September 20, 2018 | millennials
Let’s be honest. When it comes to real estate, Millennials have not had timing on their side when it comes to property prices in Toronto. Many Millennials long to have been born 15 years earlier so they could have bought Toronto real estate at a quarter of what it costs today. Many feel they have missed the boat on reasonably priced real estate in Toronto. And as for as prices go, I would have to agree. Even though salaries were lower 15 years ago, those gains have certainly been outpaced by the rise in Toronto real estate values.
So, before Millennials can collectively feel sorry for themselves ( and rightly so), let’s look at what sort of advantages they have when it comes to real estate in our city. It ain’t all bad!
- LOW UNEMPLOYMENT If you are a Millennial looking for a high paying job to cover those more expensive mortgage payments, you are in luck. More than ever there is a demand for high paying jobs around the tech sector, engineering and new businesses. Even if you have no inclination for those particular careers, more high paying jobs often lead to other businesses that do hiring. Let’s say you want to open up a cupcake store. You are more likely to have success where there are more high paying jobs and higher density living now than in past – though your rent/mortgage would be higher too. Looking at the number, the unemployment rate in Toronto now is 5.8 % That’s the lowest rate in 16 years. In contrast, the early 80s and early 90s saw double digit unemployment rates.
- LOW INTEREST RATES If you talk to any Boomer, they are going to tell you that even though they bought their house for much less than today (even price adjusted for inflation), they still paid much higher interest rates. Interest rates may be going up now, but wow, they really are nowhere near what they used to in the 80s. Interest rates are so low now, and have been for awhile, that we forget how bad it used to be. In 1981, interest rates rose to an unimaginable 18.45%. If you put down a 20% downpayment over 30 years, 82% of your payment would go toward interest. So, the prices may have been lower, but good chunk of your payment was interest.
- MORE HOUSING OPTIONS 25 years ago there were not as many housing options as you have now. Whole neighbourhoods like Liberty Village or Corktown didn’t exist. If you wished to be a condo, your options would be a fraction of what they are now.
- MORE COOL OPTIONS FOR STARTER HOMES Many Millennial lament that they have to move far away if they want any space in their home. And I would have to agree with that assessment. BUT the choices you have further away, like in Hamilton, are much better than they used to be. Hamilton was in free-fall 20 years ago. The downtown was a ghost town. There was nothing hip about it. Now, it’s a laboratory where cool things are tested out. It’s the cool Oakland to San Francisco. The Brooklyn to Manhattan. It has hip, walkable neighbourhoods on James Street, on Ottawa Street, and around Gage Park that didn’t really have much spark 15 years ago. It has its own wildly successful art crawl. And though the train service could be more frequent, you can take one to Toronto now. And it’s still affordable!
- BOOMER EXODUS This one hasn’t happened yet, but the demographic time bomb has to go off at some point. And when the Boomers retire and downsize and move to Florida, they are going to sell A LOT of real estate. Since they currently own the bulk of Toronto real estate, there is going to be a time when a lot of real estate will be for sale as the Boomers sell off. And since there are so many of then, there may be a lot of properties available at once. So, there may be a sale soon for Millennials. How soon? It’s tough to say. And maybe it won’t prove to be the deal of a century, but it will inject a lot of supply into the Toronto market at once which will take the pressure off prices.
So Millennials, I do sympathize with you for the real estate suffering that you may have had to endure, but as I mentioned, there is a silver lining to the rapidity of the change happening in this city. I think as Toronto solidifies its position as a global city, it will continue to attract migrants from across Canada and immigrants from all around the world. So, it is very unlikely that you will see the prices that previous generations of Torontonians enjoyed. Still, it’s not all bad. Some future generation may look back and wish they were you.