President, StreetCity Realty
“Geography is not as important for first-time home buyers. Find a property regardless of location,” says Costa Poulopoulos.
What are your top tips for first-time buyers?
The first-time home buying experience starts with defining expectations. It’s important to get your finances in order to ensure you’re able to afford the home you desire. Identifying needs is also crucial in making sure the home you select checks all the boxes you need to check.
First-time buyers need to “get in the game”. One thing the pandemic has shown is that employers have adapted to remote work. Geography is not as important for first-time buyers as it once was. As such, location is not as important, which allows first-time home buyers to get into the real estate game by travelling to markets they can afford. Being able to work anywhere has changed the home buying experience greatly.
Work with a realtor: Local realtors are very important in this process as they have an invaluable understanding of the community you’d like to move to, as well as pricing and the financial aspects of this new community.
How has the first-time home buying experience changed over the past decade?
Technology has changed greatly in recent memory — think of where the internet was 10 years ago. Not only has technology evolved, but the way we use technology has changed as well. Data, live stream showings, virtual open houses, are all examples of how technology has propelled the industry forward and redefined the first-time home buying game.
Working from home has changed and there is now freedom to do your job wherever you want. Homeowners have different priorities now — more space, home office, commuting, and access to transportation are crucial to potential home buyers. Now more than ever is when you need to engage a trusted professional to help digest a large amount of information. Street City Realty focuses on helping consumers understand this information and deal with information overload.
Given your expertise in Canadian real estate, what are some of the largest issues first-time buyers are experiencing?
Two of the largest issues first-time buyers are experiencing are:
Lack of housing supply. This is a massive issue in the Ontario market. In Ontario, the demand for new homes is greatly outweighing the current supply of new homes. This lack of supply and massive demand is resulting in the year-over-year price rise we’ve been seeing since 2019.
Another issue in Ontario is the multiple offer scenario bidding process. When a property comes on the market, there is usually more than one offer on the property. This turns the buying experience into a bidding war, causing prices to rise. It is important to engage with a professional to help strategize and make sense of the current market and create a smart plan of action that fits with your financial situation.
How do you see the Canadian housing market changing over the next couple years?
The truth is nobody can presume to know what is going to happen in the future. In the short term – interest rates and inflation are going to change the market greatly. Currently, we are close to 6% inflation, compound that inflation with a spike in interest rates and it’s going to create an impact. People that have already stretched themselves (going to restaurants, events, splurging on the nicer things) are holding off on purchasing a home in order to secure a down payment. Factor interest rates into this, and this short-term impact could be more of an issue. The supply issue is a total spectrum of things.
It’s equally as important to consider homelessness, affordable housing, renters/buyers, and the role that these all play in the market. Ontario must collectively address all of these issues in an effort to solve the current housing issues. Fixing these complex and intertwined issues, builds stronger communities and first-time buyers are drawn to that. Stronger communities play a huge role in attracting first-time buyers and drawing them in.
In the medium and long term, the ability to build supply and come together to increase the supply are going to be large factors. Without addressing the lack of supply, prices will continue to rise and buyers will be priced out of markets.