Toronto, ON

Years as a commercial broker: 30
Sales volume in 2015: $63 million
Totals deals in 2015: 16

CMP: You’ve been in the commercial brokerage business 30 years now. How is 2016 going, business-wise?

Carl Lavoie: Year-to-date, I’m on $96 million for loan volume from 10 deals.

CMP: Have you ever been involved with the residential side of the business?

CL: I started off as a residential lender with Bank of America in the ’70s.

CMP: What are the main differences between the two?

CL: You deal with businesses rather than individuals, so the dollar figures are higher with commercial deals. When you’re buying a house, you’re doing it for your family, while a professional investor is simply thinking about the dollars. I think both of them are very stressful, though.

CMP: You’re based in Toronto. Is most of your business in the GTA?

CL: It’s all over Canada, but I would say 80% of my business is in the GTA.

CMP: Does the talk of a bubble worry you?

CL: Real estate does not always go up – we saw that in the ’80s, the early ’90s, the early 2000s. In the early ’90s, real estate values dropped for two main reasons: overbuilding in the ’80s, and the major reason was that liquidity dried up. The restructuring of worldwide banking by the BIS meant that lenders stopped lending, and then we had a bubble.

But right now we have so much money in the system. Private individuals are sitting on tons of money. The elderly have tons of money, and that is going to be petering down through inheritance. Also overseas investment from places like China – I am currently negotiating a deal with an investment buyer; he is coming to Canada to buy a $100 million portfolio.

CMP: Foreign investment has been a major factor in Vancouver’s market getting so hot. Is the same happening in Toronto?

CL: Sure. And it’s not only from China, either, but the Middle East, Mexico, Europe, the US.

CMP: Why do foreign buyers see Toronto property as a good investment?

CL: It’s stable and it’s growing. The population growth in Toronto is 5% to 10% every year because of migration. It’s what Richard Florida calls a city-state. Certainly the GTA, including Kitchener/Waterloo, is one of those nodes that competes favourably with anywhere in the world.

CMP: What other targets or goals do you have for 2016?

CL: I’m paid by fees I generate ... so I would like do at least 10% more than last year.

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