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Home reno

Home construction and renovation the largest contributor to Canada’s underground economy

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Home construction and renovation the largest contributor to Canada’s underground economy

Home reno

Looking to custom-build a home or do your dream renovation – and save a few bucks by using unlicensed contractors? One, you’re not alone. And two, it could be a huge, costly mistake. Indeed, residential construction is by far the largest contributor to Canada’s underground economy, according to Statistics Canada. In 2016, this sector was responsible for 26.6 per cent – or $13.7 billion – of this activity, compared to 13.5 per cent for the retail trade, and 12.1 per cent for accommodation and food services.

The underground economy is defined as consisting of market-based economic activities, whether legal or illegal, that escape measurement because of their hidden, illegal or informal nature.

And the numbers are huge – totaling $51.6 billion in Canada for 2016, or 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product, and up 3.5 per cent from 2015.

The underground economy in Canada is even outperforming the total economy – increasing 3.5 per cent from 2015 to 2016, compared to the 2.0 per cent growth in total economy GDP.

Underground economy by province and territory

Ontario was responsible for the largest contribution in 2016 – $19.7 billion, compared to $11.9 million in Quebec, $7.6 billion in BC and $5.8 billion in Alberta.


As a percentage of GDP

PEI 3.1
Quebec 3.0
BC 2.9
Manitoba 2.6
Nova Scotia 2.6
Yukon 2.6
New Brunswick 2.5
Ontario 2.5
Saskatchewan 2.5
Nfld. 2.1
Alberta 1.9
NWT 1.1
Nunavut 0.8


Why you should care

Why should you care about this issue?

On a more global scale, underground economic activity means taxes are not collected – topay for programs and services such as healthcare, education, parks, child benefits, Old Age Security and Employment Insurance.

More directly for you, however, is that an “under the table” home reno or custom-build puts you at risk. Not only do you have limited recourse if the project is not done to your liking, or is over time and budget, but you could also could be liable if a worker is injured on-site during a home renovation or if you unknowingly purchase damaged goods or shoddy service with no receipt.

Always get a contract or receipt

Cash deals with no paperwork may mean a business isn’t paying its taxes. You may be liable if something goes wrong.

RenoMark protection

In the Greater Toronto Area, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) helps homeowners make informed decisions about renovation projects through a program called RenoMark. The program was established in 2001 and is now delivered in partnership with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) and local home builders’ associations across Canada.

RenoMark identifies professional contractors who have agreed to abide by a renovation-specific Code of Conduct. The Renovators Mark of Excellence makes it easy for homeowners to identify participating professional renovators who have agreed to provide a superior level of service.

Get it in writing

Make sure to get the details of any reno project in writing and signed by both you and your contractor. RenoMark Renovators provide a two-year warranty.

Do your research

Ask for at least three references and always check them

By dealing with reputable businesses that follow the rules, you’re also helping workers. Honest businesses follow health, safety and other employment standards.

The Canadian Home Builder’s Association also offers free and unbiased information on how to hire a contractor the smart and safe way, at getitinwriting.ca


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Understanding Development Charges

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Understanding Development Charges

The purchase price of a new home is comprised of many components – a significant portion of which is a tax referred to as Development Charges (DCs).

According to recent Altus Group statistics prepared for the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), Development Charges account for more than 20 per cent of new home prices in the GTA. The average new single-family home includes about $186,000 in DCs. These are one-time fees imposed by municipalities on land developers, homebuilders and institutions when they build within their boundaries.

The idea behind these fees is to help defray the costs to provide the additional infrastructure that is or will be needed to accommodate the increase in population from the new developments.

People typically think of infrastructure as roads and sewers, but Development Charges also go toward a variety of amenities that benefit entire communities.

Development Charges are protected by legislation. In 2016, Bill 73, the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, came into effect to help ensure predictability and accountability of municipalities, help them fund growth, protect greenspaces and ease the planning/appeals process. These steps were taken to improve on the Development Charges Act that was implemented in Ontario in 1989.

Municipalities conduct studies to determine what services and infrastructure will be required in the future to accommodate growth. Through the mechanism of a bylaw, they have the ability to determine fees that can be used to pay for hard and/or soft services. Hard services include items such as roads, water and waste management. Examples of soft services are libraries, parks and recreation centres. A simple way to think of this system is that growth pays for growth.

The Neighbourhoods of Cardinal Point in Whitchurch-Stouffville.

A good example of how Development Charges are applied is in the growing Midhurst area in the Township of Springwater, Simcoe County, where Geranium has land holdings in the Doran Road and Carson Road communities. The DCs on new homes built here will help with the creation of a comprehensive new parks and recreation master plan offering an exciting array of facilities and amenities. These will include neighbourhood parks, ball diamonds, splash pads, trails, tennis courts, picnic pavilions, a multi-purpose recreation centre with a twin-pad arena, curling rink, community centres and potentially more. In addition, these funds will pave the way for expansion on critical services such as fire and police protection. When delivered, these substantial amenities will result in a higher quality of life for residents of the area, whether current or future.

Municipalities experiencing growth have a limited number of tools at their disposal to raise funds to support the aforementioned hard and soft services. Voters do not like it when their political representatives raise property taxes, so development charges often bear the brunt of costs associated with growth. This explains why they account for 20 per cent of the price of a home in the GTA.

Families buying a new home are often drawn to it because of the surrounding neighbourhood and the opportunities to enjoy parks and trails, recreation facilities and community centres. These amenities are provided, repaired and maintained partly as the result of Development Charges.

Shauna Dudding is senior vice-president, development for Geranium. Since 1977, the company has built more than 8,000 homes throughout Ontario. Geranium.com


In His Own Words: Paying More Than Our Fair Share



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Millennials Pic

Vast majority of GTA Millennials fear buying a home is out of reach, poll says

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Vast majority of GTA Millennials fear buying a home is out of reach, poll says

Millennials Pic

There is great concern among GTA Millennials that they will be unable to afford a home, according to a new poll from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). 

The fear goes deeper, as GTA residents also expressed a lack of confidence about the likelihood their children will be able to remain in the communities where they grew up.

“According to a recent Centre for Urban Research and Land Development study, there are about 730,000 Millennials living in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area who may be planning to move on from living in their parents’ homes and from sharing a dwelling with roommates in the next 10 years, potentially creating 500,000 new households,” says Dave Wilkes, BILD President and CEO.


When considering the issues in the municipal elections on Oct. 22, GTA residents say they are concerned with the ability of today’s youth to afford a home in the GTA, including:

  • 94 per cent of respondents between the ages of 18 to 35
  • 84 per cent of respondents between the ages of 35 to 54
  • 80 per cent of respondents age 55 plus
  • 88 per cent of women and 82 per cent of men

Interestingly, although Millennials are concerned about the ability to own a home, they are also the most optimistic group regarding housing supply, with 41 per cent of them believing that the GTA is well prepared to provide housing for the number of new residents that settle here every year. This is substantially higher than those age 35 to 54 (31 per cent) and those over 55 (27 per cent).

GTA residents are pessimistic in terms of their ability to achieve home ownership, as well as their children’s future abilities to afford homes in their communities. There is also a consensus among residents that the GTA has an inadequate supply of affordable housing being built, or that the city will be able to accommodate the 115,000 new residents that enter every year.

Source: 2018 Ipsos
Source: 2018 Ipsos

When picking a new home, 60 per cent of GTA residents say they value a neighbourhood that is walkable and bikeable, in addition to being within proximity to shopping, entertainment and government services. This is closely followed by those who prefer access to convenient transit (56 per cent) and proximity to work and school (54 per cent).

Nearly seven out of 10 respondents feel that their children will be unable to afford a home in the community where they grew up. These respondents agrees it is important for young families to be able to afford to live and work within the GTA without having to deal with long commutes.

When asked, “To what extent do you strongly or somewhat agree or disagree with the following”:

  • 92 per cent agree that the dream of home ownership is becoming more difficult to achieve for young people living in my city
  • 86 per cent agree that it is important that young families can afford to live and work within the GTA without having to commute over an hour to get to work
  • 39 per cent agree that there are enough homes being built in my city to help keep housing affordable
  • 33 per cent agree that the GTA is well prepared to provide housing for roughly 115,000 new residents that settle here each year
  • 33 per cent agree that my children (or my friends’ children) will be able to afford a home in my community when they grow up



The best public policy is proactive, not reactive,” says Garry Bhaura, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board. “We hope these poll results demonstrate that the time for municipal decision-makers to start thinking about housing choice and supply for all GTA residents who want to own a home is now.”

“In the next decade, we are likely to be part of a significant housing shift in our region, as a large wave of Millennials start looking for a place to live of their own,” adds Wilkes. “Add the estimated 115,000 new residents that come to the GTA every year, and the area will see itself in a housing crisis. I urge voters and candidates to learn more about BILD’s recommendations at buildforgrowth.ca.”

“With a municipal election just a few short weeks away, the public has an opportunity to ask candidates to commit to policies that will make it easier to fill their housing needs,” says John DiMichele, chief executive officer of TREB. “GTA homebuyers do not have adequate choice in housing available for sale or rent, and municipal government policy is one of the key reasons.

DiMichele suggests GTA residents visit UnlockMyHousingOptions.ca to send messages to candidates.


Build For Growth: Housing Affordability

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Housing sector calls on Queen’s Park to take immediate action to address home affordability



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GTA New home market

GTA new home market quiet in August

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GTA new home market quiet in August

GTA New home market

August was a quiet month for the GTA new home market, as buyers waited on the sidelines, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

There were 974 total new home sales in August, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. Single-family home sales, with 171 detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were up 50 per cent from last August but down 80 per cent from the 10-year average. Condominiums in low, medium and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units accounted for 803 new home sales, down one per cent from August 2017 and down 28 per cent from the 10-year average.

August’s sales numbers should not be interpreted as a sign that there is a shortage of interested buyers in the GTA, according to Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “Pent-up demand is forming, which suggests we should see sales start to firm up this fall.”


Many potential new-home buyers are taking a wait-and-see approach due to the effects of government interventions to cool the housing market and concerns about the future direction of the economy, says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “Once the market adjusts and more people start looking for homes, our region’s short supply of housing will mean that affordability will continue to be a challenge for many new-home buyers.”

In August, the benchmark price of new condominiums rose to $784,512, up 21.8 per cent over the last 12 months. The benchmark price of new single-family homes was $1.12 million, down 12.4 per cent over the last year.

With only two projects opening in August, the remaining new home inventory decreased to 13,619 units, comprising 8,842 condo units and 4,777 single-family units. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings.


To truly solve the challenges facing the GTA housing market, Wilkes says, governments need to address the supply side of the equation. “Municipal governments, in particular, can make a big difference. Ahead of the municipal elections in the GTA, BILD has been talking to municipal leaders and residents about straightforward steps that municipalities can take to increase housing supply, including making sure that government charges on new homes are fair, funding and building critical infrastructure, cutting red tape and speeding up building permits and inspections.

“Voters can find out more and send an email to their local candidates at buildforgrowth.ca.”


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Love new home development Web

One reason to LOVE new home development

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One reason to LOVE new home development

Love new home development Web

by Wayne Karl

Sure, everyone understands the need for new home development – homes, condos, infrastructure and other neighbourhood amenities.

They just don’t want it too close to them – the so-called “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) syndrome.

The latest indication comes from a joint poll from The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). Last week, the bodies issued the results of a poll – as the Oct. 22 municipal election nears – to shed some light on voters’ priorities.


“(The) poll data clearly showed that housing affordability and supply are key issues for GTA residents,” says Garry Bhaura, TREB president. “Residents expect municipal politicians to tackle these issues in the upcoming election.”

Poll results show that building more new homes is seen, overwhelmingly, as a critical part of the solution to housing affordability in the GTA. However, overcoming resistance to change and “not in my backyard” sentiment in existing neighbourhoods is a huge barrier that municipal leaders can help overcome by taking a leadership role.


  • 87 per cent of respondents indicated that it is important to build new homes in the GTA as a means toward addressing the issue of housing affordability
  • GTA residents across all areas expressed this importance, including those living in York Region (87 per cent), Toronto (88 per cent), Peel Region (87 per cent), Durham Region (88 per cent) and Halton Region (81 per cent)
  • Those living in the 416 (88 per cent) feel slightly more strongly about the importance of new builds versus those in the 905 (86 per cent)

Opposition to new home construction is show to increase with proximity and density.

  • 30 per cent say they oppose the building of a new single family detached home within a half kilometre of their home
  • 37 per cent say they oppose the building of a new townhouse development within a half kilometre of their home
  • 44 per cent say they oppose the building of a stacked townhouse development (defined as middle-density housing) within a half kilometre of their home
  • 49 per cent say they oppose the building of a small condo apartment building (defined as middle-density housing) within a half kilometre of their home
  • 52 per cent say they oppose the building of a mid-rise condo apartment building (defined as middle-density housing) within a half kilometre of their home
  • 59 per cent say they oppose the building of a highrise condo apartment within a half kilometre of their home


This is not exactly a new sentiment. BILD and others in the industry have been speaking out on this issue, literally for years.


One factor homeowners might overlook, however, is the potential positive impact such developments can have, particularly on the value of their homes.

“The construction of new homes can have several impacts on the average home price,” says Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research & Consulting Inc., Toronto. “It often replaces older retail, commercial space or single-family residential units, which can improve the quality and perception of a neighbourhood, driving up values.

Studies also show that development of new transit and highway infrastructure – often accomplished in concert with new home development – can also boost property values.

The more attractive an area becomes in terms of location, the higher the value of nearby homes. As the demand for homes in that area expands, value appreciation is often a natural result.

Research shows that properties located within 500 to 800 metres of stations of new transportation lines can experience a 10- to 20-per-cent enhancement of real estate values.

Wayne Karl is Senior Digital Editor at Homes Publishing Group. wayne.karl@homesmag.com


THE LAWYER: NIMBYism and politics: a bad combination

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Home Builder: Our Neighbourhoods Are Intensifying As The GTA Grows Up and Not Out




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THE INDUSTRY LEADER: Where did the money go?

THE INDUSTRY LEADER: Where did the money go?

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THE INDUSTRY LEADER: Where did the money go?

by Dave Wilkes

Parkland dedication fees should be used to build parks in the GTA.

Did you realize that when you sell and buy a new home in the GTA, as much as a quarter of the price consists of fees, taxes and charges imposed by the three levels of government?

Given how much these government levies add to the cost, it makes sense that we want governments to be responsible and transparent about how the funds are spent. Unfortunately, this is not always the case — and new homebuyers may be left wondering: “Where did the money go?”

One example is the parkland dedication fee. Ontario’s Planning Act allows municipalities to require that each new development contribute land for a park, or pay a fee to be used to purchase parkland, or to pay for buildings and machinery for parks or other recreational purposes. The idea behind parkland dedication is that adding new homes and offices applies additional pressures on existing parks, which can be relieved by asking development to contribute new ones.

Our industry supports the expansion of parkland in the GTA to accommodate growth. Parks provide enjoyment and recreation for residents, workers and visitors, as well as habitat for wildlife. But what happens when you pay for a park and don’t get one? We question whether parkland fees are always invested properly.

The City of Toronto, for instance, requires that a residential development in a parkland acquisition priority area — which covers most of the city — contribute 0.4 hectares per 300 units, with a cap of 10 to 20 per cent of the site area, or payment in lieu. Because development sites in the city tend to be small, many developments contribute money instead of land. This parkland fee can add almost $20,000 to the cost of a new highrise condo suite unit in Toronto. And parkland fees are even higher in other municipalities in the GTA.

According to an 2017 report from city staff, Toronto collected $482,930,013 cash-in-lieu-of-parkland payments from residential and industrial development for the 10 years between 2006 and September 2016. As of the end of September 2016, $196,454,624 in the city’s parkland reserve funds remained uncommitted. Shouldn’t this money actually be used for parkland acquisition and development? The city needs a realistic plan for how they are going to spend the money and provide residents with the parks they paid for.

Now there’s a proposal to update the rate of cash-in-lieu-of-parkland in many areas where significant development is happening — including the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood, and downtown Toronto. All of the proposed formulas would increase costs for new homeowners, further eroding housing affordability in the city. When you pay for a park, you should get one, or you should at least know how the money will be spent. All government fees imposed on new homeowners should be invested in a transparent and responsible manner. The upcoming municipal elections are a great opportunity to contact your local candidates about this and other housing issues.

Go to buildforgrowth.ca for more information.

David Wilkes is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, Facebook, BILD’s official blog, and bildgta.ca.


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THE ANALYST : Premier Ford: Seven steps to housing affordability

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THE ANALYST : Premier Ford: Seven steps to housing affordability

By Andrew Brethour
PMA Realty

It’s early in the mandate, but here are seven steps to relieving the price pressure and improving housing affordability in the GTA that Ontario Premier Doug Ford should consider. None of these ideas are quick fixes and each will require careful examination and implementation over several years. It took us 15 years to get into the untenable position we find ourselves in today and it will take a while to turn the “affordable ship” around.


Supply, Supply, Supply

The last year of the housing supply study coordinated by our firm, PMA Realty, in consultation with CMHC, the Ministry of Housing and BILD was in 2003. The study was completed annually from 1997 and created a databank of net residual residential land supply covering 37 municipalities in the GTA. The total number of lots (low density) and units (high density) were identified as in process, at draft stage and in registered plans of subdivision. All zoned land was included but not yet identified.

Provincial policy at the time was to maintain a three-year supply in these three noted categories. Today, 15 years later, we have a three-month supply. The province introduced the growth plan in 2004 but never did an economic impact statement. In 2004, a serviced 40-foot lot sold for $2,500 per front foot, or $100,000. Today, that same lot — if you can find one — sells for $20,000 per front foot, or $800,000. This reckless and irresponsible escalation in the underlying price of land was driven mostly by provincial policy, not consumer demand.

Mr. Premier, step one is to re-institute the annual land supply analysis and clearly determine the current and projected supply of lots and units in the now Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. By 2030, only 12 years from now, population growth is projected to move from six million to nearly nine million people. Without a barometer of supply, growth will stagnate and go elsewhere.


Approval Process

The approval process takes too long and is too costly, further affecting affordability. Mr. Premier, review, streamline and deregulate the approval process. The GTA must compete on a North American, even global, basis for new employment opportunities. Many southern U.S. cities where growth is comparable to the GTA take a matter of months from land purchase to approval for construction. In the GTHA, it is an average of more than 10 years. Provincial policy should be set at a maximum of three years.

Mr. Premier, that is your challenge.


Rent Controls

Mr. Premier, much has been written, studied, reviewed and “controlled” in rental housing, yet these controls have not produced more rental stock but, in fact, less. And the existing stock is crumbling.

Yet the divide between the “protected consumer” and the purpose-built rental developer is not that far apart. Rent controls were reset last year in the fair housing plan at an annual increase limit of 2 per cent. Rental buildings are financed over a 20 to 30 year project life period. An extra 1.5 per cent in annual rental increase would make the difference between thousands of projects being cancelled and thousands being built.

Mr. Premier, allow annual rent increases to rise to 3.5 per cent and you will be amazed at the amount of rental activity that will produce.


Hidden Taxes

The tax component of a new home was recently outlined in an excellent C.D. Howe Institute study — over $100,000 per unit in Ontario and over $150,000 per unit in the GTA. If we truly want greater affordability, it can be delivered with lower taxes and greater supply. As sales volumes have declined drastically in the last two years, the municipalities’ response to declining revenue is to increase the development charge. A Catch 22 when it comes to affordability.

Mr. Premier, examine municipalities’ ability to finance infrastructure with an underlying purpose to reducing taxes on new construction. Let’s look for alternatives. One might look at sewer and water infrastructure, currently financed by 30 to 40 per cent of the development charges on new homes. The real cost, in fact, subsidizes existing homeowners. Raise sewer and water rates on all housing to properly reflect the cost, which in turn will lead to greater conservation and more affordable new housing.


Replace the OMB

Mr. Premier, the new system introduced in the dying days of the Wynne government eliminated the OMB and replaced it with a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), where “not in it in my backyard” reigns supreme. This will further delay the approval process. Create a Provincial Dispute Resolution Panel with the oversight to look at the “bigger picture,” the provincial vision for housing density and affordability.

Mr. Premier, re-introduce the office of the Development Ombudsman so that disputes or delays are resolved or arbitrated before reaching the OMB or its replacement body.


Modify the Planning Act

Re-introduce the ability of a developer to bring forward a plan from outside an urban boundary. Let the developer front the cost of services. The municipality can still say no. This provision was removed from the planning act in 2004, further constricting supply.


The Hidden Supply – Employment Lands

Currently, Mr. Premier, employment lands are untouchable. They cannot be considered for residential use yet the very nature and scope of industrial commercial lands has changed dramatically in the last 15 years.

Introduction of Robotics and AI have modified the design and formation of today’s employment spaces. Malone Givens Parsons points out we have used only 34 per cent of available employment lands in the GTA. Conversely, we have used or allocated over 57 per cent of available residential lands. Integrating mixed-use development into employment lands would open up supply dramatically from the current rigid lines drawn on our municipal maps.

Just take a walk around existing older employment designated lands today and the potential supply jumps right out. An instant supply solution is available by potentially converting employment land to mixed-use residential.

Mr. Premier, study the implication and provide the supply solution.

So, there you have it, Mr. Premier, seven steps to improving housing affordability in the GTA.

Mr. Premier, start with theses simple Seven Steps and perhaps another “promise made, promise kept” is possible on the affordable housing file in your first term. Good Luck Mr. Premier!

Andrew Brethour is chairman and CEO of PMA Brethour Realty Group. http://www.pmabrethour.com/


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New home market sees prices holding steady

New home market sees prices holding steady

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New home market sees prices holding steady

Sales of new homes in the GTA slowed down in July while prices held steady, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) announced last week.

Total July new home sales of 1,071 units were down 44 per cent from last July and down 55 per cent from the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. Sales of new condominium apartments in low, medium and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, at 855 units sold, were down 52 per cent from July 2017 and down 40 per cent from the 10-year average.

Sales of new single-family homes, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses), at 216 units sold, were up 85 per cent from last July — a month that saw the lowest single-family home sales in decades, with 117 units sold — but still 77 per cent below the 10-year average.

The benchmark price of new condominium apartments was $774,759, up 16.5 per cent from last July, but virtually unchanged from last month. The benchmark price of new single-family homes was $1,142,574, down 13.2 per cent from last July and just 0.85 per cent above last month.

“New home sales in the GTA typically take a breather in the summer months compared to the spring,” explained Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice president. “This July was no exception, although minimal new project launches in July, along with declining affordability of new condominium apartments due to recent price escalation, amplified the June-to-July decline in sales somewhat this year.”

With only two projects opening in July, the total remaining new home inventory decreased to 14,784 units, comprised of 9,931 condo apartment units and 4,853 single-family units. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction and in completed buildings.

“We are still seeing a shortfall in condo apartment inventory,” said Dave Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “Given the current pace of sales, we should have nine to 12 months worth of inventory, but we only have five. We expect that more condo apartment product will become available in the fall.”

Wilkes added that affordability remains an issue for many buyers.

“The prices of new homes are affected by, among other factors, the fees, taxes and charges added by all levels of government,” he said. “Municipalities have the most direct influence over affordability and supply of new housing, so leading up to the October 22 municipal elections, we are inviting people to send an email to their local candidates, asking them to make housing a priority. Start by visiting buildforgrowth.ca.”

July New Home Sales by Municipality**:

July 2018 Condominium Apartments Single-family Total
Region 2018 2017 2016 2018 2017 2016 2018 2017 2016
Durham 9 27 162 44 60 376 53 87 538
Halton 40 18 76 21 13 45 61 31 121
Peel 147 148 180 88 0 101 235 148 281
Toronto 568 1,134 1,645 1 9 114 569 1,143 1,759
York 91 471 187 62 35 286 153 506 473
GTA 855 1,798 2,250 216 117 922 1,071 1,915 3,172

Source: Altus Group


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Build For Growth: Help Make Housing A Priority

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Build For Growth: Help Make Housing A Priority

Help Make Housing a Priority in the Municipal Elections

Are you or your loved ones planning to look for a new condo or house in the GTA in the near future? Then you will want to pay special attention to the municipal elections coming up on October 22.

That’s because municipal governments have the most direct influence over new housing — what type will get built, how many units and where they will be located. If we want to be able to find new homes that suit our needs, at prices we can afford, we need municipal leaders who will make housing a priority and take action on increasing housing supply and affordability in our region.

With 115,000 people coming to live in the GTA every year, our region is projected to grow to 9.7 million residents by 2041. We should be building 55,000 new homes every year to keep up with housing demand, yet only 44,000 homes were built last year. A major reason for this shortfall is the sheer amount of regulation, a lot of it out of date, that slows down building and development. As a result, it now takes about 10 years to complete a lowrise or highrise project in the GTA. And because housing is in short supply, it is becoming less and less affordable, with government fees, taxes and charges further adding to the prices of new homes.

In the lead-up to the municipal elections, our Build for Growth campaign is putting forward a four-point plan on how local governments can increase housing affordability and supply. First of all, we are asking GTA municipalities to make sure government fees, taxes and charges applied to new homes are fair and equitable. Currently, fees applied by all levels of government can account for almost a quarter of the cost of a new home; those levied by municipalities typically make up more than half the total burden and are skyrocketing. These costs can price new homebuyers out of the market.

Second, municipalities need to prioritize the funding and building of good, reliable infrastructure, including roads, transit, parks, water and wastewater facilities. Without this crucial infrastructure in place, the building of new homes slows down or stops completely.

Third, local governments should streamline the planning approval process, which unnecessarily slows down development. Municipalities should pre-designate and pre-zone land for development, update local Official Plans and zoning bylaws, simplify the list of conditions for municipal approvals and encourage the province to expedite outstanding environmental assessments.

And finally, we are suggesting that municipalities adopt a Standard of Service Excellence for building permits and inspections. Speeding up these processes will make it quicker and easier for homeowners to renovate their homes or build secondary suites or laneway housing, which can help increase housing supply in established neighbourhoods.

Would you like to help make housing a priority in the municipal elections? We invite you to visit the Build for Growth campaign website, BuildForGrowth.ca, to get more information about the issues and send a letter to your municipal candidate to let him or her know that you care about housing issues.

DAVE WILKES is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).



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by David Wilkes

Looking to renovate? Getting permits and approval may take longer than the work itself

Your family is growing and you need more space. You have two options. You can sell your house and move into a bigger home, or you can renovate your home and add more living space. You love your neighbourhood and do not want to move, so you decide to renovate.

Your first inclination may be to focus on the latest trends and finishes, but before you do that, your time is much better invested in getting the necessary approvals and permits. In some cities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), that can take months for a smaller renovation and up to a year for more ambitious projects.

Photography: bigstock.com
Photography: bigstock.com


Many homeowners are under the mistaken impression that it is as simple as filing your plans and obtaining your permit—a week or two and on to swinging hammers. The reality can be quite different. When planning a major renovation or custom-home build, the approval and permitting times can stretch for months, and may include multiple steps of getting approvals for variances to existing zoning requirements, setback regulations and obtaining approvals from other municipal departments like Urban Forestry. If re-zoning through the Committee of Adjustment is required, the entire process can take well up to a year.

Layered onto this, many municipalities are failing to meet The Ontario Building Code’s timeframes of just issuing a building permit in 10 business days, delaying renovation projects and adding unnecessary costs to projects. In 2017, in the City of Toronto, nearly half of all residential building permits were not issued within the required legislated timeframe.


The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) reviewed 6,011 City of Toronto permits and the average timeframe for issuing these permits was 31.4 calendar days. That is two to two-and-a-half times the provincially mandated maximum. It is important to note that this review included thousands of applications from very basic and quick permits, to permits with values of over $100,000; the issuing of these permits took an average of 45 days or six weeks.

Further delays in the process come from a lack of access to inspectors and inspection delays that can tangle homeowners up in even more red tape. Your dream renovation has now become a bureaucratic nightmare. The permit and approval system needs a good renovation itself.


BILD wants to put the customer first so they can enjoy their newly renovated or custom-built home sooner rather than later. Based on our members’ experience, we wrote the Service Standard of Excellence document to provide practical guidance to municipalities on how to speed up approvals and make the process more efficient.

We are asking cities to commit to a reasonable turnaround time for renovation permit applications, we are proposing the implementation of a one-window permitting, web-based portal that makes the application process smoother and transparent, and we are calling for improved service by building inspectors similar to the standards expected for Internet and telephone providers.

As we get closer to the 2018 Municipal Elections this fall, we will be meeting with councillors and mayors across the GTA to ask them to adopt the measures outlined in the Service Standards of Excellence and get them to provide building and renovation approvals and permits in line with the provincially mandated requirements.

David Wilkes is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, Facebook, BILD’s official blog, and bildgta.ca.


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