The reason? The home prices in Toronto have been dropping dramatically and some buyers have become wishy-washy on the whole buying idea when they see falling prices.
This happened to one seller. They were in the process of selling their home for $1.1 million, and the buyer changed their mind.
Months later when the seller finally did sell their home it was for little more than $800,000. So they lost $300,000 in that failed transaction. Or 37.5% of the value of the house. That is a huge drop.
So they tried to recoup their losses by suing the buyer who had pulled out by hiring a real estate lawyer, but that failed too. Was their real estate lawyer just not good enough? Or did they just have a weak case?
Whatever the situation, and it truly does vary from case to case, real estate lawyers in Toronto are suddenly in more demand as home sales continue to drop.
Sales data from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) shows the average home sold for $804,584 in the Greater Toronto Area in April 2018, a 12-per-cent drop from $918,184 in April last year, when the market hit a record peak before beginning a steep slide in May 2017.
So that is the average. Not everyone experiences a 37.5% drop in value.
Still a 12% drop is significant.
Prices can also change dramatically from month to month, as can volume. Total number of sales in January, for example, were down 24% compared to December on a seasonally adjusted basis. Total sales fell 9% in February compared to January, and sales were down 1.4% in March compared to February, based on seasonally adjusted numbers.
So taken together, volume of sales is down 34.4% just in the December to March period, despite seasonal adjustments.
Volume is drying up as many homeowners have apparently decided low prices means this is a bad time to sell, so the only people selling are those people who really want to sell in a hurry.
Which is probably why that one seller took only $800,000 when it was $1.1 million months earlier. Is that really the buyer's fault for getting cold feet? Or was the seller just in a hurry to sell? Clearly it was the latter. They could have simply refused to sell.
Thus the seller might have had a better case if they had waited longer to sell and not accepted such a huge dip in the offer. A good real estate lawyer probably would have warned them against selling too soon.
Below is a video by Toronto real estate lawyer Stephen Shub - this is not an endorsement of his legal practice, I am just posting his video as an example of what real estate lawyers do. In the video Shub describes some of the services that real estate lawyers provide.
So who is the best real estate lawyer in Toronto?
Honestly. Hard to say.
It is probably not Stephen Shub. There are probably hundreds of other real estate lawyers who are better than him. I have no idea. Just guessing. I just like his video, despite his somewhat awkward manner of talking to the camera and the bad editing.
Googling "toronto real estate lawyer" won't tell you who is the best either. The people at the top of the search rankings are probably just the people who hired the best SEO experts to do their online advertising.
Yelp? Filled with fake yelp reviews.
Google Maps/Business? Also filled with fake reviews.
I do think I have a solution however...
Don't use the regular Google search. Use the Google News Search, find the name of a lawyer who has been in the news and recently won a case. Then search only that lawyer's name in Google News and see if there are other news articles talking about legal cases that lawyer has won.
It may not be the way to find the "best lawyer in Toronto", but it should find you a lawyer who wins cases - including high profile cases.
So for example I did a Google News search for Stephen Shub and only 1 article came up from April 23rd 2018:
In the article Stephen Shub is not winning a case, he is just commenting on a condo development that disappointed buyers when the builder killed the development.
Does that make him a good lawyer? Just commenting on a prospective case? Not really.
I found the names of other real estate lawyers...
- Tim Duggan
- Bob Aaron
- Lawrence McLawyerson
Okay, so that last one I made up. But the first two were real.
Tim Duggan appears in multiple news articles. I didn't bother to read them all.
Bob Aaron appears in a whole bunch of news articles. A ridiculous amount. The news media loves mentioning him.
So from that perspective Bob Aaron looks pretty good. He is at least getting a lot of media attention. Is he winning cases though?
I don't know. I didn't bother to read anything more than the headlines. There was a LOT of news articles mentioning him though... hopefully they are mostly positive about his reputation.
Do you know a Toronto real estate lawyer that you would recommend? Post their name in the comments. Please do NOT post links to their websites. I do not allow spammy links.