I sit sipping coffee at my cousin’s 54th-floor condo that overlooks the Chicago Navy Pier.
For a second, I consider making myself a Mimosa from the well-stocked bar but quickly reject the idea. It’s not noon yet. Need to stay disciplined, even though I am on vacation.
As the tour boats go by, the sun bounces off the rippling waters of Lake Michigan, almost blinding. On the other side, I can see the winding road and the towering skyscrapers.
It’s a glorious day. The view is spectacular!
The interior of the apartment is no less impressive. With over 3000 square feet on one level, it is sprawling, and tastefully done. I could get used to this.
It suddenly occurs to me, most of my friends are millionaires!
No, the rarified air on the 54th floor has not impaired my judgement. It’s true! Most of my friends are millionaires, accidental millionaires.
The skyrocketing real-estate market in Toronto has propelled a lot of ordinary people into the millionaire’s club. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), have a detached home in a nice neighbourhood, and are not a millionaire, you are likely in the minority.
Obviously, if we start talking about liabilities, net worth and such, not all make the cut. But, from an assets perspective, you cannot dispute the fact that a lot of them are worth seven figures.
Good for them!
However, when a modest house in Mississauga, a middle-class suburb of Toronto, sells at a price higher than a large waterfront condo in a prestigious building in downtown Chicago, something is amiss.
And, what’s with the 33% year over year price growth? How long would it be before we make it to the “Five most expensive cities in the world?”
People must be making way more money that I think they are, or, they are braver than me. I go back to the time when I fretted about a mortgage which was nearly 2.5 times our gross family income, which wasn’t a whole lot, to begin with.
But then again, why not just make hay while the sun shines? They do say that unless you speculate, you don’t accumulate!
As the financial pundits and the government debate the demerits of a runaway real estate market, there appears to be at least one group of people who are clearly disadvantaged by this phenomenon, the young home buyer – our children.
I remember a friend’s daughter, a millennial, mentioning that she felt that she would never be able to afford a condo or a house in Toronto. A few years into a Marketing job, the size of the mortgage required to own a home was downright scary and unaffordable for someone like her.
Millennials have it tough, especially if you live in Canada.
New rules require them to have more money upfront, while the amount they can borrow goes down – which is probably a good thing. Unlike their parents, they are less likely to be able to count on government guarantees as they get older. And, as the aging population of Canada outnumbers the young, the prospect of becoming part of the sandwich generation is real.
Not a lot of good news here.
Perhaps the parents who rode the real estate wave to millions can help out with their children’s first down payment. But before you do that, you may want to read this article by Rob Carrick titled “Are we pushing millennials into a financial abyss of home ownership?”
I have a sense of déjà vu.
I have lived in Mumbai where tiny apartments cost a tonne of money and the middle-class families had to move far away into the suburbs to find an affordable apartment.
Toronto is not Mumbai, but it could become a Hong Kong or Tokyo.
I better hang on to my condo…