My Agent Mike

Hi! I'm Mike Rapkoski.

Sales Representative, Keller Williams Referred Urban Realty Inc., Brokerage

I have spent the past 18 years assisting clients build their wealth through making wise choices with their real estate buying and selling. I am passionate, dedicated and committed to providing world class service to my real estate clients.

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Take a walk in the trenches with me

The past week has felt like two, with all of the multiple offers happening throughout the city. We are in the midst of a real estate pandemic in that some buyers on some properties, are being crazy stupid with the money they are offering up. Old news! Maybe?

This past Monday would have been an offer night for a set of first-time buyer clients, whom I absolutely adore, on a renovated bungalow home in North York. We viewed the house late the previous week and after spending a good amount of time viewing the home both inside and out, my clients were excited in their thinking…this could be the one!

It checked off many of the boxes we hadn’t been seeing in our search of late, and although there were some things that were missing, I matter-of-factly reminded them that most first-time buyers rarely find “everything” on our list in the same property. If our “must haves” are met, and if one or two of our “nice-to-haves” are not, then it might be worth considering moving forward with a conversation on value and putting forth an offer.

We went our separate ways with my promise to email them some recent area comparable sold properties within the next day or so as well as my opinion on a range of value in what I thought the home would be worth.

With my analysis complete I wrote to inform them that although the house is listed at $998,000, I would place a value of $1.1 million, give or take. There were a few very good, recent comparable homes that had sold, and based on my knowledge and experience, this would be a reasonable range to use as our base. Now we had to decide, “how much did we really want it?”

After some careful review by my clients, along with some discussion around strategy, they decided that they were going to pass on the house and we would continue our search. I was relieved, as in my head I had felt it would sell outside of our range and sometimes multiple offers can be emotional, and decisions are made in the heat of the moment (or battle to some) that result in less than favourable terms for an anxious buyer. Although my clients are prepped well in advance on how to best navigate the emotional rollercoaster of a multiple offer scenario, occasionally a curve ball is thrown my way, that could result in us buying the home, in less than favourable conditions. 

So, offer day comes and there are two offers registered. Probably two short of what I thought there would be, but I’m not completely surprised as the selling agent opted to forego carrying out a pre-home inspection (instead choosing to tell me “it’s such a great house that his clients insisted that one was not needed”!) and I’m feeling this might have scared away a buyer or two. It was a factor for us, and although we could have easily arranged our own inspection in advance, it was another “X” alongside some other questions about the home.

The house ended up selling for $1.2 million, which would not only have been out of my buyer’s comfort zone, but really just not worth anywhere near that much money to them. I had to agree. When I informed them of the sale price their response of “We were shocked!” brings me back to my opening, that some buyers are offering up crazy stupid money in some pockets of the city.  

Putting an exact value on a piece of property is impossible, although narrowing it down to a small range isn’t. Values can be subjective to factors that vary from one buyer to the next. But this is the environment the real estate market currently is in. I really hope the next few weeks are more favourable for my buyer clients. 

18 August 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Toronto real estate in July is sizzling hot

This past July has been both hot in temperature as well as in housing activity and values throughout the GTA.

Both June and July are helping make up for a weak spring market in which many of us were in lockdown and only those in the most dire need were out buying or selling real estate.

In Toronto, demand continues to be very strong with all TTREB regions – Central, East and West averaging 102% sales-to-list percentage ratios across all housing types. Wow!

Led by semi-detached houses selling at a whopping 108% of their listed price, both townhomes and condos followed up with 104% and 103% respectively. Detached homes came in at 101% and this was brought down by the only area and housing type that averaged below 100%, which was central detached homes selling at 98% of their listed price.

These statistics in itself paint a similar picture to what was happening in Toronto pre-pandemic. “insert head scratch here”

The now average price of a detached home across Toronto is $1,541,000 semi-detached averages $1,181,000 with townhouses $852,284 & condos $683,000

New listings are up and active listings are down year-over-year. This is no surprise and also points to why we are seeing much higher average house prices. Condo listings are creeping up so it will be interesting to see how the next few months play out.

18 August 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Plummeting rental rates in Toronto

For those of us who own investment real estate, the recent news surrounding monthly rental rates falling (reported as high as 22% in the downtown core) can be quite alarming.

We went from what seemed like a frothy real estate market for all urban housing pre-covid, to one where only farmland, cottages and houses seem to be getting buyers attention.

The condo market has shifted to a more balanced market, away from just mere months earlier being a hot sellers market. Add in the rental condos that are piling up, and must this all be due to a mass exodus from our cities core caused by the pandemic currently going on?

That explanation would seem plausible, except, that the condo rental market was already showing signs of cooling off as early as the fall of 2019. And this wasn’t a bad thing. Affordability is the key to a healthy real estate market, and that lies at the centre of what an average investor wants.

The new rule changes throughout the city of Toronto regarding airbnb’s came into affect in the spring of 2020, adding thousands of condo units to both the long term rental pool and resale markets. May Warren from the Toronto Star wrote about it and you can find the article here

This impact is playing a much bigger part on rental prices and condo resales than is the theory that people are fleeing the city core due to the coronavirus, in my opinion.

“Working from home or, I can work from anywhere now” is playing little part in the higher than usual vacancies. Trust me, I’ve worked from home on and off for the past twenty years. It’s great when there is a snow storm outside, but that’s pretty much about it. The idea gets old pretty quickly.

What is adding to vacancies is that we have had massive layoffs, mostly as of now targeted at lower income levels and jobs, many of whom which live downtown and rent. CERB will pay the rent, but that’s about it.

Investing in real estate is a long term play. And it pays off very well in the long run. Yes you can find many naysayers who beg to differ, but ask anyone who has benefitted from it’s incredible returns, and you will see a completely different reality.

The opportunity to purchase the right condo as an investment hasn’t been as good as it is right now in a long time, for those looking long term and have the means to do so.

The vibrancy of the city of Toronto and the many huge benefits that come along with it, aren’t going anywhere. Toronto is consistently rated as one of the top 10 cities in the world. How many other world class cities can someone earning $50,000 year live downtown?

I’ve always said “not all condos are created equally” when it comes to what makes a good investment choice. But do your homework, purchase right, and over the next ten years I’m sure you will be thrilled that you did.

18 June 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Real Estate Prices Rise in May

The Month of May saw a fairly healthy increase in average sale price increases across the city of Toronto.

Detached houses rose 2.7% to an average $1,422,273. while Semi-detached homes shot up 8.8% and now sit at $1,143,322. Townhouse prices were flat and sit at a reasonable $794,626. Condo apartments are up 5% and now average $674,208.

Sales activity was down over 50% and much of that is attributed to the super low total of new listings hitting the market. Across the entire GTA, only 9,104 new properties were listed for sale.

While this continues expect prices to hold up and potentially continue to rise. Until we reach a point of a healthy amount of supply of livable homes, market conditions will continue to remain tight.

18 June 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Is Working From Home Going To Make Us Rethink Where We Live?

One of the conversations floating around the media and social networks is the question, “will the forced lockdown make us rethink our living spaces?”

It’s an interesting topic for sure, covering family and personal space, home office (or multiple office) set-up and the big question being the work-from-home topic, and how much this will play into how and where people live? Also, what affect might this have on families and relationships in general?

I for one, love the idea that this could radically change how we work, live and play. Jennifer Castenson recently wrote a great article on Forbes.com discussing this. You can find the article by clicking here


18 June 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Did Covid-19 disappear already?

The month of June in a typical year in Toronto real estate is one where the sales volume of our oft frenzied spring market have passed, and we start to slow down as we head into the summer months of hopeful gorgeous weather, fun times and much needed relaxation.

Home buying still happens in July and August, but usually at a more relaxed pace and with less buyers and sellers participating. It’s a welcome time by all involved in the real estate industry as the preceding months are often filled with high activity and stress levels that everyone needs a break from.

But what will the summer of 2020 bring us after a never seen before spring market forced us into restrictions and in some cases shutdowns due to the world-wide pandemic Covid-19?

If the sales activity of June 2020 are any indication, and the sales activity I’m seeing so far hold up, we might be in for a very busy summer. In Toronto’s east end neighbourhoods (Don Valley-Victoria Park; Lake-O’Connor) pretty much every house listed under a million dollars that’s worth owning is selling. And many of them are selling I’m multiples.

On the condo side the numbers aren’t as impressive but that’s because there are more less desirable units clogging up the market currently. But multiple offers are happening frequently here as well, which ties in to what was happening before Covid hit, and we went into lockdown.

January and February this year as we know was off to a very heightened start. Little supply and plant of demand was fuelling a quick rise in prices and properties across the GTA were being snapped up. Well, this is where we sort of are again now. Low inventory (continues to be a problem across the GTA) fuelled by the desirability and overall stability of owning real estate. The strength in number of offers when in multiple may not be the same. But prices have yet to see a negative and this is what can seem to some as baffling.

We are still working through a pandemic not seen the likes of in a century, we have record high unemployment rates, consumer confidence is down overall. But Toronto real estate is still on fire?

Actually, my Realtor sphere of agents spread across the GTA have been telling me it’s the same in many of their markets. 8+ offers on a townhome in Burlington. 31 Offers on a Triplex in Hamilton. Multiple offers on a home in Tottenham, selling well above the perceived value by some. Look up Tottenham, it’s a cute little place that many don’t even know exists.

My thoughts are that the pent up demand will continue to push June’s market into what looks like a “we’re back to normal” feeling. And as we get more information around the economy coming back on line and the hopeful progress with Covid, the following months will start to show if we have landed right back to pre covid times, or, what the new normal that lies ahead may be.

15 May 2020 ~ 0 Comments

April’s Toronto Real Estate Numbers

When the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board released April’s housing statistics, there were not many surprises in the report, at least from my perspective.

Sales activity was down substantially, prices were pretty much flat, and new listings were also substantially down. In what has amounted pretty much to a world-wide lockdown (let that sink in for a moment…) these numbers could have been way worse!!

Now what do I mean by that?

Well, we are experiencing the worst world wide health pandemic in the past 100 years. And sales of housing in TRREB area went from a frothy approximate 9000 properties in April 2019 to roughly 3000 in April 2020.

They didn’t go to zero. And what about values? on average, they actual up-ticked about $1,000 on average. Wait, the stock market dropped 25%-30% and housing values pretty much were flat year over year. Yes. Now, the stock market did bounce back as I had mentioned in last months post. Which I would say is a positive sign for all.

Now, let’s take a deeper dive into the housing numbers, where it’s not so rosy of a picture.

Roughly 82% of all sales were under the $1,000,000 (One million dollar) mark. When you compare this to the the 1st quarter of 2020, the average ratio was about 75%, meaning 25% sold above the Million Dollar mark.

Now there can be a lot of reasons for why this is, but looking only at the numbers, one can draw the conclusion that the higher end market is being less active, and this could reflect in TRREB’s posted average selling price. (NOTE: TRREB also uses the MLS HPI ‘home price index’ which also references that higher priced properties are down activity wise from last year. Remember that this is # of sales not $value of sales.)

When you piece all together the information that has been put out over April, you can see that overall sales activity is down, new listings are being held back, prices are stable, and all of this is happening during a pandemic.

So what’s next to come? No one truly knows, as most of it will depend on how long it takes for any sense of back to normal living conditions come about. But I think once many of the condo buildings who have shut down, allow back in Realtors and Buyers for in person viewings, and our higher end market activity (both Buyers and Sellers) returns, we will start to get a better picture on what lies ahead. My gut tells me that pricing will be flat and may even drop down for awhile on certain property types, although I think activity will pick back up overall. Demand is strong for Toronto real estate. And our relative low rate of deaths due to Covid-19 in a province of our size, as well a s across our country, will also be noted long term throughout the rest of World.

If you are planning on being in the market, reach out now to your mortgage broker or bank contact. Get your approval lined up and be ready to act, and always remember, that buying real estate is a long term plan.

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Real Estate Update

It’s been about five weeks since the actions taken to flatten the curve on the spread of Covid 19 have been in place, and as most were expecting, Toronto’s real estate market has been affected. 

What has happened is best described as “frozen” in comparison to some of the more dire predictions on substantial drops in housing values.

It may surprise some to learn that we are still seeing multiple offers in parts of the city! This is more the exception than the norm, but certain price points are still getting attention (in Toronto’s east end for example, the price point under $1.1 million on semi or detached) and certain condo units throughout the city. 

The first part of March was pretty much business as usual. Closing in around the 3rd week, activity started to freeze. This is important to note in that it doesn’t necessarily mean that values are dropping, more that activity was put on pause. 

Now for some very motivated sellers, they might be willing to accept a little less to complete the sale on must sell properties. But for the most part, that hasn’t really happened. 

We went into 2020 on a very torrid pace with prices shooting up fairly quickly, and demand high. The spring market never had the chance to become unsprung, so much of that demand went into pause mode. Uncertainty around major health (or other serious world issues) always have an impact in the short term on housing. 

For those who have been tracking the stock market, this enhanced the uneasiness surrounding covid 19. In February we all were feeling pretty flush, then come the third week of March, not so much so. But now, things are trending back up almost 2/3rds of most drops in people I have been speaking with. 

Buyers have been out buying property. Not as many, that’s for certain. But for those who were looking to buy, or having to buy, they are out there. Interest rates are super duper low and there is less competition to be up against. Protocols have been put in place and no where is it near what it was like to buy or sell a home a mere sixty days ago.

Virtual viewings, sometimes blind offers (buying without seeing), in person viewings with masks, gloves and the touching of nothing. Banks, Law offices, Real Estate offices…all have changed. Everyone I know is doing their part by listening to the suggestions of our government and health officials. Only the essential parts are being carried out.

Remember this when you hear in the news about how the housing market and it’s statistics have declined. IT IS NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL! But one day, and hopefully it’s one day soon, we will return. Until then, like everything else we are doing not in the norm, this will change as well. I for one miss seeing my family and friends. Hugging and high-fiving I await it’s return.

19 March 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Real Estate Update

The past few weeks have been filled with massive change in the way our normal, mostly comfortable, lives have been for the majority of us in the wonderful city of Toronto that we live in.

Covid 19 has temporarily placed major parts of our city on shutdown, like many other parts of the world, and if we remain positive and keeps thing in perspective, that the goal of this shutdown is to ‘flatten the curve.’

Have there been effects to the real estate market? Of course there have. It’s naive to think with so much uncertainty surrounding stopping this endemic, that it’s not business as usual in most cases.

There are many moving parts in the buying and selling of property. Let’s have a look: Real Estate agents, Lawyers, Home Inspectors, Lenders and Mortgage Brokers, Appraisers, Stagers, Photographers, Property Management in condo buildings, cleaners, junk removal companies, storage facilities. The list can go on and on. Now also add in to all of the above, both back and front end staff who assist in moving the process along.

In some respect, each of these services have been affected and may be either temporarily shut down, or operating in a limited capacity. For now.

Now back to what we should be focusing on. The containment and limiting of the spread of Covid 19. We all understand (at least I hope that we all do!) this is of vital necessity and for the greater good. Does this mean the sky is falling in the Toronto real estate market?

No!

But, there will be adjustments that have to be made and quite possibly in the short term, it will be a new learning curve. It’s yet to be seen because we still don’t know exactly how long this will continue.

I’ve been in constant daily communication with a network of active Realtors who have all come together to help communicate and share information to assist in help navigate and understanding what lays ahead.

Communication with my real estate Lawyer frequently, being updated by lenders and mortgage brokers, even online forums of my network of brokers across North America has been of added value.

Just remember, we are all in this together. Toronto is our home and was a great city before this virus, to work, live and invest in. I don’t see anything changing that once we come through this.

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Sales & prices shoot-up in January

Last month I had posted about what to expect sale price wise in 2020, which was that prices were expected to rise between 6%-10% throughout Toronto.

Well, January seems to have gobbled up that and more, as sale prices are up 12.3% mostly driven be the detached and condo market. Semi-detached homes and townhouse were pretty much flat.

And even though sales activity also rose in January, up about 15% over January 2019 numbers, when you seasonally adjust, activity was up almost 5% over December.

So what’s going on? Low inventory continues to contribute along with many buyers who were sent to the sidelines in 2018 and parts of 2019 when OSFI brought in mortgage qualifying changes that made it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage. As of the past few days, these stringent requirements were slightly adjusted and it will be interesting to see how they affect the already hot spring real estate market.

I suspect much of the same (low supply, higher demand) for the time being but an interesting side note is in the condo rental market, where supply is starting to add up and a slight slowing down in the market is happening. It’s not a free fall over the massive increases we’ve seen in the rental rates the past two years, but certainly any immediate future gains will be limited in the short term.

I think we are heading for a “heavy foot on, heavy foot off” on the sale side over the next few months, as both buyers and sellers adjust to the current market.