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Toronto Condo Real Estate – A Sticky Situation?

By February 3, 2014No Comments

Toronto Condo Real EstateThere has been a great deal of speculation in the news over the last few months regarding condo flipping and the condo market in Toronto.  With last year’s stricter CMHC lending guidelines, this summer’s mortgage interest rate increase, as well as the CRA audit targeting aimed at those investing through condo flipping, this hot-button topic has people talking – and for good reason.

According to Canadian Business, new condo sales are dropping to record lows, at a rate of over 30% from January to August of this year. Add to this the fact that there are tens of thousands of condo properties currently being built in the Toronto area, and although a vast majority of them are already spoken for, most owners have yet to make the substantial final payment due upon completion (a daunting concept considering the stricter lending behaviours of banks and the rising mortgage interest rates).This has made some market analysts less than enthusiastic about the future.

Some are quick to voice support for the popular theory that this surge is not an issue because the Baby Boom generation will soon be downsizing, and therefore buying these condos. However, this speculation ignores the fact that the construction of new households may outweigh the growth of the population. This could potentially lead to a collapse in home sales and a subsequent loss of jobs.

What about condo flipping specifically? What impact is this having, or expected to have, on the real estate market? A recent Huffington Post article had this to say: “If the upcoming supply of units is not absorbed by demand as they are completed over the next 12 to 30 months, the supply-demand discrepancy would become more apparent, increasing the risk of an abrupt correction in prices and residential construction activity.”

There is a chance for a decrease in sales in the future; this news is coupled with the recent crackdown on condo flippers (or suspected flippers) by the Canada Revenue Agency. According to The Toronto Star, CRA auditors are focusing primarily on individuals who have purchased condos before they were built, with the intention of selling the condos once building is completed. The article continues stating that any profits made through such a transaction must be reported as income, and if not a principal residence, HST and GST rebates must be recalled. And this is becoming problematic not only for those flippers unaware of tax legislation, but also those forced to sell before or at completion due to extenuating circumstances.

So, real estate sales professionals, what course of action should be taken to deal with this deluge of attention that buying and selling of condos is receiving? Should you be counselling clients to buy or stay away? Are newly built or resale condos the way to go? Do you think a pre-construction condo is still a good investment? Should you even be voicing these opinions at all? With all the buzz in the news it is prudent to be prepared to answer questions posed by clients regarding condo sales, condo flipping, and the tax legislation regarding these transactions. Clients are far more likely than in the past to have some knowledge, so being unable to answer any inquiries may not bode well for business.

For more about the current condo market and how to protect clients please contact GeoWarehouse by calling 1-866-237-5937.