Toronto-condo-boom Photo: James Bombales

The following is a guest post by Roy Bhandari at TalkCondo. TalkCondo gives clients access to the best Toronto pre-construction condominium investments.

Most of our clients are investors looking for the best opportunities to purchase a pre-construction condominium and there are a variety of factors in play to get the best deal. While a good developer, location and value are all important, buying at the wrong time can be one of the costliest mistakes you can make. It is vitally important to understand how timing plays a major role in getting the best prices and deals in the Toronto condo market.

1. Understanding How Developers Launch Condominium Projects

Before we delve into the best season or month to buy, it’s important to understand how a developer would launch their condominium project and the impact on pricing throughout the launch cycle.

The condominium launch cycle is one of the pre-construction condominium industry’s worst kept secrets. It is essentially the playbook that many developers follow to launch their condominium projects and to maximize their profits with multiple launches aimed at different groups. In a nutshell, the earlier that you purchase in the sales cycle, the better price and incentives that you are afforded.

Below is a basic model graph of a fictitious condominium launch highlighting the price increases at the various stages of launching.

pre-construction-condo-launch-model

This graph shows a very simplified model of how a developer may launch their condominium project. The different launches that you see are typically (but not always) how the developers roll out to the real estate broker community. The earlier launches are for real estate brokers that have a track record and focus on selling pre-construction condominiums, and as you get through the different launches, the developers are opening up to larger groups of brokers, and increasing the price along the way.

(So yes, there is some truth to the “VVVVIP” pre-construction condominium agent!)

2. How Does the Condo Launch Cycle Work in the Real World?

The chart above is just a model of how a developer may launch a project, so we took this one step further and wanted to see how this looked in real life and how developers increase their pricing over time.

We took three random projects located in popular neighbourhoods in Toronto (the Downtown Core, Yonge and Eglinton and the Entertainment District) and mapped out the prices of a 500 square feet (or the closest available) at each of the different launches and graphed them below.

pre-construction-launch-vs-real-life-examples

This graph gives a real life twist on the model to show how developers actually increase prices over time. All three graphs show an upward trend (although, some more than others) but they all point to one conclusion: for the best deal in pre-construction condos, it is better to buy earlier in the launch cycle

3. When Do Developers Launch Their Condominium Projects?

So how does this tie into the original question of “when is the best month to buy a pre-construction condo?” The answer ties very closely to WHEN a new condominium launches (or as we call them, their “Initial Public Offering” or “IPO”), since we have already established that the launch tends to be the best opportunity to purchase.

Launching a condominium is expensive business, and developers take the timing of their launch very seriously. They want to launch when the market is the most active and the most buyers and investors are looking to purchase.

We went back as far as we could (January 2011) to look at when developers choose to launch their condominium projects to see if we could make any generalizations. The results are graphed below.

new-condo-launch-by-month

The graph above tells a very strong story.

  • There are certainly consistencies over the years when developers DO and DO NOT launch their condominiums
  • Developers are less likely to launch their projects (and in turn, you are less likely to get the best prices) in: January, July, August and December
  • Developers are most likely to launch projects in: May, September and October
  • The spring and fall are the two most popular seasons for a developer to launch their condominium project

In our experience, there also tends to be a knock on effect of new condominium launches, with nearby projects offering increased incentives to win your business from the new projects that have all the fanfare.

4. Do You Practice What You Preach?

To see if our hypothesis from above matched reality, we took a look internally at our own statistics over the last five years. Since we are always on the lookout for the best deals and promotions for our clients, it stands to reason that we would see heightened sales activity at the times that we believe offer the best opportunities for buyers (or during the condo launch periods highlighted above).

Our internal statistics track hundreds of sales and we broke the sales down monthly as a percentage of the annual sales.

talkcondo-sales-percentages-by-month

Immediately, the graph gives us a couple of take-aways:

  • Our sales graphs line up closely with the launch cycles, with low activity in July, August and December and January (except one bumper year in 2014)
  • Heightened activity in heated condo launch markets: spring and fall

Based on the information above, we believe that it is important to follow the condo launches in order to get the best deals. Not only are new projects offering their best prices, but nearby projects may offer more incentives to win your business.

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