WATERLOO — A ragtag line of chairs — patio and folding, plastic and metal — stretches down the sidewalk in front of the new home sales office.
Each one is occupied by a prospective buyer, family member or realtor, hoping to get their hands on a yet-to-be built single detached home.
The lineup, 23 strong by late Monday afternoon, began early Sunday morning. The lots don’t go on sale until Saturday.
Think this scene is playing out in the Toronto area, where demand for real estate seems insatiable?
Try the west side of Waterloo, where news that Fusion Homes will be releasing 20 lots in the Vista Hills subdivision has sparked a lineup days in advance.
Nghe Huynh was first, staking out his spot before sunrise on Sunday.
He and his family are renting in the Toronto area, but he’s been looking to move for about two years.
“We cannot afford a house in the GTA,” he said. But in Waterloo, “the price is still reasonable and allows me to purchase.”
He’s quite familiar with the Fusion development; when he saw that a line had formed in advance of the release of Fusion lots last weekend at Explorers Walk in Kitchener, he decided he’d better not miss his chance in Vista Hills. He spent Sunday night in his vehicle, his spot marked by the first chair in line.
Huynh said his three children want to go to a Waterloo Region school for their post-secondary education. He said he was lining up “for my children’s future.”
Bob Ye, who lives in a Waterloo condo with his family, said he’s been hoping to purchase a larger home in the area for three years.
“I want to change to a bit bigger house,” he said. But skyrocketing prices for both new and resale homes are limiting his options.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I hope the government can control the price,” he said.
New mortgage rules recently introduced by the federal government look to cool off overheated markets like Toronto and Vancouver, but could serve to make it harder for first-time homebuyers to purchase a home.
With little inventory available in the local resale market, and with Toronto-area prices pushing more and more buyers further afield, these kinds of lineups for new homes may soon be commonplace in Waterloo Region.
“We have seen lineups forming at our last few releases in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Guelph, and each time the lines continue to form earlier. This speaks volumes to the commitment of our clients to Fusion Homes, as well as to a high demand from the market in general,” chief executive officer Lee Piccoli said in a statement.
Following this release of 36, 40 and 50-foot lots, Fusion expects to release 17 more 50-foot lots in Vista Hills at some point.
Fusion staff were keeping a list of prospective customers and the order in which they arrived, to ensure no one tried to cut in line. A notice posted on the office door said that realtors waiting on behalf of a client could not hold more than one spot, and that the client must be on hand at the time of reservation.
Some local builders, though, say this level of desperation among buyers isn’t warranted.
“We have lots available now,” in the Wellesley area, said Tony VanDeCamp of VanDeCamp Custom Homes. “Drive 10 minutes west … I don’t get why they’d be willing to do this.”