The real estate market in Canada—and Toronto in particular right now—is, in a word, bananas. The phrase “housing bubble” appears in headlines in the financial pages here on a near-daily basis, and absurd news stories about bungalows in boring suburban neighborhoods selling for $400,000 over asking abound (ok, there was only one story like that, but still! A bungalow sold for 50 percent over asking). This year, the average cost of a house in Toronto reached half a million dollars.
After spending almost a year trying to buy a house in this city, I have a bit of first-hand experience of just how crazy (and crazy-making) Toronto real estate is.
Expensive houses in Toronto are nothing new. After all, this is Canada’s biggest city and economic centre (for now, at least. Hi, Calgary!), and it’s a nice city to live in despite our current civic administration’s best efforts, but that’s another story. For a long time, the houses that were expensive here made sense—they were big, nice, and in good, convenient neighborhoods. Sure, certain neighborhoods were only affordable to rich people, but it wasn’t impossible to buy a decent little starter home somewhere in the city.
Bruce Marks started an organization that helps keep homeowners from being foreclosed on (basically: he helps them make a case for why they should be able to stay, and shares that info with their bank). He says he’s helped 202,000 families stay in their homes in the past four years! This is a great thing! It’s a bandaid! But it’s a great bandaid! Good job, Bruce Marks! Good job, banks that agreed to work with him! Good job, homeowners who get to stay in their homes! Four million others lost their homes in the same period though! FYI! Okay bye!
1. Craigslist 2. Twitter 3. Facebook 4. Ads in the back of alternative weeklies 5. Mass emails to all of your friends 6. Listservs 7. Bulletin boards in coffee shops 8. Self-serving blog posts (Do you know anyone looking for a roommate in Brooklyn? I’d love to interview them for a piece I’m working on—the piece is called “Help I need a new place to live.” Sources will be kept confidential, as ever. firstname.lastname@example.org )
Photos are important! VERY IMPORTANT. Very Important Photos (VIP). Professional if you can swing it (and you should really try to swing it), wide-angle lens, good lighting, and a tripod if you can’t. If you go with a real estate agent, they’ll take care of the photos, but it’s your job to make sure their photos are amazing. INSIST ON EXCELLENCE. Red flag: “Agents shouldn’t even attempt to shoot photos using a cellphone.” Don’t even front with Instagram.