LISTEN: Real Estate Reality: Would-be buyers frustrated by high prices, bidding wars
Jessica was looking forward to house shopping in Toronto. She thought of it as a time for her and her husband to decide what they want their future to look like, where to lay down roots.
Now she's feeling frustrated, stressed and demoralized.
This week NEWSTALK 1010 has been bringing you "Real Estate Reality", a series of stories focused on selling, buying and renting homes in the Greater Toronto Area.
"This is not a fun experience," Jessica tells NEWSTALK 1010. "I'm a relatively frugal person and I can't seem to buy anything that will meet our needs so that we don't need to move five years from now and be able to furnish it."
Jessica, who did not want her last named used has seen houses scooped up before the couple even has a chance to get their affairs in order to make an offer. More often, they learn they have been outbid by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"We were already stretching our budget because this market is so hot. So we're really in a tight position in terms of trying to find what we're looking for."
She has expanded her hunt to Oshawa and Whitby, hoping to score the three-bedroom, two-bathroom place she's been dreaming of
Jessica's story is hardly unique.
"There's an expression, 'it's so good it's bad," Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association says of the GTA market. "It's pretty tough to get into the market today with the prices."
Nicole also found herself priced out of the GTA and set her sights on Peterborough to buy her first home.
"We have bid on four houses now and have been outbid by $100,000 each time," Nicole tells NEWSTALK 1010. She asked that her last name not be used.
Nicole is sceptical that her family can find a home it can afford that doesn't require loads of expensive and disruptive renovations.
Chris Lee is more optimistic, changing strategy and mindset in searching for a new home in Toronto for his family of four.
But he too has felt discouraged, learning that sometimes even a best offer of $200,000 over asking isn't good enough.
Heather Holmes, a broker with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty says in this buying climate, an offer is the end point of buying, not the start. She suggests almost all buyers are now waiving standard offer conditions like financing and home inspections to increase their chances of winning the war.
The Lees now plan to sell their current home first to "lock in their gains" and to have a better sense of how much money they have to play with in searching a new home.
Megan Groves couldn't make the money work to buy or even rent in the GTA. But she was able to stretch her finances further by buying in Hamilton. Groves says her Steel Town home cost her about $360,000. A friend recently bought a place with the same square footage off the Danforth in Toronto for north of $800,000.
Square footage is behind Pay Chen's itch to move.
The former NEWSTALK 1010 host owns a condo near King St W and Spadina Ave. The location is great, it's the size that's the problem. At 500 sq feet it's now too small for Chen who does a lot of work from home.
She was stunned to find how expensive and agressive the condo market has become.
Chen describes seeing what seem like low-ball asking prices designed to generate bidding wars even in without the promise of a driveway or backyard.
"Chances are I can't afford to buy a larger place in the timeline I've given myself which is this year," Chen admits. So she has been considering renting instead. "Which I thought would be easy until someone told me that there's bully offers on condos. So I think I'm just stuck with this condo that I have."