The latest data on Greater Toronto Area home and condo sales won’t exactly leave the city’s sellers jumping for joy.
RealNet Canada Inc. numbers show that GTA new-home sales have dropped 62 per cent in the first quarter of 2009, versus 2008.
But with sale prices continuing to fall, Bank of Montreal Director of Mortgage, John Turner, says today’s real estate environment will be a little bit friendlier to first-time buyers.
“As a homebuyer, you’re likely going to get a better price and get it on better terms, on your terms,” says Turner. “Now is likely a good time to buy.”
But sourcing out the great deals from the good ones, the best mortgages from the better ones, requires time, effort and help from the professionals.
“There’s a lot of information available on the Internet, but the best advice I can give for first-time buyers is to surround themselves with experts — a lawyer, a realtor, a mortgage specialist,” says Turner.
Brad Lamb, of Toronto’s Brad J. Lamb Realty Inc., says that first-time buyers are “the lifeblood of the real estate industry around the world” and crucial to the market’s recovery.
Last Tuesday, at a Bank of Montreal panel on Canada’s real estate market, Lamb maintained a hopeful outlook. There, he said that even though March sales through the industry’s Multiple Listing Service fell by seven per cent year-over-year, it is a positive sign compared to drops of 45 to 55 per cent in the final months of 2008. “People woke up in January and said, ‘The world is not over,’” says Lamb. “And they started spending money again.” He says first-timers need to conquer their cold feet.“When people are spending large amounts of money, there is a fear of losing,” says Lamb. “And a certain amount of momentum needs to build to get over the fear.”
While Toronto’s King West neighbourhood has proven to be a hot spot for first-time buyers on a budget, Lamb says other parts of the city are starting to attract first-timer attention.
“Downtown east has a great future potential,” he says of the area around lower Jarvis and Church streets. “The other great place is Riverside, east of the Don Valley Parkway … And it’s 10 to 15 per cent cheaper than King West right now.”