Tag Archives: Barbara Lawlor

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Why are condos selling like hotcakes in Toronto and the GTA?

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Why are condos selling like hotcakes in Toronto and the GTA?

To say that condominiums have become the new home of choice for most buyers in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area is an understatement. Even in the face of rising costs, the new condo market is continually robust.

The first reason is, of course, price. The cost of single-family homes has skyrocketed to the point that first-time buyers, in particular, are just not able to afford them. Even with prices of condos rising, they are still typically more financially attainable. People are also coming up with creative ways to afford condos, such as co-purchasing. Parents of college and university age children also often find buying a condo for their kids to live in while attending post-secondary school is more economical than paying for them to stay in a dorm. At the end, these parents have earned equity as well. Just look at how well condo owners who purchased a few years ago are doing. Savvy investors will also tell you that a condominium suite is a great addition to a financial portfolio. The nice thing is that exterior maintenance and amenity repair and upkeep are handled for them.

Lifestyle also has a lot to do with the trend toward condominiums. People of all ages today are just plain busy. Their lifestyles are hectic, so eliminating exterior maintenance from their lives frees up time for family, friends and leisure activities. And in a condo, they have wonderful amenities just an elevator ride away. Today’s beautiful common areas range from chic party rooms to equipped fitness centres, technologically advanced theatres, glorious swimming pools, spectacular barbecue terraces, children’s play centres and more!

Here is another reason – for most people, condominium living is fun. With people passing each other in hallways and meeting in elevators and common areas, they get to know their neighbours. There are so many options for relaxing, exercising and interacting in areas such as games rooms, that the building is truly a vertical community. In fact, condo purchasers have told me they rarely knew their neighbours in their single-family home communities, and that they find it easier to make friends in their building.

The icing on the condominium ownership cake is location. Nowadays, buildings are situated close to public transit and local amenities. In fact, many condo owners do not even need to own a vehicle, which frees up thousands of dollars to put toward their other expenses. There is a certain freedom that comes with being able to walk or hop on a bus or subway to go to work or run errands. Toronto and the GTA locations are all home to superb shopping, cultural venues, schools, parks, recreation centres… you get the picture.

If you are looking for a new home, and even if you can afford a single-family residence, consider a condo for any or all of the above reasons. Around the world, apartments and condominiums are the norm for everyone from singles to young couples, emptynesters and even families. Toronto and the GTA are catching up. Viva the condo!

Barbara Lawlor is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Fall into value with a new condo

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Fall into value with a new condo

When it comes to new condominiums, the word “value” refers to how much you get for your money, both now and in the future. Of course, every buyer, regardless of circumstances and means, wants to get the most possible in the purchase of a new condominium. So, what are the elements that make up value?

I would say that location is first. Given the demand for condos in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, pretty much any location is perfect for someone. Many purchasers choose buildings in up-and-coming areas in order to get in before prices go up as new amenities and infrastructure are added. Others who have the wherewithal, choose to live in already established, prestigious neighbourhoods they know will always be desirable. The hot button nowadays is proximity to transit, and any condominium near or on a transit line is bound to sell quickly to buyers who realize the value in not having to own and maintain a vehicle to get around. Add to that easily reachable local shopping, parks, services, restaurants, schools and the like, and location takes on an even deeper significance.

Next, consider aesthetics. Architecture can have a huge effect on desirability – and fortunately, developers offer a range of styles to satisfy every taste from sleek and modern to contemporary and traditional. From the outside, a condo should feel like “home” to purchasers, so the exterior does make a difference. Today’s designs also include brilliant landscape plans that enhance the beauty and sustainability of the buildings.

Amenities are another consideration in the decision-making process for condo-shoppers. There is nothing more convenient than having wonderful common areas right in the building. These may range from retail venues on the ground floor to pools, party rooms, fitness facilities, lounges, libraries, theatres, rooftop barbecue and dining areas, pet grooming spots, and even golf simulators. Certainly, one of the best parts of living in a condo is having a simple elevator commute to access these attractive areas. Some condos go so far as to employ activity coordinators to help residents make the most of their “homes.”

And speaking of “home,” condo buyers (unless they choose completed inventory suites) have the privilege of selecting the features and finishes that will make them comfortable and appeal to their senses. Today’s choices are phenomenal, even when buyers stick to the standards. The quality and selection alone speak to value, both to end-users and investors. Even those who live in their suites benefit in the future when selling to move on. Lovely finishes that stand the test of time will always be selling features.

One more thing is to consider the developer’s reputation. There is a certain cachet inherent in buying in a building created by a company that has earned a reputation for providing value and excellent customer service. It is easy to research the history of developers, now that we have the Internet at our fingertips. Do some research and find out about the “pros” that add up to value. In the long run, you’ll make a value-packed new condo decision!

Barbara Lawlor is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Women buyers a force in the condo marketplace

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Women buyers a force in the condo marketplace

According to Statistics Canada, the number of single-person households has more than doubled over the past 35 years, and many of the people in this group are women. Although at one time, this group was largely made up of widowed seniors, these days women living alone come from every age group, especially between the ages of 35 to 64. According to a StatsCan report, one in five people who live alone do so in condominiums. Last year, a report in the U.S. showed that single women are the second-largest group, after married couples, of home purchasers.

At Baker Real Estate Inc., we regularly see this trend in action, with women choosing condominium suites as their primary residences, vacation residences and/or investment properties. One-bedroom suites sell like hotcakes, and I estimate that about a third of our sales for our clients are to female buyers. They may be young first-time purchasers who understand the value of owning a home, and who choose condos because of their relative affordability in the Greater Toronto Area. We have even helped women buy a condominium suite in partnership with another female in order to afford a larger suite than they would be able to carry by themselves, – a great way for both to build equity.

Seasoned professionals often want to live closer to where they work. Other scenarios include single mothers, or any women who have become widowed or separated and are now facing life on their own. Condos also offer a sense of freedom for women who travel extensively. They can just lock the door and leave, knowing they don’t have to worry about snow removal, lawn mowing and the cleaning and upkeep on the condominium’s amenities. In addition, there are savvy investors who recognize a tremendous return-on-investment opportunity.

Many who intend to live in the suites they buy appreciate the community and security aspects of condominium living. The concierge, for example, provides screening for visitors and “eyes on the street.” Today’s buildings are also equipped with advanced security features such as monitored cameras in the underground parking garage, entry phone and in-suite security systems.

Condos in essence are vertical neighbourhoods, and women appreciate the sense of community they find in these residences. If and when they need help with anything, plenty of neighbours live close by. Over time, they get to know each other in the elevators, hallways and amenity spaces. They may trade favours such as watering plants and caring for pets while away.

New condos also appeal partially because of the “new” aspect. I believe that every woman has a decorator in her soul, so being able to select your own colours and materials for flooring, countertops and other finishes is appealing.

Women of all ages and walks of life benefit from all aspects of condominium living. Buying instead of renting is a wonderful investment in their financial and lifestyle future, and they can enjoy the fruits of this investment every day.

Barbara Lawlor is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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The four seasons of condo living

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The four seasons of condo living

How does the song go? “Summertime, and the living is easy” – in a condo, that is! When exterior chores such as lawn mowing and weeding are left to the professionals, suite owners have more time to spend with family and friends. They also have the opportunity to enjoy a lifestyle of ease, convenience and activity year round.

Whether you live in the city or the Greater Toronto Area, if you are in a condominium, your summer includes basking in the fresh air on your balcony, rooftop garden or in the courtyard your building might feature. Some condos offer an outdoor pool with loungers for soaking up glorious sunshine. Landscaping is in full bloom, and the views of your building’s surroundings are incredible. Entertaining on the rooftop brings a whole new level of elegance and fun to any gathering. Those who indulge in container gardening can walk out to the balcony and harvest fresh herbs for dinner. Of course, summer is a time of festivals in most every section of the city and in the suburbs. The possibilities are endless and exciting, and when you live in a condo, you are likely within a quick stroll, bike ride or public transit ride away.

Come fall when the air turns crisper, urban views transform to autumn colours, and well-placed landscaping around condominiums morph to take on the new season. We always still have some beautiful weather in the fall, so condo residents will make the most of outdoor barbecue and dining while they can. Sitting on the balcony watching the stars and city lights may require a light jacket, but it is well worth the effort. Of course, as thoughts turn to interior activities, condo residents are fortunate to have wonderful amenities under their roof. School gets underway again, and families appreciate the time condo living frees up as their hectic lifestyles resume.

Winter in a condo is akin to living in a resort, with opportunities for swimming, playing pool, watching the big game in the theatre, hosting a party in the chic multi-purpose room, working out in the exercise facilities, and/or reading the latest bestseller in the cosy library. Today’s condo developers spend time and effort working with landscape architects to ensure that plant material is attractive all year long. Some ornamental grasses and other choices remain attractive during the winter. And for those suite owners who opt to go down south to escape some of the wintry weather, it’s simply a matter of locking their suite doors and leaving worry free, as snow clearing and maintenance of common areas are handled for them.

As spring approaches, there is the refreshing metamorphosis from snow to colour as the world wakes up to longer days and warmer temperatures. Green thumbs ready their balcony containers, and plants go in with the promise of another lush summer. The cycle continues, as condo residents revel in their day-to-day lifestyles. A condo is truly a home for all seasons.

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Respect for others key to successful condo living

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Respect for others key to successful condo living

A condominium residence is a vertical community where you live close to neighbours and where you meet them on a regular basis in hallways, elevators and amenity spaces. Successful condominium living demands respect for your neighbours as you go about your day-to-day activities. Condo boards of directors establish codes of conduct for their buildings. Yes, there are restrictions on what can and cannot be done, but realize that these guidelines protect your and everyone’s health, safety, privacy, comfort and enjoyment. These may cover restrictions on pets, what you can place on your balcony or, conduct when using the building amenities.

Keep in mind that the volunteers who serve on the board live at your address, so they definitely have the best interests of residents at heart. Board members ensure the smooth running of the building. Your monthly maintenance fee is administered by the board to ensure the upkeep, repair and cleanliness of the building’s exterior and common areas. The corporation also establishes and operates the reserve fund that takes care of your investment for years to come. Your fees cover salaries for the concierge and other staff as well.

Yes, on occasion, board members may make a mistake, but be reasonable about it if that happens. Patience is truly a virtue when it comes to getting glitches sorted out. After you move in, before you approach anyone on the board with a suggestion or concern, make sure your comments are based on facts rather than hearsay. Show gratitude for their time and hard work.

And here is an idea: Consider serving on your condominium corporation board. I can tell you from experience that it can be a lot of fun. In addition to feeling part of your community, you have a first-hand say in how the building is run. Your input spans the gamut from awarding contracts for building maintenance to hiring staff. Qualifications include good communication skills, fulfilling the governmental education requirements and a willingness to be a team player. Board members often become friends, even though they typically hail from a variety of backgrounds including sales, law, administration, landscaping and the like.

Getting along with neighbours has many benefits. In addition to the security features your condominium includes, this level of human interaction and proximity adds a “safety in numbers” aspect to your lifestyle. Over time, suite owners and their families get to know each other and help friends when they can. There is a certain level of security in this familiarity. People in condos tend to notice anything unusual and report it to the concierge, who provides the irreplaceable eyes-on-the-street.

Your happiness and enjoyment in a condominium is really up to you. To find out more about the rights and responsibilities of condominium owners, check out Consumer Protection Ontario’s website on “Owning a Condo” at ontario.ca. Remember that common courtesy, respect and kindness are expected of condo owners at all times. The golden rule should be your rule!

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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When the Elite purchase condos

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When the Elite purchase condos

When people shop for a new condominium, I always advise them to make a list of must-haves and nice to-haves. It can also be fun to make a wish list of everything you would like to have if money was no object. Of course, nowadays, price looms large in most people’s consideration, but there are many buyers who can afford absolutely everything they desire. Imagine what an experience that must be!

So, what can money buy? The first thing that comes to mind is the opportunity to customize a penthouse extensively. Let’s say a purchaser starts with a 5,000-sq.-ft. design. Depending on preferences, that buyer might want a traditional layout with separate living and dining rooms. Those with more contemporary tastes may opt instead to have an open concept main living area with plenty of space for entertaining on a grand scale. This ballroom-inspired space could hold tables for dining or could be kept open, depending on the event.

Another benefit of money-is-no-object shopping is the ability to incorporate things such as exercise facilities, a home theatre, media room and whirlpool into the suite, rather than sharing these amenities with other residents. Talk about pure luxury! Even a private landscaped rooftop terrace with a pool is a possibility. Some of the most elite penthouses include space for staff quarters and a separate entrance as well, sometimes a private elevator. Multiple balconies and terraces may also be part of the suite’s layout to maximize views and the ability to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is pleasant.

Today’s new condos all come with outstanding features and finishes, but purchasers who can afford it all can have sumptuous appointments brought in from around the world. Kitchens alone can feature items such as a barbecue stove, vegetable steamer beside the sink, pasta tap at the back of the stove and an exotic backsplash. Maybe buyers want appliances to rise out of the counter with the press of a button.

And let’s talk master bedrooms and ensuites. The possibilities are positively elegant, from marble counters to lavish oval soaker tubs, spa features and steam rooms. A special wall designed specifically to fit an art collection, multiple fireplaces, backlit coffered panels on high ceilings, elegant chandeliers… if you can imagine it, a developer can likely source and install it. Think of these as the most upscale of upgrades imaginable.

There is another way to live an ultra-pampered lifestyle in a condominium – purchase in a residence situated above a five-star hotel. Suite owners can tap into the world-class amenities of the hotel below. How wonderful it must be to simply hop on an elevator to indulge in spa treatments or dine at a superb restaurant.

For some elite buyers, a penthouse in Toronto is one of two or more residences they own. They may consider it a home base during business trips or vacations. Yes, this is a dream scenario for most of us, but isn’t it grand to know that a condominium wish list can become reality for those who can afford it?

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Enter the new home marketplace sooner rather than later!

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Enter the new home marketplace sooner rather than later!

They say that timing is everything, and in the new condominium market, that statement is true. Think about the people who purchased condo suites a decade or two ago, or even five years ago, and how much return-on-investment they have enjoyed. Mortgage interest rates are still amazingly low, and those who act soon can purchase at similar single-digit rates our parents and grandparents enjoyed. The moral of the story is to get into the new condo ownership market sooner rather than later.

First-time buyers today usually turn to condominiums for financial attainability, and owning a new condo is one of the wisest moves they can make toward their future. Building equity opens the door to numerous options as people age and life circumstances change. Nowadays, families are opting for condos as well, because the condo lifestyle frees up precious time they can spend together. Buyers who are right-sizing their lives to a condominium suite can achieve a more compact, convenient and fun lifestyle.

When considering timing, look at where condos are in the marketing /selling cycle. Projected occupancy dates may or may not fit in with your plans. If you buy early in the cycle shortly after a community is announced, you enjoy the best price and the most choice of suites, floors and views. Ask, too, about Grand Opening specials that can save you thousands. Again, depending on your plans, you may be happy to wait anywhere from three to six years to move in. This time can be used to save money toward your purchase and to plan for the move. And remember that you might earn equity even before you move in!

Then again, waiting until construction begins offers a lot of peace of mind to some purchasers. Once there is an obvious acceptance by the public and the developer can go ahead with construction, we typically see a jump in sales. You are wise to ask sales representatives whether you can still choose features and finishes if you wait for the onset of construction.

We also see a lot of condo buyers who prefer to buy late in a condo’s sales process so they can have a quick move-in, as the suites may already be built. Developers often offer the final few suites with special incentives that are incredibly attractive. You may have to select a suite finished with standards, but today’s level of standard appointments is so high, you are sure to enjoy beautiful, luxurious surroundings. Buying at this stage means you can start your carefree condo lifestyle right away.

You may also want to time your purchase with respect to location. For example, investors tend to buy in communities that are located in up-and-coming neighbourhoods, because prices are better before amenities are in place and the area’s revitalization is complete. Or perhaps you want to move into an already established location, and the increased price is well worth it to you.

So, when is the best time to buy a condo in the GTA? No matter how you slice it, the answer is NOW!

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Incorporated, winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Start the new year with a new condo!

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Start the new year with a new condo!

Affinity and Odyssey Condos
Affinity and Odyssey Condos, Rosehaven Homes.

Why start the new year with a new condo?

  1. Condominiums across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area have proven to be excellent additions to people’s lifestyle and financial portfolios. According to Urbanation, new condo prices hit an all-time high in the third quarter of 2018, while sales volume hit the third-highest Q3 total in the past 10 years. Think of the return on investment condominium owners who bought years ago have enjoyed. Get into the condo market now, while prices are still on the rise.
  2. You will find superb condominiums in remarkable locations close to amenities, public transit and parks. Some offer direct access to transit, which eliminates the need to own a vehicle. First-time buyers, in particular, find this tremendously helpful in affording an urban condo. Buyers of all ages appreciate the convenience of owning within walking and biking distance to run errands, and for some people, to their workplace.
  3. Today’s condominium architecture is stunning, whether the building is a sleek, modern point tower, an intimate boutique midrise, or anything in between. Traditional, transitional, contemporary… when you shop for a condo, you will find a variety of exteriors available to please a variety of sensibilities. Your condo should feel like “home” from first glance.
  4. Lifestyle in a condo is one of luxury, whether you move into a studio or compact one-bedroom suite or a sprawling penthouse. Beautiful building amenities span the gamut from party rooms to boardrooms, fitness centres to yoga studios, ground-level courtyards to rooftop oases with pools, barbecues, dining areas and/or lounges.
  5. The lifestyle is also one of ease as well, as residents’ maintenance fees cover the exterior upkeep such as landscaping and snow removal, as well as the cleaning and repair of all common areas in the building. Imagine the time that frees up to spend more time with family, traveling or enjoying hobbies.
  6. Suite interiors are masterpieces of design, with functional layouts that are flexible as well. With open-concept main living spaces, residents can delineate “rooms” to their preference using furniture groupings and area rugs. Gorgeous linear kitchens become part of the main living area and free up space. Dens can double as guest rooms, nurseries, home offices and anything else your imagination can conjure up.
  7. Today’s features and finishes rival those of condominiums around the world. In fact, our condominium purchasers here have much more choice than they do in the U.S. Even buyers who choose to appoint their suites with standards appreciate their beauty and quality.
  8. In Toronto and the GTA, we are fortunate to have some of the finest builders and developers in Ontario offering condominium communities. They enlist award-winning design firms to help bring their vision to reality.
  9. New condominiums in Ontario are still protected by Tarion Warranty Corp. Last year, the Minister of Government and Consumer Services announced proposed changes to enhance consumer protection, and Tarion is committed to supporting the province in this transition.

Those are just some of the reasons to start 2019 with a brand new condominium. Happy New Year!

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Incorporated, winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Holiday Gift Suggestions For Condo Owners

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Holiday Gift Suggestions For Condo Owners

People of many cultures give gifts in December to celebrate the love of family and friends. If there is a condominium-owner on your gift list, or someone who will be moving into a condo in the near future, some careful thought can go a long way in giving something that will fit their new lifestyle.

Think flexibility. It’s true that today’s suite designs maximize space, but there is only so much room for “stuff” in a condo. When you think of the kitchen, for example, few condominium suites have enough counter and cabinet space for someone to own a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, air fryer, electric mixer, blender, food processor, coffee grinder, coffee maker … you get the cluttered picture. The solution is to seek out multi-functional, practical small appliances, and there are many on the market today. A toaster with wide slots to accommodate bread, bagels and Belgian waffles is an example.

Coaster set WestElm.ca

Perhaps you are thinking of stocking stuffers? How about kitchen towels or stacking coffee mugs that will add a pop of colour? Everyone today is into digital media storage, so a USB drive is a welcome gift. Decorative wall hooks can save space. An edible gift such as homemade jam or cookies is usually a hit. You can also find special gift baskets filled with everything from fruit to wine, crackers, cheeses, candies and other items. First-time owners are likely on a tight budget, so tickets to a play, concert or sporting event; a gift card to iTunes; or a magazine subscription notification would fit beautifully into a stocking.

Velvet cushion WestElm.ca

The possibilities are phenomenal. If you know the condo-owner’s colour scheme, a cozy throw blanket or cushions could be the perfect choice. A multi-tool gadget is a great idea, as are a fabric laundry bag that can hang on the back of a closet door, a hand-held vacuum, a cute night light, and serving trays that can double as dining surfaces. If your loved one loves candles, think of these items as gifts that have a temporary, but relaxing existence.

Cashmere throw from Restoration Hardware RH.com

Bed linens, placemats, potted herbs, a shoe rack, a gift card to a furniture store, monogrammed towels, an ottoman that doubles as a coffee table, seating and/or storage unit … let your fingers do some walking over your computer keyboard and search for more ideas. And have some fun while you’re shopping. A gift selected with joy will convey that happiness to the recipient.

Remember that your family and friends who live in condos likely do not have space for a lot of “things.” In keeping with the season, give a gift that comes from your heart and is within your budget. It really is the thought that counts, and the condo-owners on your gift list will appreciate the thought you put into helping them maximize space.

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Incorporated, winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Government should develop a better plan for Development Charges

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Government should develop a better plan for Development Charges

We read and hear a lot of criticism in the media and from the general public aimed at builders and developers, complaining about the rising prices of new homes and condominiums in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Blaming builders and developers alone is unfair. Our governments that control development charges must accept a big chunk of the responsibility for current housing prices.

In May of this year, Altus Group conducted a study for BILD entitled “Government Charges and Fees on New Homes in the Greater Toronto Area” and found that the average government charges for a new single detached home add up to $186,300, which is 21.7 per cent of the price. Think about it: 21.7 per cent of the price! Development charges for the average highrise apartment in the GTA amount to approximately $122,800, or 23.9 per cent of the average price. No wonder so many people are priced out of the market.

Of course, land prices have soared over the past while, and the costs of everything from trade labour to suppliers, materials, administration, engineering, architecture, advertising, public relations and the numerous other services necessary to bring new home communities to market have jumped as well. Add to that the fact that once a developer purchases a piece of land, it can, and usually does, take years to obtain all of the approvals in order to build on it, and you can see why offering new homes and condos at affordable prices is a challenge. Throughout those years, ongoing rising costs push up home prices even further.

Having said all of that, development charges are necessary. Municipalities levy these amounts on new developments to help cover the capital costs of increasing each area’s infrastructure and services. These include sewers, roads, water, local amenities, emergency services, etc., that benefit everyone. It is one thing to say that new home buyers should pay their fair share; it is quite another to say that the development charges that have increased between 236 to 878 per cent since 2004 are “fair.” Over that same period, average wage increases and inflation have not gone up anywhere near that much.

Remember that every year, the building and development industry creates thousands of jobs and contributes billions of dollars to our local, provincial and national economy. According to BILD, every construction crane you see across the GTA represents up to 500 new jobs in construction and related fields.

Before you blame only builders and developers, take a good look at your municipal government and how it collects and allocates funding through development charges. If you think it is unfair, speak up. You elect your municipal politicians, and they should work for you, not against you. Ask candidates what they might do to fix this unfair situation. And before you play the blame game with builders and developers, do some research and look at home prices in the proper context.

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Incorporated, winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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