Tag Archives: richard

Richard on Podcast: Adapting to Diverse Markets Brings Greater Success

Richard on Podcast: Adapting to Diverse Markets Brings Greater Success

Richard was recently a guest on Michael Lafido's podcast show called Luxury Listing Specialist Podcast. They talked about Richard's career, his beginnings in real estate, building and working in teams, the importance of networking and also about dealing with luxury properties.

Key Takeaways:

  • Change is essential, and should be embraced.
  • Diversity of agents with regards to race, religion, age, culture and language only stands to benefit your business. This is particularly true in multicultural societies.
  • Use of new technologies is vital, from testing personalities to marketing homes.

Listen to the podcast below.


Michael Lafido is a top-producing Realtor and real estate consultant with over sixteen years of experience in the industry. Michael’s a best selling author and his marketing has been featured worldwide. He is the founder of the nationally recognized “Verified House” Program for home sellers. He is a leading authority in the real estate field and is highly sought after as a national speaker.


Done Deal: Private elevator among luxuries of upscale Toronto townhouse

Done Deal: Private elevator among luxuries of upscale Toronto townhouse

One of our recent listings was just featured in The Globe and Mail Under done deals.

260 Russell Hill Rd., No. 25, Toronto

  • Asking price: $2,588,000
  • Selling price: $2.5-million
  • Previous selling price: $1.5-million (2007)
  • Taxes: $10,018 (2018)
  • Days on the market: Seven
  • Listing and co-op agents: Richard Silver and Jim Burtnick, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada

This three-bedroom end unit in an upscale townhouse complex abutting Sir Winston Churchill Park had about three dozen house hunters trod through in September.

“It’s a condominium townhouse in an area where there are not a lot of them, so it’s a great house for downsizers … who wanted to get into something around 2,800 to 3,000 square feet with parking and a little bit of a backyard,” agent Richard Silver said.“ So there were a couple of offers.”

More about 260 Russell Hill Road 25


The nearly 20-year-old structure offers several luxuries, from an elevator and curved staircase connecting all four levels to direct access to two-car parking from the basement.

Large social gatherings can be held inside or out. There is a traditional dining room and formal entertaining areas with fireplaces on the main and second floors, as well as a private terrace off the eat-in kitchen.

Utilities are not included in monthly maintenance fees of $1,355.

More about 260 Russell Hill Road 25


“It’s just off St. Clair and it’s right next to … a great park,” Mr. Silver said.

“A lot of townhouses only have light at the front or back, but this one – because it was an end unit – has light on three sides.

“One of the other advantages to that house is it has an interior elevator, so as people age, if they wanted to stay in the house, they could,” Mr. Silver said.

More about 260 Russell Hill Road 25

Originally posted in The Globe and Mail, December 17, 2018.

Richard at Inman Connect New York 2018

Richard at Inman Connect New York 2018

Richard recently attended Inman Connect NY, where he talked about his experience working with niche groups in real estate. He and Rich Rosa talked in the Niche Marketing panel and here's a bit of wisdom they shared:

ICNY 18: Shrink your target market, grow your real estate business

How tapping into a client niche can lead to a powerful marketing strategy

Not every brokerage needs to dominate an entire housing market to be successful. Just ask Rich Rosa, a broker-owner with Buyers Brokers Only, and Richard Silver, senior vice president of sales at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, both of whom have found footholds in niche markets. And one of the main benefits of shrinking and targeting your audience? A potentially more effective and clear marketing plan.

“It’s easier to market to a sliver of the homebuying population than all of them,” said Rosa during a Wednesday afternoon session at Inman Connect New York. “If you know what your client wants, you can become more of an expert at helping them.”

Rosa got his start in journalism, then obtained a law degree before opening his Boston-based real estate business. In Massachusetts, he was able to get his real estate agent license as an attorney. His brokerage split the market in half by just focusing on buyers. Their marketing mantra is to create “useful and valuable content on a regular basis.” Their blog has thousands of readers.

“We try to answer all those questions that we get all the time,” he said. “We do a lot of blogging on our website.” One of those blog posts is a comprehensive, 2,000 word article about all the programs available for first-time homebuyers, which his firm noticed make up a large portion of their client-base.

With a specific marketing plan, they’ve found a specific audience: clients who perform a lot of research before buying. And this clientele comes loaded with questions, so the constant flow of information perfectly strokes that curiosity.

“They start researching months and months before, and they want to learn as much as they can before they take that leap,” Rosa said. “Our content answers their questions.”

Silver’s market is very different; however, his firm’s approach to working with a small segment of the market is similar.

While working as a real estate agent in the Toronto, Canada area, Silver started to notice the presence of more and more non-Canadian buyers, so he decided to start focusing solely on a multicultural clientele. By narrowing his target clientele, he estimates he improved his business by 20-30 percent.

Silver’s marketing plan takes him across the world for face-to-face meetings with an array of clients. The agents at his brokerage collectively speak eight languages.

I love the fact that I can go around the world and in every place I go, on every trip I take, I constantly make a point of meeting with other agents.

Back in Toronto, he’s immersed himself in the local communities of the various immigrant groups there, supporting many of their charities.

I find out what’s happening in the area. I support charities for the Southeast Asian or Chinese community.

He also advertises regularly on one of the largest social media networks in the world — no, not Facebook. He’s active on WeChat, which has nearly 500 million users in China and is closing on 1 billion users worldwide.

According to Silver, the most important business move a brokerage can make before coming up with a marketing plan is to check its self-identity.

Who are you, where are you comfortable?” he asked. “Then do a 360 in the marketplace. Who’s buying and who’s selling?

Originally published on Inman.com, January 25, 2018.

TorontoStoreys.com: All We Want For Christmas Is…The Real Estate Remix

TorontoStoreys.com: All We Want For Christmas Is…The Real Estate Remix

TorontoStoreys.com asked a couple of Toronto real estate agents, including Richard, about their wishlist for Christmas. The question was:

If you could ask for one thing in GTA real estate, what would it be?

So what does Richard want this year? It’s more about what he doesn’t want.

At a time when we need more rental properties to be built in the marketplace, the provincial government’s move to insert rent controls will stifle the building on new rental properties. I would hope that they would lift any restrictions on rent control. They have always caused more negative damage than positive change.

The government needs to streamline the building process so that more units can be built. More supply usually helps to smooth out the market in terms of price. Forget rent controls and encourage building … that will be more positive for the marketplace.

Rent controls and their potential impact on the market are a very hot topic in the city. We wrote about it in our of our recent articles, you can find it here.

Read the rest of TorontoStorey's article here.


Torontoism in the News: Luxury Home Market Continues to Thrive

Torontoism in the News: Luxury Home Market Continues to Thrive

Tracy Hanes of The Epoch Times interviewed Richard about the luxury housing market in Toronto. Read the article below.  

Despite shifting conditions on the Toronto area real estate scene, the luxury market remains strong and will continue to be a sound investment, according to Richard Silver, senior vice president sales at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

“It’s been a great year so far and we’ve all had increases in our office,” says Silver, who leads the seven-person Torontoism Team at Sotheby’s.

According to Silver, luxury homes in the Greater Toronto Area market can be defined as those priced at $2.5 million or more. About one third of Silver’s office’s deals fit that luxury criteria. Rosedale and Forest Hill remain two of the most desirable neighbourhoods for luxury buyers, although Bloor West Village, Edenbrook towards the Humber River and Scarborough Bluffs—if a home has lake views—have also come on wealthy purchasers’ radar.

5765 Escarpment Sideroad | Caledon
5765 Escarpment Sideroad | Caledon

It’s more a psychological pause than related to the financial ramifications of the tax, which imposes a 15 percent fee on foreign buyers, he says.Year to year, July real estate prices are up 5 percent over July 2016. Between July, 2016 and April, 2017 prices ramped up by 20 percent, but have dropped by 10 to 15 percent since then. Silver says the Foreign Buyers Sales Tax, which took effect in April, has some buyers holding back to see what will happen.

These buyers are used to buying in U.S. dollars and 15 percent in Canadian dollars is not much to them. And they also have four years to be able to get a rebate.

The rebate applies to foreign nationals who become permanent residents of Canada, international students who are enrolled fulltime for two continuous years at an approved educational institution; or foreign nationals who are working fulltime in Ontario for at least a year.

What Silver has noticed since the tax was imposed is that foreign buyers are shifting away from communities such as Richmond Hill and others just north of the city; but interest remains strong in the downtown market.

They want to be close to education hubs. When I go to China, the first question I am always asked is ‘where are the good schools?’ They also want access to transit. Toronto is not an easy city to get around and the closer to transit, the better.

Foreign buyers represent a relatively small portion of the market—just less than 5 percent of purchasers, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

For all luxury buyers, Silver is confident the market will continue to be a solid investment.

124 Park Road
124 Park Road | Rosedale 

Buyers from China are very influential in the Toronto market, says Silver. Many pay cash and are coming to Toronto for their children to attend school. Many live here at least part of the year and they appreciate that they can own property in Canada, unlike in mainland China where their property is leased to them by the government. Immigration is a major driver of the Toronto area real estate market and will continue to be, as 100,000 people a year are immigrating to the GTA. It’s not just people from foreign countries who are interested in moving here, Silver says; people from other parts of Canada are coming to Toronto because of strong job growth. Immigration from other countries to Canada could also increase should the United States impose a policy that would drastically cut the number of immigrants it takes and give preference to English-speakers.

Silver says Chinese buyers prefer new construction homes or houses that have been extensively renovated so appear like new. He’d like to see more builders incorporate Feng Shui into their new homes as that’s also important to many Chinese buyers.

Torontoism members make frequent trips to China to connect with potential buyers and to hold events for them. For the local Chinese market, the office advertises in Chinese publications and has staff members who speak Mandarin and Cantonese.

19 Castle Frank Crescent | Rosedale
19 Castle Frank Crescent | Rosedale

The other factor that indicates prices will continue to increase is a lack of supply, says Silver. The current absorption rate is 28 to 30 days—that’s the time it would take to sell all current listings if no others came on the market. In a normal balanced market, the absorption rate is three months.

Part of what’s stalling the market is that people couldn’t find what they were looking for so didn’t sell their current home. I’ve been through every kind of market and you just adjust. It is a wonderful time as buyers can negotiate. But you have to know the marketplace and there are still neighbourhoods where properties are going over list price.

Silver says regardless of home prices,

I’ve never seen anyone over pay. Eventually, the market catches up.

Originally published on theepochtimes.com


Richard for Chicago Association of REALTORS©: Investments in Canada

Richard for Chicago Association of REALTORS©: Investments in Canada

Earlier this year, Richard presented at a Chicago Association of REALTORS event discussing Investment in Canada. Here is an excerpt from an article on doing business with Canada for the US REALTORS© generated from this event.

The USA and Canada share the longest undefended border in the world and 400,000 cross the border each day. This makes Canada an excellent opportunity for REALTORS© who are looking to expand their global experience. However, there are a lot of differences that need to be taken into account when doing business in Canada: from cultural differences and economic situation to various laws and regulations.



According to Richard Silver of Sotheby's International Realty Canada, net immigration is a big factor in price increases in Canada - Toronto alone has over 81.000 per year in net immigration. Low interest rates play a factor, as do schools and universities.

It's important to note that Canada is one of the most stable governments in the world. The Canadian banking system is more conservative than the US, and encourages saving rather than spending. Note that Canadians cannot deduct interest payments from their taxes, unless it is an investment property - although they pay no capital gains on residential properties. All this information impacts investments in the country.

Read the full article here or click on the photo below.



Richard Silver in Jere Metcalf’s podcast: Keys to Success

Richard Silver in Jere Metcalf’s podcast: Keys to Success

Richard was featured in Jere Metcalf’s “Top real estate agents tell how they do it” podcast talking about real estate business and we have noted some of the great thoughts Richard shared. So, what helps Richard stay on top after 37 years in the business?

1. Teamwork

“4-5 years ago I’ve decided to move towards a team, not a partnership, but a team. And I also took the bold step of not naming it after me, I wanted it to be known as “Torontoism”, because I wanted that when I decide to retire, it could continue on and exist without me or without me being involved day-to-day. I’ve structured the team so that I no longer list anything on my own, I list together with the team members, I never work with a buyer on my own, I always work as a team”

We focused on creating diversity within our team and making sure that we represented a lot of different cultures. The reality is we not only have the different cultures, we also have 10 languages within our team. We have somebody who speaks Mandarin, we have somebody who speaks Cantonese, we have Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, English, French, Ukrainian, Portuguese."

2. Systems, systems, systems…

Richard stresses the importance of systematic approach in any business and one of the systems he likes to use is a CRM system Realvolve. “It basically has workflows developed for every single part of the transaction and it notifies you as an agent as it gives you the list when you get up every morning and it says “ok, today you are going to do this, you are going to do that”. All of these things, and it basically automates and it puts systems into your day-to-day.”

In my history looking back on people who have come to the market and left the market, there were people who are absolutely wonderful but they had no systems, they had no sort of “ok, this is what you do today, this is what you are going to do tomorrow”, so they would have a couple of good sales and then they would disappear for three days, in the meantime everything was falling apart. So being consistent is really important.

3. Work hard and stay consistent

“It’s a matter of just being motivated and keeping that ball rolling, putting your head down…Especially for the new agents. Many people ask: “how do you achieve success?” For the first two years I just put my head down, I went and sought everything that I could: all of the open houses, I met as many people as I could, I set open houses every weekend and I worked myself crazy, just putting my head down and continuing to work.”

I didn’t go in and out, I tried not to be uneven in my workflow, I tried be very even and very dedicated.

4. Imagine you are the client

What would Richard do if he had to start all over again in a new market with only $500 in his pocket? Pretend he was a buyer!

The first thing I would do is to pretend that you are a buyer and pretend that you are a seller and go on the internet and see what is working and see what is not working, see who comes up, see what their deal is. Try and just pretend that you don’t know anyone, you just arrived here: what are you going to do? What are the steps you need to take?

5. Never stop learning

You have to change, our business is always changing, there is always going to be something new, there is always going to be a bright new shiny object, which is something I love about real estate. It’s a whole lifestyle, it’s not just the job.

6. Be the source of information

“Be the source of information, but leave your personal thoughts out of it, don’t get into it, only deal with what you do – you market properties, you’re not a surveyor you’re not a building inspector but you can provide them with the names of the best private bankers, the best immigration lawyers, etc.”

I’m trying to give as much information as possible, so that when the people are looking for information or looking for somebody to help them, they are going to come to you. Don’t be afraid of telling people how you do things, because there is a huge difference between telling people and doing it. I share everything!

You can find the video of the whole interview here.


Richard Silver Featured in Jere Metcalf’s Podcast

Richard Silver Featured in Jere Metcalf’s Podcast

Richard was interviewed by Jere Metcalf on achieving success in business, the lessons he learned about real estate and the art of selling to foreign buyers. 

Richard Silver has been licensed for 37 years and he has seen the industry change and learnt a lot about real estate. When asked about his brightest "aha" moment in real estate business, he shares a great insight:

Don't go crazy with the highs and lows of business. Try to be as level as possible. It is a business with lots of highs and lows, if you with them, you are basically thinking short-term. My biggest question is: "where do I want to be 5 years from now?", "what do I need to do to get there?". 

"There are always going to be things that fall apart and there will be huge successes, and the key is not to get too engaged in each one of those", Richard adds. He also stresses that thinking long-term is what makes a great real estate agent:

The realtors need to be less deal focused than they are experience focused. Not so much on just closing that deal but on having a business for the rest of your life.

Besides his career, Richard was also asked about doing business with foreign buyers, who represent about 30 per cent of his business. One of the things he has learnt from working with foreign buyers is that it is all about negotiation and often you would need to negotiate more than once:

You don’t take it personally. I would tell a client “There is an offer coming in on your property, it’s coming from a foreign buyer, they are going to come in with a very low offer, do not get upset, do not turn your back on it. We will negotiate it, it’s part of the process”. Not negotiating is not an option. 

You can find more advice on selling to foreign buyers here.

Negotiation is often part of the foreign buyer's culture, Richard emphasized. Another cultural point to keep in mind is proper staging:

 We had a property that was very hard to sell and it had to do with the feng shui. So we had a feng shui master come in and he gave us some suggestions. And the next thing we know we sell it within about a week. 

According to Richard, the number one reason for the foreign buyers seeking to move to Canada is education:

Educational opportunities are a must. And you must know where are the good schools, whether they are private or public...And that's the first question they ask:"What are the schools?".

Follow the link to see the video of the whole interview here

Richard Silver: Bill Risser’s The Real Estate Sessions

Richard Silver: Bill Risser’s The Real Estate Sessions

Richard was featured in the 95 episode of Bill Risser's The Real Estate Sessions podcast.

Bill: Welcome to the Real Estate Sessions, a little podcast experiment I started in August 2015, when I interviewed J. Thompson of Zillow, not even knowing if I'd have an episode 2. I love finding out where leaders in our industry come from, and that leads me up to episode 95 and I'm delighted to chat with Richard Silver, Senior Vice President-Sales at SIRC and founder and leader of the Torontoism team, in Toronto, Ontario. I had a real great time with Richard, we were able to attend Glengarry Glen Ross on Broadway, with you, Richard and a few other industry types a few years ago, and I've closely followed what you do, and what you do on your site, with video and your content and it's just been amazing. I'm so excited to talk to you. So Richard, welcome to the podcast!

Richard: Thanks, Bill, happy Friday to you and I look forward to our chat.

Bill: Thank you. I start at the beginning with most of the guests, and I know that you've been in Toronto a long time, but I don't think you were born there?

Richard: No, I was raised out in Alberta and in the interim, I went to university in the United States, Eugene, Oregon. After that I went over to Montreal, I worked there for three years. And then 40 years ago, I ended up in Toronto. I didn't know anybody there and three years later I got into real estate.. The difficult thing at that point was that I really didn't have the influence that a lot of agents would start off with. I didn't know much about Toronto, I had to get out and see as much real estate as I could and I also didn't have friends and family out here. So it was an interesting progression.

Bill: You mentioned Eugene, so you're a Duck?

Richard: Yes, I'm a Duck. I graduated from there. They let me out.

Bill: That's great, that's awesome. I didn't realize you went to school in the States, so that's great.

Richard: Yes, they let me out of Oregon.

Bill: I'm going to guess that you've been in real estate close to, pushing four decades, am I right?

Richard: Yes, 37 years, it is.

Bill: I find that for most people when they're in school, they weren't really dreaming of becoming a realtor, they had some other passion. What was yours? Or was it real estate?

Richard: You know what, I had been sort of a song and dance person, mostly into the dance. I used to do a lot of television, variety shows and things like that. So I was used to being a bit of a performer, but I had always had a love of architecture. I think, while others were reading Playboy, I was probably reading Architecture Digest, so... I was always very, very interested in people's homes, what they did with them, the yard, etc. So that was more my background.

Bill: When you were in Toronto, what was the trigger that got you into real estate?

Richard: I bought a house. I was working with one agent and in those days they basically, they didn't have buyer representation, they didn't have a lot of other things that they do now, this was in 1979. And I was working with one agent I met and he was taking me out and showing a lot of different properties, none were a fit.

And I went to a dinner party, met another person who had a very good reputation and he took us out, he showed us more properties, and one of those properties we bought that same day. I was just so impressed, He continues to be my best friend forty years later, and he also was a wonderful agent, he really had a good sense of the creative part of looking at people, talking to them and then deciding or trying to figure out what is was they would be attracted to. So he's one of these people,  he'll take you out, he'll show you three or four houses and you'll buy because he has a good sense of finding out what is it that is important to you. He has a really good sense of that, that's the creative part of real estate, getting to know people and then trying to make a fit for them.

Bill: So you started in 1980 and technology in 1980 was, we'll call it low-tech in the world of real estate.

Richard: Oh my god, can you imagine a realtor without a cell phone? That was me. I actually bought my first cellphone before the system was even up and running in Toronto.

Bill: You were gonna be ready.

Richard: I was gonna be ready. My friends looked at me and said 'are you crazy, what are you going to do with that thing?' And it was huge at the time, it was, you know you run around with a little case and everything and it was quite something.

Bill: I gathered from just when I met you in NY and followed you online, that you really embrace technology, and you just mentioned it just there - the first guy with a bag phone. So let's fast forward into the 90s when the Internet starts to come around. I'm assuming you were really early in that game too.

Richard: You know, let's go back even farther than that where we had Commodore 64's if you remember those days, Commodore 64's and the very first Apple. So I had one of those and I was very, very lucky. I had a nephew who was fascinated by it and he still continues to work in the computer industry and after a little while of being in real estate, and having a computer or just getting a computer, he turned to me and said - "you know, uncle Richard, I know you keep this little folder and it's got all these names and numbers, addresses and why don't I try and see if I can make a system for you?". so he created me a very, very crude CRM and it was amazing.

And then, of course, I went on to things like Top Producer, and the other ones that are now around for connecting with clients. But this was very, very early on. And then, yes I got involved with the Internet, I just thought that's funny I've always been one of those people who, you know I like to try things so if I see a thing out there and I think it might be helpful to the business, I will give it a try. And certainly, I like anything that is going to save me time and give me more time with clients, family - those I think are the benefits of the Internet and a lot of technology that's out there.

Bill: You embrace learning. Talk about the importance of it for you, of keeping current the way you do. You've been in the business for forty years, there are people you're age who are just getting started..

Richard: I just think you have to be engaged. The people who are not engaged in real estate, no matter what at what age, if you're not engaged through the technology in a business that's so based on technology, I just think you're not going to progress. I've always been one of those people looking for the next new toy. I'm a typical guy, I want a bigger television and I want a bigger computer, and in an essence, that's strange, because everything is getting smaller and smaller.

But I've just always been one of those people who like to look at new things and I've just been very, very, very lucky. I was into the Internet early and had one of the first websites in the city, and my business and real estate and then I got into social media early on, you know as you did. And we just, I think we had a lot of fun. It's funny how now people will come and try and sell us things that we were doing ten years ago.

Bill: That's true. It's fun to watch the stuff you do. Hopefully, you don't get upset with me, but I show your stuff to a lot of people down here. I tell them: "This is the guy to mimic because this is working."

Richard: Especially for an old guy. I'm 68 years old right now, I'll be open and tell everybody that's the age. But you know, I just don't feel like it. I keep myself engaged, I keep myself busy, I'm always out on appointments with clients and I like the technology, and if there is something that I want to develop more, I will go out and I'll push myself to go to an event, to go to a course, join a group. I've been to India twice in the past six months because I know that there is a market there for people who want to buy in a gateway city like Toronto. So I've been to India, I've been to China. Hopefully, the airplanes will be taking my walker as I go and progress, I'll just keep going at it.

Bill: That's great. You mentioned just a second ago about being engaged. When it comes to volunteerism, you are right up there with some of the people I see that are very involved, local level, I guess in Canada there'd be a provincial level. What compelled you to do that, and why is it so important?

Richard: I think I got to the point where I never thought I would be a realtor, never thought I would be successful as a realtor and have the kind of life that that's given me and so I thought that more and more it was time for me to give back. So I got involved in the local board, I was on the committee and eventually, I became a president of that board and I went on to the National board and I've also done some work with NAR in the States, and it's just a matter of I think getting out and back.

I did get to the point, about a year and a half ago, when I said "you know one of these days I'm gonna have to retire and I better get out of this, I better focus on my business a 100 per cent rather than 75 per cent," so what I did is I after 15 years in organized real estate, I said "ok, it's time, just focus on your team and get that up and running and going well."

Bill: I first met you through the world of Inman Connect, and I had a lot of guests on the podcast, so many people we've connected with. So you've attended, and presented at events all over Canada, the US, let's call it the world. I assume these are a part of that ongoing engagement and education you talk about.

Richard: I'm one of these people that get up in the morning and I'm great, I'm good to go. I'm not so good at night, but in the morning I want to go, I want to get out and I want to meet people and do things. So I've been told, that I would go to the opening of an envelope and that's pretty much true.

I will go to lots of events, I like connecting with people, I like learning and I guess I'm a lobbyist in many ways. I find that a lot of these events, yes you learn a lot, there is a lot of education, and hearing how people do things... But you also learn a lot from your time with people, getting caught up and talking to them in the lobbies of these events. I mean, how many great conversations have you and I had, waiting to go in to hear a speaker or sit next to each other, during the break. And that's where you really pick up a lot of information and learn new things. And I'm always happy to learn.

Bill: You're in the phase of your career, where you're thinking about retiring and so, it makes perfect sense that Torontoism came about, the team and so. talk about your process with the team, and how it was formed because want to hear these stories.

Richard: I guess I noticed at least 10-15 years ago, that the team thing might be the way to go, and I had a partner at one point, I had a partner and an assistant at one point, but there's a lot of reasons for me to have created Torontoism. My friend in Miami, Inez, she had a group called Miamism, so she did Miamism and I asked her if she would mind if I borrowed Torontoism and now we have a friend in Oregon, and I don't know what his going to call his... That's a little -ism humour 😀

But about Torontoism... Here's some of my thoughts on teams. I heard some people who are team leaders talk about what they want in their team...I decided that there were things that I could do well and things that I didn't do well, that I didn't really want to do or I didn't have that urge to do them, so I thought the best team for me would be a team of people who are not mini-me's, a team of people who had absolutely different goals or aspirations. We wanted to have the same moral code, that was very very important, but if they were better in condominiums than they were in freehold, or if they were better with sellers than they were with buyers, those are the people I wanted, I didn't want people who were generalists, I wanted them to be a little bit more specific.

And also, because we have such a high diversity in the Toronto area, we have so many different nationalities, so many different cultures, so many different languages, I also wanted to make sure that we were represented, so we have people who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, English, French, Portuguese, so we try and keep the variety there, so we can answer people's requests in different languages and offer information in different languages.

Bill: How do you add someone to the team today? If someone wanted to join Torontoism, how would it work?

Richard: Sure, right now, here's the buildup of our team right now. We're 5 realtors, including me, and I have no intention of having a huge team, but what I wanted is to find another administration person. Because I think and I heard this from other people who are team people, for every three realtors you need one person in the background doing all the technology and all the CMA's and the things for adding to the database etc, because we have a huge database that we keep running.

So we have that one person, she's overworked and we're all working as hard as we can to help her fill in. So right now, what I'm looking for is a bit of a team management, someone who can basically take over more of the day-to-day and a little bit of the technology. And luckily if they had a license, that would be absolutely a blessing, because in Ontario there's a lot of things that you can do if you're not licensed, but there's also a lot of things that you cannot do - any discussions with clients, any presentation at all with clients, you have to be licensed.

And then if I was looking for somebody it would probably be somebody who spoke Persian, you know an Arabic language. I have been looking at somebody now, who speaks Arabic and she's Egyptian and is licensed, so she would be able to fill both of those roles, little bit of organizing us more and the second part would be if we had to translate anything. Right now we can translate into Chinese, to Mandarin, and into Hindi and Punjabi, etc.

Bill: Your website, Torontoism.com, is just spectacular. The local content in there, I show this to people all the time, I go right to the Cabbagetown community page and the images, the photos are spectacular, and the video is just crazy good, that's you talking about where you live because you live in that community.

Richard: That's really important, a lot of the realtors they see these videos and they're talking about themselves and there's always this story to tell and I love hearing the stories, but I think there's also, you know what is it that you like about the area that you're working in, what is it that drives you to that area, I think those videos are really important.

So basically, each of our team members has only a personality video, we also have a video about the area that they like to work in and what kind of clients they like to work with and they also have that on their signature in their emails, so that anytime anyone connects with them, the reply email they get back has these videos to look at, and I think that's really good. And I think the community ones and community events are, they say a lot about you. I do kid and say I'd go to the opening of an envelope, but anything to do with the community, I'm there, I'm there trying to help, I'm there as a volunteer or I'm just there kissing hands and shaking babies 😀

Bill: The buzzword came out a while ago, being hyper-local in your niche, but you've been living that for a long time.

Richard: You have to. People want to know this stuff, they want you to be educated in terms of real estate, but they also want to know where the best place to eat is, what are the best schools. Especially with a lot of foreign buyers, they want the schools. It's all about raising their children, getting their children's education to a high degree. So you have to know a lot about the schools a lot about the universities, about certain places where you can get foods that might be pertinent to a community, whether it's a Chinese community or an Indian community, so where all those services are. It's also quite fun, it's also good business for you... One of the things I like to do is I'd go out and I'd visit a store and I'd do a story about it and then I would tell the person who owns the store that I had done the story about them and then they tell their friends, and it just went back and back and back and it was amazing..

Bill: Let's talk about what you do with video. You have nearly a hundred videos on Torontoism Youtube channel. It's obvious, you were way early on the video game, as a medium to reach out to customers. Talk about the kind of success you had with that.

Richard: It has been wonderful, we get a lot of leads from it. I think a lot of realtors have to understand what their brand is. And then really be true to their brands. If you're going to do a video, make sure it's high definition, don't make it 'here's me and my cell phone,' get a professional out there to do it. I know that it's costly and luckily I work in a high-end marketplace, where the commissions are substantial and I can go ahead and pay for a video for each property or a drone. Certainly, with a country property or any property even in the city, the whole drone thing is absolutely wonderful and I've been a very early adopter of that. A very early adopter of the Matterport.

People are very visual these days, I think people want to see inside the property and have a look around and sometimes it's not physically possible. Sometimes they're in a different country or the husband's at the other side of the country and the wife is there looking at the property and we just facilitate the great photos, great video, and it's a part of the brand that we provide with Torontoism. Even with a house that would need renovations we'll go in and we'll do the video, we'll go in and take the photos. It could be an absolute mess, but I think people need to know what it is they're getting into. Some people would find the fact that it is a mess very attractive. I think video is the way to go and I'm looking to the next shiny object as well.

Bill: It's been the year of video in real estate last six years.

Richard: It has been. It's been at least that since we've been doing videos, at least 6 or 7 years and started the community videos, long time ago. And they've paid off.

Bill: I want to talk about those community videos for a second. They're exquisitely shot. I'm not going to ask for you to tell me how much you pay, but those are not cheap.

Richard: I'll tell you. I work with a guy, he's absolutely great, love him to death, hard to sometimes pin him down. He charges about 1500 for each of those videos. I can tell you that they have been excellent for my business.

Bill: Anyone listening, it's Torontoism.com . Go to those community pages and check them out, they're spectacular, they're kind of like the Gold Standard if that's what you're trying to achieve.

Richard: You need to answer the questions that buyers certainly would have - the great restaurants, is there a place where I could take my dog for a walk and not have to worry about having him on a leash. What are the streets, the shops like.. And I think just, what we always have to do is, oftentimes we have to take ourselves back to what it was like before we knew the city or before we knew the real estate business and we have to look at the terminology we use, we have to look at the things, we have to approach it as if we were the shoppers.

It's very very important that we allow people to experience the city, the country, the housing market as if they had no knowledge of real estate, they had no knowledge of the city and we're the tour leaders. Don't make the assumptions that they know exactly what's going on, what the area is like.. Approach it as they would, or pretend you are the person coming to the town for the first time, and you want to know everything there is to know about a certain area, about the restaurants and shopping, all of that..

And the same thing, when we go to present the agreement of purchase and sale, I think it's very important for us to not assume that the person has been buying and selling houses the way we have for a number of years. They may have a complete other terminology, they don't understand what it is we're talking about, we assume that they do.

Bill: Focus on the customer, not how great of a realtor you are.

Richard: And don't talk about yourself, talk about the area. And you know what, strangely a lot of people say to me, I'm not very good on camera and I go, yeah, but you will be if you're talking about the area not about yourself. Because it's just one of those things that we do every day, we meet people, we tell them about the area, what we like about the area, or even what we don't like about the area. But that sort of honesty is something that all you're doing, you're now doing it in the video, in the writing, that's the way to go with it. It's very important.

Bill: I've had you here for a half an hour and I'll wrap up with the same question I ask every guest. If you can give one piece of advice to an agent just getting started, what would it be?

Richard: My advice would be and has always been - Don't worry about what everybody else is doing, put your head down, work really hard, learn as much as you can, experience as much as you can, do what you do well and what you don't do well, see if you can outsource it. And that would be my thing. I think a lot of agents start in the business and they're very focused on the other people who are the newbies. And my first couple of years, I was always watching did somebody else get a listing, did somebody else sell, don't worry about it, just keep your head down and work hard, and you will do very, very well. Learn as much as you can and again if you find your niche, just keep building on it, because that niche will be your business.

Richard makes #2 of the Top 20 Toronto Realtors On Social Media

Richard makes #2 of the Top 20 Toronto Realtors On Social Media

PropertySpark.com have put together a list of 20 Toronto Real Estate Agents On Social Media and Richard Silver was named number 2. You can find the whole story here.

The Toronto real estate market is booming and so are these Realtors. The use of social media by Toronto real estate agents is growing every day. But, these Toronto Realtors have taken it to a whole other level.

Whether it's with beautiful Instagram pictures of new condos in the city or amazing pictures of homes in the suburbs, these Realtors are winning on social media!

We've gone through hundreds of Toronto real estate agent's social media accounts looking for the best of the best. 

Here is what PropertySpark.com wrote about Richard:

Richard Silver is the leader behind the incredible Torontoism Facebook page and website. This team doesn't only post about real estate, they also share inspiring messages with thousands of their fans. Richard also has a popular Twitter account from which he shares more real estate and inspiring messages. The truly incredible part about Torontoism and Richard is that a lot of their content is actually helpful to other Realtors. They don't just do great work but they share how they do it!

Richard Silver for TorontoStoreys.com: Realtors are here for the long term

Richard Silver for TorontoStoreys.com: Realtors are here for the long term

Richard was interviewed by Aaron Broverman of TorontoStoreys.com about his career as a real estate agent and government intervention in Toronto real estate market. You can find the whole story here.

Richard Silver, former president of the Toronto Real Estate Board and senior vice-president at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, was named one of the top 100 most influential people in real estate — oh, and he once danced with Ginger Rogers.

Richard Silver is the senior vice-president of sales for Sotheby’s International Realty Canada and a former president of the Toronto Real Estate Board in 2011. An expert in international real estate as a certified international real estate specialist, he is the former founding president of the Asian Real Estate Association of America – Toronto Chapter and was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Real Estate” by Inman News in 2013.

A former song and dance man who once performed with Ginger Rogers, now Silver lends his expertise to leading Sotheby’s Torontoism team. On his mind? How Toronto will never be a world-class city as long as its infrastructure doesn’t grow with its population, and why rent control doesn’t really work to reel in housing prices.

How did you get involved with real estate?

Back in 1979, I bought my first house. I was working with an agent who was OK, but then I met an agent who was dynamite and showed me what I wanted in the first afternoon. I was very, very impressed. I was in a career that was very physical. I was a performer, but that same month I hurt my hip, so I couldn’t really do shows. I just decided that in the next break between performances I would take the real estate course. I eventually got my license and in the first month of selling real estate, I made the same money I had made as a performer for the whole year.

What attracted you to the industry?

I’ve always liked houses and I like the fact that you need to be self-motivated.

A lot of people think they won’t have any boss, but the reality is, the number of bosses you have is the number of clients you have. Everybody wants your time, so you have to be there, but you have to provide for everybody.

You have to be very disciplined, you have to be out there connecting with people and it’s all about your relationship with them. It’s a great business to be in.

As the president of the Toronto Real Estate Board in 2011, what was it like getting such a big picture of the city’s real estate market?

You learn a lot. That’s the wonderful thing about being on the Toronto Real Estate Board and about being a director. You learn a ton of stuff about what’s happening in the marketplace. You’re the first one to see the statistics before anybody, you notice the changes and you also get a view of the whole city. Even though it’s called the Toronto Real Estate Board, it’s basically responsible for a lot of sales in the whole GTA.

Can you recommend changes to the city’s municipal government if you’re noticing negative real estate impacts?

You can and they’re very political and it doesn’t mean they’re going to listen to you. You’re always wondering what they want. Part of the problem with the city we’re in right now is there’s a lot of “not in my backyard.” Everyone wants a world-class city. They all want world-class restaurants, sports and entertainment, but they want it to take place in a city that existed 10 or 15 years ago.

We need better transportation and an easier way of approving buildings. Right now, the process in Toronto as it stands is way too long. From the minute a developer buys a property and works through development until it’s actually finished, you go through a lot of stuff that’s redundant.

In Toronto you have the Committee of Adjustment, but you also have the Municipal Board, so it’s like having a mom and a dad. If you can’t get what you want from the mom, you go to the dad.

So the process is too wrapped up in bureaucracy?

It is and longer. They should set some guidelines for each year. Right now, what happens is there are guidelines, but the parents are the perfect analogy. You can go to the mom and the mom says, “No, no we can get you a little bit bigger,” so it keeps on setting new goals.

I know there are a lot of misconceptions about working with a realtor, why do you think that is?

Part of the problem is, just like any field, you’re always judged by your weakest link, so a lot of people judge realtors based on bad experiences with agents who did not act properly. It’s like anything. If I was getting someone to work on my house, I would make sure I did my due diligence, I checked and saw whether they had good references, I would ask people who worked with them before what their reaction was and I would search online. These days you can go online and find out a lot of information. You want a realtor who’s going to act in your best interest. Often times, I’ve blown people away because I say, “I don’t think you should be doing this.” I don’t think you should be buying right now, I think you should be renting right now and in the future.”

You can’t be afraid to tell people your thoughts and it’s important for clients to realize, realtors are there for the long term.

What do you think are the issues that will have the biggest impact on Toronto’s real estate industry in the future?

I think one of the biggest things is always net immigration. In other words, there’s always the drive for people to sell out and move to another area that’s less expensive. But, at the end of the day, the question is are there more people moving to the city than leaving it? You also have the issue of mortgage rates and do prices, because of financing, get out of whack? It’s difficult enough as it is with mortgage rates at two to three and a half percent, but can you imagine those rates going up to five or six percent? How would people be able to afford it? Those are the things that are most concerning. The other thing is

if we want to be a world-class city, we have to invest in things like transportation: subways, roads and bridges. The reality is we’re in this place, there’s not a lot of space — we can go up, but there’s not a lot of space to go out and all the services we have need to be improved.

Aren’t more and more people moving back to the city these days anyway?

Yeah because they don’t want to have to drive into the city all the time. They want to be able to work downtown and have their family downtown. I think we’re going to start seeing larger apartments and more rentals. It will be like New York where people rent in the city and buy in the country because they can’t afford the city. I think you’re going to start seeing larger apartments or smaller ones with three bedrooms rather than just the one.

You’ve been at this a long time. How can realtors become one of the top producers you hear about like yourself?

You have to be prepared to make changes and not stay static with any of your business goals. There are times when there’s new technology, so you have to try the new technology and see if you can make your business more efficient. With the influx of foreign buyers are you going to stay in a very restricted world or are you going to reach out to the foreign buyers? Are you going to have people on your team that speak multiple languages? Are you going to make changes? I think that’s really important. I speak English and French and now I am taking classes in Mandarin. I’ll never speak it, but at least I’ll be able to understand more just to get by. Also, it’s just a sign of respect.

Do you think the province of Ontario and the city of Toronto are doing enough to control housing prices?

I don’t know that you can control housing prices. We were already seeing a lot of people backing off from multiple offers and becoming afraid of the high prices. I get concerned whenever I see government intervention. We had rent controls once before and rent controls have a tendency to stop builders from building rental properties and then you end up with a shortage of rental properties, which drives the rents really high. It’s very popular and everybody likes that they can now get low rents, but what they don’t realize is down the road if rents are not increasing but every other cost is, people who own rental properties are going to go, “This is ridiculous. Why am I doing this? I’m not even covering my costs.” This stops people from building purpose-filled rentals. What they should’ve done is incentivize builders to build purpose-filled rentals.


Richard Silver for OREA | Real estate teams: Are they right for you?

Richard Silver for OREA | Real estate teams: Are they right for you?

Richard was recently interviewed for the OREA EDGE newsletter about the team approach in real estate, together with Melanie Piche who runs the BREL Team at Toronto’s Sage Real Estate in partnership with her husband, Brendan Powell. Here is an excerpt from the article, but you can find the  whole article here.

Richard Silver, who has worked in Toronto real estate for more than 37 years, is the Torontoism team lead and vice-president of sales at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. He is part of a seven-member team comprising five Realtors and two support staff. He believes in the team model because “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Everyone brings different strengths. Each of us is better at something than others. Some people speak a different language. Our team contains different cohorts, Baby Boomers and Millennials, and they all provide different viewpoints.

Silver believes that in a successful team, members learn from one another and feed off one another’s ideas and energy. “We learn from the strengths of others, as well as from their guidance when problems arise,” he says. "Each of us is different and we celebrate our diversity.”

Silver employed a coach to help the team get organized, determine responsibilities and settle on the method of compensation. He believes the smooth running of the team flows from that approach.

I choose to share all my leads with the team and no longer solely represent anyone. I also wanted their compensation to be high so they would not be tempted to leave and go out on their own.

Real estate is a competitive business, but neither team has had much internal conflict. Silver’s team members are careful not to step on one another’s toes. Silver says the team can always turn to management at the brokerage if it encounters a problem that seems insurmountable.

Although Realtors are often viewed as rugged individualists, both sources say it is possible for real estate salespeople to work and thrive in teams if the right conditions are present.

People who can’t work as part of a team are the same people who might also have problems in an office environment. If it is all about you, don’t choose to be part of a team. Our team members have come to depend on each other and, for the most part, have become social friends, as well as business friends.

Keys to team success:

  • Realize that you’re in it for the long haul; it’s not just about getting one deal done.
  • If you’re thinking of joining a team, talk to the other team members and get a complete picture. Ask in-depth questions.
  • In considering a team, see what the track record is and the longevity of members.
  • Be sure that both the team and its affiliated brokerage are a good fit for you.
  • Remember, it’s not all about what you can get. What do you bring that can make the team better?
  • Consider hiring a coach or finding a mentor when you are starting a team so you can avoid painful mistakes.
  • Put people with complementary skills together on your team. The complexity of the market today means no single individual is an expert on every type of property or aspect of the business.

Originally posted in the EDGE newsletter and OREA site, by Elaine Smith.


Richard for WealthBar: How First Time Buyers Can Get Into the Housing Market

Richard for WealthBar: How First Time Buyers Can Get Into the Housing Market

Richard was interviewed for WealthBar’s Life & Money section, which offers practical advice for Canadians at every stage of their financial journey. The topic was how first time buyers can enter the housing market.

When it comes to preparing yourself to enter the housing market, a lot of it is about creativity. You need to be creative with your money, if you're a first-time buyer, you need to be imaginative, when it comes to choosing the neighbourhood that fits your needs and you need to able to look ahead when it comes to choosing the property. The latter might be the most important. 

Are you handy? Be prepared to put in some sweat equity

"When you are new to the market, try and look for properties where you can add value," said Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Senior VP of Sales Richard Silver, past president of the Toronto Real Estate Board. "Stop searching for the perfect house and buy the imperfect house."

Put those DIY skills to good use, or get a reliable contractor who can help you fix up your property cost-effectively. "Finish the basement, add a third floor, or make other improvements. Buy under what you can afford and add value."

Read the whole article by Jonathon Narvey here.


Richard for the Globe and Mail: Ontario’s lack of foreign-buyer data sparks concern about a Toronto housing crisis

Richard for the Globe and Mail: Ontario’s lack of foreign-buyer data sparks concern about a Toronto housing crisis

 ‘Up! Up! Up!”

That’s where Toronto’s real estate market is heading, according to a Chinese-language promotional article posted last month on Fang.com, a Beijing-based web portal that lists thousands of homes for sale in countries around the world.

“You will really cry if you still don’t buy,” the same posting blares.

Toronto has become the “dark horse” of the Canadian real estate market, asserts Haifangbest.com, another site jammed with Canadian home listings. It contrasts Vancouver’s continuing drop in prices with a prediction that Toronto-area homes will rise 8 per cent in value this year.

In the months since British Columbia began taxing international buyers 15-per-cent extra on homes in and around Vancouver, those marketing Canadian real estate overseas have shifted their focus to Toronto. Last year, Toronto overtook Vancouver to become the most sought-after Canadian city for Chinese home buyers searching the property listing service Juwai.com, peaking in August just after British Columbia announced the tax aimed at curbing the public outrage over skyrocketing prices. Searches for properties in Toronto proper now surpass the total inquiries for Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa combined.

Richard Silver, a Sotheby’s realtor and past president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, estimates close to 20 per cent of his clients are international buyers – from China, India and the Middle East – interested in the luxury condos and houses he sells in and around the downtown core.

Prospective clients he talked to on his latest business trip to East Asia, just over a year ago, were curious to learn more about the city.

“When I’ve gone to China, people ask me the difference with Vancouver and I say, ‘Toronto’s where you make the money, Vancouver’s where you spend the money.’”

Anecdotes abound throughout the Greater Toronto Area, notably in places such as Markham, describing international buyers calling their realtors from overseas to bid tens of thousands of dollars over asking price to secure a new home.

Despite fears that foreign speculators are juicing the region’s already-booming real estate market, it is impossible to know what impact international capital is having because no official data are being collected.

Read the whole article here.


Richard for Mansion Global: Toronto’s Healthy Luxury Real Estate Market Predicted to Carry Over to 2017

Richard for Mansion Global: Toronto’s Healthy Luxury Real Estate Market Predicted to Carry Over to 2017

Mansion Global quoted Richard Silver in one of their recent articles about Toronto's luxury housing market. Here are a few of the most important points from the article. And you can find the full version here. 

By Becky Strum. Originally posted on Mansion Global, February 15, 2017

Toronto's housing market has been experiencing a strong price growth over the last few years, thanks to tight inventory, population growth and low interest rate. According to TREB, Toronto saw the strongest sales increase of any other Canadian city in 2016. And while the average price was 20 per cent higher in December 2016 than the year before, the luxury market experienced a 32 per cent increase in prices. 

“We have a lack of inventory, and like a lot of cities, like New York and Chicago, there’s only so much space for new developments,” Richard said. “There are a lot more people coming into the market than there are people leaving the market.”

What neighbourhoods are considered to be Toronto's luxury market?  

Well, there C02, also known as Toronto's "posh" district, located north of Queen’s Park and the beautiful 19th-century building housing Toronto’s legislative assembly, and includes Yorkville. Then there is the Annex, Rosedale and Moore Park. And outside the city centre, you have

the C12 - the most expensive district in the Greater Toronto Area, with an average sales price of $2.5 million, according to TREB. It includes posh neighborhoods like Lawrence Park, Windfields and a collection of estate-lined blocks called the Bridle Path, residents of which have included late singer Prince and former newspaper mogul Conrad Black. The neighborhood was also used to film the home of “Mean Girls” queen bee Regina George. 

“In that area there are massive houses selling for huge prices. That seems to be very popular for those who want an acre or two-acre estates,” said Richard.

This is the district with the fastest growing prices. The average sale price has increased by 31 per cent since 2014, and the median sales price has jumped by 40 per cent, according to TREB.

Local buyers are fueling the growth 

Taimur Khan, a senior analyst at Knight Frank says that "local buyers have fueled most of the growth thus far, though foreign investors have played a role at the top of the market—particularly those taking advantage of the weaker Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar and dollar-backed currencies."

In 2016, 55 per cent of sales to non-resident foreign buyers in the GTA, including suburbs, were sales of a primary residence for a family member. A lot of parents from China or Saudi Arabia for example, invested in properties for their kids who attend universities in the GTA, or bought them as second homes for themselves.

However, the Mansion Global writes that "the significance of foreign buyers in Toronto is much more limited than in fellow cosmopolitan, luxury hubs like New York or London, experts said. Foreigners accounted for only 5% of the city’s home buyers in 2016, with the average home costing them just under $1 million, according to TREB."

When Vancouver's Foreigners' Tax was implemented at the end of 2016, some suggested it will bring more foreign investors to Toronto. TREB says there is no evidence to support these suggestions, but it's actually local buyers who have driven Toronto's strong price growth, thank's to city's strong economy, low levels of unemployment and low interest rates.


Richard for CBC News: Foreign home buyers love Toronto for the schools

Richard for CBC News: Foreign home buyers love Toronto for the schools

Richard Silver, a Sotheby's realtor and past Toronto Real Estate Board president who works with foreign buyers, told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway that most of his foreign clients are coming to Toronto for educational and business opportunities, not just to park their money offshore, and that a foreign buyer tax would be a bad idea.

TREB is making a concerted effort to lobby against a possible foreign buyer tax on homes in Ontario, arguing that such a tax would be 'misguided' when just 4.9 per cent of its member agents acted on behalf a foreign buyer in 2016.

But Silver also said TREB's figure significantly understates the proportion of foreign buyers in the GTA, as it only captures home resales — not sales of new construction.

Matt Galloway: Who are the foreign buyers that you're working with?

Richard Silver: You know, it changes. Right now we have been doing a lot of business with Asia, with people from mainland China. What we've done is, we work for a very international company, we've gone out and added people to our team who speak Mandarin. We've gone to Asia three times, I'm about go to Delhi again for a weekend conference in a couple of weeks. You have to go out, you have to meet people, you have to understand their sensitivities, what's driving them to buy.

A lot of it focuses on the education. So having great education in the city of Toronto, both in the post-secondary and secondary, I think is very, very important, because that's what they're looking for.

MG: Language skills are one thing. Going there is something different. What do you learn about who the potential buyers are when you're actually on the ground in those countries?

RS: It's really from the questions. A lot of people have the questions about … they know about Toronto, they know about Vancouver, they want to know which is the city that you should buy in. They want to know mostly about education. Seriously, you have to have an idea of the ratings of all of the private schools, the public schools, the universities. And you can know that those are the locations that people are going to be looking in. It has to be accessible to a university or a private school or a very well-rated public school.

MG: So the belief that you're seeing is that people actually want to live here.

RS: Oh, definitely.

MG: Because in Vancouver, one of the huge problems that people pointed to is that this was essentially money that's being parked offshore, that people were coming, buying properties, the properties are empty, it led to empty neighbourhoods, empty buildings, we've seen this happening all around the world. That's not what you are seeing?

RS: I think that that is probably part of the case, not in the case that we deal with, we deal with people who are really coming here … you know, sometimes we have to decide, what is a foreign buyer? Is a foreign buyer somebody who's already applied for and got their permanent residency? And, is it because they want their children educated in Canada?

We see a lot of husbands continuing to work in mainland China, they send their wife and their children to Toronto so their kids can go to university here. And after university, there's an automatic three-year work permit that goes with being a foreign student in Canada. So that is an option that you wouldn't get in other countries.

MG: So based on that, and the business that you're doing, how much of a presence do you think foreign buyers are in this city's market right now?

RS: Well, remember that the statistic from the Toronto Real Estate Board is about five per cent — they say 4.9 per cent. And I wouldn't disagree with that, in that that is what the agents are dealing with who deal mostly with resale. Toronto Real Estate Board figures are resale buyers. They're not people who are buying new construction.

So I would think that there's also a lot of investment in the new construction. And in that new construction, the buildings that are being built, Toronto Real Estate Board doesn't get that information very much from the builders, it's not reported on the Toronto Real Estate Board. So, I would say there's probably another five to ten per cent there that's definitely foreign buyers.


MG: Now this is interesting, because it's a point of dispute. The real estate board in Greater Vancouver said that foreign buyers made up something like four per cent of transactions in that city. Sales have slowed dramatically since the foreign buyers tax came in. So how do you explain that, if it's only four per cent in Vancouver?

RS: Well, I don't think it's dissimilar in Toronto as well, from the board viewpoint, because the board deals with resales, they don't deal with builder projects.

MG: And that's the discrepancy?

RS: And that's the discrepancy, I think. I think if you were to add the two, you'd come up with a higher figure. But the ones the Toronto Real Estate Board deals with, the ones we deal with in our market place, are people who have come basically for schooling. They've come because Toronto is the centre of arts and culture, and they can speak their own language.

MG: What has it done to affordability in this city? Because in Vancouver, people pointed — and this led to accusations of xenophobia and more, but people point the finger and say, 'the market is being torqued because of offshore money coming in.'

RS: Part of the problem is, when you travel around the world and you look at the other G8 countries and you go to the main cities that those countries are led by economically, our prices are very, very low in comparison …

MG: That's cold comfort, though, to people who can't afford to get into our market.

RS: It is, but there's always … I remember buying my first house, I lived in a house and there were seven or eight people living in the house with me, and I bought that house, and they were paying me rent, and it was just one of those things that we did. You need to get into the marketplace at any point, and these days people are getting into the marketplace in condominiums, smaller condominiums.

MG: There have been calls for Ontario to introduce a foreign buyers tax like the one in British Columbia. What would that do to the people that you're working with?

RS: You know, it wouldn't do much, and I think that's the same problem in Vancouver. I think what it will do is, and I think what is happening is, Vancouver and B.C. are going to start feeling the effects of the tax more in terms of building, in terms of construction, in terms of lumber, in terms of finishing, carpentry and everything. I think that is really going to hurt their economy, and it's already starting, they're already starting to see that. I would really not suggest it in Ontario as well.

MG: Are you seeing buyers who are looking at Toronto because of what's happening in B.C.?

RS: Not as much … to me, Vancouver is a completely different city. I always say, Toronto is the place where you come and make your money, Vancouver's where you go and spend your money. You know, it's absolutely beautiful, there's lots of recreation around it. Toronto's a place very focused on business. And I think for certain groups, that's going to be very prominent for them. They want to be where the business is.


Toronto Star Clarifies the Confusion Around Foreign Buyers

Toronto Star Clarifies the Confusion Around Foreign Buyers

The Toronto Real Estate Board says 4.9% of transactions involve foreign buyers. But some fear the number is low.

As Toronto area housing prices have soared, so too has conjecture about the role of foreign property buyers in driving up the market.

When the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) released data on Tuesday showing only 4.9 per cent of transactions in the region involved offshore buyers, it was presented as proof that a lack of housing supply — not foreign buyers — is behind the region's rocketing market.

But that hasn't stopped the sceptics from questioning the figure.

Those who doubt TREB's findings compare Toronto's situation to Vancouver where they say the real estate industry underestimated the level of foreign ownership until a crisis in housing affordability prompted the government to step in with a tax that appears to have had dramatic results.

Vancouver sales were down about 40 per cent in January, compared to the same month last year. They were 10 per cent below the region's 10-year January average.

Toronto's Realosophy president John Pasalis is among those who fear the Vancouver experience is happening here.

"Most agents' biggest concern is obviously not immigrants. It's the fact that when you have wealthy non-residents using homes as a safety deposit box it's not good,” he said. “It drives up house prices in Toronto and makes everything unaffordable."

If things don't settle down in another year, he fears that local buyers will feel completely cut out of the market because they can't afford to buy anything.

That could fuel the kind of emotional populist movement being seen in the U.S. with the election of President Donald Trump, said Pasalis.

He also doesn't set much store by TREB's Ipsos poll of about 3,500 member agents. That's fewer than 10 per cent of the 47,000 board members — 80 per cent of whom sell fewer than six properties a year, he said.

"What TREB sought to do was get the ball rolling in terms of getting actual information because to date we haven't had any actual empirical information," said Jason Mercer, the board's director of market analysis.

"If you look at the housing market in the GTA today and see the fact that active listings at the end of December 2016 were half of what they were at the end of December 2015, I think it's pretty difficult (not) to say that the real issue underlying price growth is the lack of inventory," Mercer said.

"Our hope is that the results of this survey can certainly provide a benchmark and we'd be happy to see other organizations undertake their own research," said Mercer.

But for now, TREB's 4.9 per cent is the only new number available. The federal government has budgeted $500,000 for Statistics Canada to develop methods for gathering data on foreign ownership. It has also convened a working group of government and the banking and housing sectors in Ontario and B.C.

But there's no word on when any hard numbers will be available. A government spokesperson would only say that the results of the work will be announced once it is finalized.


Ipsos vice-president Sean Simpson isn't entirely surprised that his TREB poll findings are being questioned.

He cites an unrelated Ipsos study that tested the accuracy of Canadians' perceptions of their country. It showed Canadians believed 24 per cent of the population is Muslim. In reality, it is 3 per cent.

The finding that only 4.9 per cent of transactions involved foreign buyers "is in stark contrast to the conjecture and speculation that is out there," said Simpson.

"We build up in our mind that things are a certain way when, in reality, they simply aren't. I think that is the case here with the foreign buyers situation," he said.

He also doesn't believe that the respondents could have skewed their answers, even if they had an interest in keeping the number of foreign transactions low to ward off a potential Vancouver-style tax that might sideswipe the GTA housing market.

"Would they lowball it? I'm not necessarily sure they would know to what end we were asking the questions," he said.

The subject of foreign property investment has gained momentum for the same reason real estate discussions hijack dinner party conversation. It's the craziness of the market, said William Strange, professor of business economics at U of T's Rotman School of Management.

He is glad someone has finally started collecting numbers. But Strange says he has a lot of questions:

  • Would the realtors surveyed necessarily know whether the purchasers were actually overseas buyers, or people moving around the country or region? Would they know where a buyer is in the Canadian immigration process?
  • How many purchases don't involve agents? Many developers wouldn't necessarily use local realtors to market properties to foreign buyers.
  • How do you get a more accurate picture given privacy laws and the reality that many deals are cash, so even mortgage information wouldn't provide a full picture?

And Strange notes there's something contradictory in the real estate board's assertion that the 4.9 per cent is a relatively low number, at the same time it’s warning the number is high enough that a tax or policy intervention could distort the market by affecting communities outside the city or reducing the already scarce supply of Toronto rentals.

Pasalis says 4.9 per cent doesn't reflect what he sees and hears from busy Toronto agents.

One of those is Richard Silver, a Sotheby's agent, who has re-tooled his practice to go after the massive overseas market in China and India. He said that foreign transactions account for 20 to 30 per cent of his business.

His office has introduced Mandarin classes and he is preparing for a trip to India to attend an international real estate conference.

But Silver said the 4.9 per cent for foreign transactions sounds about right, given that most residential agents don't have the same kind of niche business. He stressed that he doesn't believe that foreign ownership will lead to streets of empty homes in the GTA.

"The people who normally come and buy, they're not people who flip. They come and reside in the property and hold it. They're not speculating," said Silver.

"Most of the people we deal with are coming here to live — they're coming here because they're putting their kids through school. It's all about education for the most part."

Originally published on TheStar.com - The Toronto Star website.

Written by Tess Kalinowski.


Richard on the front page of the Globe and Mail

Richard on the front page of the Globe and Mail

B.C. Government's decision to implement a new 15 per cent tax on Vancouver area residential properties bought by people without permanent residency is the hot topic in Canadian real estate world these days. It's scary when government's get involved in the market and it's even scarier when they implement the decision in a week!

Richard has talked to Tamsin McMahon of The Globe and Mail and shared his views of the situation and what this could mean for the Toronto market. The article got featured on the home page!

Globe2Go  The Globe and Mail Metro Ontario Edition  5 Aug 2016  Page 1 1
Globe2Go The Globe and Mail Metro Ontario Edition 5 Aug 2016 Page 1 1

If Toronto does not go the way of the tax, yes you are going to get more people coming to Toronto.

Mr. Silver is monitoring a handful of deals involving sales of overseas buyers in the Toronto area that are not set to close until later in the fall.

My sellers who have sold their properties to offshore buyers are going to be nervous. I would suggest to any politician right now: Let’s see what happens with Vancouver because it doesn’t make sense to go down the road [of a foreign-buyers tax] and then all of a sudden have to completely turn and pull back on it.

Both Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa have said they will be closely watching the effects of B.C.’s tax, which came with little warning. In an effort to get ahead of the debate, the Toronto Real Estate Board, which opposes a tax, has said it plans to publish the results of a survey of its membership to gauge the extent of foreign investment in the Greater Toronto Area.

The increased focus on international investment in Canada’s housing market comes as prices for detached homes in the City of Toronto rose 20.7 per cent in July, to an average of more than $1.2-million. In the suburban “905” region, prices for average detached homes hit $888,565, up almost 22 per cent from last July.

The market frenzy was not limited to detached properties. Townhouses and semi-detached homes also saw double-digit annualized price gains in July. Condo prices rose more than 9 per cent from the same month last year, to $406,865. Average resale condo prices jumped 13 per cent in the 905 region and 8.2 per cent in the 416 area.

Even as the number of house sales rose slightly in July from the same month last year, resale listings fell almost 14 per cent in Toronto and dropped slightly more than 3 per cent in the suburbs. A severe shortage of listings in the face of strong demand has some industry observers urging local governments to increase housing supply rather than restrict foreign investment. “Housing policy is now top of mind for all levels of government,” said board president Larry Cerqua in a statement. “Policy-makers need to be focusing on solutions to the sustained lack of low-rise inventory throughout the GTA.”

Homeowners are cautious about selling and becoming buyers in Toronto’s hyper-competitive market, exacerbating the shortage of homes for sales, Mr. Silver said

There are not a lot of listings and part of the reason is prices are very high. If you don’t have to buy, then you don’t move. So even though prices have gone up, there’s a lot of people who are in a holding pattern.

Read the whole article here.  


Richard talks about BC Tax for NextHome.yp.ca

Richard talks about BC Tax for NextHome.yp.ca

 Foreign buyers’ tax in Toronto? Please, no

In the light of the recent events in BC, Richard was approached by Wayne Karl of the Yellow Pages Next Home, to share his thoughts on the situation.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

Now that BC has introduced a 15-per-cent foreign buyers’ tax intended to calm real estate purchases by non-Canadian residents, speculation is rampant that similar legislation is on its to Ontario – or more specifically, Toronto.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, part of the committee announced by Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau in June to look for ways to improve housing affordability in Canada’s hottest markets, has said he will be looking at the effectiveness of BC’s, as a possible measure to address eroding affordability in Toronto.

And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeated that tackling affordable housing is on his agenda.

But like their counterparts in Vancouver, realtors in Toronto want nothing to do with such action.

I don’t know there was a need for it in Vancouver, as their market was already softening for the past three months,” Richard Silver, senior vice-president, sales, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, told YPNextHome. “If you were to do this in Toronto, people would move to the suburbs even more. We need to keep an eye on what will happen in Vancouver as it may not solve the problem but create others. What happens to the ancillary industries if the building market shuts down? My concern is that this was a knee-jerk reaction for a political agenda not enough research.”


“Knee-jerk” is also how the realty industry in Vancouver feels about the BC government’s action.

“Housing affordability concerns all of us who live in the region,” says the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. “Implementing a new real estate tax, however, with just eight days’ notice and no consultation with the professionals who serve home buyers and sellers every day, needlessly injects uncertainty into the market.”

Silver foresees similar challenges in Toronto, should a foreign buyers’ tax be implemented there.

“There could be major repercussion to builders who have sold units in buildings to offshore buyers, who will now have to pay 15 per cent more than they agreed upon. You could have floors of buildings walking from their deposits rather than closing. Very little good ever comes from knee-jerk political involvement in any marketplace. This ‘solution’ could cause a large number of unforeseen issues, and I don’t think enough research was done before implementing.”

Read the whole article HERE.