Windsor woman stuck renting despite preapproval for $450K home

·4 min read
Cristina Conciatori of Windsor, Ont., says she's stuck renting despite being approved to purchase a home worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, because bidding wars are making homeownership unaffordable. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC - image credit)
Cristina Conciatori of Windsor, Ont., says she's stuck renting despite being approved to purchase a home worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, because bidding wars are making homeownership unaffordable. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC - image credit)

A Windsor, Ont., woman who's a former homeowner says blind bidding wars have become so out of control that she's been priced out of the market and has no choice but to rent — despite being preapproved for a $450,000 home.

Last year, Cristina Conciatori sold her home at a price she figured would allow her to purchase a new one. In fact, she also had 20 per cent (or $90,000) on hand for a down payment.

But the search for a four-bedroom home for herself and her three children did not pan out. Blind bidding wars have left her unable to afford anything listed at or below $450,000, since homes end up being sold for much more.

In October, Conciatori sold her home for $460,000, some of it going toward mortgage penalties. She said that at the time, she wasn't aware how "crazy" the market had become.

"I didn't want to end up buying a house and not be able to sell mine, not realizing that it is a seller's marker and I could've easily sold my home. I just didn't realize it at the time."

The average home sale price has increased by 60 per cent between April 2020 and April 2021, according to LC Platinum Realty.
The average home sale price has increased by 60 per cent between April 2020 and April 2021, according to LC Platinum Realty.(Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Conciatori spent the next five months trying to find a place to live.

"Unfortunately, all of the homes that we were interested in are way beyond our budget, even though maybe two or three years ago, they would've been well within our budget," she said, adding that "the listing prices really meant nothing."

I have a really good job, I have a good down payment and I have a preapproval and I still wasn't able to find a home. - Cristina Conciatori

"Every house we went to with a list price in my budget went for well over the budget. We were unable to find a home."

Going from owning home to being a renter, she said, has been "very unsettling."

"I have a really good job, I have a good down payment and I have a preapproval, and I still wasn't able to find a home.

"I think one of the issues is being a single-income earner. It just really cuts your your buying potential. I got a divorce 10 years ago and, at the time, I had no issues buying. I found a home in LaSalle, which was beautiful — five bedrooms and I paid $247K."

She estimates that home is worth "probably $600,000" today.

"I regret selling that home. But it's too late. You can't look back."

Prof says bidding wars require transparency

The average sale price of a Windsor home has increased a whopping 60 per cent throughout the past year, according to a new report from the Windsor-Essex County Association of REALTORS — going from $356,444 in April 2020 to $571,943 in the same month this year.

Part of the rise has to do with bidding wars becoming a major obstacle for buyers, according to a real estate management professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, who added the result is affordability "shrinking all across Canada."

Murtaza Haider, professor of real estate management at Ryerson University in Toronto, says more transparency is needed in the real estate market.
Murtaza Haider, professor of real estate management at Ryerson University in Toronto, says more transparency is needed in the real estate market.(Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"The bidding wars are a big challenge in a way that they are legal, where a seller and the seller's agent underprice a property and list it below the market value to attract people," said Murtaza Haider.

Blind bids mean buyers make offers without knowing what else is on the table.

Haider said more transparency is needed.

"Forcing the winning bidder to pay 100, 200, 300 more than the second highest is not in the best interest of the winning bid and also for the entire system because prices will be inflated," he said, adding families are getting priced out of the market more than ever before.

Conciatori said she's waiting for her children — ages 19, 22 and 24 — to move out so she can buy something smaller sometime in the future. But the home-searching experience has left her feeling unhappy and uneasy about the future.

One important goal of being a homeowner again is to have something her children can inherit.

"I feel like, by renting, I have nothing to leave them," said Conciatori. "I feel like I'm throwing my money away."