Monthly Archives: April 2009

The parade routes – Mayfair in Rosedale Park May 9, 2009

Parade routes for Mayfair 2009

 

 

Parade routes for Mayfair 2009

Mayfair Goes Hawaiian!

This year’s Mayfair theme should be an easy one… The costume judges will be watching where the two parades join, at the foot of the railway bridge on Summerhill. They’ll have prize coupons to award, so get out your best Hawaiian gear. Tip: What does a parade need? Music! Feel free to bring your ukulele along for the trip.

The Toronto Police Mounted Unit plans to escort this year’s Mayfair Parades, and you can expect some antique vehicles from the community. So have your kids ready to join one of the two routes, either from Moorevale Park or Whitney Park, and join in the fun!

GTA Market Report – April 20, 2009

GTA Monthly Sales April 2009
GTA Monthly Sales April 2009

Our update of the Toronto Monthly Sales Chart (above) shows a rising pattern of monthly average home prices which corresponds to the typical movement in previous years. The mid-April average price for homes in the GTA is approximately $383,000. This figure is actually above the yearly average prices in 2007 and 2008.

Approximately 12% of the most recent sales in central Toronto went above the asking price, and many listings that sell at or below the asking price are also receiving multiple offers. The volume of sales in recent weeks has been consistently within 10% of last spring’s volumes.

All in all, the picture of Toronto real estate emerging this spring is surprisingly stable! There are plenty of buyers, especially in the middle and upper-middle price ranges. Affordability has been enhanced by record-low interest rates. As you might suppose, buyers are expecting value for money; sellers who get this are doing fine with their listings.

There is actually a shortage of homes for sale in some key Toronto areas. This creates a paradoxical situation: In the midst of what is commonly thought of as a soft market, you have large numbers of buyers impatient for the next new listings to turn up. Go figure!

Canada’s golden immigration opportunity

Problems with immigration policy in the U.S. are creating what should be a golden opportunity for Canada, dropped in our lap. The question is, will Canada’s policy leaders recognize this gift for what it is?

Sunday’s New York Times story on Silicon Valley’s need for overseas talent featured Google’s Sanjay Mavinkurve, who can only sit with his co-workers in Mountain View, California twice a month, while videoconferencing the rest of the time… from his office in Toronto! The Indian-born, Harvard-educated Mavinkurve is one of tens of thousands of highly-sought-after technology specialists whose potential careers in the US are being frustrated by US immigration restrictions.

The Times article paints a picture of a polarized situation in the U.S. On the one hand, companies like Google are spending millions on immigration lawyers, in order to get talented engineers like Mavinkurve into the US. “If a foreign-born engineer doesn’t come to Google, there is a very good chance that individual will return to India to compete against us,” says Pablo Chavez, Google’s senior policy counsel. On the other hand, legislators like Republican Senator Jeff Sessions insist that if such workers are allowed to enter the U.S., they would return to their countries to share what they have learned. It’s hard to find two views more diametrically opposed!

For Sanjay Mavinkurve, the visa restrictions may change his career arc. “If America will not have him, he might have to stay in Canada,” according to the Times article. U of T Professor Richard Florida, speaking on a TVO panel in Waterloo, Ontario, sees a big window of opportunity here for Canada. He said that in the past, “a lot of the entrepreneurial energy in North America got focused in several places in the U.S. Now’s the opportunity to bring them north!”

Cultural tolerance in Canada

Most Canadians like to think that we have a broader perspective on immigration than Americans. According to Florida, Canada’s cultural tolerance is a key to its economic success. “Canada opened its borders, and it’s kept its borders open. 50% of the Silicon Valley companies were founded by a foreign-born person… These people can’t get into the United States any more, for a whole variety of reasons. So – why not give them a go here?”

As a Realtor, I know how much real estate values in the GTA have benefited from immigration. And according to economic visionaries like Richard Florida and RIM co-founder Jim Balsillie, it’s clear that Canada’s future success lies in bringing in all the talent we can find. You’d think that Canada’s Minister of Science and Technology would be leading the charge to increase the country’s strength in high-tech fields. Strange, then, that the Minister, Gary Goodyear, has recently been engaged in shouting matches with scientists and academics. Dr. Andrew Weaver, Canada Research Chair at the University of Victoria,  warns that the federal government’s recent budget cuts will actually create an anti-stimulus in the high-tech field. He foresees a brain drain in 2010, forcing many high-tech researchers in Canada to find jobs outside the country.

Should it be a stretch to link economic policy with immigration policy? Surely the two are part and parcel of the same reality, seen through different lenses. It would be comforting to have our policy leaders show that they understand, on some level, the effects of their actions.

Anniversaries at Mayfair 2009

Mayfair 2009 marks the 63rd year of our community festival in Rosedale Park. It also happens to be the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Rosedale-Moore Park Association. This may seem odd, since Mayfair is technically a fundraiser put on by RMPA. But when you think about it, community celebrations are often older than institutions. Whether it’s the winter solstice or the beginning of spring, there’s something primal about mankind’s desire to mark the yearly turning points.

Birthdays and anniversaries are a little different, since they come at random points on the calendar. Their only significance is that they celebrate a person or commemorate an event. Most of us accept the importance of these annual calendar markings, which range from family dates like a child’s birthday (how can a mother forget?), to common history (where were you on September 11th?). In fact, some cultures identify historic events by their dates. While we mark Canada Day or Victoria Day, other nations use actual dates. Author Geoffrey Nunberg, in his book Going Nucular, points out that the Italians and the French have always marked great national events by their dates. “In Rome alone there are streets named May 24, September 8, September 20, February 8, October 25 and November 4, all of them commemorating various events of national significance.”

We have a couple of other anniversaries at Mayfair this year. First, it happens that our theme, “Mayfair Goes Hawaiian,” which we picked purely for the fun of it, happens to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s becoming a U.S. state. Our congratulations go out to all Hawaiians! We’re also delighted to have another 60th anniversary in the community… Congratulations to the North Rosedale Ratepayers Association! We’re honoured to have the NRRA join us at Mayfair this year, where the ratepayers’ group will be hosting a special historical display. We’re looking forward to meeting some of the older members of the community, whose memories go back far enough that they could tell stories about the personalities of the forties and fifties. Nathan Phillips, Fred Gardiner, Bill Allen, Don Summerville, Allan Lamport… today they may be simply names on the map of Toronto, but 60 years ago they were the movers and shakers!

Analysis of recent house sales in Rosedale

Describing the price trend in an area of Toronto like Rosedale has always been tricky. There’s a small number of sales each month, and the price variations can be enormous (one house can sell for $700,000, and then the next one for $7 million.) Since 2005, the sale price average has been more or less flat, with occasional spikes. Over the last four years, the median price for detached homes in C09 dropped in 2006, in 2008 and and again in the current year, rising only in 2007.

Since Rosedale buyers and sellers are clearly plugged in to the financial buzz, I thought it would be interesting to do a chart with a timeline, covering Rosedale house sales over the past 12 months. What’s being measured here is not the sale price, but the relationship between the sale price and the latest MPAC assessment value, nominally referring to January, 2008.

Rosedale houses Ratio of Sale Price to MPAC Assessment

Rosedale houses - Ratio of Sale Price to MPAC Assessment

Basically, this chart gives us a 12-month view of when houses were sold in the neighbourhood, and how each sale price relates to the current MPAC value. As you can guess, there’s a lot of wiggle room in this data. One person’s assessment might have been appealed, while another’s was not. MPAC values are generated by a computer program using broad strokes which are applied to entire city blocks or more. Likewise, we can safely assume that the really high-ratio outliers were recent, high-end renovations or new construction. In general, there’s always an expectation that actual market transactions can show a variation of, say, 50% when related to MPAC values.

It looks to me as if the common range of ratios last spring was between 1.1 and 1.5, while so far this spring shows ratios that are mostly between 0.9 and 1.3. It also seems that activity is starting to rebound from a mid-winter low. December, January and February showed little activity in Rosedale, as was true in much of central Toronto.

This chart is a new experiment… I’d be interested to hear from any statisticans about what I’m seeing here, or what I should be looking for. If you are interested in getting more details about local values affecting your house, please email me privately and I’ll get back to you.