Actor and broadcaster Jeff Douglas says he knows there are “more responsible” things to do than take on a mortgage he will likely have to pay until he turns 70.
But that didn’t stop him and his wife, interior painting contractor Ana Maria Diez, from charging headlong into the battleground that has become the Canadian real estate market.
Mr. Douglas and Ms. Diez fell in love with and purchased a 1,300-square-foot duplex in a middle-class west Toronto neighborhood last month for $632,000. Like an increasing number of Canadian buyers, they sealed the deal after duking it out with several other couples who also wanted the house. They placed no conditions on their contract and finally paid 112 percent of the original list price of $555,000.
“It was one of the last houses I think we’d have a shot at because the price of houses in Toronto goes up every week so it was definitely a now or never situation,” says Douglas. “At $625,000 ($632,000 inUS dollars) we feel like we got a bargain.”
Douglas and Diez may feel lucky. But house purchases like theirs are increasingly fueling concerns that, like their American neighbors a few years ago, Canadians are spending themselves into financial disaster.
“What we are seeing is the irrational exuberance that was present in the US,” says David Madani, a former Bank of Canada analyst now with the consultancy Capital Economics. “It has all the symptoms of a disaster waiting to happen.” …
Although buyers seems convinced that real estate prices can only go up, Mr. Madani, along with the International Monetary Fund, the Economist magazine, and various independent and bank economists, warns they are already overvalued by as much as 25 percent.
“If credit tightens tomorrow, the game is over,” adds Ben Rabidoux, an analyst with the US real estate market research firm M Hanson Advisors and the author of the website The Economist Analyst. “I think we will see a decade of stagnant returns and a stagnant economy.”
Still, Toronto real estate agent Melanie Piche says she expects real estate prices to continue rising.
“People see their friends, how much money they have made in real estate,” she said. “And there aren’t a lot of safe places to put your money right now. Where else can you make 10 percent?”
Jeff Douglas agrees, and said he thinks of his purchase as an investment, similar to buying into the stock market.
“I would say prices are hyperinflated. But for the price of housing to go down in Toronto, that I can’t see,” he said. “Simple supply and demand dictate that as long as the city continues to grow, there will be a demand for housing and that will keep prices up.”
– from ‘Canadians Still Think Real Estate Has Nowhere To Go But Up’, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 May 2012
“One of the commenters for a G & M article today accused housing bears of being “unpatriotic”. Because a housing correction is bad for the economy, therefore to hope for a correction is anti-Canadian.”
– crankycorvid at VREAA 30 May 2012 7:59pm
Hey!.. who do these guys think they are at the Christian Science Monitor (and the IMF, and The Economist, etc, etc) dissing us Canadians for patriotically supporting our RE bubble in the face of all common sense?
Almost makes one want to drop interest rates further, or go on a rant about health care & immigration & BPOE, or go out and buy a six-pack of condos, just to give the market a boost and show them they’re wrong.
[PS: “Hope” doesn’t come into whether we have a “correction” or not.
Once a speculative mania runs rampant, the collapse is already built in, regardless of what various participants desire.]