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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Million Dollar Luxury Homes No Longer An Impossible Dream

Remember the day when just owning your own home seemed like a faraway dream?

Times have changed and so has the city's real estate market. It's no longer unusual for people going house hunting in the G.T.A. to come across places that are selling for more than a million dollars.

And equally surprising is this - many of us are buying them.

According to a survey released Wednesday by Re/Max, sales of so-called luxury homes are up 31 percent from last year. Agents sold 225 high-end residences in Toronto alone in 2005. They've helped to move 289 so far this year, with an average asking price of an eye opening $1.5 million.

Realtor Joy Verde maintains it's a trend that's been emerging for a while. "In the last three years They have sold more luxury homes than in the previous 15 years combined," she relates. "It's been quite unbelievable."

And while you'd think it might be older people with nest eggs buying up all that ritzy real estate, Verde claims most of them are young families looking to invest in the long term with the sure fire item that never really loses its value - property.

What are these modern day yuppie-types looking for? "They love wine cellars, they love pools that they can use and have a cottage in the city," Verde lists. "They love spa baths. They love to entertain, so they're looking for a type of luxury that maybe their parents didn't allow themselves."

Re/Max figures show the most expensive house in the G.T.A. is located in Oakville. It's a waterfront estate worth an astounding $45 million. And even at that price it may not last.

"In a lot of ways it's almost mind-boggling," admits Re/Max's Michael Polzler. "It's very much a product of great economy, low interest rates, combined with great consumer confidence."

And while realtors expect sales to soften a bit, they're sure the demand will continue to exceed the supply, keeping prices high.

"I think that the stock market people are more comfortable cashing out, putting the money in their homes," Polzler contends.

And in their pockets - another new survey out this week shows there are more millionaires in Canada than ever before. And now it's apparent just what they've been spending all that cash on.

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