Arsh Syed, Real Estate Agent & Founder at Real Estate in Toronto

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Global Property Markets Risk 30-Year Downturn: Home Purchase Taxes, COVID-19 Impact

WorldWideHousingCrises home purchase taxes

In 2020, the U.K. government decreased home purchase taxes to help the market recover from COVID-19. Buyers went crazy, bidding up average prices by £31,000 (US$35,000)—more than triple the maximum tax savings.

The government stated it would eliminate a tax exemption for couples buying property, which led to a boom in demand and the housing market crashed toward the end of the 1980s. After that, the market went into a severe decline that wouldn’t end for almost nine years.

The worldwide housing market crisis may be worse than 30 years ago!

The worldwide housing market crisis may be worse than 30 years ago!

According to estimates by industry experts, there will be a 14% drop in property values over the next three years. That would return real values to 2013. Bloomberg Economics predicts a 10% decline next year. Property markets worldwide are showing signs of 30-year-old downturns.

In the years after the housing bubble burst, home prices in Australia, Canada, and Sweden, which were hit the hardest, reached all-time highs. This was because rising values and low mortgage rates made it possible for people to buy homes again. Inflation has risen dramatically, and central banks are working hard to bring it down.

Interest rates are rising quickly, ending the era of free money since the 2008 global financial crisis. It affects household wealth and economic growth at a time when many countries face recession.

“There are similarities between now and then.  However, rising inflation might make things worse. Debt has grown significantly since then. Interest rate increases are highly sensitive.”

Here we compare and contrast some of the most important events that have taken place then and now in countries where property is at risk or is currently in a downswing.


As you go from Toronto’s main airport toward the downturn, you will pass homes built during the “quick money” era.

This is typical of the condo-fueled boom in the city in the 1980s, which finally ended and caused values to collapse. Back then, as it is now, inflation was going up, and to stop it, interest rates had to go up a lot. In 1990, mortgage rates exceeded 13%, and Toronto’s housing market plunged into a deep freeze that lasted for years. Sales dropped, and prices lost more than a fifth of their worth until dropping out in 1996.

The economy is in better health today. But after almost 25 years of prices going up almost every year, Toronto is once again unstable, and the cost of living is like it was during the bubble in the late 1980s. 

If this correction is the first of its kind, the number of homes sold on the country level could drop even more than they did from peak to trough in the early 1990s.

When COVID hit, people ran away to the suburbs and cities outside of Toronto. This led to the most intense rumors in these places.

The benchmark price in Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario, has dropped 16% in the last six months, and by 14% in the nearby suburbs of Oakville and Milton, which are home to many people working in finance.

However, costs are still much greater than they were prior to the pandemic, suggesting further price drops are possible.


Unfinished housing developments show how bad the real estate market in China is. Buyers are paying for homes that are not yet ready to live in. This year, homebuyers threatened to boycott their mortgage payments as a result of this.

The S&P Global Ratings agency believes that developers have paused building on almost two million previously sold but uncompleted homes. This reminds us of the real estate crash that happened 30 years ago on Hainan Island, which is often called “China’s Hawaii” because it is a tropical vacation spot.

In the 1980s, when it was one of the first regions in China to liberalize its economy, it attracted migrants looking for work, and the area became a hotspot for real estate developers. Soho China Ltd.’s founder, Pan Shiyi, was among the first wave of Chinese property moguls spawned by this surge in demand.

Between 1989 and 1992, home values more than tripled, but the boom collapsed the following year as Beijing tightened monetary policy and financing for the market. It was stated at the time by the local media that over 600 buildings had been left vacant.

Over the past three years, China has used very similar strategies to try to rein in its rapid economic growth. The government has asked banks to lower the rates they charge for mortgage loans, which has made it harder to get money. Many defaults occurred, and now there are millions of square feet of incomplete construction.

The State Council stepped in to help settle unfinished projects in 1999, with one solution being to convert a portion of the sites into subsidized housing for low-income workers. The government has moved to this strategy by granting special loans totaling 200 billion yuan (about US$28 billion) to restart housing projects that had been halted.

A “housing bubble” is possible, and it’s not just the West that’s having real estate issues; China now has some of its own.

Many analysts are optimistic that the housing market downturn won’t get any worse and that the stimulus will begin to take effect this year or next, but few predict a rapid recovery. But actions by the government and the expected gradual lifting of COVID restrictions could help the market find support.


Although house prices in Australia rose sharply during the pandemic, the market has now reversed due to the central bank’s decision to raise its benchmark interest rate by 250 basis points in a matter of months.

The drop in property values now is worse than the ones in the early 1980s and early 1990s.

The combined capital index, which measures changes in property values across Australia’s eight largest cities, fell 5.5% over the course of the last five months. Home prices dropped by 2.9% during the recession of the 1990s. Sydney’s situation is even more dire, with prices having dropped for eight months in a row and currently being nine percent below their peak.

In 1994, the year with the fastest increase in interest rates, there were two different market downturns: one following the price boom of 1989, and a second following the subsequent increase in interest rates. Both of these choices are currently open to us.

It is a worldwide concern that family budgets are tight, not just in Australia. In the 1990s, the debt-to-income ratio was approximately 70%; today, it is 187%.

While the economy and job market are robust, families are much more sensitive to the cost of debt than they were during previous recessions.


Sweden experiences a comparable circumstance. Although real estate prices climbed significantly during the pandemic, this year’s sharp surge in interest rates from 0% to 1.75 % has hampered the market.

When interest rates go up, it affects commercial real estate companies that have a lot of debt, and when housing prices go down, it reminds people of the financial crisis of the 1990s.

At the time, rising interest rates caused a commercial real estate bubble that had been fed by looser credit rules to burst. Due to the crash’s knock-on effects, Sweden went into a crisis that sent public debt and unemployment through the roof and led to the government taking over troubled private banks.

Even if officials are worried, there are measures that could prevent future accidents from occurring. In the 1990s, there were no limits on lending, so commercial property owners have cut their debt by a lot.

Household borrowing carries a high risk, with debt-to-income ratios exceeding 200 percent, up from 150 percent before the global financial crisis.

United Kingdom

To get the market in the UK moving again, the Conservative government has cut stamp duty rates again.

This was revealed as part of a large tax cut, some of which was later canceled. This caused panic on the U.K. markets. Bond yields went up, which made mortgage rates go even higher, and some lenders pulled their mortgage products from the market.

With this setting, it will be hard to increase demand, which, according to the property website Zoopla, has dropped by 20% since the so-called mini budget and is now at its lowest point since the start of the pandemic.

The steep repricing of mortgages — with rates unseen in more than a decade and a sharp decline in affordability — may “shock buyers and freeze housing activity until rates normalize at least a bit and buyers readjust their expectations.”

Before the stamp duty drop, property values fell if the Bank of England’s base rate increased above 2.5%. It is expected to rise to 3% by the beginning of the month, from 2.25 percent currently. This month has the highest fixed-rate mortgage average since March 2003.

The current economic shock is like the one in the early 1990s, when interest rates went up, home prices went down, and it took longer for the economy to recover.

It is becoming clear that the economy is unstable. Experts in the field say that prices have dropped by more than £4,000 in ten of the city’s 33 municipalities since February. Real estate is another global asset that would be negatively affected by the Federal Reserve and other central banks. Under pressure, investors sell, resulting in a price decline.

If you have been considering Buying, Selling, or Renting your home or have avoided the notion due to a negative experience, let Arsh Syed, a Real Estate Agent in Toronto, manage the transaction.

His experience and understanding have been indispensable. He desires Toronto’s housing crisis to improve. He wants to establish relationships and spread the word about his exceptional service, increasing the likelihood that renters and property owners would place their faith in him.

Arsh wants property owners to know that by hiring him, they are drastically reducing risks, saving time and saving money.

For further information about his services, please visit or contact (416) 844-2217


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