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How has Toronto's Real Estate Market Changed in the Past 5 Years?

The average price of a detached home in Toronto is almost a million dollars. In fact, two million is now the new one million. That's a significant change from the way things were five years ago - in 2009.

In 2009, in fact, experts worried about falling prices. A year after the subprime crisis and housing market collapse in the United States and the ongoing recession elsewhere, economists were worried that we could suffer the same fate. As it turned out, Canadian mortgage restrictions and lending policies were actually one of the only things standing between the country and economic free-fall: we got it right where others hadn't. But there had been a "correction" in Canadian home prices, and it did worry homeowners: by November 2008, the average home was $25,000 cheaper than it was at the same time in 2007. In 2009, we were waiting on the edge of our seats to see what would happen.

In the intervening five years, oh, how things have changed. Canadian home prices have skyrocketed, most significantly for semi- and detached homes in transit-accessible neighbourhoods close to Toronto's downtown core. Bidding wars have driven up the prices of these homes, as prospective buyers frantically attempt to select one home from an ever-shrinking pool of desirable, available properties while interest rates remain low. Five years ago, bidding wars were practically unheard-of. Now they're the norm. 

Condo prices have risen more steadily, but the nagging worry of a crash in condo prices has gone nowhere --- especially since the singles who met in their condo towers are having kids and wondering where exactly to fit strollers and cribs in 700 square-foot spaces. And in 2015, when the developments that started in 2009 and thereafter become fully available, we'll see more completed condos coming on the market. 

However, the most significant change to the Toronto real estate market over the past five years might not be the prices, but the buyers themselves. 2009's buyers hadn't been through multiple bidding wars, and they weren't staring down the prospect of huge mortgages like today's buyers are (though 2014 buyers are still plenty eager to purchase!). They hadn't witnessed the rapid rise of neighbourhood fortunes and prices -- places like Leslieville and Mimico were still under the radar. They didn't have nearly so many choices for condos (and the associated amenities!). They didn't know that Fort York would become the next hot neighbourhood, or that Parkdale would lead a local food revolution. But what they did know - and what we know, too - is that Toronto is a growing, vibrant city that's well worth buying into... whatever the price!

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