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Watch out! It’s the invasion of the home snatchers

After months of friends, relatives and colleagues telling me, “It’s agreat time to buy!” It turns out it became a horrible time to buy.

Metro reporter Robyn Young will be taking readers on a whirlwind tour of the trials and tribulations of buying her first home. Check back every week for her accounts.

After months of friends, relatives and colleagues telling me, “It’s a great time to buy!” It turns out that at almost exactly the time I started looking for a home, it became a horrible time to buy.

What was once a huge buyer’s market with rock-bottom mortgage rates and homes listed at bargain-basement prices, has suddenly turned into a real estate boom in the month of June.

Recently I emailed my agents’ colleague (who’s filling in for her while she’s away on a two-week vacation) to ask about two properties. The first was a one-bedroom condo at College and Bathurst for $319,000 and the second a two-bedroom Leslieville home listed at $329,000.

Already, they’re both more than I can afford but recently I’ve started feeling desperate. I just want a home; a place to hang my hat; somewhere to rest my weary head, cuddle with my cats and brew a nice cup of homemade coffee, never mind hang up my perpetually wrinkled clothes and store my suitcase for a while.

It turns out both properties will hold open houses that weekend but won’t take offers until a specific time the following week. This can only mean one thing: Bidding war.

Still, I go see the places and when the agent asks if I’d like to make an offer, I tell her I could only, at the very most, manage the asking prices.

“Well there’s no point then,” she says brusquely.

The last one-bedroom unit sold at College and Bathurst went for $380,000 she says and the house would likely hit $350,000 or more.


What’s going on here? What happened to the buyer’s market?

“I’ve been run off my feet; everything’s gone berserk,” the agent says, relaying horror stories of clients who have gone through three or four bidding wars in the past weeks and lost each one along with the money they doled out for home inspections.

It’s like invasion of the home snatchers.

With the grim recession headlines over the winter months, everyone scrimped and saved, holding on to every last penny and maybe even learned how to darn their socks. But now, with the warm weather and a bit of optimism in the air, the market is replete with hungry buyers. Many of them first-timers like me.

In the following days, almost before I even have a chance to inquire about a listing, it’s sold.

I send my agent emails reading something like this: “I’d like to look at property A, B, C, D and E.”

Her replies read something like this: “A, B and C are sold, D is sold conditionally and E is taking offers on Tuesday.” (read: There will be a bidding war driving the price up many thousands of dollars and you can’t afford it!).

I find out the small, two-bedroom semi in Leslieville that was listed at $329,000, sells for $390,000.

As each day passes I get more and more anxious.

I eagerly wait for the day’s listings to pop up in my inbox every morning and every morning I’m disappointed. There are dozens of tiny, glass, sky boxes clustered around the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre, but if you’re looking for something with a bit of a neighbourhood feel, they’re few and far between.

When they do show up, they’re sold within hours or subject to bidding wars.

I decide I need a week off before I get myself caught in a pickle that I can’t afford.

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