Jeffrey: Today I have with me Patrick Rocca, a real estate agent based in Toronto. Patrick, maybe you could tell me a little bit about your business and the type of clients you serve.
Patrick: Sure, thanks Jeffrey. Patrick Rocca, with Bosley Real Estate, we’re a boutique firm in central core of Toronto. Myself personally, I specialize in the Leaside, Davisville, Moore Park, Bennington market. I’m the top agent in the Leaside- Davisville area. I work in all price points in that neighborhood, in that community. Anywhere from, you know, the six, seven hundred thousand dollar semis, which I wish there was more of,Â up to the 2.5 million dollar, newer, bigger homes.
Jeffrey: Perfect. Patrick, first question now, what’s been happening in the mid to high end property market recently?
Patrick: Well, there’ s sort of a couple of segments there that I alluded to just a little earlier. Right now the 600 (which there are very few of), usually our market starts at about seven and change in the Leaside-Davisville area, up to about a 1,200,000 to 1,250,000 is very solid. There’s not a lot of product and whatever product is out there sells literally within five to seven days. I ran some numbers yesterday for a client specifically in Leaside. There’sÂ 22, 23 listings right now and only one under a million. So there’s a lot of product in the high end, which leads to the second part I guess, of your question. The high end market right now is slow. It’s had a good year and around the end of September, first of October, it has quieted off a bit there. There are right now between 1.3 and 1.7. I ran these numbers because I have another call with a client later today, a dozen homes on the market. So there’s competition and we’re not seeing the activity levels in terms of showings and what not that we saw earlier in the year.
Jeffrey: Do you think there’s any underlying reasons for the slowness in the high-end market?
Patrick: The high end has always been unpredictable. If you go back three, four, five years, it’s jumped out and then when you finally think it’s recovered and it’s doing well, it slows down again and for no reason whatsoever. Obviously there’s reasons, but I think it’s a smaller market segment, demographic that can afford the million-five plus property and when you’ve got more product and lesser demand, it obviously has an impact out there. So I think that’s probably the real factor. I don’t think any mortgage rates or mortgage rules or any of that stuff has had any real impact on it.
Jeffrey: And what features in those homes have these buyers been asking for? Maybe we can start with the mid market and then to the high end market.
Patrick: Well, I guess they do differ. I mean, it’s funny in the mid market, people want everything for 800,000 but you know, reality is what it is. In the mid market or lower end, which I hate to use that term ‘lower end’ because there is no lower end, but in that six to a million, a million and one range, people are looking for location. They’re looking for parking. They’re looking for space. Historically, they’re looking for something that is move-in as opposed to something that is a rental although people are willing to pay a little less for a fixer-upper, as we would call it, and put 50 to 100 in it and make it their own property. The higher end, different monster. People are looking for, very popular things now are wine cellars, full on audio systems, big 100 inch screens. Believe it or not, not as many steps. I find that I had a couple of listings this year that were, you know, a million eight to a million three houses and they had higher staircases and we’re finding families with children are trying to stay away from that. A garage is obviously critical in that price point. You don’t always get garages in the six, seven to a million range but when you’re paying a million five plus, a garage is definitely a priority. larger family room, kitchen, eat-in areas are also a big draw and important. I have a listing right now that’s in the 2.3 range kitchen family room area isn’t as big as it should be or as big as IÂ Â Â would like it. It’s causing a bit of a problem. And obviously a good functional layout. When you’re spending close to two million either side, you want a good family layout with living room, dining rooom, family room, good audio room in the basement, a place where the kids can go to a rec room type of thing. Those are the big things.
Jeffrey: We recently had a client who was actually downsizing from a quite large home and he was very interested in, like you said, a functional plan, but also so that he and his wife could age in place. They have a daughter who’s in university but they were thinking long-term, so they were thinking, like you said, about less stairs, trying to have as much of the functionality on one floor and the one thing which actually did stick out for him was a two car garage in the core. And even though we tried to talk to him about that, that was one thing which he really didn’t want to budge on was that two car garage.
Patrick: Yeah, that’s a real difficult one. I sell a lot of homes and I’m not quite sure I sold one this year, and I’ve sold 75 plus, that had a two car garage. In my market, in east-side Davisville, Bennington, Moore Park, it’s tougher to find a two car garage. It really is. The one level, believe it or not, is also a little tougher. A lot fo two stories, but there are homes in certain segments that you can’t find a one level. The bungalows themselves are literally disappearing because the builders are snapping them up. But yeah, the double car garage is a very difficult, you know, one and a half, you can find a one and a half car garage, but two cars are very limited.
Jeffrey: And also in terms of the neighborhood itself, what are some of the neighborhood amenities that are really in demand for those properties?
Patrick: Well, it’s interesting I just did an interview with The Globe and Mail that I think is going to be out this week and in my opinion, specifically in my market, schools believe it or not rank as number one. People are very, very picky on the school that they can go to. Within each community there’s two or three different schools, but out of those two or three, I mean there’s not a bad school in my market. But, there are ones that are better. So if you rank them, one’s 99.9, the other’s 99.1. So everyone wants the 99.9 school so schools are very important. People like to walk to thinks, in Leaside-Davisville specifically. Proximity to Bayview and Mt. Pleasant and shops and cafes and restaurants, you don’t usually get that in Moore park and Bennington and Lawrence Park. You have to drive to everything but then again you get bigger lots. Access to downtown is very important. The demographic traditionally shoots down the Bayview Extension or shoots down Mt. Pleasant to work downtown. There’s easy TTC access, so those are the big things I think in neighborhoods.
Jeffrey: Yeah. Definitely. We’re seeing that a lot of people are getting tired of the commute and spending an hour, an hour and a half in the carÂ coming into the core so, why not spend more quality time at home and move to a different type of house? Maybe you might have to change your priorities a little bit but you’re definitely optimizing the quality of life.
Jeffrey: Fantastic. Now what about the rest of the year? I know we’re now into the late parts of 2013 but any ideas in terms of what’s going to be happening in the next three to six months?
Patrick: Well, it’s Interesting I mean literally if you have a house on the market today, which I have a couple of, you’ve got about four to five weeks left to really, actively market it and sell it because as of the first, second week of December latest, it shuts down until about the second or third week of January. So if the plan is to sell your home, get it going now. And again it depends on the price point. If you have a higher price point, I wouldn’t put it on the market until the new year because it usually takes longer to sell those. The lower to mid priced homes, they’ll sell in seven days, so you’ve got, like I said, four or five weeks. I think we’re going to continue through like we have throughout this Fall. We had a great September.
The beginning of October started off okay then it slowed in the upper end. There’s no supply. I don’t see that changing. There’s a lot of demand in that lower to mid point range. There’s more supply in higher end, so I see that being slower and heading into the new year the Spring market as we call it, Spring market believe it or not everyone thinks April, May. It’s actually around the 30th of January it picks up and I’ve been in this business 20 years, touch wood, I’ve never had a bad Spring. I’ve had a few wonky falls, so I anticipate this Spring will be very good as well. Really it’s strictly supply and demand based and there has not been a supply all year. There’s been a ton of demand and I don’t’ see that changing moving forward.
Jeffrey: Great. Okay, Patrick, I really want to thank you for your time today. It’s been fantastic to get an update on the market as well as some of the things that buyers are looking for in the mid to high end home market.
Patrick: My pleasure, thank you Jeffrey.