Tag Archives: Toronto

Spot The Speculator #96 – “In 2008, when I was 28 years old, I had saved $70,000, enough for a 20% down payment on a triplex in Toronto. I moved into one unit and the rent from the other two units paid for the mortgage and utilities.”

“I’ve always been very focused in my life. I was born a triplet and knew from an early age my parents wouldn’t be able to pay for many extras, or for postsecondary education for all of us. But I was determined to go to university and to buy a home of my own. So in high school I started working as a waitress for 20 hours a week. During the summers I took as many shifts as possible, often working seven days straight. I was a workaholic and should have cut back because my grades were suffering, but I persevered.”

“I earned enough to pay for tuition by living at home with my parents and commuting to York University. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t have a car so I used buses to make the two-hour journey to York and back each day. At one point I considered buying a car but was shocked when my dad showed me how expensive it was. I kept commuting every day for four years. Believe me, it was really depressing. I would get home every night and it was cold and dark, and I was tired. But I knew I was saving for my big goal of owning an investment property, which kept me going.”

“After graduating with an English degree in 2006, I had no student debt and $20,000 in savings from my waitressing job. Then I got a lucky break-I landed a job as an administrative assistant, paying $32,000 a year in downtown Toronto. In 2008, when I was 28 years old, I had saved $70,000, enough for a 20% down payment on a triplex in Little Italy. I moved into one unit and the rent from the other two units paid for the mortgage and utilities. Last year, I got married and my husband moved into the apartment with me. I’ve never doubted the triplex was one of the best financial decisions I’ve ever made.”

“The key for me was tracking my spending in a journal to see exactly where every penny was going so I knew where I could cut back and add to my savings. Most years I saved 70% of my earned income, which I used to pay for university and for the down payment on the triplex. By living at home a little longer than most people I was able to really beef up my down payment. That’s made me truly independent a lot more quickly than many of my friends who are still mired in debt.”

“Now my goal is to pay off the mortgage on the property as quickly as possible. I’ve done some renos over the years and I’m putting $500 a month extra on my mortgage to pay it off faster. The triplex’s value has also gone up. I bought it for $350,000 and it’s worth $450,000 today.”

- Angie Oliveira, 32, Toronto, as featured in ‘How to become a landlord’, Julie Cazzin, MoneySense 16 Jan 2013 [hat-tip proteus, who sent this link by e-mail and added “Saving 20k waitressing is a heroic accomplishment.”]

Angie has an admirably proactive savings habit. Because of this ability, she will quite likely do fine in the long run, but we suspect this will end up occurring despite her RE investment, not because of it.
Yes, she is describing a ‘cash-flow positive’ property (something unavailable in our city in 2008), but we’d like to see more of the math before being sure about that. Also, there is downside risk of increased mortgage rates, downward pressure on rents (TO condo glut), and unexpected expenses.
She bought a few years prior to the peak of a multigenerational bubble in real estate. If property prices drop 33% from the peak, she’ll likely still be able to maintain her ownership, but she will, on paper, have lost her profits and her downpayment. This is something we’d imagine would be particularly painful for her, given the hard work it has taken for her to accumulate her savings gains.
In that regard, it is interesting to note that it took her many years of extreme saving to accumulate $70K, but her RE purchase then rose in value by $100K from 2008 to 2012. In fact, she ‘made’ more on paper in RE than she did in entire income those 4 years, when taxation is taken into account. This is a good example of how RE price rises through the speculative mania have perverted the way in which people consider the relative value of real estate, money, work and saving; and how homes have become financial instruments as much as places of shelter.
– vreaa

Toronto Condo Seller – “I honestly never saw this coming. Never. It is very stressful. Sometimes, I am not sleeping well.”

“I honestly never saw this coming. Never. Because the boom has been now for a while, like 4 or 5 years?” [Announcer: “Maria has been trying to sell her (Toronto) loft near Square One for three months.”] “It is very stressful. Sometimes, I am not sleeping well.”
Maria Alvarez, CityTV, 6 Nov 2012 [hat-tip to VMD at VCI]

The downside of speculation. – vreaa

BNN Guest – “I know a lot of people say it can’t happen here. I do not believe that. You’re seeing sales down, you’re seeing listings up. It looks like Phoenix and Florida, circa 2006.”

“I can’t stress enough, when I look at the data, start with Vancouver, or look at the Toronto condo market, and it’s now spreading into the single family market elsewhere, you’re seeing sales down, you’re seeing listings up, to a degree, I haven’t seen, really.. it looks like Phoenix and Florida circa 2006. … I know a lot of people say it can’t happen here… I do not believe that.”
– from interview with James Hodgins, of Curvature Hedge Strategies, on Market Call, BNN, 27 Sep 2012 [Hat-tip to LazyCanadian at VCI.]

When a critical mass of people have said this on air and in print, does a bell ring?
– vreaa

Globe and Mail Columnist Uses ‘Home Of The Week’ To Advertise Sale Of Her Own House

“The Listing:
90 Massey St., Toronto
Asking price: $599,000
Taxes: $3030.95

Over the years I painstakingly improved the house – insulating the attic, building firewalls, rebuilding the front porch, updating appliances, painting and landscaping – but all my work was minor compared to the change in the neighbourhood. Since the mid-2000s, the Bellwoods Park area has gone from shabby chic to super chic, establishing itself as the beating heart of downtown Toronto’s rapid west-end gentrification.

After more than half a decade of being the proud owner of this magical city house it’s time for me to move on. Like the neighbourhood, my life has undergone massive change in the past few years, all of it for the best. My partner has a son from a previous marriage and we recently had a baby of our own. His work is based overseas and I’m spending more time abroad. As a freelance writer I need a home office cut off from the hubbub of family life. As much as I hate the idea of leaving 90 Massey, a more suitable home must be found. I’m saying goodbye to my urban worker’s cottage and hope to do safe in the knowledge that the next owners will love to the place as much as I did. Honestly, how could they not?”

– from ‘Home of the Week: A worker’s cottage built for family life’, Leah MacLaren, G&M, 20 Sep 2012

“In what seems to be a pretty significant conflict of interest, Globe and Mail columnist Leah McLaren has listed her own house for sale in The Globe and Mail’s Home of the Week section.
In the article, McLaren waxes poetically, in 700 or so words, about her “charming red brick Victorian row house.”
By doing so, it would seem as though she is abusing her position of authority in the press to further her own economic interests: selling her house. Unless, of course, her home happened to be the most interesting home for sale that week.
Though she admitted the shameless self promotion on Twitter, the journalistic faux-pas has not gone unnoticed by her audience.”

– from ‘Globe and Mail columnist Leah McLaren tries to sell own house in column’, Michael MacDonald, o.canada.com, 26 Sep 2012

We’ve seen some bald-faced conflict-of-interest behaviour here in Vancouver through our RE bubble, but we can’t recall anything quite like this yet happening here.
– vreaa

“Now he’s gone and bought a place! Is the Anglo-American ownership obsession that strong that even when you know you shouldn’t be buying you do anyway?”

“My old boss recently got transferred to Toronto and has been providing a steady stream of Facebook updates regarding the RE market there – how he can’t believe he’s moving there at the peak of the bubble, how he’ll need to rob a bank, etc, and now he’s gone and bought a place! Is the Anglo-American ownership obsession that strong that even when you know you shouldn’t be buying you do anyway?”
CanuckDownUnder at VCI 6 Jul 2012 7:21pm

Yes, the ownership obsession is that strong.
Also, people have poor understanding of how they will behave under different circumstances.
Those who ‘know’ they’ll not buy end up buying; those who are certain they’ll “sit pat through the downturn” end up coming to market at 30%-off.
– vreaa

“If I sold now, I would be in a position of weakness – I’d have to rent.”

“It’s a sunny afternoon in a Toronto industrial park, and a group of about 60 laid-off factory workers are gathered for a farewell barbeque.
The Honeywell workers lost their jobs 15 months ago as the valve and parts maker shifted production to lower-cost factories in Hungary, China and Mexico.
But it isn’t as easy as picking up and moving. “I have to take care of my father – he’s 82,” says Brendan Andrews, a machine operator, who lives in Belleville, Ont.
Instead, he’s accepting an $11-an-hour job – a wage reduction of 50 per cent – that is non-unionized. He started on a 7 am to 7 pm shift last week.
Mario Garofalo also can’t move. The 42-year-old assembler, who worked at Honeywell for 14 years, doesn’t want to sell his house and leave his parents, girlfriend and nieces and nephews behind. “If I sold now, it would be in a position of weakness – I’d have to rent. I would use up money for other things, and on living expenses,” he says.”

– from ‘Stuck in place: Canada’s mobility problem’, G&M, 6 Jun 2012 [hat-tip KC via e-mail, and Makaya at VCI]

Years of RE-cultism blurs the thinking.
– vreaa

Are You Prepared To Battle For Your Dream Home? – “One thing to keep in mind is the houses that are getting pretty crazy bidding wars are underpriced anywhere from five to 10 per cent. The list prices aren’t always an indication of what they’re actually worth.”

“John Pasalis, broker owner of Realosophy Realty Inc., a Toronto-area real estate brokerage, cautioned that the bidding wars may not be as lucrative as they seem.
“One thing to keep in mind is the houses that are getting pretty crazy bidding wars are underpriced anywhere from five to 10 per cent,” he said. “The list prices aren’t always an indication of what they’re actually worth.”
Pasalis said his company has seen “multiple offers almost non-stop for years now,” including as much as 10 or more buyers bidding on a house.
“You just get these spikes and valleys in the market where things get a little bit more heated and demand starts outstripping supply as things get faster,” he explained.

– from ‘B.C. home buyers unwilling to enter ‘bidding war': BMO report’, Vancouver Sun, 19 Apr 2012, that noted that 23% of BC poll respondents indicated that they’d be prepared to enter into a bidding war to “battle for their dream home”.
[hat-tip space889]