Are you addicted to reading real estate listings? Don’t be ashamed if you are. It’s hard to overcome when, with the tap of a finger or a scroll of the mouse you find yourself face to face via MLS with an endless supply of gorgeous homes for sale. Homes that could allllll be yourssssss.

So understand it is with hesitancy that I be the one to give you a reality check. Because someone has to. Those homes you see that are seemingly within reach because they filter in after you’ve set the budget parameters? Bad news. They may be A LOT more than the price you see there. That’s right. I said more. More by as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s a cruel, cruel thing but here in Toronto, the list price does not equal the purchase price. Almost ever.

I give you two case studies, both of which happened to clients of mine just in the last couple of weeks:

(1) I show a fixer-upper house in Riverdale. Gorgeous on the outside and on a very desirable street but it lacks parking and pretty renos and the third bedroom is hardly what anyone could consider a bedroom (closet size with drapery as a door). The list price was $599,000. On offer night, 7 offers later, it goes OVER for $821,000. Another house we had seen that same week, same neighbourhood, was listed at $849,000 and went OVER for $1.1 million.

(2) I show a condo unit in Liberty Village. Great location and great unit but we’ll call this the exact opposite of “staged” for sale purposes. It’s a little cluttered. The list price is $299,000. Other than the clutter the place is amazing though so we offer shortly after we see the place, are the only offer, keep conditions into the offer and proceed to negotiate…. and take it home in the end of UNDER the list price for $292,000.

So why can you get some places for less and some places end up going for more? One of the factors is inventory. The more inventory (condos are a good example), the better chance you have at getting the home you like for less. The less inventory (nice houses on nice streets), the highly liklihood it is that the listing agent and sellers are holding back offers so on the day they finally are held, many buyers show up and compete with their best offer on such house.

So what can the average person indulging in a little of MLS fun do to determine what is actually attainable and within their budget when they want to creep online? Understand (1) often houses sell for such big bucks over the list price because they were priced too low to begin with to attract attention, (2) talk with and work with a Realtor so that they may advise you which listings are holding offers and which aren’t, what areas are attainable and what are not with your budget, and to help you track sold prices in areas you like so that you can better understand market value. And how much does it cost to work with a Realtor in Toronto? To buy….absolutely nothing 🙂


Related reading: What $600,000 buys you in Toronto.


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