Hamilton Spectator: This couple has bid on 21 houses in Hamilton — and lost — in ‘high-risk’ market
Posted March 26, 2021
Posted March 26, 2021
Disappointment loomed on Tuesday as Michelle Bourgeois and her husband prepared to bid on their 21st house in Hamilton since the start of the pandemic.
Having placed what she called competitive offers on homes that ended up selling for hugely over asking price — sometimes upwards of $200,000 — house-hunting has been a demoralizing experience.
“It’s been a lot of tears and a lot of heartache … waiting until 11 o’clock at night to know, ‘Did we get the house?’” said Bourgeois.
That night, the answer was yet another ‘no.’
Prospective homeowners are facing an overheating market in Hamilton, driven in part by those migrating from neighbouring cities, and low mortgage rates encouraging a greater number of first-time buyers, according to a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) quarterly assessment released Thursday.
The Bourgeois’ left Hamilton in 2016 to move into a bigger home in Brantford, but decided to return to the city last August, selling their Brantford house and throwing furniture into storage for what they hoped would be a short stay at Michelle’s parents’ place.
Bourgeois, her husband Cory — a mechanic — and their two young sons moved into the basement unit while scouting out properties all over the city — from Binbrook to Stoney Creek, to west and central Mountain neighbourhoods.
Signs of what they were up against materialized quickly, she said. Facing more than two dozen bids in some cases, the couple jacked up their original budget of around $750,000 and were pre-approved to take on a higher mortgage of close to $1 million.
Last week, they lost a bid on a four-bedroom house in Binbrook that was listed for $899,000, and sold for $1.1 million, according to a listing posted on HouseSigma. Four minutes away, another home the coupled visited but did not pursue ended up selling for $1.2 million — $300,000 over asking.
“If we were anticipating this level of difficulty, we probably wouldn’t have put our house up for sale,” she said.
Hamilton was identified among five housing markets across the country — Toronto, Ottawa, Moncton and Halifax — seeing pricing surges and other market conditions that raised their risk assessment, according to CMHC’s quarterly assessment.
The housing market “continued to display a high degree of overall vulnerability” from the previous quarter, according to the report, with a spike in the usual number of “move-over buyers,” or those from nearby regions, the report notes.
“That’s continued to push up prices higher and higher in Hamilton at a faster rate,” said Anthony Passarelli, a senior analyst in economics at CMHC. Sales growth has happened disproportionately with larger properties of 2,000 square feet and above, he added, and among two-storey detached homes in pockets of Burlington, Stoney Creek, Waterdown and Dundas.
“You’re seeing more people coming in from markets like Toronto, looking for that single-detached home with more space that can accommodate the home office and have a bigger yard, and that sort of thing,” Passarelli said.
Compared to last year, the average four-bedroom detached house has gone up in price by about 27 per cent to $1 million, and a three-bedroom home has gone up 33 per cent to about $844,000, according to Zolo, an independent real estate database.
The trend of holding offers and rejecting conditional offers has also made the experience of buying a house stressful.
“It’s a free-for-all. It’s like the wild, wild west,” Bourgeois said. The couple is now considering buying a home from a builder in a new development at Summit Park, and was told by a salesperson that there are about 5,000 people registered for the release.
They have ruled out renting due to high monthly costs.
Dayna Sparkes, a representative for the east Hamilton chapter of ACORN, a tenant advocacy group, said the city’s housing crisis continues to play out in unaffordable rent and tactics by landlords and real estate investment companies to push tenants out.
“In Hamilton, we’ve seen it. They’re buying these properties, they’re putting a lick of paint on it to make it look nice,” and hiking up the rental cost. “It’s leaving people with very little solutions.”
Article by Vjosa Isai for the Hamilton Spectator