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In Conversation With… Shamez Virani President, CentreCourt

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In Conversation With… Shamez Virani President, CentreCourt

If affordability is top of mind for today’s condo buyers, transit connectivity might be number two on the list. For CentreCourt, this means providing “ground floor” opportunities near transit infrastructure, where buyers can lay claim to the best locations, and capture maximum value.

President Shamez Virani explains, and offers some insight into where buyers might want look next.

Condo Life: CentreCourt is releasing The Forest Hill, a new project said to be among the few with direct transit access in the lobby, to the upcoming Forest Hill Station on the LRT. How is this project coming along?

Shamez Virani: We’ve recently introduced The Forest Hill Condominiums to the market, the first development with a direct connection to the new Eglinton line. This project is located on the southwest corner of Bathurst and Eglinton, giving prospective homeowners the opportunity to live within one of the most coveted neighbourhoods of the city – Forest Hill. We’re offering an approachable price point starting at the high $300,000s with suites ranging from studios to three-bedrooms. The project launched in October and has already received incredible interest from the community. In today’s market, our purchasers understand the value of direct transit connectivity and “getting in on the ground floor” for a future subway line.

CL: You have another project planned at the intersection of Mercer Street and Blue Jays Way, the former site of Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant… so, a sentimental location for many Torontonians. How, if at all, do you plan to honour the history of this site, say, in design, project name or interior accents?

SV: We are excited about bringing a sophisticated, high-end and energetic project to the already vibrant downtown area. Not only will residents of this building benefit with state-of-the-art amenities such as a high-end gym (featuring Peloton bikes and other cutting-edge technology) and social co-working space, but we are looking into designing the building in a way that amplifies the character of the neighbourhood as an employment, culinary and artistic node. It’s critical that the interior and exterior design captures this energy. The project will be named 55 Mercer – for those who know Toronto real estate, there are few other addresses that evoke the cache and excitement of 55 Mercer.

CL: You have other projects planned for Yonge Wellesley, 201 Church and 319 Jarvis. What’s the status and key characteristics of each?

SV: As you note, we have a number of great downtown sites in the rezoning phase that we hope to bring to market in 2020. This is a very exciting time for us at CentreCourt, as we have more in the development pipeline than we have ever had. As we finalize our zoning on these sites and gear up to launch sales, we will be able to share more information regarding the developments. In the interim, our focus is on the upcoming launch of The Forest Hill and gearing up to go to market for 55 Mercer.

CL: The red light-green light development proposal approval process recently adopted by three Toronto city councillors is not going over too well in the development industry. What are your views on this situation?

SV: Toronto is a fast-growing metropolis – the public and private sectors need to work together to support the city’s growth. Our partnership with Metrolinx at The Forest Hill Condominiums at Bathurst and Eglinton is a great example of how public and private can work together to enhance services for Torontonians and transit users through transit-oriented development that is in sync with great planning. We need to continue to encourage development near major transit areas to meet the current housing needs.

CL: Affordability is a growing concern for homebuyers in the GTA, but much of what determines end costs – land use policy and availability and approvals processes – are out of builders’ control. How does CentreCourt address the affordability challenge?

SV: We are focused on bringing more living options to areas that can support new density. We design our suites to be efficient, and price them in a way that allows a broad range of buyers to gain access to a market they would otherwise be priced out of. No better example of this is The Forest Hill Condominiums, where suites will start in the high $300,000s and exist beside homes in Toronto’s most affluent area, which can be 10 to 20 times more expensive.

CL: Where do you see the next homebuilding – and therefore, for customers, homebuying – opportunities in the GTA, in terms of geographic area? You seem to be focused on downtown, transit-centric locations and projects…

SV: At CentreCourt, we’ve focused on areas that are nearby to major amenities, transit networks and pivotal employment areas. A major decision factor for condo buyers is transit connectivity, fostering an area and the access to live, work and play. When you look at the nodes in Toronto and the GTA that are seeing the largest amount of development, opportunity, and capital appreciation, it’s often because major transit infrastructure has been planned or added to the node. Some of the most exciting opportunities going forward will be those that provide a “ground floor” opportunity to be one of the first projects to be built at or near transit infrastructure. These “first movers” tend to be successful and lay claim to the best locations, and capture the maximum value from the growth and maturation of new transit infrastructure.

CL: What’s next for CentreCourt?

SV: Our 55 Mercer and The Forest Hill Condominiums projects are our primary focuses right now, and we are approaching our 10-year anniversary and will have some exciting projects and initiatives to announce.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE:

If I wasn’t involved in homebuilding, I would: That’s a hard question, seeing as I told my mom I wanted to “build big buildings” when I was 12 years old and have never veered from this dream since. However, if I wasn’t involved in homebuilding, I would likely be an entrepreneur focused on building a technology business. Entrepreneurship is in my blood and technology is the other industry (aside from real estate development) that I am fascinated by and love to learn more about.

My greatest inspiration in this business is: My mother. She immigrated from Tanzania in the mid-1970s without any formal secondary education or money in the bank, but she never let her circumstances define the amazing life that she built for our family. She has taught me the value of hard and honest work and I am constantly inspired by her. To this day, she remains my primary sounding board on all things business and career related.

When I’m not at the office, I: Love to immerse myself in anything Raptors related. I am a die-hard fan who is still celebrating our championship!

centrecourt.com

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Ontario housing plan

Ontario releases plan to address housing affordability and supply issues

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Ontario releases plan to address housing affordability and supply issues

Ontario housing plan

The Ontario government has released its plan to address housing supply and affordability, and homebuilders couldn’t be happier.

Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing today revealed More Homes, More Choice: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan, a full-spectrum suite of legislative changes to increase the supply of housing that is affordable and provide families with more meaningful choices on where to live, work and raise their families.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from families across Ontario that finding housing that is affordable takes too long and costs too much,” says Clark. “After years of neglect by the former government, there is now a housing crisis in Ontario and the dream of ownership is out of reach for too many. Our plan will make it easier to build the right type of homes in the right places, giving Ontarians and their families more flexibility when looking for a home they can afford.”

GTA homebuilders, through the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), applaud the action, calling it an important step to address the barriers to new homeownership and rental housing.

“The challenge is a basic one,” says Dave Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “Previous government policies and procedures have created structural barriers to the efficient operation of the housing market which has resulted in a generational shortfall of housing. Today, the Ford government has signaled its intent to address this problem to ensure that the right type of housing is built at the right price across the Greater Toronto Area.”

Clark says the plan will require a province-wide effort that includes municipalities, non-profits and private industry and will also be a comprehensive all-of-government initiative that will include legislative amendments to 13 government Acts.

The new measures proposed in More Homes, More Choicewould streamline the overly complex development approvals process to remove unnecessary duplication and barriers, making costs and timelines more predictable. The plan would also streamline and simplify the process for creating new rental housing options.

As part of the action plan, our government is also launching A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe,to address the needs of the region’s growing population, diversity and local priorities.

“Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a family looking for a larger apartment to rent or a senior hoping to downsize, our action plan puts people first,” says Clark. “Combined with our government’s investment in renewed community housing, our Housing Supply Action Plan is sending a clear message that no matter what your situation you can count on our government to always put people first.”

Highlights of the plan

Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT):Changes will be introduced to allow LPAT to make decisions based on the best planning outcome and remove existing restrictions around the introduction of evidence. The number of adjudicators will be increased and case management powers introduced to acknowledge the need to address the backlog/housing supply.

Development Charges: To increase predictability for the industry and consumers around development charges, changes will allow for rates to be locked in at the time of complete site plan or zoning application. There are also provisions that defer DCs for rental buildings until occupancy.

Parkland/S37/Development Charges: A “community benefits authority” is to be introduced that both acknowledges the cumulative effect that taxes, fees and charges have on housing affordability and allows for more certainty and predictability by eliminating “planning by negotiation.” This new benefit will roll together DCs and will have a cap based on property value by municipality.

Red Tape Reductions:To reduce red tape and help streamline approvals, among other actions:

  • Direction will be provided on how municipalities can use the Ontario Heritage Actwhile allowing for compatible changes and creating consistent appeals.
  • The role of Conservation Authorities is to be reviewed to make sure that they go back to their core mandate, which will reduce overlap in approvals and reduce costs by streamlining roles.
  • The Environmental Assessment Actwill be amended to exempt low-risk actions and remove duplications.

“It just takes too long to build new housing in the GTA,” says Wilkes. “This restricts supply and negatively impacts affordability. When you then layer on a disproportionate share of the cost for new infrastructure, parks, and municipal services to new homes, you now have the recipe for what we are currently experiencing.”

The complex regulatory environment, government fees, taxes and charges add as much as 25 per cent to the cost of an average new home in the region, BILD says.

The roposed LPAT changes will have a beneficial impact on supply, BILD says. Currently, there are as many as 1,000 cases, representing almost 100,000 housing units across Ontario waiting for consideration at the LPAT.

The overall focus on reducing red tape and speeding approvals through modifications to the Provincial Policy Statement, The Ontario Heritage Act, The Environmental Assessment Act and many others will enable the industry to unlock housing supply.

“We need more of all types of housing across the GTA – homes for purchase, for rent and social housing,” says Wilkes. “We look forward to working with all levels of government to address housing supply and affordability as the consultation on the proposed changes continues.”

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GTA waterfront homes

Budget 2019 comes up short

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Budget 2019 comes up short

GTA waterfront homes

The federal government released the much-anticipated Budget 2019 this week, with homebuyers, builders and others awaiting measures to address housing issues.

And in short, it comes up, well… a little short.

First-time homebuyer help

Much of the housing focus in Budget 2019 was on addressing the needs of first-timers, namely with a new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive.

  • The Incentive would allow eligible first-time homebuyers who have the minimum down payment for an insured mortgage to apply to finance a portion of their home purchase through a shared equity mortgage with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
  • About 100,000 first-time buyers would benefit from the Incentive over the next three years.
  • Since no ongoing payments would be required with the Incentive, Canadian families would have lower monthly mortgage payments. For example, if a borrower purchases a new $400,000 home with a five-per-cent down payment and a 10-per-cent CMHC shared equity mortgage ($40,000), the borrower’s total mortgage size would be reduced from $380,000 to $340,000, reducing the borrower’s monthly mortgage costs by as much as $228 per month.
  • CMHC to offer qualified first-time homebuyers a 10-per-cent shared equity mortgage for a newly constructed home or a five-per-cent shared equity mortgage for an existing home. This larger shared equity mortgage for newly constructed homes could help encourage the home construction needed to address some of the housing supply shortages in Canada, particularly in the largest cities.
  • The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive would include eligibility criteria to ensure that the program helps those with legitimate needs, while ensuring that participants are able to afford the homes they purchase. The Incentive would be available to first-time buyers with household incomes of less than $120,000 per year.
  • Budget 2019 also proposes to increase the Home Buyers’ Plan withdrawal limit from $25,000 to $35,000, providing first-time buyers with greater access to their Registered Retirement Savings Plan savings to buy a home.

Noticeably absent from the housing measures was any adjustment to the stress test, which a number of experts say is necessary.

Industry reaction

“The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) agrees with (Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s) comments that there aren’t enough homes for people to buy or apartments for people to rent,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO.

“BILD feels the policies presented in (the) budget are a step in the right direction to help first-time homebuyers. We will continue to advocate for a review of the stress test so that first-time homebuyers can realize the dream of homeownership. Supply challenges still exist and are at the centre of the current unbalanced market, and we call for action on these by the provincial and municipal government.”

Supply challenges in the Greater Golden Horseshoe are serious, and Budget 19 fails to address them.

“This was a re-election budget that didn’t move the dial for new-home buyers in the GTA,” Richard Lyall, president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) told HOMES Publishing. “While increasing RRSP borrowing for first-time homebuyers is helpful, creating The First-Time Homebuyer Incentive at a maximum of $500,000 doesn’t help many Torontonians or GTA residents.”

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) had been recommending a shared appreciation mortgage approach for some time, as a tool to help those who can’t get into homeownership but have the means to pay rent.

The modification to the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan will help get Canadians into their first home, but will also act as a burden because the loan has to be repaid within 15 years, including a minimum of 1/15th per year.

“This means that, in the years following their home purchase, a homeowner has the additional financial responsibility of repaying their RRSP,” says James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and president of CanWise Financial.

Important details of the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive program have yet to be released. For example, says Laird, it remains unclear whether the government would take an equity position in homes, or whether the assistance would act as an interest-free loan.

“This is an important distinction because if the government is taking an equity stake in a home, the amount the homeowner would have to pay back would grow as the value of the home increases,” he says.

The very launch of the program is surprising, Laird says, given that the BC Government implemented a similar measure a couple years ago, with unsuccessful results, and it was terminated in 2018. First-time home buyers found it difficult to understand and unappealing to have the government co-own their home.

Let’s do the math

Under existing qualifying criteria, including the stress test, homebuyers can qualify for a house that is 4.5 to 4.7 times their household income.

Under the new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, however, the government has set a purchase limit of four times household income for the mortgage, plus the amount provided by the government, according to Ratehub.

By participating in this program, first-time homebuyers effectively reduce the amount they can qualify for by about 15 per cent, and their monthly mortgage payment naturally decreases in lockstep.

A household with $100,000 of income, putting a minimum down payment of five per cent, can currently qualify for a home valued at $479,888 with a $2,265.75 monthly mortgage payment.

Affordability calculations

The maximum purchase price for the same household, if they participate in the first-time homebuyer incentive, drops to $404,858.29 with a five-per-cent minimum down payment. The total mortgage amount would then be $400,000 (or four times their household income).

Mortgage payment calculations

If the household took a five-per-cent incentive from the government (for resales), their mortgage amount goes to $378,947.37, and monthly payment is now $1,810.90.

If the household took a 10-per-cent incentive, (for new homes) their mortgage amount goes to $357,894.73, and  monthly payment is now $1,710.29.

Stress test modifications

The CHBA is among the industry groups that is pushing for modifications to the existing mortgage stress test, which has served to lock out too many well-qualified Canadians due to the market and interest rate changes of the past year.

“The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, if coupled with immediate adjustments to the stress test, has the potential for getting the housing continuum functioning again,” says CHBA CEO Kevin Lee. “It is essential that these changes come quickly, though. Current restrictions on mortgage access mean that many millennials and new Canadians are seeing homeownership slipping away, and in many markets the economic impacts are substantial.”

Looking ahead to the 2019 federal election, CHBA will be encouraging all federal parties to address housing affordability in very meaningful ways in their respective platform documents.

Budget 2019 housing measures

Budget 2019

 

 

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GTA buyers head west ReMax

GTA homebuyers continue to look west in search of affordability

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GTA homebuyers continue to look west in search of affordability

GTA buyers head west ReMax

Homebuying patterns in the GTA have increasingly shifted west over the last five years, particularly to Halton Region and west Toronto, according to a new report from ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

“Growing demand for affordable housing buoyed new construction and contributed to rising market share in Halton Region (from 2013 to 2018),” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Product was coming on-stream at a time when the GTA reported its lowest inventory in years and skyrocketing housing values were raising red flags. Freehold properties in the suburbs farther afield spoke to affordability.”

In analyzing sales trends in nine Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) districts over the past five years, ReMax notes that Halton Region – comprising Burlington, Oakville, Halton Hills and Milton – captured 10.1 per cent of total market share in 2018, leading with a 2.3-per-cent increase over 2013. Toronto West, meanwhile, climbed almost one per cent to 10.5 per cent. Toronto Central rose close to two per cent to 18.7 per cent of total market share, while Simcoe County jumped 0.6 per cent to 3.1 per cent. The gains came at the expense of perennial favourites such as York Region (down 3.2 per cent to 15.3 per cent); East Toronto (down 1.7 per cent to 9.3 per cent); Peel Region (down 0.5 per cent to 20.6 per cent); and Durham Region (down 0.3 per cent to 11.5 per cent). Dufferin County remained stable over the five-year period.

The quest for single-detached housing at an affordable price point has sent throngs of Toronto buyers into the Hamilton housing market over the past decade, ReMax says. The spillover effect has stimulated homebuying activity in most areas flanked by Toronto’s core and Hamilton. Burlington, in particular, soared between 2013 and 2018, with home sales almost doubling and average price climbing 50 per cent to $769,142.

Window of opportunity

But with such strong growth in Burlington, how long will this market remain an affordable option?

“The communities in the west will still be affordable compared to Toronto proper, but what we are going to see is a continued uptick in demand for more of the outlying communities like Brantford, Waterdown, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and even as far-reaching as London and Niagara,” Alexander told HOMES Publishing. “What will really impact the growth of these markets, outside of availability and affordability, will be the underlying transit systems and investments in local economies, as people still have a need to be connected to the GTA core.”

The upswing in new construction has contributed to the changing landscape. New housing starts in Halton Region averaged 3,100 annually between 2013 and 2016. In Simcoe County, just north of Toronto, new residential builds averaged close to 1,860 annually from 2013 to 2017.  During the same period, almost 39,000 residential units came on-stream in Toronto’s downtown-central waterfront area, while another 56,855 were active (approved with building permits applied for or issued and those under construction). Another 6,000 units came on the market in North York and Yonge-Eglinton.

 

GTA home sales ReMax

 

In Toronto’s west end, affordability has been a strong influence in helping Millennials redefine mature neighbourhoods such as The Junction, South Parkdale, Bloorcourt and Dovercourt Park through gentrification. Average price for the 8,000 plus homes sold in 2018 hovered at $755,658 – although the 10 districts within Toronto West range in price from $557,000 in Downsview-Roding, Black Creek and Humbermede to $1.2 million in Stonegate-Queensway.

“Freehold properties remain the choice of most purchasers in Halton Region and Toronto West,” says Alexander. “The same is true to a lesser extent in Toronto Central, but condominiums continue to gain ground. Just over one in three properties sold in the GTA was a condominium in 2018, and that figure is higher in the core. As prices climb in both the city and suburbs, the shift toward higher-density housing will continue, with fewer single-detached developments coming to pass.”

Toronto Central has seen rapid growth over the past five years, with Millennials fuelling demand for condos and townhomes in developments such as City Place, King West Village and Liberty Village. This cohort has also been instrumental in the gentrification of Toronto Central neighbourhoods such as Oakwood-Vaughan and Dufferin Grove as they snap up smaller freehold properties at more affordable price points, ReMax says.

ALSO READ: 2018 GTA new home sales drop to lowest mark in nearly 20 years

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ALSO READ: GTA among the most promising new home outlooks for 2019, Altus Group says

Baby Boomers have also been a major influence in Toronto Central, selling larger homes throughout the GTA and making lateral moves or downsizing to neighbourhoods close to shops, restaurants and amenities. Close to 15,000 properties were sold in 2018, with average price of $932,416, up almost 40 per cent since 2013. Properties within Toronto Central averaged 20 days on market and ranged in price from $709,660 in Bayview Village to $2.5 million in York Mills, Hogg’s Hollow, Bridle Path and Sunnybrook.

With an affordable average price point of $611,628 – and a range of $528,942 to $746,332 – younger buyers, empty nesters and retirees have flocked to Simcoe County in recent years. New construction in Adjala-Tosorontio, Bradford West, Essa, Innisfil and New Tecumseth has allowed the area to capture a greater percentage of the overall market between 2013 to 2018.

“As the Millennials move into their homebuying years, they will displace Baby Boomers as the dominant force in the GTA’s real estate market,” says Alexander. “Their impact on housing will have a serious ripple effect on infrastructure in the coming years, placing pressure on transit systems, roadways, local economies and their abilities to attract investors and new businesses, parks and greenspace development.”

The upswing in demand over the next decade is expected to re-ignite homebuying activity in Toronto East, York, Peel and Durham Regions. These areas still carry significant weight, despite the factors that have impacted softer performance in recent years, such as affordability, lack of available housing and fewer transit options.

GTA west vs east

As the west end of the GTA continues to see growth and price appreciation, a leveling effect will likely come into play (with the east region),” Alexander told HOMES. “Toronto’s GDP and the thriving economy will continue to attract people, so while affordability may continue to decrease, desire is unlikely to waver. That said, the current and next generation of homebuyers are taking this factor into account when they are making their decision to purchase – sacrificing space for lifestyle and convenience.  As they look to the greater GTA, if affordability becomes more leveled out between the west and the east, it’s likely that we will see more dispersion across the entire region as people’s desire to be connected to the GTA core remains strong.

GTA east areas such as Durham region currently don’t have the same appeal as the west. “The West end of the GTA has a greater diversity of communities that are attracting a diverse range of buyers.  In the past 10 years, there has been significant focus on the growth and development of these regions, whereas historically, Durham has not traditionally been viewed in this same regard. With the boom in areas towards the east, like Prince Edward County, and the affordability leveling out, we will likely see the tide begin to turn.”

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Delays in approval process contributing to housing affordability issue in GTA

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h_feb19_home_builder_fi

Three opportunities to positively impact housing in 2019

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Three opportunities to positively impact housing in 2019

h_feb19_home_builder_fi

In 2018, the underlying issues impacting housing supply in the GTA and in turn the impacts on housing affordability, cost of living and its broader societal impact were a defining part of the public debate of the future of our region. Population growth combined with restrictive regulations, bureaucratic red tape, added costs and infrastructure challenges have created a generational challenge for the region. As we look forward, there are three opportunities to have a positive impact on these issues in 2019.

Housing Supply Action Plan

In late November, the government of Ontario announced that it would be developing a Housing Supply Action Plan. The provincial government rightly recognized that strong demand for housing and limited supply in Ontario has resulted in rapidly rising housing costs over the last few years, and that in fast growing areas like the GTA, high housing costs and rents are squeezing families and individuals out of the market. The Province is looking at what can be done to speed up the approval process so new housing can be built at a faster pace, how to encourage the right housing mix to be built, and the impact that high land costs and fees and taxes are having on housing prices. In addition, the action plan will look at home rental and ownership, not simply one or the other. These important initiatives are a great opportunity to begin to address the fundamental causes of housing affordability.

Revisit the stress test

While the issue of housing affordability is firmly on the provincial agenda, pressure is now growing on the federal government to consider the impacts of its mandated mortgage stress test. The program has succeeded in balancing the hot 2017 market, but is having a disproportionate impact on young and first-time homebuyers. The test, in effect, reduces the maximum amount of a mortgage that a home purchaser can borrow by roughly 20 per cent. Young and first-time homebuyers are the most likely to borrow close to their maximums, however, they also have the longest horizons for repayment and are often in the growth phase of their careers and earning potential. A growing chorus of industry professionals are urging Ottawa to fine-tune the approach and perhaps the potential for a one-time, longer amortization period for first-time buyers can provide some relief in 2019.

Lastly, municipalities can no longer ignore the issue or the role they must play as a partner to industry and the other levels of government in finding meaningful solutions to this issue.

Municipal involvement

During the fall municipal elections, voters in the GTA ranked housing affordability as a top priority for new local governments and the need to increase housing supply as a key mechanism to address  affordability was supported by nine out of 10 respondents to an IPSOS poll conducted by the industry last fall. With new councils and mandates in place, now is the time for new ideas.

This must be the year of action on this issue. With the arrival of 115,000 new residents to the GTA every year, and as we fall short in providing new housing at the levels required, we cannot afford to wait.

Dave 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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Ontario web

Ontario government commits to housing action plan

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Ontario government commits to housing action plan

Ontario web
Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

The Ontario government says it is committed to a housing plan that makes more good quality places to live available for “the hardworking people of the province.”

“In communities all across Ontario, people are struggling to find housing they can afford,” says Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We’re taking action to help create more housing faster, give people more choice and bring down housing costs.”

Ontario is knocking down barriers to people getting housing they can afford that meets their needs, through:

 

  • Legislation that would make new rental units exempt from rent control, effective Nov. 15, 2018, while preserving rent increase limits for existing tenants
  • Ending the previous government’s expensive and ineffective Development Charges Rebate Program
  • Seeking public input on ways the government can remove barriers to building the right kind of housing in the right places. This input will inform a broader housing supply action plan. The consultation includes a downloadable toolkit so community groups can host local roundtables and share their thoughts with the province.

 

The demand for housing in Ontario has risen rapidly in recent years, driven by strong population growth and low interest rates. However, the supply of housing has not kept pace, leading to higher prices and rents.

Building more housing will also help make Ontario more attractive to businesses and investors, restoring the province to its rightful place as the economic engine of Canada.

“High housing costs are a barrier to job creators, large and small, because employees need affordable places to live,” says Todd Smith, minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Making housing more affordable will encourage people to start and grow businesses, right here at home.”

BILD reaction

“The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) of the GTA is very supportive of the development of a Housing Supply Action Plan for Ontario,” says David Wilkes, president and CEO. “Shortfall in supply is a key factor undermining housing affordability, increasing rents and creating barriers to home ownership. We applaud the Ford government’s commitment  to address key issues affecting the housing supply and ultimately the affordability of housing in the GTA.”

TREB approves

The Toronto Real Estate Board, for its part, applauds the Province’s announcement.

“The Toronto Real Estate Board applauds the provincial government for taking action to ensure that our city, region and province have an adequate supply and appropriate mix of housing,” TREB said in a release.

Nowhere are housing supply and mix issues more of a priority than in the GTA, where TREB’s 53,000 members operate, the association says. “TREB realtors work with home buyers and sellers every day and they see the challenges caused by inadequate supply and mix of housing.

“We look forward to participating in the provincial government’s consultation process on this issue and helping our region and province to remain one of the best places to live in the world.”

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Delays in approval process contributing to housing affordability issue in GTA

7 factors that will affect GTA housing in 2019 – and 5 reasons to consider buying NOW

5 steps to solving the housing affordability issue in Ontario

 

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Source: Century 21 Canada

Canada’s most and least expensive places to buy – and guess where Toronto is

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Canada’s most and least expensive places to buy – and guess where Toronto is

Source: Century 21 Canada
Source: Century 21 Canada

In yet another potential dagger in the heart of prospective first-time homebuyers, a new study from Century 21 Canada underlines the growing affordability issue in Toronto.

The price-per-square-foot (ppsf) of downtown Toronto rose more than 10 per cent in the last year and continues to top Ontario home prices. Meanwhile, prices rose and fell turbulently in GTA suburbs and other communities in the province.

Source: Century 21 Canada
Source: Century 21 Canada

The ppsf of a condo in downtown Toronto rose to $903 from $819 last year, making Toronto Canada’s second most expensive city for homes, after Metro Vancouver. Meanwhile, the ppsf for a detached house in Markham and Richmond Hill each fell 24 per cent to $379 and $445 respectively, while condos in Peterborough rose to $255. Home prices in Ottawa and Guelph were more stable, rising 4.65 per cent to $225 and 4.5 per cent to $397 ppsf, respectively.

UNPREDICTABLE YEAR

“It has been an unpredictable year in Ontario housing prices, with the price per square foot rising and falling from community-to-community and even suburb-to-suburb,” says Brian Rushton, executive vice-president of Century 21 Canada. “Much like in Canada’s other major centres prices fall rapidly once you are outside the downtown core of Toronto, and homes in those communities remain relatively affordable. Even with an increase of almost five per cent, Ottawa remains one of the least expensive places to live in Ontario.”

Toronto’s rising prices are underscored in another survey earlier this year by Century 21 Canada, asking Canadians to rate their current living situation. The survey found only 39 per cent of Toronto residents are living in close to their ideal situation (eight out of 10 on a 10-point scale), while 13 per cent reported their situation is far from ideal. At 26 per cent, a large number of Toronto residents say an apartment or condo is their ideal living situation.

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GTA 2019

7 factors that will affect GTA housing in 2019 – and 5 reasons to consider buying NOW

Latest News


7 factors that will affect GTA housing in 2019 – and 5 reasons to consider buying NOW

GTA 2019

By Wayne Karl

GTA homebuyers, we have some good news and some bad news.

First, the good news: You live in one of the most desirable areas and housing markets in Canada – maybe even the world.

The bad news? That affordability challenge we’re all facing.

“The affordability issue is not going away,” PricewaterhouseCoopers says plainly, in its Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2019 report.

Why? See point number one.

“Potential homebuyers will need to alter their expectations and possibly delay entry into homeownership,” Dana Senagama, manager, market analysis for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), told Homes Publishing.

Not exactly the most hopeful outlook for those – especially first-timers – looking to buy a home in and around the GTA.

But it’s not all bad. Let’s look at what’s going on in the market, and what would-be buyers can do to help their cause.

1 Return to price growth

Following the introduction of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan in April 2017, recent interest rate hikes and other changes, sales and prices in the GTA have seen some moderation.

But the slowing will be short-lived, Senagama says. Key economic fundamentals such as population and employment growth will continue to drive housing market demand, but the supply of new homes is not being addressed. The result? A return to price growth.

“CMHC is working on data gaps like supply with many industry stakeholders and partners,” she says. “Currently, we are participating in a working group with the province of Ontario to find solutions and best practices.”

PwC says the region is feeling the effects of demographic shifts. Millennials have begun to compete with Baby Boomers for real estate, and over the next decade, almost 700,000 first-time buyers will target the GTA or Hamilton markets, according to a May 2018 report from the Ontario Real Estate Association.

2 Risk of overvaluation

Senagama cautions, however, that the Toronto market is still showing signs of overvaluation.

“This happens when house price growth is surpassing the population and income growth. So, despite some of the moderation you’re seeing, we’re still calling for a high degree of vulnerability in Toronto in the foreseeable future.”

3 Inelastic supply

The GTA housing market is characterized by inelastic supply. “Supply is slow to respond to any change in price, and we’re seeing that time and time again,” she says.

Recent research from CMHC and Altus Group, in fact, shows that of the lowrise new home projects that were started in 2016 and 2017, it took 15 years for those developments to go from the initial land purchase to product hitting the market.

Supply response
Source: CMHC

 

“We have a problem, in terms of supply.”

With very limited new home supply hitting the market, once buyers get used to temporary shocks to the system brought on by policy issues and rising interest rates, they return to buying homes, which in turn drives up prices.

4 Condo demand

With lowrise home prices enjoying spectacular growth in recent years, there was a compositional shift in demand toward less expensive product – namely condos – particular among first-time buyers.

But now, with price growth even in this category – with average condo prices rising 8.4 per cent year-over-year to $552,269 in the third quarter this year – and pre-construction units in the $700,000 range…

“These are not price points for first-time buyers,” Senagama says, “so we’re still looking at very high prices across the GTA.”

5 Mortgage rates

The Bank of Canada has already raised its influential overnight rate target three times since July 2017, to 1.5 per cent from 0.75 per cent. Experts expect at least one more increase this year, possibly as early as the next rate announcement on Oct. 24.

A more moderate pace of rate increases could impact the market, but not significantly since the majority of mortgage holders are on fixed-rate mortgages, CMHC research shows.

6 Rental market

Any discussion about affordability needs to include the rental market, Senagama says. “Much like the ownership segment, supply is a huge constraint in the Toronto rental market.”

Rental

With the average vacancy rate in the GTA 1.1 per cent, and 0.7 per cent for condo rentals, rental rate increases are picking up steam. “Because we have a supply problem. And because we don’t have enough supply of the purpose-built rental units, the gap has been filled in by the condo market.”

About 33 per cent of all condos in Toronto are being rented out by investors, according to CMHC. This results in renters paying a much higher premium to rent a condo versus a purpose-built apartment – on average 50 per cent more, for a two-bedroom unit.

“We talk about affordability, and this raises so many other concerns, especially in a market that is supply-strapped,” Senagama says.

7 Catch 22

investors are buying into the condo market to rent out their units, taking advantage of the tight rental market. But first-time buyers – who typically aren’t equity-rich or wealthy – have to compete for available condo product, which again drives up prices.

 

 

5 REASONS TO BUY A HOME NOW (OR AS SOON AS YOU CAN)

1 Affordability

More supply of new homes is a big part of the solution. But despite ongoing lobbying from the housing industry, and apparent increasing awareness of new elected municipal leaders, this problem won’t be solved overnight. It will take time. Lots of it. In the meantime, as PricewaterhouseCoopers says: The affordability issue is not going away. It might even get worse before it gets better.

2 Market moderation waning

With little relief on the supply side expected, price growth will continue to be strong, even if somewhat muted compared to the double-digit increases seen over the last few years. In short, the longer buyers wait, the more it could cost you.

3 Interest rates

Experts expect at least one more increase this year, possibly as early as the next rate announcement on Oct. 24. To protect yourself against a more moderate pace of rate increases, consider a fixed-rate mortgage product.

4 Pent-up demand

Buyers believe prices are going to increase, but not to the same degree we’ve seen in recent years. This will lead to pent-up demand, which when released over the next year, will contribute to increasing buying activity and rising prices. So, if you’re able to buy before then, you could beat the rush.

5 Rental market

If you’re a Millennial planning to move out of home and into the rental market, consider this: Toronto is the most expensive Canadian rental market, with average rates for one-bedroom units at slightly more than $1,900 per month (up 2.8 per cent from August to September); $2,374 for two-bedrooms (up 7.1 per cent). Try saving up for a down payment at those rates; maybe staying at home a little longer isn’t so bad after all.

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

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Mortgage

Home prices and affordability still a concern – CMHC Mortgage Consumer Survey

Latest News


Home prices and affordability still a concern – CMHC Mortgage Consumer Survey

Mortgage

Rising home prices and affordability continue to weigh on prospective homebuyers, according to Canada Mortgage Housing Corp., in its 2018 Mortgage Consumer Survey.

Indeed, for first-time buyers, price and affordability are the most important factors they consider when buying a home – more than type of neighbourhood, proximity to work and overall condition of the home.

While decreasing steadily for four consecutive surveys, more than one-third (37 per cent) of homebuyers continue to feel concern or uncertainty when buying a home. “Concerns related to affordability top the list with more than 50 per cent of concerned buyers worrying about paying too much for their home while nearly one-third worry about rising interest rates and mortgage qualification,” the survey says.

Other survey highlights include:

  • Eighty-five per cent of first-time buyers spent the most they could afford on their home purchase.  However, a majority (76 per cent) are confident that they will be able to meet their future mortgage payment obligations.
  • Sixty per cent of first-time buyers and 69 per cent of repeat buyers indicated that, if they were to run into some financial trouble, they would have sufficient assets (such as investments and other property) to supplement their needs.
  • About 50 per cent of homebuyers agreed they would feel comfortable using more technology to arrange their next mortgage transaction. However, the majority agree it is important to meet face-to-face with their mortgage professional when negotiating and finalizing their mortgage.
  • Slightly more than half (52 per cent) of homebuyers were aware of the latest mortgage qualification rules. About one in five first-time buyers indicated the rules impacted their purchase decision with most opting to decrease non-essential expenses, purchase a less expensive home or use savings to increase their down payment.
  • Consumers continue to show confidence in their homebuying and mortgage decisions, with 80 per cent believing that homeownership remains a good long-term financial investment and 66 per cent believing the value of their home will increase in the next 12 months.
  • More than one in five (22 per cent) first-time buyers were newcomers to Canada and almost 50 per cent were millennials (aged of 25 to 34), down from 60 per cent in 2017.

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Detached homes

5 affordable neighbourhoods for detached homes in 416 and 905

Latest News


5 affordable neighbourhoods for detached homes in 416 and 905

Detached homes

by Wayne Karl

Looking for a detached home in the GTA and not sure where to look? Despite what recent reports would have you believe,  there are still some affordable neighbourhoods for single-family homes in the 416 and 905 areas.

Affordable being a relative word, of course, as compared to average prices. As of Sept. 30, 2018, the average price of a detached home in the GTA is $1.01 million – $1.34 million in the 416, and $905,722 in the 905.

Indeed, there’s been no shortage of stories recently about the challenges of the housing market – namely supply, pricing and affordability – on both the resale and new homes sides of the market.

The most recent, in fact, coming this morning.

“While higher borrowing costs and tougher mortgage qualification rules have kept sales levels off the record pace set in 2016, many households remain positive about home ownership as a quality long-term investment,” Toronto Real Estate Board President Garry Bhaura said Oct. 3 in releasing TREB’s Market Watch Report for September. “As the GTA population continues to grow, the real challenge in the housing market will be supply rather than demand. The Toronto Real Estate Board is especially concerned with issues affecting housing supply as we move towards municipal elections across the region.”

For the purposes of this story, let’s focus on resale homes. (We’ll prepare a follow-up focusing on new detached homes in a subsequent report in the coming days.

First, let’s look at some of the hottest areas of the GTA in terms of price growth.

Top five GTA neighbourhoods for price appreciation

Detached homes in 2018
NEIGHBOURHOOD Q1 Q2 % Change
Palmerston-Little Italy,
Trinity-Bellwoods $1.60M $1.87M 17
Brock $498,966 $573,951 15
The Beaches $1.32M $1.50M 13
Edenbridge, Humber Valley, Islington $1.43M $1.57M 10
Georgina $538,817 $590,255 10
Source: ReMax Integra Ontario-Atlantic Region, TREB

 

Double-digit price growth in one quarter is fantastic if you currently own in any of these areas. But if you were hoping to buy there, your purchase price just got a lot more expensive in a matter of months.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the comparatively more affordable areas for detached homes in the GTA.

 

MOST AFFORDABLE NEIGHBOURHOODS IN THE 416

Detached homes, Q2 2018
NEIGHBOURHOOD Average Price
West Humber, Claireville, Rexdale-Kipling,
and Thistletown-Beaumond Heights $732,854
Bendale, Woburn and Morningside $742,670
Malvern, Rouge $752,292
Rockcliffe-Smythe, Keelesdale-Eglinton West, Weston $783,141
Downsview-Roding, Glenfield-Jane Heights, Black Creek $859,215
Source:  ReMax Integra Ontario-Atlantic Region, TREB

 

MOST AFFORDABLE NEIGHBOURHOODS IN THE 905

Detached homes, Q2 2018
NEIGHBOURHOOD Average Price
Essa $547,970
Oshawa $556,309
Brock $573,951
Clarington $585,562
Georgina $590,255
Source: ReMax Integra Ontario-Atlantic Region, TREB

 

As you can see, some of the still-affordable areas for detached homes in the GTA – such as Brock (Durham Region) and Georgina – are also performing well in terms of price growth.

Durham Region, Simcoe County and Dufferin County, in short, are hot.

In particular, Brock  and Essa (Simcoe County), Burlington, Halton Hills, Brampton, Orangeville and Scugog are all showing promise in detached home price growth, according to ReMax Integra, Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region.

“After an extended period of housing market inertia, the floodgates are breaking open,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax Integra. “Upward movement in detached housing values and the threat of additional interest rate hikes in the future are prompting homebuyers to get off the fence and into the market. Rising consumer confidence, job security and an economy firing on all cylinders should continue to support healthy home-buying activity in the GTA for the remainder of the year and into 2019.”

Next in this series, we’ll explore some of the new home developments and buying opportunities in some of these areas, as well as those for multi-family homes and condos.

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

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