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.


Why is the condo market so hot?

Across Toronto if you have been a buyer or investor looking for a condo in 2018, you surely have noticed that the condo market has been on fire.

Multiple offers sometimes hitting double digits in quantity, properties being sold within hours of hitting the market, and even some of the ugly duckling units being snapped up by desperate buyers. (NOTE: you should never resort to desperation when purchasing real estate of any sort!)

What gives? Why is the condo market so frenzied? Well for starters, believe or not, there is actually a fairly low amount of inventory available.

In the second quarter of 2018, condo sales are off about 16% from Q2 2017. New listings are off roughly the same percent though, and existing inventory of condos for sale have increased moderately at 2.5%. Most of this is likely due to the strong price gains in the lower side (entry level and investor condo units) of the market.

The overall picture is pointing to a moderation on the condo side, but only slightly. We are going from a super strong sellers market to a strong sellers market. Slightly noticeable difference. The surge in rental prices has also played into the increase in this price point.

A little surprising is the increase in demand for rental units in the $3000-$6000 range. In these price points you can own a pretty nice tw0-bedroom condo in the city. Yes prices have increased in this segment as well, but are we starting to buy into the ideal of Toronto becoming a city of renters?

It’s too early to say but for now, if you have already been a condo owner and have recently cashed out, you’ve done quite well. Of course those choosing to hold on are fairing just fine, but what the future holds on the price and demand side still remain to be seen. We have a glut of new condo development in the pipeline that will be coming into the market over the next 3-5 years.

What will these mean for condo values as well as rental prices? Of course we will have to wait and see.


Some Positive Housing Numbers in June

The Toronto Real Estate Board has released the month of June sales figures and at first glance, it’s pretty positive looking.

Sales prices are up 2% over June 2017, and more importantly up 3.3% over May 2018. New listings tailed off slightly at 18% but overall inventory increased slightly.

Sales activity and average prices were up slightly, inventory of existing properties for sale has increased, and the days on market is up. All this bodes well for a steady market.

Toronto average prices are as follows: detached houses $1,354,429, semi-detached $999,754, townhouse $736,963 and condo $605,503.

On the detached home side, the year started at $1,283,981. That’s about a $70,000 increase on average to where it’s sitting today. Not many people can save $70,000 after taxes and once again it looks like Toronto’s housing market is becoming attainable for select groups.

The condo market has been getting much of the positive attention in 2018 and in January the average price was $543,279. Today you would be paying on average $61,000 more.

The second half of the year looks to be positive on the demand side. If we can maintain a healthy amount of supply, then prices should continue at a modest increase. But if the supply drops, like it has in the past, then expect this year to end up with a stronger second half on average values.


Toronto’s East End Continues To Be On Fire!

Would you believe that with all of the talk of a cooling real estate market across the GTA, the average sale-to-list price ratios in Toronto’s East End last month, were above 100%?

Sales-to-list price ratio reflects the asking price of a property, and what it’s sale price is. For example, if a property were listed for $800,000 and sold for $864,000 it’s ratio would be 108%.

Eo3 with boundaries roughly north of the Danforth, Broadview in the east, Victoria Park in the west, and roughly O’connor Avenue to the north, had a ratio of 110%!

E01 was sizzling hot with a ratio 0f 113% (Broadview south of Danforth, to Coxwell down to the lake).

E02’s ratio was a very respectable 105% (Coxwell south of Danforth, to Victoria park down to the lake).

The entire Toronto East average 104%.

Leslieville, the Beach, East York, Danforth Village, Playter Estates. For those who call Toronto’s east end home, you’re well aware of the perks and benefits of being east of the DVP.  Others are awakening to the call and the demand is high to get into the diverse neighbourhoods that surround you.

The rest of Toronto proper is doing pretty good as well.

In Toronto Central and Toronto West, both ratios were a very good 101%.

Some neighbourhoods that are more in demand in all areas will pull the averages higher. But overall, the news is good for Toronto in that demand is strong. Condos are still a major factor in the downtown cores strength, with sales activity declining but average prices rising 6.5%.

Semi-detached and townhouse/attached home prices were flat (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the short term), and detached home prices continue to level of and are down 5.6%.

Affordability is the overwhelming factor at play which the numbers above reflect. The Ontario government’s plan last year to cool the housing market by pricing first time buyers out, is working. Without a first time buyer you get limited move-up sellers/buyers as some who can afford it, will hold onto their first time property and turn it into a rental, and then make a more modest move upward.

If you have any questions about your specific neighbourhood let me know?



The Spring Market is here! Or is it?

Often real estate salespeople are asked, when is the best time to put your home up for sale? Well, Springtime (March thru May, and sometimes June) on the east coast has traditionally been the most active time for sales.

Ideally, there would be busloads of qualified, motivated buyers coming out of winters hibernation anxious to be out looking at houses and condominium apartments. Plenty of happy buyers typically means happy sellers.

Anyone who has been following the real estate market in the GTA (Great Toronto Area) over the past 18 months has known the start of 2017 sales prices started to defy any sense of logic, and prices were escalating fast.

Average sales for detached homes in the 416 area code went from $1,336,640 in January 2017  to $1,573,622 in February 2017.    In the 905 areas it went from $999,102 to $1,106,201. March averages were roughly the same and then in April, two things happened. One, the provincial government announced their “fair” housing initiative (meant to cool off the hot real estate market in the GTA) and the second thing was, Sellers started to flood the market with new listings. The combination of the two killed the party.

Now it’s spring 2018 and the housing market is slowly seeing active listings start to pile up (which is great if you are a first time buyer or move up buyer especially!) Sales prices are healthy, but way off the craziness of what we witnessed in the spring of 2017. Which, for the record is a good thing.

Buyers have been crying for years that there is no supply of houses for them to buy, and that when they do find a home they like, they are competing with dozens of others! Well, now you aren’t. Right now there is a great selection of property throughout the GTA that only a mere 15 months ago, many would have seen multiple offers being placed on them if they were up for sale back then.

Seize this opportunity and get into the market, or take advantage of a market that makes sense to move up in and one of which we haven’t sen the likes of for awhile. It might not last long. Play the long game as that’s what owning a home is meant to be. A place to provide life long memories, shelter, pride of ownership, sense of community and safety and security.




Reminder. You must report the sale of your principal residence on your income tax return

With tax season upon us, if you moved in the calendar year of 2017, you must report your sale on your 2017 tax return. The government refers to this change as an “administrative change” but what it really is, is a pain in the butt and another way for big brother to see if they can squeeze any more tax out of you.

For example, if you write off part of your home for commercial purposes, this could trigger a partial capital gain on the sale. Consult with a professional accountant or tax lawyer to ensure you are on the safe side if you have any doubt. In our government created debt ridden budgets, they are looking into all areas to collect tax where possible, plus penalties. Remember, being uninformed is not a viable excuse in CRA’s eyes!

For more information follow this link to the government of Canada website


Buyer Beware. What the heck are the bank’s thinking?

I’m going to cut right to the chase and say that it seems these days, the bank and their appraisers are not your friend.

If you are actively searching for a house or condo and working with a qualified Realtor™ (I’ll leave it up to you as a Buyer to do your due diligence on what ‘qualified’ looks like) then you will most likely know that in many pockets of Toronto, the real estate market is still actively hot.

I, along with a network of experienced and active Realtors™ across the city, continuously network frequently on the goings on “behind the scenes” in our real estate markets. The things we discuss you most likely won’t ever come across in the main stream media (and before you ask, no, I will not share what they are, with the exception of one) but let’s just say that they allow for a competitive advantage to be had on behalf of our clients.

One trend that seems to be surfacing more often than we’ve seen in the past many years, is a difference between the price paid for a property, and what the bank is appraising the value at. And yes, make no mistake,  the appraiser works entirely in the interest of the bank, even when you are the one paying their fee!

As an agent who works with both buyer and seller clients, I will speak from the selling side (list side) and say that, when I provide a value range for a client on what to expect from the sale of their property, it’s always based on what I believe will be a reasonable expectation of that value and one that shouldn’t stand out come appraisal time. Now, the property may sell for more than this range and that’s when I revisit the conversation on sale price verse appraised value (and let’s face it, we ALL would enjoy receiving more money than reasonably expected) and what this may mean come closing time. Personally I don’t believe a bank is responsible for taking on the added risk on what an overly motivated buyer might end up paying.

Where a big part of the problem lies is when the bank does their appraisal. Often it is days before the scheduled close date (some argue this isn’t by accident!) leaving little time to scramble to deal with other options if the paid value doesn’t come through.

On top of this they can use moving parameters and logistics that can make even the most grizzled veteran mortgage broker lose sleep. (Pro tip: Always, always, always use a professional mortgage broker for your borrowing needs and this is not the time to use your cousin who is a full time firefighter and amateur mortgage person).

As a buyer, if you are working alongside a competent professional Realtor™ then you should have a “feel” for what’s right on the price you are paying when you buy. It may take time to get there, or you may have complete trust and faith in the Realtor™ representing you. One of the signs I know that I’ve done a great job when representing a buyer, is when they can confidently feel or say to me, “Mike, we feel we paid a fair price” for the property they just purchased. Educated Buyer. Check!

My hope is that one day the appraisal process will be more transparent along with added protection for buyers (and potentially the seller.) Until then, proceed with optimistic caution and be prepared with a plan B. And if you take my advice on using a competent Realtor™ and mortgage broker (this all applies to the real estate Lawyer you use), you heighten your chances of a smooth process come closing day.

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In 10 Years Toronto Could Be a City of Renters

I recently attended a housing market forecast on the Toronto Real Estate Market put on by the Welbanks mortgage group in conjunction with Genworth Canada.

Now I typically attend 2-3 of these type of information sessions annually but this was the first where I could recall the statement being said that, “Toronto could become a housing market of renters” in ten years’ time!

My ears perked up, and for a moment I was asking myself, did I hear that correctly?

Yes!! It was correct. Real estate would be so expensive only the rich could buy and most would be renting!

Based on recent comments by two housing economists (Will Dunning and Benjamin Tal) it seems a comment was made along the lines of, “if you think house prices are expensive now, wait and see what it will be like in 5-10 years’ time.”

Now to be fair, I did not hear this quote directly from the source, or, what it’s intended context was. It was repeated by the presenter from Genworth from a presentation she had recently  attended. But the sheer thought of this had my heart palpitating. I mean, already it is incredibly expensive and difficult to purchase and own a property in Toronto. We keep hearing about over leveraged consumers, a housing bubble, a lot of high risk in our housing markets.

And it’s going to get worse?

Well, I’ve heard a lot of over the past 10 years on unstainable housing values that have proven to be untrue. And I also once recall Craig Alexander who was an economist at TD Bank at the time, say, about Toronto’s unexplainable increasing house values…”that even in the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Eventually the Wolf does show up.” This was said in context that “for the past few years he stood before us saying house prices would correct by at least 10% and then he would show up the next year and they were higher.” This would have been about 5-6 years ago.

So it seems no one really knows what will happen? But if this statement holds true about a city of renters, all of the current problems we have experienced over the past many years is about to become a lot worse. For the sake of many, I hope this too turns out to be false.




Really…the real estate market is slowing down?

A few days ago the Toronto Real Estate Board posted it’s January sales numbers and surprise surprise, sales volume was down drastically year over year in comparison to January 2017. This came as no shock to me.

For those who remember last January (and February and March) sales prices were defying logic and it didn’t come back down to earth until April, which then cooled right through late fall in most neighbourhoods.

Also important to note, this January was the second lowest sales activity over the past ten years, only to be bested by the recession sales of 2009.

If you are thinking the housing market has corrected…it hasn’t, well at least not yet. and it doesn’t look to be doing so anytime soon.

Prices for the most part are still rising, which can be confirmed by speaking with any Buyer who has bought over the past 30 days.

With the exception of the uber-expensivce detached home market which saw a small price decline of 3.9%, the rest of the housing types continue to increase in price. Semi-detached homes were 3.7% more expensive, Town Homes 8.2% and the sizzling hot condo market is up 15.1%!!

As the gap narrows between detached home values and the rest of the market don’t be surprised if there’s a turnaround in average prices for detached homes in a few months time. Below are end of January 2018 housing type prices.

  • Detached sales average $1,283,981
  • Semi detached average $936,623
  • Town houses average $712,186
  • Condo average $543,279

Supply is STILL the issue and there are many financially well armed buyers out there snapping up the limited amount of good listings to hit the market. This past week I sold two listings and both deposits were for a minimum of $100,000! These Buyers aren’t messing around!

Will this pace keep up? It’s really become difficult to tell.  Well funded Buyers and those benefiting from being in the market with property to sell are very confident for the time being. But it will be interesting to see what’s next from the government as they’ve pretty much thrown multiple grenades over the past few years which look to be not working (although side note: it is pricing an entire class out of owning real estate in Toronto, which sucks!) much in cooling the demand.

My advice is to proceed with caution while having a trusted (and I emphasize trusted) real estate agent by your side who is dialled into the market who can help guide you through this incredibly tricky market. The downside it too risky, and too expensive to misstep.



What’s in store for Toronto’s Housing market in 2018

Well for starters, it must be said that we are living through interesting times in that with all of the changes brought into play over the past three years to cool the GTA’s hot housing market, changes which many forecasted would knock the sails out of sales (I couldn’t resist), we are still witnessing an overall strong resale market in Toronto! This can’t be ignored and we should actually take caution in this.

We always have to keep in mind that real estate is uber local with secondary factors that contribute to the overall makeup of Toronto’s diverse housing market. Why is it that condos for instance, in Toronto’s east end neighbourhood such as Leslieville, are selling like hot cakes and for more money per square foot than traditional established condominium neighbourhoods, such as mid town?

Or that a semi-detached home deemed a complete fixer upper in the central neighbourhood of Seaton Village, will sell for a similar price of a brand new detached home in East York? Oh yeah, that semi detached in Seaton Village only has street parking as well.

These are real life examples of how local real estate and their values must be understood and then applied to the neighbourhood you will want to buy, sell or invest in. So here we go with what to expect in 2018.

Throughout Toronto proper, supply of good properties that are well priced for their condition are still in relative short supply. All of the changes over the past few years have been aimed at the demand side – buyers, and the supply side continues to be in short supply. The same can be said and apply to larger sized condominiums (850 sq.ft.+). The demand for both of these will remain strong in the first half of the year, as pent up demand is still in play.

Interest rates have been forecast to rise and if we see rate hikes over the course of the year of 50 to 75 basis points as have been predicted, this could help balance demand even more.

Over the past few years the “selling seasons” throughout the course of the year seem to be shrinking. Remember, this may not be the case in your neighbourhood, but needs to be considered of you are buying and selling in different neighbourhoods. Remember what the second half of 2017 looked like…

Demand for entry level condos will continue to be very strong and this price point coupled with a strong and increasingly expensive rental market will continue put upward pressure on prices. I’ve been saying for at least the past eight years that the first time buyer home is a condo. Well, it’s here, embrace it, and starting building equity so that you can compete when it comes to wanting to move into that semi or detached house that has 10 offers on it. Put the benefits of a rising markets money to use and you will be ahead of the game financially and thankful that you did.

Overall I think a modest drop in overall annual sales volume will happen as the combination of government changes to the housing market, rising interest rates, affordability and buyer fatigue all come together.

Prices will continue to rise in Toronto albeit at rate closer to inflation than the double digit rate growth that has been the norm over the past decade.  As more buyers come back into the market this could push values even higher in the most desirable Toronto neighbourhoods.





Brief recap of Toronto’s Real Estate Market in 2017

In brief, 2017 saw an impressive 92,394 sales across the Toronto Real Estate Board which clocks in as the 4th best year ever re: sales volume. Average prices across the board rose as a whole to $822,681 (almost a 13% increase over 2016). Almost all of the growth was seen over the first 4 months of the year. Things to note: in the second half of the year sales volume was the lowest over the past 5 years by a longshot, as well as average prices declined during this time frame. Affordability in the very expensive detached market is declining with sales in the more affordable semi detached and condo market pushed up 11.5% and 14.1% respectively. As the price gap narrows between a detached house and a semi-detached house, and between semi-detached and a condo, this will be an area to keep an eye on in 2018.