One Toronto realtor said the Bank of Canada’s recent warning that it could soon begin raising interest rates has some homebuyers rushing to lock in their mortgage pre-approvals.
“Homebuyers are thinking, ‘Uh oh, what I can afford is going to be drastically reduced; my mortgage payments are going to be higher if interest rates are higher – I need to lock this in ASAP,’” said Nasma Ali, realtor and founder of real estate firm One Group.
“There’s been a small surge in showings and buyer activity, and if you talk to mortgage brokers – they’ll all tell you they now have a backlog of pre-approvals from people wanting to lock in their pre-approval for 120 days,” she said.
Bay Street is expecting at least six rate hikes from the central bank starting early next year.
While it would be a significant increase from the near-zero rates now, Ali said essentially “it’s still free money” when compared to historical borrowing rates.
The latest Toronto real estate data show home prices hit a record high in October of $1,155,345 as buyers competed for fewer homes for sale.
New listings dropped 13 per cent in the month from September. Compared to a year ago, new listings plunged by a third.
While some sellers are enjoying the higher prices their homes are fetching, Ali said other would-be sellers feel trapped because they don’t want to become a buyer in the market.
“That’s exactly what’s paralyzing sellers from selling. It’s because [they’re thinking], ‘Where am I going? The prices are so high, it’s hopeless,’” she said. “They’re also having a hard time finding a home in this market and it’s contributing to the lack of inventory.”
Ali said some sellers are choosing to cash in on their home and move out of Toronto, but are encountering low inventory levels and multiple offers for houses in rural areas as well.
“Toronto money is being infused into all these areas,” she said.
Her advice to buyers is to manage their expectations and be patient. Ali said while there might not be ample inventory during the colder months, the housing market tends to be seasonal and more homes typically come on the market in the spring.
As for what lies ahead for Toronto’s red-hot real estate, Ali said she expects there to be some relief on the horizon for frustrated buyers and sellers.
“One hundred per cent, we do see an end in sight. I’m not saying the market is going to crash 30, 40 per cent – as you said our market is resilient – but 10 per cent? Maybe,” she said.
“But buyers shouldn’t be fearful of this – I mean, you’re buying a home. And if you’re an investor, just hold on to it. You don’t have to sell it when the market is going down.”
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