Economists, policy makers, international publications – and now bank presidents – are casting their eyes towards Toronto's seemingly unstoppable real estate prices and warning that the market's next move may be down. But in the broader market, all kinds of people are planning their own next moves.
The earliest signs are that the spring market – which actually starts in February – will be brisk again this year.
“I'm supposed to be on vacation but I haven't stopped working all day,” said Patrick Rocca, broker with Bosley Real Estate Ltd. in Toronto.
When I talked to him by phone while he was in Florida earlier this week, he was hopping onto the other line to help a client navigate the purchase of a $1.1-million house on a good street in the Leaside area.
The property wasn't on the multiple listing service but the seller's agent had let Mr. Rocca know it was available.
After Mr. Rocca talked to his client and called back to strike a deal, another offer was already on the table.
“The property is not even on the market and you have buyers,” says Mr. Rocca.
That left Mr. Rocca's buyer trying to decide whether to increase his offer.
That middle tranche of the market – between about $550,000 and a little above $1-million – still belongs to the sellers.
Where agents and sellers have noticed a chill is at the high end of the market. Houses listed above $2-million in Rosedale, for example, have been slow for several months.
“That's where it usually starts and it trickles down,” he says.
He advises people who are thinking of selling to do it sooner rather than later. Of course, some people will say real estate agents always take that view, but Mr. Rocca offers his reasons.
Among people who are talking to Mr. Rocca about selling, he says some are worried about their jobs or their marriages. The fear of higher interest rates is also looming.
“What I'm seeing a lot of is tremendous debt,” he says.
At the same time, the financial turmoil Canadians see in other countries is increasing their anxiety.
“The reality is, the world's crumbling around us.”
On that note, tell me your opinion about the outlook for real estate in 2012. Are you planning a move?