In Toronto, house down payments are a family affair

In Toronto, house down payments are a family affair

Tina Shier is planning on helping her daughter Vanessa get into the real estate market by using some of the proceeds of the sale of her three-bedroom detached home near Avenue Road and Lawrence Avenue. The mother and daughter sat down with Matt Galloway on CBC Radio's Metro Morning to chat about their decision. 

Tina Shier (mother): We bought the house in the mid-80s. At that time it was a buyer's market and we had lots of choice. Prices at that point in time were very good, albeit we did stretch our budget to get the house we did. We paid $229,000.

Vanessa Shier (daughter): It makes me nauseous!

Matt Galloway: Tina, you're in the process of selling. What do you think about the investment you made?

Tina: I don't think it was in our wildest dreams when we bought our house 30-some odd years ago that the market would have done what it has done. It's great. It's like winning the lottery.

Matt: Vanessa, you've been looking for a home for a few months. What is it like to try to buy now?

Vanessa: It's so challenging. You have to [be ready to] go $25 - $50,000 dollars above your limit and you also have to make a decision within a week if you want to buy it or not, which is so stressful because it's such a big purchase, you don't want to make that decision overnight.

Matt: Could you afford to buy in the market without parental help?

Vanessa: It's the down payment that's the hardest part for sure. And that's what they are helping us with.

Tina: It's the old adage, it's always good to own real estate. It's help for our daughter and her boyfriend to make that step into real estate.

Matt: What is it like for you to watch Vanessa try to buy a place here?

Tina: It's sad to see that it's such a challenge for young people to try to do what they want to do, really, because of the market prices.

Matt: Vanessa, what kind of pressure did you have to put on your family to get them to help? Or maybe you didn't have to put any pressure on them at all.

Vanessa: It helps that I'm an only child because there's only me they have to worry about.

Tina: (laughing) She's not spoiled!

Vanessa: It helped for me knowing that they already had somewhere to go, they didn't have to buy something else, so there was some money there. I was so nervous to first ask, but when I asked they were more than happy to.

Matt: And they've been watching you try and get into the market?

Vanessa: I've been looking, our realtor's been helping and they just saw me constantly looking, seeing how a one-bedroom here in an area that we wanted was well over $400,000, not to mention that they don't include parking spots. I think all of my sighs and gasps… they heard.

Matt: How envious are your friends?

Vanessa: Every week I go and play beach volleyball. And that's all we talk about, is real estate and how it's so challenging for anybody my age to get into the market. One friend of mine is looking out in Waterloo now because it's just so challenging and difficult. We've made our search all the way out to Whitby.

Matt: Tina, as a long time Torontonian, are you worried that we as a city are losing something because it's so expensive to live here?

Tina: People who might make Toronto vibrant who can't come to the city because you can't afford to come. Young people have to replace us older people, you can't have a dying city.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.