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INDUSTRY EXPERT: Toronto's Future Now

INDUSTRY EXPERT: Toronto’s Future Now

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INDUSTRY EXPERT: Toronto’s Future Now

by David Wilkes

Facilitating renovations and custom-building in the GTA to increase housing supply

I am always glad when I notice renovation and custom-home building in our neighbourhoods. It not only benefits homeowners but when secondary suites are added, they can play a small yet important part in increasing our region’s housing supply. This is just another reason we should try to make the renovation and custom-home building process as easy as possible for homeowners.

Some people create secondary suites in their homes by finishing their basement or converting their attic. These spaces can then be used to house a family member—perhaps an elderly parent—or a tenant. Other homeowners in the GTA have a garage or another structure in their backyard that they can convert to a secondary unit.

Photography: Bigstock.com
Photography: Bigstock.com

OPTIMIZING URBAN SPACE

Sometimes, homeowners even have space on their lot for a second, small dwelling. These homes typically face onto public lanes—Toronto, for instance, has more than 2,400—and draw their water and electricity from the main house. Laneway housing, as this type of home is known, has many proponents in the GTA, our industry among them, because it has the potential to provide muchneeded affordable rental housing in established neighbourhoods.

LANEWAY HOUSING UPDATE

While a basement or attic renovation requires only a simple building permit, until recently, homeowners who wanted to build laneway housing had to go through a complicated approvals process. This is the reason Toronto has only a few laneway homes. Things are changing though. Recently, Toronto City Council voted in favour of allowing laneway houses.

Whether you are planning to refurbish a basement or add a laneway house, a RenoMark renovator is your best ally in navigating the process. This renovation professional will share with you his or her knowledge of the rules and regulations that apply in your case and the permits you need. He or she can even submit the application to the municipality on your behalf. Find a RenoMark renovator at renomark.ca.

PERMIT & APPROVAL PROCESS

Unfortunately, even with the help of a RenoMark renovator, the permit and approval process can take months for basic home additions and more than a year for larger renovations and custom homes. That is why BILD created a Standard of Service Excellence that municipalities can adopt. Under the Standard, municipalities would commit to reasonable turnaround times and specific timeframes, provide an online permitting portal for transparency and accountability, and improve service by building inspectors.

By adopting a Standard of Service Excellence for the permit and approval process, municipalities would not only make life easier for homeowners who are undertaking a renovation or building a custom home, they would also help speed up the building of the secondary units that help increase housing supply in our region.

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 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
BILD

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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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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INDUSTRY EXPERT: The Waiting Game

INDUSTRY EXPERT: The Waiting Game

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INDUSTRY EXPERT: The Waiting Game

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

REALITY BITES

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.

RENO RED TAPE

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.

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

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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Vaughan, Mississauga and Toronto sign Housing Pledge

Vaughan, Mississauga and Toronto sign Housing Pledge

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Vaughan, Mississauga and Toronto sign Housing Pledge

BILD sets out its four-point plan on how municipalities can help make housing more affordable and increase supply.

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) held press conferences in Vaughan, Toronto and Mississauga to launch its Build for Growth campaign that coincides with the 2018 municipal election.

The campaign outlines BILD’s four-point plan on how municipalities can help make housing more affordable and increase supply.

“Housing will be a key election issue in the Greater Toronto Area,” said Dave Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD. “Providing housing for the next generation is a challenge that needs to be solved in a partnership between residents, the building industry and municipal governments across the region.”

BILD’s four-point plan shows how municipalities can take a leadership role in increasing the supply of housing and support sustainable, affordable growth and make sure government fees, taxes and charges on new homes are fair and equitable, fund and build critical infrastructure, cut red tape, and adopt a Standard of Service Excellence for building permits and inspections in order to speed up building and renovations. The mayors of Vaughan and Mississauga, as well as Toronto’s deputy mayor, signed a Housing Pledge acknowledging that housing is an issue that must be addressed and that they are committed to engaging in a dialogue with government partners and the development community to expand the amount and types of housing options that are available. They believe that buying a new home should be a time to celebrate a major milestone and join a community. Over the next few months, BILD will be calling on all municipal candidates to sign the pledge.

BILD encourages citizens of the GTA and all municipal candidates to visit BuildForGrowth.ca to sign the Housing Pledge and make their voices heard. With 1,500 members, BILD is the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the Greater Toronto Area.

http://www.bildgta.ca/


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THE INDUSTRY LEADER: Housing policies must focus on supply

THE INDUSTRY LEADER: Housing policies must focus on supply

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THE INDUSTRY LEADER: Housing policies must focus on supply

Not enough new housing is being built for sale or rent and this results in higher prices, higher rents and long waits lists.

by Dave Wilkes
BILD

The other day I was listening to pundits on talk radio debating the issue of housing affordability — and what can be done to address the high cost of putting a roof over your head.

It sounded like the experts were talking right past each other, apparently discussing completely different issues. I realized it was because their definitions of housing affordability were different.

It seems to me, though, that some of the solutions can be the same. Housing affordability is a complex subject. At the risk of oversimplifying, there are really three different definitions. The first is housing — houses and condos — that the average family can afford to buy. The second definition is housing that the average person can afford to rent. And the third is not-for-profit rental housing, where collective ownership (co-op) or a degree of social assistance (subsidized housing) helps ensure that the cost of housing can be borne within the income of the resident.

All of these definitions of housing affordability are valid and all come with specific issues to address if affordability is to be tackled as an issue. Unfortunately, as is often the case with highly political topics, it is the differences that get debated — winners and losers get picked and opportunities get missed.

What is common to all three definitions is lack of supply. Not enough new housing is being built for sale or rent, and there is not enough not-for-profit rental housing to meet the need. This results in higher prices, higher rents and long wait lists. A number of factors affect the supply of all three forms of housing. All are subject to the same lengthy bureaucratic approvals process prior to being built. All three require land that is adequately serviced with existing infrastructure that can accommodate the increased usage (for infill projects) or new infrastructure if it is an entirely new development. Lastly, all three forms of housing are subject to layers of regulation, reliance on community acceptance and the political will that exerts influence on building projects around the GTA.

Any one of these factors can add cost, impact the number of new units that come to market, delay new housing from being built or halt construction entirely.

On the cost side, newly built homes that fall under the first two definitions are also subject to government fees and charges that increase purchase price or impact rental costs. BILD recently published a study on the government fees, taxes and charges applied to new homes in the GTA. It demonstrated that the layers of tax-on-top-of-tax added almost 25 per cent, or $186,500, to the price of an average single-family home in the GTA.

In the lead-up to this year’s municipal election, we need our governments not to pick winners and losers, but to focus on housing policies and reforms that can have broad benefits and increase housing supply.

David Wilkes is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

He can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and BILD’s official blog.


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INDUSTRY EXPERT: Smart & Selective

INDUSTRY EXPERT: Smart & Selective

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INDUSTRY EXPERT: Smart & Selective

by David Wilkes

Partner with a Pro for your Reno

I am a proud Torontonian who is fiercely connected to my neighbourhood. I’ve lived in this great region my entire life and, for the last 25 years, raised my family in the east-end of Toronto. We’ve done more than one renovation to our house, which added value and made it our home. Like many Torontonians, my neighbourhood is a part of my identity.

In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), we celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of our neighbourhoods. They are what make our region great. We value them and recognize the importance of creating livable communities through their development and revitalization.

Increasingly, GTA homeowners are choosing to stay in their neighbourhoods because, like me, they love them. They are renovating rather than selling and creating the home they want in the area they want to live.

Photography: BigStock.com
Photography: BigStock.com

REPUTABLE RESOURCE

There are more than 200 RenoMark renovators in the GTA. All of them agree to abide by the BILD Code of Ethics and a renovation-specific RenoMark Code of Conduct. They understand the value of customer service, provide warranties and continually educate themselves on trends, materials and new regulations.

UNDERGROUND ECONOMY SPIKE

Unfortunately, the introduction of the HST in 2010 accelerated the growth of an underground economy in the renovation industry. A report released by the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) in November 2017, shows the amount of residential renovation spending through contractors that leaked underground fluctuated between 38 and 40 percent between 2010 and 2016.

The underground “cash” economy in home renovation and repair poses significant risks, including worker safety liability risks for the homeowner if workers are not covered by the WSIB, no warranties, unfair competition with reputable contractors and loss of tax revenues.

This underground industry also undermines the integrity of the HST system. The report suggested that provincial and federal governments lost $16 billion in potential tax revenues through residential renovations undertaken by illicit contractors in Ontario during the same period.

FINDING CONSUMER-FAVOURED SOLUTIONS

Instead of fostering an underground economy, which encourages the avoidance of paying taxes, the OHBA has recommended the Ontario government consider introducing a tax rebate that would incent homeowners to document properly, and report their contractor renovation projects as well as a Home Renovation Tax Credit for energy-efficient upgrades.

Our colleagues at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association are also active partners with the Minister’s Underground Economy Advisory Committee, sharing industry information and recommendations with the Canada Revenue Agency on how to best address the impact of working around the system.

BILD has written its own renovation Service Standard of Excellence that was presented to the City of Toronto, outlining a practical system that would put the consumer first. The Service Standard of Excellence would speed up approvals and make Toronto City Hall more efficient. This would ease consumer frustrations and steer them away from using the underground economy.

So, what can you do to protect yourself? If you’re considering a renovation, your first step is to go to renomark.ca. There you will find the RenoGuide (Five Steps to a Worry-Free Renovation), the RenoMark Code of Conduct and you can use the Find a Renovator tool to find a participating renovator near you. If you’re a renovator in the GTA looking to get involved with the RenoMark program, email us at membership@bildgta.ca.

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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BILD Renovation and Custom Home AWARDS

BILD Renovation and Custom Home AWARDS

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BILD Renovation and Custom Home AWARDS

by Dave Wilkes

Professional renovators help realize homeowners’ vision

Our modern lives are different from how we lived 20, 10, or even five years ago, and we want our homes and living spaces to reflect that. Instead of the small, enclosed rooms of many older homes, we are looking for open living spaces that invite in natural light. And thanks to professional renovators, we can stay in our current homes and neighbourhoods and still get the renewed spaces that accommodate our contemporary lifestyles.

GOLDEN BEE HOMES WINS THE RENOVATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD L - R Michael Rosset (HPG President), Abraham Mradian, Katherine Pollock, Pars Margarosyan, Jack Torossian, (Golden Bee Homes) Fay Splett, (HPG) & Darren Steedman (BILD Chair) Photography by Rodney Daw
GOLDEN BEE HOMES WINS THE RENOVATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD L – R Michael Rosset (HPG President), Abraham Mradian, Katherine Pollock, Pars Margarosyan, Jack Torossian, (Golden Bee Homes) Fay Splett, (HPG) & Darren Steedman (BILD Chair) Photography by Rodney Daw

I was reminded of this trend when BILD announced the winning projects at our Renovation and Custom Home Awards on March 9th, 2018 at the AllStream Centre, on the opening day of the National Home Show. Each of the “after” photos featured open, light-filled rooms. If you would like to see them all, search #BILDRenoAwards on Instagram.

RENO & DECOR magazine is the founding sponsor of the Custom Reno awards and participates in the event every year. All professional renovators behind these award-winning projects are GTA-based members of the national RenoMark program.

Best Renovation Under $75,000 BRAMSON CONSTRUCTION
Best Renovation Under $75,000 BRAMSON CONSTRUCTION

The photos and the project description of each winning project illustrate the quality of work and careful thought that the RenoMark renovator invested in making the client’s vision of a bright, airy home, a reality. Bramson Construction, the winner of the award for Best Renovation Under $75,000, removed walls to transform a kitchen, dining and living area into a unified, streamlined space.

Best Renovation $75,000 - $150,000 GOLDEN BEE HOMES
Best Renovation $75,000 – $150,000 GOLDEN BEE HOMES

TOP HONOURS

Golden Bee Homes changed a floor plan with a small, enclosed kitchen and dining room into an open family space that takes advantage of natural light from an existing skylight. The company received the award for the Best Renovation $75,000 to $150,000, as well as the Renovator of the Year award, which is based on survey results from clients.

Best Condominium Renovation W.C. MEEK DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
Best Condominium Renovation W.C. MEEK DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

Urbanline Architecture reconfigured interior spaces in a dated house, merging the kitchen and dining room into a space for entertaining guests, and using a glazed wall to connect to light and greenery outside. They received the award for Best Renovation $150,000 to $300,000. The company also won for Best Renovation $300,000 to $500,000, for the transformation of a mid-size, three-storey house into flexible, multi-purpose spaces for a growing family.

Best Custom Home SEVERN WOODS CONSTRUCTION
Best Custom Home SEVERN WOODS CONSTRUCTION

Lewitt Construction converted a 1920s house with small, dim spaces into an open home with large windows and high-end finishes such as walnut floors, a steel-and-glass staircase, and custom millwork. They won the award for Best Renovation $500,000 or more.

Best Renovation $150,000 - $300,000 URBANLINE ARCHITECTURE
Best Renovation $150,000 – $300,000 URBANLINE ARCHITECTURE

W.C. Meek Design and Construction transformed a condo suite by removing interior walls to open up the main living spaces, and let in natural light from the south end of the unit. They also installed low-maintenance flooring for the client’s dogs. The company won the award for Best Condominium Renovation.

Best Renovation $300,000 - $500,000 URBANLINE ARCHITECTURE
Best Renovation $300,000 – $500,000 URBANLINE ARCHITECTURE

SevernWoods Construction created an architecturally significant home with comfortable living spaces for family life and large events, paying attention to providing pleasing views for this ravine house. They were presented with the award for Best Custom Home.

Best Renovation Over $500,000 LEWITT CONSTRUCTION
Best Renovation Over $500,000 LEWITT CONSTRUCTION

If you have been inspired to update your home, start by speaking with a RenoMark renovator. He or she will be your partner in a successful home renovation. You can find one in your area by searching on renomark.ca

BILD would like to congratulate all the winners and finalists.

A complete list of winners can be found in the GTA section of renomark.ca.


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New home market quiet in March

New home market quiet in March

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New home market quiet in March

New home market quiet as buyers exercise caution, inventory shrinks.

March was a quiet month in the new home market in the GTA, with sales down relative to both last March and the 10-year average, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) announced April 24, 2018.

There were 1,960 total new home sales in March, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence, including 1,649 condominium apartments sold in low, medium and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, which was down 67 per cent from March 2017 and 21 per cent from the 10-year average.

March condominium apartment sales were below underlying demand levels, according to Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice president, research consulting services. “Some of the demand that might have normally occurred this year was brought forward last year, helping to set a record year for condo apartment sales in 2017,” she said. “After an adjustment period, we expect the monthly pace of condo apartment sales to improve.”

Single-family home sales, with 311 detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses) sold, were up from the 265 sold in February, but down 77 per cent from last March and down 79 per cent from the 10-year average.

This year’s new home sales numbers reflect more typical activity in the housing market after last year’s unusually strong new home sales, according to David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. Last year was the fourth strongest year for new home sales in the GTA since Altus Group started tracking in 2000.

“This year, the cumulative effects of government measures to cool the housing market are likely keeping many potential buyers out of the housing market,” said Wilkes. “Many may simply be taking a wait-and-see approach.”

In March, the benchmark price for new single-family homes decreased slightly to $1,207,832, which was 7.4 per cent above last year, and the benchmark price for new condominium apartments continued to rise to $742,801, which was 39.4 per cent above last March. Behind the increase in condo prices is the fact that the benchmark unit size has increased to 900 square feet from 800 square feet a year ago, while the benchmark price per square foot has increased to $825 from $666 last year.

Low supply of new housing helped keep prices high. The supply of both condo apartments and single-family homes dipped again in March, with total new home remaining inventory at 12,457 units, comprising 8,756 condominium apartments and 3,701 single-family homes. Based on the pace of sales in the past 12 months, this is about four months worth of inventory, while a healthy new home market would have nine to 12 months worth of inventory.

“If we want to see more housing that people can afford, we need to address this region’s housing supply problem,” said Wilkes. “And for that to happen, we will all need to work together to remove barriers to development, which include outdated zoning that doesn’t support intensification, miles of government red tape, and lack of critical infrastructure.”


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Home Builder: Let’s Get Affordable Housing Right

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Home Builder: Let’s Get Affordable Housing Right

Government needs to put incentives, programs and partnership frameworks in place

I believe that the health, prosperity and quality of life in the GTA depends on access to quality housing for households of all income levels. Affordable housing gives safety and stability to people with low to mid incomes who are often single parents, seniors, recent immigrants and people with disabilities.

To address the needs of the growing concerns of this issue, the provincial government amended the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, adding inclusionary zoning as a new planning tool for municipalities. If done in partnership with the building industry, inclusionary zoning could ensure that affordable housing gets built in a way that promotes socio-economically diverse neighbourhoods.

The new legislation that passed in 2017 gives local government the option to establish policies that would require housing applications to include a certain percentage of affordable units within a development.

The government consulted with municipalities, developers, housing advocates and other interested parties on a framework for inclusionary zoning in Ontario. The government received a broad range of comments and suggestions during the consultation.

The intent of inclusionary zoning is to encourage development of affordable units that would not otherwise be built. For inclusionary zoning to be successful, the building industry needs to be supported by incentives and partnerships. We need to strike a balance between creating affordable housing and encouraging developers to build it.

The provincial government is also contemplating pre-zoning properties that would make the approval system more efficient, giving residents a voice in how their community should grow.

The Urban Land Institute, a U.S. think tank on land use and real estate, published a report in 2016 that provides an in-depth study of how a growing number of cities have adopted inclusionary zoning policies to help increase affordable housing without impacting the overall affordability of housing for everyone.

For example, New York City has voluntary inclusionary zoning and made the program attractive for developers through tax incentives in exchange for including affordable units in their building, or another building within a kilometre of the community district.

Closer to home, the City of Mississauga introduced their affordable housing strategy, titled Making Room for the Middle, that introduces a flexible approach. The city brought the industry to the table to work in partnership to identify a list of tools to help build units sooner by pre-zoning land, decreasing development charges and updating official plans.

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and its members are committed in working collaboratively with our municipal partners to support the delivery of affordable housing as demonstrated by our active participation in these initiatives and discussions across the GTA.

We need to find ways to balance the need for affordable housing to keep all homes in the GTA affordable for people to purchase. Development is expensive and if the building industry is to include more affordable units in a development, the government needs to put the incentives, programs and partnership frameworks in place that will make projects viable without undermining housing affordability.

David Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on: Twitter.com/BILDGTA , Facebook.com/BILDGTA , YouTube.com/BILDGTA and BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca

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