR-OLD MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT

My husband and I found a gorgeous Victorian we really liked in Parkdale. We ended up being one of five parties bidding. Our agent presented an offer of $1,003,000 on our behalf, and the top three bids all came fairly close. Our agent came back to us to see what we wanted to present as a new bid. In that time, one party dropped out. So it was us and one other party. We went up to $1,015,000 and submitted our offer. That’s when things took a turn: the selling agent struck a deal with the other party’s agent so that, rather than paying a five per cent fee, the new owners would only pay two and a half per cent. They’re supposed to tell the other party, so you can come up with a counter-offer, but by the time we found out, they’d signed a contract. Our agent said this is the first time he’d encountered this in his 20 years in real estate. We filed a complaint with the real estate council. It makes us wary about buying. You wonder what else is going on.

Tales From the Front: The Close Call

THE CLOSE CALL
IVY JOHNSON, A 28-YEAR-OLD TV WRITER

My fiancé and I put in a successful bid of $450,000 on a loft unit in a building on Dundas West. We’d been looking for a month, and we fell in love with its exposed brick and high ceilings, and that it was a corner unit with lots of windows. It had character, as they say. These kinds of deals are dependent on a status certificate getting approved by our lawyer. That’s when it all went south. Our lawyer said the certificate was one of the worst he’d seen. Turned out the conversion from factory to loft had been shoddily done: the basement flooded, the bricks needed repointing, the pipes had burst in the winter, and the roof was leaking. The condo board was suing the construction company, and the construction company was suing the condo board too. If we bought, we’d never be able to resell without these lawsuits affecting the price. We immediately cancelled our contract and ended up buying another place in Parkdale.

Tales From the Front: Betrayed by an Agent

BETRAYED BY AN AGENT
DAVID DI BIASE, A 28-YEAR-OLD PARTNER AT A DIGITAL AGENCY

Just before the Canada Day weekend, my partner and I put in an offer of $745,000 on a house near Mount Pleasant and Eglinton, with a $35,000 deposit in escrow. The inspection revealed that the house still had knob-and-tube wiring, so we dropped our offer to $725,000. Two hours after our offer expired, the ­selling agent got back to us and asked for a better offer. When we declined, she said we’d forfeited our deposit to the sellers. We demanded it back, but her response was, “We shall see.” At this point, we were convinced she was crazy, so we called her broker, who made sure the cheque was signed back to us. For an entire day, we thought we’d lost $35,000. A week later, the agent re-listed the house for the exact amount we’d offered! We found the name of the seller and sent him an offer directly. Within four hours, the deal was done. His agent was still technically ­representing the homeowners, but we otherwise circumvented her.

Tales From the Front: The No Inspection Disaster

THE NO-INSPECTION DISASTER
BRENDA MORRISON, A 49-YEAR-OLD PR CONSULTANT

When my partner and I started looking for a house, we hired an inspector before bidding on a place we didn’t get. It felt like a wasted $400. They are vague to cover their own rear-ends for liability. We decided not to bother with the inspection when we found a house we loved in Leslieville. We bought the place for $621,000, which was $42,000 over the list price. After taking possession, we found out we had to rewire the whole place—it was a mix of new wiring and knob-and-tube. While that was being done, we stored all our stuff in the basement, which was exactly when a sewage line, strangled by the roots of a maple tree, burst. The problems didn’t end: the roof leaked, the dishwasher leaked, and, oh yeah, the eavestroughs were duct-taped to the house. Right as we were moving in, the kitchen cupboards fell right off the wall and smashed to pieces. So far, we’ve spent at least $50,000 on repairs.

Done Deals: Strong demand helps speed Merchandise Lofts sale

155 DALHOUSIE ST., NO. 1019, TORONTO
ASKING PRICE: $558,000
SELLING PRICE: $551,000
PREVIOUS SELLING PRICES: $512,000 (2012); $219,563 (2000)
TAXES: $3,600 (2014)
DAYS ON THE MARKET: 6
LISTING AGENT: Elli Davis, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.

Published in The Globe and Mail, Thursday September 4th, 2014.

deal-dalhousie0904re01

The Action: There were numerous units for sale this summer in the Merchandise Lofts – a converted Sears warehouse near Church and Dundas streets. But demand for large, true loft conversions is strong, so this two-bedroom, sub-penthouse suite sold briskly.

What They Got: This 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom loft has a rotunda leading to an open principal room with 12-foot ceilings, a wall of windows and polished concrete floors, along with a gas fireplace and granite-topped kitchen island.

Hidden behind sliding doors are two bedrooms, including a master suite with his and her closets and a five-piece bathroom.

Monthly fees of $697 pays for water, concierge, salt-water pool, basketball court, party room and rooftop deck, plus $59 and $7 for its parking spot and locker respectively.

The Agent’s Take:

“The building is really sought after because of the location downtown and the original loft feel,”

agent Elli Davis states.

“It showed very well, it had good views and it was a great space with high ceilings.”

Buyers also liked having amenities within close reach.

“There’s a big Metro downstairs, which is great, and lots of shops nearby,”

says Ms. Davis, who fielded inquiries largely from young professionals,

“who like to walk to work, and work and play downtown.”

Elli in Globe and Mail: Open the Vault – The Luxury Home Market is Back

The Luxury Home Market is Back

The Luxury Home Market is Back

Carolyn Ireland of the Globe and Mail interviewed Elli as part of her fascinating article on current trends in luxury real estate in Toronto. It is hard to imagine, but even in the multimillion dollar price range the supply cannot keep up to the demand. Read on to find out what happens when these distinctive homes go on the market.

Published in The Globe and Mail, Carolyn Ireland, 31 January 2014

On a snowy day in Rosedale last week, luxury cars lined the antique cobblestones in front of a neoclassical Georgian, and guests lingered near the warmth of a log fire in the main entrance hall.

Five Hawthorn Gardens had just hit the market with an asking price of $15.9-million and real estate agents were eager to view the splendours inside.

Welcoming agents to the busy open house were Elise Kalles of Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd. and Jimmy Molloy of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd., who share the listing on the ravine property. They started receiving requests for showings as soon as word got out that the house would be hitting the market.

Agents say sales in the upper echelons of the market in Toronto are lively again after a moribund stretch that began in 2012.

Ms. Kalles believes buyers were hesitating as economic pundits warned of a possible downturn. But when a few buyers stepped up, a spate of “sold” signs appeared in areas such as Forest Hill, Rosedale and Teddington Park. Those deals bolstered confidence and spurred others to take action.

“These are landmark houses,” Ms. Kalles says. “It’s not like if this sells you can tell a client, ‘don’t worry – another one will come up.’”

Ms. Kalles recently sold a house on Riverview Drive for close to its $15-million asking price. A week ago, she represented prospective buyers who lost out on a house on Roxborough Drive in Rosedale. The house, which will likely be torn down, was listed for $1.9-million and drew four competing bidders.

Looking back to 2012 and 2013, many luxury properties languished as a list of global observers that included Deutsche Bank, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the Economist magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and marquee economist Nouriel Roubini all warned of frothiness in Canada’s housing market.

“I think that we had a lot of people who were sitting on the sidelines,” says Mr. Molloy. “People have been waiting for this correction. The correction never came.”

Mr. Molloy also reckons that the market has adjusted to the tighter restrictions on lending imposed by the federal government in July, 2012. Among other interventions, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty clamped down on high-ratio mortgages of more than $1-million as market watchers fretted about perilous levels of household debt.

Although corporate titans and entrepreneurs can often afford to pay cash for their high-priced real estate, many took out mortgages in years past to take advantage of low interest rates and maintain their investment in assets offering a higher return, Mr. Molloy says. “They had the money, but they had better uses for the money.”

Buyers have now absorbed the change and are taking some profits out of financial markets and shifting cash into property, he said. Still, he doesn’t see the upper end of the market getting overheated.

“When you’re dealing with that higher end, every deal is done prudently. Deals are being done at a high level, not a crazy level.”

He adds that people who want to live in great downtown neighbourhoods don’t have a lot of choice in listings. “There’s not an overwhelming supply of great product. There are people with $2-million or $3-million to spend and they’re frustrated.”

Sotheby’s International Realty Canada says that sales of Toronto homes of all types in the $2-million to $4-million range rose 17 per cent in 2013 compared with 2012. For houses above $4-million, sales swelled 52 per cent in the same period.

Ross McCredie, chief executive of Sotheby’s International Realty Toronto, says that a lack of listings in the single-family home market have made “attached homes” more popular and he predicts that trend will strengthen in 2014. Mr. McCredie believes condos, townhouses and row houses will see bidding wars as we head into the spring market.

In Leaside, meanwhile, workers are still installing the kitchen and nailing down the trim in a traditional, red brick house on Hanna Road. As soon as real estate agent Patrick Rocca placed a photograph with the words “coming soon” on his web site, he heard from prospective buyers.

“I’m getting people calling me about it and it’s not even finished. I don’t even have a sign on it yet.”

The asking price will be somewhere around $2.3-million.

In the past 10 days, Mr. Rocca says, he has sold two houses with asking prices above the $2-million mark and both received multiple offers.

One of the properties, near Edwards Gardens, received six offers and sold for more than $50,000 above the asking price.

Mr. Rocca believes one reason is that inventory shrunk after builders slowed down their rate of new construction. Last fall, he says, 17 or 18 houses priced north of $1-million were on the market in Leaside.

When people drive by lots of houses for sale and see them sitting, they become more hesitant to buy because they figure they might be able to hold out for a price cut. Houses are no longer sitting, and that boosts confidence in the market, Mr. Rocca says.

“You’re starting to see movement and, in some cases, really crazy movement. People are picking up that the high end is moving now.”

Real estate agent Elli Davis of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. has tallied nine deals in January and many of them were at prices above $2-million.

One house she sold this week in Forest Hill had previously been listed at a much higher price. The buyers were able to negotiate a price about seven per cent below the asking price and about 30 per cent below the original asking price with a different agent. She’s not seeing a lot of price cuts, but she says some sellers are unrealistic when they set the listing price.

“Ironically, she says the recent vigour in the market has made some homeowners more reluctant to list. “Now we’re getting seller resistance because they’re afraid they won’t be able to find anything to buy.”

In more moderate price ranges, multiple offers are continuing to amaze sellers, Ms. Davis says. This week she sifted through 24 offers on a semi-detached house listed for $499,000 near Leslie and Finch. The successful bidders paid $640,000, or $141,000 above asking.

Over three days, she had more than 150 showings, says Ms. Davis.

“I was getting calls all weekend, so I knew it would be very, very busy.”

Ms. Davis says the lack of supply in January is one reason that sellers get so many parties vying for one house.

“I really think that people have to realize that January and February are excellent months to put your house on the market.”

People who wait until the spring have to contend with the surge of listings that come out in April and May.

“The weather’s nicer but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell swimming pools in January. You just put photos out and let people dream.”

No Winter Slump on the Sellers’ Market: ‘It’s a 12-Month Business’

Susan Smith of the National Post spoke with Toronto Realtors, including Elli, about the current housing market and why it is a good idea to list your property for sale in the middle of winter.

by Susan Smith in National Post on 29/01/2014
national-postWinter tends to be a relatively slow time for selling real estate. But while many people wait for the spring thaw to list their property, slow season might just be the best time to attract a buyer. At least that’s the philosophy of Royal LePage veteran Elli Davis, who clinched eight deals in December and has been busy so far this month.

“I encourage people to list in December and January,”
she says, speaking from 30 years of experience.

“Many listings expire Dec. 31. But when I take a listing in September or October, I try to get it to the end of January to really cover that holiday season.”

Her reasoning has served her well over the years: Many people hunker down for the holidays or go south for the winter, so there’s not a lot of competing properties on the market. But there always seem to be buyers, their ranks filled by people with pre-approved mortgages due to expire and shoppers who don’t mind braving the cold to avoid the spring crowds.

One of her recent buyers was a retired professional with a house in the Yonge and Eglinton area. He and his wife, also retired, were ready to downsize and had security concerns about leaving their home when travelling and vacationing in Florida. Not thinking they were ready to buy immediately, they had a chat with Ms. Davis about what their house was worth and found themselves looking at condos.

Then they saw one they wanted and found themselves buying it. They got the 2,170-square-foot unit in a building in the Bay corridor close to Yorkville for just over $1-million, a bit under asking. No bidding war, which the buyers were happy to avoid.

“When everyone else is sleeping, lots can happen,” Ms. Davis says. “It’s a 12-month business. There are always buyers and sellers every single day.”

One of the deals Ms. Davis closed during the recent spell of frigid weather was a North York home that sold for $902,000, $114,000 over asking.

“That was an example of looking at it in mid-December and they were going to wait [to list], and I said, no, let’s do it now. There’s nothing on the market in your area.”

The timing was perfect, generating 13 offers and a quick sale.

Royal LePage’s latest house price survey is one of many reports showing the Toronto market finishing the year on a strong note, in line with the national average for Canada’s largest cities.

According to its figures, the average price of a standard two-storey home in the fourth quarter rose by 2.75% year-over-year to $686,000. This compares with a rise of 3.6% to an average of $418,000 nationwide for this type of property.

The average price of a detached bungalow in the city rose 3.9% to $580,000, compared with a rise of 3.8% to $381,000 for the country as a whole. For a standard two-bedroom, 900-sq.-ft. condominium, the rise was 1% to $360,000, compared with the national average of $247,000, a 1.2% rise.

The report predicts a continued “positive momentum” and a sellers’ market for the first half of the year.

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, the average selling price in the GTA for December was $520,398 ­up 8.9% compared to the average of $477,756 in December, 2012.

“The average selling price will be up again in 2014 and by more than the rate of inflation,” said board president Dianne Usher. “The seller’s market conditions that drove price growth in the second half of 2013 will remain in place in many parts of the GTA.”

So why wait for spring, when everyone else lists?

Christopher Bibby, an agent with the Sutton Group in Toronto who specializes in condos, sold two properties in the week before Christmas. One was a loft at King and Spadina area that went for a little under asking at $415,000. The other, at King and Jarvis, attracted multiple offers and sold for $3,000 over asking for $372,000.

“Even during the ice storm there were agents out there, and a lot of people looked at it as an opportunity, and without a lot of competition out there, as a good time to go out and shop.”

Mr. Bibby says it can be a good time to list rather than wait, especially if a unit is sitting empty.

But in this market of ample inventory, with condos generally taking longer to sell, he says it’s more important than ever to make a good impression and stand out from the crowd. In other words, get rid of the crazy paint colours and spring for a good staging.

“The sellers have to be more hands-on and the agents have to be a lot more hands-on,” he says.

Standard tips for selling in winter include making the space look comfy and warm, lighting a fire or wooing buyers with the smell of baking cookies.

But like Mr. Bibby, Ms. Davis says it’s more important to get the basics right — declutter, make the place immaculate and send the pets away for a little holiday even if you’re not taking one of your own.

“I’m not a big cookie person,” she says. “Clean and presentable are much more important to me. Provide easy access, make sure the key is available, allow showings when people want to come.”

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

POSTED ON December 28th  - POSTED IN Elli's Archives, Toronto Real Estate News
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
  • SONY Centre for the Performing Arts
  • Playing Until Jan 16th

The odds are pretty much in the producers’ favour that they will have a hit with this show. Story by Larry Gelbart, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, directed by Des McAnuff and brought to the commercial stage by Mirvish Productions. With this pedigree, chances are you will enjoy yourself. A funny thing just hit me, if you do not know who all of the aforementioned are, please (as they say) Google the names.

ForumThere are two leads currently sharing the role at various productions –- I saw Bruce Dow and am a happier person for it. While watching Mr. Dow, I see Zero Mostel shtick mixed in with the comedic presence of Nathan Lane. Mr. Dow is neither Mostel nor Lane, but holds his own quite well. He is in control of his actions as he needs to be in order to convince us that he can come up with so many crazy ideas at the drop of a hat. He gets caught and manages to escape and diffuse any complicated situation with such speed and such deliberate action that one knows he will succeed.

His character Pseudolus needs speed, agility and stage presence. Mr. Dow displayed all three at yesterday’s performance. Joining him on stage in equally wonderful and clever interpretations of their roles are Stephen Sutcliffe as Hysterium,  Chilina Kennedy as Philia (a virgin) and Dan Chameroy as the warrior Miles Gloriosus.

There are NO weak performances in this cast. Many of the actors were in the original production which was performed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 2009. It is not often that a not-for-profit production transfers onto the commercial stage. Broadway and London’s West End have a history of scooping up little shows and making them huge hits. A Chorus Line, RENT, HAIR and many more. We must be proud and moreover supportive when it happens here. When a producer such as David Mirvish invests time, energy and money to bring such delights as this one to his splendid theatre, we owe him the courtesy of buying a ticket. May I strongly urge you to do so… not just to support theatre, but also to have one hell of a good time!

National Post Feature: 93A & 95A Balmoral Avenue

93a-balmoral-ave

“Deer Park”
by Connie Adair in National Post on 16/11/2013

The National Post recently featured Elli’s listing at 93A and 95A Balmoral Avenue in their Resale Homes section which highlights unique properties for sale.

Deer Park
93A/95A Balmoral Ave.
(Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue)
Asking price: $1.595-million
Taxes: $8,579 (2013)
Bedrooms: 2+1
Bathrooms: 3
MLS# C2731873

“I have never had a property like this listed in my 30-year career,” says listing agent Elli Davis. “It features two separate homes, which I believe were once coach houses or garages in a private courtyard off Balmoral Avenue.”

The interiors have been renovated, and both feature modern bathrooms, built-ins and chef ’s kitchens that have custom cabinetry.The home at 93A offers two bedrooms and about 980 square feet of living space plus a 600-sq.-ft. lower level. Features include a fireplace in the combination living and dining room, a centre island in the kitchen and a cathedral ceiling and a three-piece ensuite bathroom in the master suite.

93a-main-living-area

93a main living area

The second home is a bungalow that has about 637 square feet. It has a skylight in the open-concept kitchen, a combination living and dining room and a bedroom with a three-piece ensuite bathroom.

“The two homes must be purchased together,” Ms. Davis says. “The homes face one another, rather than being side by side, and tearing them down and building one large home is not an option.”

The 34×84-foot property is close to yonge and St. Clair. It’s within walking distance of up scale shops, restaurants, parks and public transit. The property has four parking spots.

Listing Broker: Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. (Elli Davis)

TZAM

Elli in Royal LePage’s Best of the Best

POSTED ON March 2nd  - POSTED IN Elli's Archives, Featured News, Toronto Real Estate News

REM Issue #285, March 2013

  Royal LePage logo


Royal LePage logo

In its illustrious 100-year history, Royal LePage has produced dozens of top sales professionals. The top one per cent of the company’s sales professionals become part of the National Chairman’s Club. In the last decade, three sales reps who are consistently at or near the top of the list are Elli Davis, Dan Cooper and Loretta Phinney. Recently REM asked them about the secrets of their success and longevity…

ELLI DAVIS

After scoring 100 per cent on her third and final real estate course, Elli Davis received her licence in 1983. She joined A.E. LePage’s Summerhill office in Toronto and sold her first property three weeks later. She has been with Royal LePage ever since and held the No. 1 spot in the company’s sales rankings for 12 consecutive years.

Davis is also a long-time supporter of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. Her annual donations place her in the top one per cent of all donors across Canada.

What was your first day as a Realtor like and how does it compare to a typical day now?
I originally applied for a job at 33 Yonge St. to sell/lease commercial properties, as I had heard residential was all “nights and weekends”. They sent me to a residential recruiter who called the manager of the Yonge Street branch and invited me for an interview. He encouraged me to start right away and led me to my cubicle with a shelf above and a dial phone (with a hold button) and said, “Go to it.”

From there, I started listening to other agents and created a card that I sent to all of my “very
few contacts” to inform them of my new career. I clipped listings, went to agent open houses and took anyone that could walk and talk to see properties, stopping at pay phones to get messages. I open-housed every weekend in the hot summer of 1983!

My typical day now is arriving at the office between 9-10 unless I have an appointment elsewhere. I review new listings, follow up with appraisals, talk to current sellers, meet with my team and view agent open houses unless I have one of my own. The afternoons are usually for listing appointments, personal errands, some lunches and general things that just always seem to come up. The days go by very quickly. Evenings are generally free for dinners at home or out, theatre, family and fun.

Today technology and my support staff enable me to increase my business year after year. I
concentrate on the listings but remain very “hands on” with all aspects of the everyday operation of my business. I am always accessible and efficient, which has contributed to consistent repeat and referral opportunities.

How do you keep your career fresh?
I make every day different and prioritize the most important tasks of the day. I am always networking, taking courses, learning, brainstorming and updating marketing materials and pictures. I keep my technology current. I love to read sales books and motivational success stories in all types of careers.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child I was very shy and had no confidence in myself. Being the tallest girl in the class was not a good thing. I didn’t have any definitive career goal as didn’t feel I was very smart. I gradually realized during university that I enjoyed teaching and psychology and continued with my education to become a primary school teacher. I realized after about the first week that this was not where I wanted to stay but it took me seven years to take a leave of absence. I believe I took a chance at real estate with the inner strength of just going for it and with the motivation and determination not to return to the classroom.

What do you do for fun?
I enjoy travelling, exploring new countries, going on cruises, the theatre, spas, shopping, swimming and boating. I enjoy entertaining friends and spending time at the cottage. I have had the ultimate joy of being married to a great man for over 25 years and enjoying time with four grandchildren and a lot of immediate and extended family. I actually love working because I don’t consider it as “work”….most days.

Who is the person (business or personal) who inspires you most?
Even though I lost my parents several years ago, my father was a unique, fun-loving and innovative salesman without a formal education, but with the motivation to always try something new. He was a risk taker and so am I. My mother had an “at home” sales career but was born in the wrong generation. She was overly devoted to her three children. I believe she would have been a huge success in her own right as well but she really never had the chance. My sadness lies in the fact that she never saw me in my real estate career and my father only witnessed the first few years. They still inspire me.

Elli Davis in The Globe and Mail

POSTED ON January 26th  - POSTED IN Elli's Archives, Featured News, Toronto Real Estate News

Published in The Globe and Mail, 24 January 2013

by Carolyn Ireland

Toronto skyline by elPadawan

Toronto skyline by elPadawan

Of all the zany things happening in Toronto’s real estate market last week, perhaps the most mind-boggling was the melee that erupted over a pleasant yet unremarkable condo unit near Yonge and Davisville.

Seven parties leapt into the competition and pushed the sale price to $420,000 – or 8 per cent above the asking price of $389,000.

David Fleming of Bosley Real Estate Ltd., is one agent who was staggered by the deal. He wrote about it in his Toronto Realty Blog.

Mr. Fleming says there’s too much choice in the condo market right now for it to make sense for buyers to compete over a run-of-the-mill unit.

“I would never in this market tell a buyer to get involved in a bidding war on a condo,” he said in an interview.

“A nice house in Riverdale maybe – but not a condo.”

But that’s just one deal and Mr. Fleming says it could be an outlier. The point is that the market is extremely erratic at the moment.

The numbers from the Toronto Real Estate Board show that sales edged up 2.4 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area in the first half of January compared with the same period last year. The average selling price rose by 4 per cent in the same period.

But the market was – and continues to be – choppy and weird. Some properties stagnate for weeks and then sell at a significant discount of the asking price, while others sell overnight for more. Mr. Fleming raises another example of a house in the west end that had an asking price just less than $550,000, which is a segment of the market that draws lots of buyers.

His clients were primed to make an offer on Tuesday, which was the night set aside for reviewing bids. But before they had the chance, the house was sold late last Friday when a bully offer landed in front of the sellers.

So-called bullies usually offer an amount so substantial that the sellers are tempted to snatch at it. But in this case, Mr. Fleming points out, the bully got the house for $580,000. It’s a great deal for the buyer, he figures, but the sellers left a substantial amount of money on the table.

“I would have bought that house at that price and I’m not even in the market.”

His clients, he says, would have offered $610,000 or $620,000.

“That was frustrating. My clients are crushed.”

Elli Davis, an agent with Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., cites the example of a house in Moore Park that received two offers and sold for $2.375-million. That marks a $176,000 premium above the asking price.

Mr. Fleming also had a buyer interested in that one, but the house sold within a day of coming on the market – before they even got over there to see it.

“Here I was telling him that I didn’t think the property would move.”

Mr. Fleming says lots of listings are sitting. He can’t imagine another condo unit getting seven offers in the current market.

“There are a million cookie-cutter condos out there that no one cares about.”

Ms. Davis says she tallied eight deals in January, 2012, but so far this year she has only recorded four. Still, she hopes to make up the difference by the end of the month.

“I’ve got a few in the works. Buyers just seem to be taking a little bit more time.”

Ms. Davis says some buyers are speculating that prices may fall and wonder if they should wait. But others are willing to move if they see the right property.

“They want that security that the market isn’t going to totally fall out of bed.”

She’s advising sellers to set a realistic asking price instead of setting an eye-catching price in the hope of sparking a bidding war. But she also cautions against asking too much. Prices have softened a bit since last spring, she says.

“If you’re way too high, people will ignore you and buy something that’s not.”

Mr. Fleming says the lack of snow in January may have helped the market because house hunters had no trouble tramping around. And even the arctic temperatures this week didn’t deter the buyers of 76 Langley Ave. in Riverdale. The home, priced at $949,000, sold Tuesday night for $1,129,000. “So much for the impending real estate crash,” he says. But the volatile nature of the market makes it difficult for agents to predict how the spring will shape up.

“One day you might get five offers on a house and the next week a house down the street gets zero.”

Townhouses Close Out Prestigious Master-planned Community

POSTED ON November 21st  - POSTED IN Done Deals, Elli's Archives, Toronto Real Estate News
Burkebrook Place

Burkebrook Place

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Friday, Nov. 16 2012, 4:30 PM EST
The Burkebrook Town Manors exteriors echo the architecture of existing streetcapes with small bricks, pre-cast textures and decorative railings. Inside, high ceilings provide a sense of space and lights.

Don Pugh, vice president of lowrise for the Daniels Corp., is quite used to would-be buyers lining up overnight when his company launches one of its FirstHome communities which offer affordable homes to first-time buyers.

However what “surprised the heck out of me” was that people camped out overnight in anticipation of the opening of the Burkebrook Town Manors (http://www.theburkebrooktowns.com) earlier this year at Daniels’ luxury community, Kilgour Estates, in the exclusive Lawrence Park neighbourhood.

Just three of the 21 Burkebrook townhomes remain for sale; they will close out all phases of Kilgour Estates, which sits on 12 manicured acres that were once part of the 200-acre property bought in 1909 by by Sir Joseph Kilgour, a former president of the Canada Paper Company, who established his country estate Sunnybrook Farms there.

Since it acquired the site from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (which sits just west of Kilgour Estates), Daniels has set about creating a master-planned community that would reflect the tradition of grand residences and the prestige of the neighbourhood.

Today, Daniels has transformed the property on the edge of the Burke Brook Ravine into a natural pedestrian-friendly enclave that provides a peaceful escape from the stresses of city life.

For the final phase of Kilgour Estates, which includes midrise condos with townhomes at the base and stately bungalows, Daniels chose to offer the three-storey town manors, which range in size from 1,950 to 2,000 square feet. High-end townhouses tucked into little pockets of desirable neighbourhoods are growing and popular market trend.

While Daniels had success with the bungalows it offered at Kilgour Estate, that started at $1.6 million, Mr. Pugh says the townhomes, which started at just under $1 million, appeal to a broader market.

“It’s a real mix of buyers. We’ve got young single professionals, move-down buyers, families with young children,” says Mr. Pugh. “The price per square foot is $500. The downtown luxury condo market is way more than that, $700 to $900 a square foot and more,” he points out.

Yet the townhouses are definitely upscale and emulate the architecture of existing streetcapes with façades with smaller bricks, pre-cast textures and decorative railings. Mr. Pugh says it was important to maintain an exterior design that was in keeping with the community.

“We have built a lot of townhouses, but this is first time to this time of demographic. We have double-car garages that wouldn’t be seen in a less expensive townhouse offering and spacious layouts,” says Mr. Pugh. “We have 10-foot main floor ceilings which is awesome as it makes them feel much more grand and it’s the type of features people would expect from a million-dollar townhouse.”

He says while all Daniels projects take the same building science approach, Burkebrook includex more upgraded features such as gourmet kitchens, granite countertops, fireplaces, larger rooms and more attention to detail. “More time is spent at the finishing stages too. When you are building at a higher caliber, you want to take more time for the tile guy, the kitchen guy.”

Along with the creature comforts built into the townhouses, buyers get the advantage of lowrise living couple with the convenience of the condo lifestyle.

They’ll have access to the private amenities of the Kilgour Club, a full-range fitness, social and recreational facility created by award-winning designer Brian Gluckstein.

It includes a sunlit aquatic centre, an elegant library, cozy home theatre space and a party room.