Some of the most exclusive luxury neighborhoods in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) shine brightest in the summer, in all their pool-filled splendor, manicured lawns and tree-lined lawns.
From Forest Hill and Rosedale to The Kingsway, warmer weather makes these lively neighborhoods even more perfect, adding to the curb appeal of their sprawling homes.
But is summer the right time to list your home in the GTA luxury market? It can be, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
“Summer is always a quieter time for luxury real estate in the city,” says Andy Taylor, senior vice president of sales for Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “For many, this is the season to get away to the cabin. Especially after the pandemic, more and more people have cabins that they escape to on the weekends, instead of staying in the city to list their home.”
READ: Canada’s luxury real estate market hit a record high in 2021
Much of the high-end luxury inventory has been kept off the market during the summer months, Taylor says. “Instead of listing it on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), agents are selling luxury homes as exclusives,” she says. “Although transactions are taking place in the luxury market, MLS does not capture them. This summer in particular, we will continue to see transactions, but the transaction volume will slow down.”
Sotheby’s currently has a handful of multimillion-dollar properties, including The Residences at the Ritz Carlton, 125 Cumberland, and a $10.75 million property in Rosedale, which are all exclusive listings.
When it comes to buyer trends, Taylor says those in the market for a luxury listing look for specialty properties that are finished and require little planning or work. “Home buyers don’t want to work on renovations, especially in the summer, as they’re looking to travel or go to the country house,” says Taylor. “Recently, there have been a lot of delays working with contractors, so buyers can’t get their finishes done as quickly as they hoped. Properties that require a lot of work are sitting around, while houses that are showing exceptionally well are getting offers and selling for a decent price.”
In addition to finished properties, GTA luxury home seekers are keeping an eye out for amenities. “For the luxury home buyer, you want a unique property that has already been completed and comes with high-end amenities,” says Jodi Allen, senior vice president of sales for Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “For example, high-quality finishes, pleasing layouts, space for an office, a gym, and high ceilings are on the luxury buyer’s wish list. At this time, many buyers have also been asking about swimming pools. Travel has been hectic lately with buyers looking to stay in Toronto or travel to the cottage, so having a pool is key for summer vacations.”
Taylor and Allen highlight how spring weather caused a shift in the Canadian real estate market. After a red-hot and often record-breaking run, GTA house prices have finally started to drop and the market has dialed up the drama again.
“The media has focused on the slowdown in the market, which has shocked buyers as they are taking their time making decisions and there is much less urgency than was seen from March to May,” says Taylor. . “Properties are not offered with an offer date, but are marketed with what the agents believe to be the real value of the property. For sellers, their price expectations have not changed, while buyers expect a price decline.”
Sellers are beginning to realize that properties must be priced right in order to sell, according to Taylor. “If sellers plan to test the market with a high price, they shouldn’t bother listing,” says Taylor. “For buyers, underpricing and withholding an offer doesn’t work well either, which is why most agents no longer take this approach. Currently, pricing properties accurately is very important to both parties.”
Allen agrees that the biggest mistake sellers are making right now is in the pricing department. “Right now, you can’t play aggressively and price a property high just to test the market,” she says, driving home the point. “Instead, sellers should price their property where it shows value.”
For those looking for luxury property in Toronto, options are slim in some of the most desirable neighborhoods.
“We’re actually seeing a lack of inventory in neighborhoods like Rosedale, The Annex and Yorkville, but in Lawrence Park there’s been an increase,” says Allen. “The downtown area, which consists mostly of luxury condominiums, has also been quiet recently, but is now starting to pick up again. As the shock and awe of interest rate hikes start to die down, we should see projections revert to reflecting a traditional summer market in these key neighborhoods.”
For those considering selling their luxury property in the summer months, Allen says the most important thing to remember is that you don’t want the listing to become stale.
“In the summer, sometimes it’s best to keep an exclusive listing that puts pressure on agents to work harder, make calls and raise awareness about the property,” says Allen. “We’re still not sure what the fall market will look like, so some would say it’s best to list a home during the summer, even if it’s slower. For most of our GTA rosters, we’ll keep them exclusive before we put them out in MLS in September.”
Allen also advises sellers to make sure the listing looks like a model showroom and reflects the amenities that are important in the summer. “For example, sellers need to make sure the exterior of their home is organized, the landscaping has been tended, the grill is clean, and the deck furniture is installed,” she says. “People tend to visit the exterior of a home first before leaving, so it’s important that the exterior is a good representation of the property.”
Finally, Allen says it’s important that the images in the listing reflect the season. “At Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, we make sure that all photos and videos in our listings are up-to-date, giving the buyer a real idea of what the property currently looks like,” says Allen.