The who’s who of Canadian real estate descended on downtown Toronto yesterday for the industry’s premier convention.

The BUZZ Conference ‘GAMECHANGER 2024’ took over the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex for a day of inspiring presentations, motivational speeches, and unparalleled networking.

From the future of proptech to perspectives on pre-con, industry leaders offered insights on the state of the market and what to expect as 2024 unfolds. Joyce Paron, CEO of EXIT Realty, Richard Silver, Senior Vice President, Sales at Sotheby's International Realty Canada, and Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, were amongst the many heavyweights who graced the stage.

The Buzz Conference at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex

The Buzz Conference at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex

Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage Canada, and Christopher Alexander, President of RE/MAX Canada — the Title Sponsor of the BUZZ Conference — sat down with Karen Yolevski, COO of Royal LePage Canada, for a conversation that touched on the supply crisis, high taxes, and when sidelines buyers will return to the market.

"Shelter is a need," Soper told the crowd. "And the only way you can solve the need is by building more houses. So the good news is, us collectively as an industry, have gotten the word out to all levels of government — municipal, provincial, and federal — that the housing affordability question is not going to be solved with taxes."

He went on to say that the real solve is construction. "And," he continued, "I think everybody in the room knows that’s not going to happen in the medium-term. Not in the rest of this decade. We have a housing shortage that will put uncomfortably upward pressure on prices."

Joyce Paron 9EXIT Realty

From left to right: Karen Yolevski (Royal LePage Canada), Phil Soper (Royal LePage Canada), and Christopher Alexander (RE/MAX Canada).

Alexander said that shortage, along with life events like marriage and divorce, will lead to a more active market this year than last, noting, "You can’t put your plans on hold forever."

Soper added that the first time homebuyers who were largely absent over the last two years will make their move in 2024, as they "Have the capacity to buy; they’re just afraid." And this prophesied rush will precede the Bank of Canada’s interest rate cuts, with the flood gates opening once buyers see home prices and transaction volumes start to rise, likely later in February.

Benjamin Tal, Managing Director and Deputy Chief Economist at CIBC Capital Markets.

The market revival discourse was continued by Benjamin Tal, Managing Director and Deputy Chief Economist at CIBC Capital Markets, who also provided an update on economic conditions.

"I see a lot of smiling faces. And if you are smiling now, you will be smiling forever because you went through hell in 2023," Tal said. "The worst year is over."

"The next few months will still be a challenge. The spring will start seeing a recovery. The fall will be strong, led by the low-rise. In 2025 we see the condo space entering the party. From a longe-term perspective this market is extremely tight. We simply don’t have the supply, and the demand is growing and growing… we cannot build fast enough."

From left to right: Stefani Konidis (Sotheby's International Realty Canada), Tania Artenois (OREA), and Tim Hudak (OREA)

From left to right: Justin Konikow (Prime Real Estate Brokerage), Wasim Jarrah (Keller Williams Realty), Nick Regina (Spark Financial Group), and Cliff Rego (Corcoran Horizon Realty)

Jon Cheplak

A series of panels and discussions provided the audience with expert advice on how to boost business, cultivate community, and build relationships. Amongst those who shared their knowledge were Storm Fletcher, VP of Business Development at Richard Robbins International, Nick Regina, CEO and Founder of Spark Financial Group, and Ryan Serravalle, CEO of REVEL Realty. An uplifting keynote speech was given by US-based real estate leadership coach Jon Cheplak.

"I'm excited for commitment. I'm excited for positivity. There's been so much struggle. Most human beings, when there’s struggle or the market changes, they get paralyzed. So when you get in a room like this, these events, these are the people that aren't paralyzed," Cheplak told STOREYS following his speech.

"These are the fast action takers. These are the ones that that dig in. They want to hear the truth and they're going to act on it. And that's what's important for our industry to carry forward."