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Adam Pham left Vietnam in 1985. After 16 years living in Eastern Europe, he completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology and moved to Toronto in 2001. For the first few years he worked as a part-time teacher with the Toronto and Peel District School Boards. In 2005, he became a real estate and investment agent in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Check out his real estate and life in Canada tips on the Facebook page “Ngoi But Tu Do.”
Here are some of his opinions about the current housing market in Canada.
What’s Canada’s housing market look like for 2017?
In general, housing prices in Canada are stable and listings are about three times higher than the average family income. It is a different story in the GTA and Greater Vancouver where the market is boiling hot. At the beginning of this year the market belonged to sellers. By March-April there was an increase in listings and tightening policies were introduced by government and banks. The market in Vancouver and Toronto is predicted to gradually become more steady.
Less than one per cent of Canadians have an average income of $250,000 per year. Even with that income, they can only get a mortgage of one million dollars. That is not enough to cover costly housing prices in those two cities.
How do housing prices in Ontario compare to other big cities and provinces such as British Columbia?
The average housing price in Vancouver is 12 times higher than the average family income. In Toronto, it is eight times higher. In cities such as Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, the figure is about three to four times higher. Last year, Toronto housing prices increased by 27.7 per cent while in Vancouver it was 14.3 per cent.
What contributed to the dramatic increase of real estate price in Canada?
Supply and demand is most important. A market in which there are more buyers and fewer sellers leads to uncontroled escalation.
Financial ability: More families can afford to buy and own a house. Some can afford the down payment and the bank mortgage interest. Some bought and paid it off right away.
Waves of immigrants: Canada is one of the top destinations to immigrate in the world. It is estimated that 80,000 people flock to the GTA and 30,000 come to Greater Vancouver yearly.
Globalization: Real estate in Canada is not only a “playground” for Canadians but also for the wealthy from all over the world.
China factor: In 2016 alone, 270,000 Chinese were granted travel visas to Canada, 29,000 Chinese visa students came here, and 34,000 were Chinese were granted permanent residence. Newcomers from China are no longer as poor as a few decades ago and they want to settle down.
The psychological factor: Many sellers are afraid that they won’t be able to buy another house after selling so they don’t move, making for less listings. From the buyers’ point of view, whenever they find an ideal house with a reasonable price, they think that the opportununity will only come once and they are willing to pay more.
Investment factor: Interest rates at banks and in the stock market are low in Canada as well as all over the world. Investment funds in the past had an interest return rate of 8-18 per cent. Now this is true only for high risk investments. Money always finds a secure and prosperous place, like real estate, to take refuge.
Are we in a real estate bubble? If so, should people buy or sell?
In my opinion, our market is developing normally. There are always bidding wars and more than one offer on a house.
When considering their home, buyers or sellers should consider their family needs. Investors need to weigh their return before buying.
What should we look for when buying or selling a house?
Buy from the people who are now ‘bored’ of the house, and sell to those who love it.
Should sellers list at a low price to encourage bidding wars to escalate the final sale?
Some owners set the price low expecting to attract more potential buyers and push the price up. When the final selling price is determined by the market, the real estate company is less under pressure from the owner. After the sale they can attractively advertise “Sold over asking.” However, the market has eyes that are more sophisticated than ours.
What is your advice for buyers in a bidding war?
Remember the wise advice of Warren Buffett, “Be fearful when others are greedy.” Recently, a family in Oakville bought a house where their offer was $150,000 lower than others. The buyer had cleverly attached a personal story to the offer that moved and persuaded the seller into believing that they were the most suitable owners for the house.
The market always has a low point, and a good agent knows when to put a buyer’s burning head into the refrigerator.