Tag Archives: BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association)

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Development in the GTA

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Development in the GTA

Recently I completed 16 months as the President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association of the Greater Toronto Area (BILD). With 1,500 member companies, BILD GTA is amongst the largest local home building associations in Canada, and with the level of residential and commercial construction occurring across the region, the time has flown by. A consistent occurrence during this period, however, has been the number of questions I get from members of the public about development and homebuilding in the region. Residential and commercial construction is highly visible, cranes dot the skyline from Mississauga to Pickering, and so it’s only natural that residents want to know what’s happening in their communities and why change is occurring. They have questions, such as “Is all this development necessary?” (Yes, we have a housing shortage in the GTA), “Who decides what gets built where?,” “Why in my neighbourhood?,” and perennially “Why is new development so dense?”

After all, that is a primary role of an industry association, to act as conduit between media, the public and the industry. Invariably, two things come out of these interactions. The first is that we get a better understanding and appreciation of the perspectives, concerns and questions of the nearly seven million residents of the region. We use this to inform our communications, columns, and interviews, as chances are the perspectives and questions are more broadly shared. In fact, we often reflect these perspectives in our interactions with municipal and provincial governments. The second is, in our responses we are able to provide answers and information. The development and construction process is complex, lengthy and highly regulated, and more often than not these inquiries are informed by perceptions and information people have gathered through the “grapevine.” Following our interactions, BILD GTA frequently receives a follow-up thanking us for the response, indicating we provided information that was not previously known. While the interaction may not change the concerns that gave rise to the inquiry in the first place, it always leads to a more informed discussion and debate.

The reality is that while the pace of development will ebb and flow year to year with economic cycles and other factors, the long-term trajectory will be for more residential and commercial development across the region. With the population of the GTA expected to grow 40 per cent by 2041 or approximately 115,000 new residents every year, providing places for all these new residents to live, work and play will require a concerted and prolonged development effort. This will require unprecedented levels of co-ordination and partnership between all levels of government, the industry and residents, and key to that is informed discussion and debate. The past 16 months have gone by in the blink of an eye, and I look forward to continuing to work with this dynamic industry for many years to come. Please keep asking us your questions and we will continue to answer them to the best of our ability. Together, we can have constructive dialogue that ultimately helps to inform and shape our region as it assumes its rightful place as a world class city.

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

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GTA builders launch public awareness campaign

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GTA builders launch public awareness campaign

BILD billboard

Motorists driving along Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway – east- and westbound – may notice something very different during their commute on April 2. The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) is launching a six-week public awareness campaign, and a “billboard takeover” along this popular stretch of highway is among the first and most noticeable elements of the program.

Called Building Answers, the campaign is designed to answer key questions GTA residents have about housing and development and will include other outdoor advertising, print placements and social media messaging.

“With 115,000 new people calling the GTA their home every year and the population expected to grow by 40 per cent to 9.7 million by 2041, development and housing construction is highly visible throughout the region,” says David Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD. “It’s natural for residents to have questions and want to understand the changes they are seeing in and around their communities. As the industry that builds the places where people live, work and play, we are committed to facilitating an informed discussion.”

IPSOS conducted a public opinion poll and gathered the top 24 questions from resident-participants, and BILD enlisted a panel of industry professionals to answer them. The buildinganswers.ca website will engage members of the public and provide them with an opportunity to submit their own questions. BILD has committed to answer individual questions within two business days. The most common questions will be answered on the site.

 

SAMPLE QUESTIONS

Q: Why is there so much development in the GTA?

A: The GTA is a great place to live – as evidenced by ranking seventhon the 2018 Economist Intelligence Unit’s list of the world’s most livable cities. But the fact is, we already have a housing shortage and the region is continuing to grow quickly.

People want to move to the GTA. It’s one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in North America with 115,000 people choosing to move here every year. That kind of growth requires approximately 50,000 new homes per year. As it stands, we’ve been able to build approximately 40,000 homes per year since 2016. The gap between what is being built and what is needed is increasing each and every year.

And this growth is not going to slow down any time soon. In fact, it’s expected that our population will grow 40 per cent by 2041, to 9.7 million. That means there’s going to be ongoing demand for housing and employment lands above and beyond the shortfall we already have.

The development and new housing efforts – often represented by construction activity and cranes and graders – are evidence of how we’re working hard every day to help build a livable GTA.

Q: What makes up the cost of a new home or condominium?

A: The cost of a new home or condominium depends on three main drivers:

Price of land: Land values in the GTA for single-family homes have increased by more than 300 per cent since 2006.

Cost of building:This includes labour, materials and design.

Government fees and taxes:In the GTA, 22 per cent of the cost of a single-family home comprises government fees and taxes from all three levels of government. For condominiums, this jumps to 24 per cent.

The cost of a new home or condominium is also affected by factors such as location, size and type of building.

 

“BILD receives many inquiries on a regular basis from members of the public about housing and development in their communities,” adds Wilkes. “The Building Answers campaign will allow the industry to engage as many people as possible and answer as many questions as possible. When you allow people to be part of the discussion and share information, you allow them to be part of the solution.”

The advertising and communications campaign will also feature a live CP24 call-in segment and high impact print placements in major Toronto publications. Residents can also expect to see and hear messaging on TV, radio, print, digital and social media, transit shelters and billboards across the region. BILD worked with empathy marketing agency Republic to develop and execute the campaign.

“Now is the time for an open and factual discussion on development in the GTA given the generational challenge of housing supply and affordability,” says Wilkes. “This campaign will allow everyone to participate in the dialogue about what our region will look like.”

With 1,500 member companies, BILD is the voice of the homebuilding, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA. The industry provides $33 billion in investment value and employs 271,000 people in the region. BILD is affiliated with the Ontario Home Builders’ Association and Canadian Home Builders’ Associations.

GTA residents are encouraged to visit buildinganswers.ca to see responses to the top questions, as well as to ask the industry their own questions.

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New single-family home sales in the GTA jump in February

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New single-family home sales in the GTA jump in February

Single-family homes web

The GTA new home market in February saw the highest number of single-family homes sold since April 2017, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

There were 639 new single-family homes sold in February, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. This was up 147 per cent from last February, though still 50 per cent below the 10-year average. Sales of new condominium apartments in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, with 772 units sold, were down 58 per cent from February 2018 and down 51 per cent from the 10-year average.

“Softer new condominium apartment sales in February can, at least in part, be attributed to the rapid increase in prices in the past two years, which has priced many would-be buyers out of the market,” says Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “The good news is that, although still relatively low in historical terms, there is now more inventory available to purchase and this is curbing the upward pressure on prices.”

ALSO READ: Budget 2019 comes up short

Remaining inventory in February included 11,269 condominium units and 5,233 single-family lots. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction and in completed buildings.

Benchmark prices of both single-family homes and condominium apartments moderated slightly compared to the previous month. The benchmark price of new single-family homes was $1.12 million, down eight per cent over the last 12 months, while the benchmark price of new condominium apartments was $792,709, up 8.6 per cent over the last 12 months.

“We are hopeful that the measures introduced last week in the federal budget will enable more first-time homebuyers to enter the market and purchase the type of home they want,” says BILD President and CEO David Wilkes. “However, these measures are only the first step, and BILD will continue to advocate for a review of the mortgage stress test so more first-time homebuyers can realize the dream of homeownership.”

Wilkes adds that the GTA is still grappling with challenges around supply. “BILD is continuing to call on the provincial government and municipal governments to take the steps necessary to facilitate additional housing supply to meet the growing need across the GTA.”

February New Home Sales by Municipality

Condominium units Single-family Total
Region 2019 2018 2017 2019 2018 2017 2019 2018 2017
Durham 22 4 113 54 50 302 76 54 415
Halton 39 46 96 269 113 457 308 159 553
Peel 120 104 384 189 34 201 309 138 585
Toronto 533 1,065 1,822 4 6 42 537 1,071 1,864
York 58 641 345 123 56 447 181 697 792
GTA 772 1,860 2,760 639 259 1,449 1,411 2,119 4,209

Source: Altus Group

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Budget 2019 comes up short

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

 

 

 

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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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Proposed changes to the Growth Plan could help address housing challenges

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Proposed changes to the Growth Plan could help address housing challenges

If you hope to own a home in the GTA one day, you received some good news recently. The Ontario government proposed changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the policy that manages growth in our region. The amendments, if approved, would mean more housing supply and choice and, ultimately, better housing affordability.

The Growth Plan was introduced by a previous provincial government in 2006 and was revised in 2017. Both versions brought in new requirements in the planning process. The objective was praiseworthy — to encourage the development of compact, mixed-use communities that would make efficient use of transit, infrastructure and public services.

Unfortunately, many municipalities struggled to meet the new planning requirements, especially density targets that did not recognize the diverse character of our region and did not take into account the availability of transit and infrastructure. For instance, the 2006 Growth Plan called for 50 residents and jobs per hectare in areas that are not yet built up but are designated for future development. This target was already a challenge for many smaller communities that did not have the transit and other infrastructure to support it, yet the 2017 Growth Plan increased it to 80 residents and jobs per hectare. That’s about double the current density of suburban areas like Scarborough and Etobicoke. How would municipalities in rural areas achieve it?

The proposed changes take into account the differences between municipalities and call for varying numbers of residents and jobs per hectare: not less than 60 for Hamilton, Peel, Waterloo and York; not less than 50 for Barrie, Brantford, Guelph, Orillia, Peterborough, Durham, Halton and Niagara; and not less than 40 for Kawartha Lakes, Brant, Dufferin, Haldimand, Northumberland, Peterborough, Simcoe and Wellington. These new density targets are a lot more realistic for municipalities to meet.

The proposed changes to the Growth Plan would also give municipalities some flexibility to develop housing on lands that have previously been designated as employment areas and on small pieces of land that are currently outside their settlement area boundaries.

When municipalities have more flexibility about where and how growth occurs, they can build more housing and the right mix of housing type for their community, while making efficient use of land and maximizing their existing infrastructure. Ultimately, a healthier supply of housing means better housing affordability. That’s great news if you and your family are looking to live, work and own a home in your chosen community, because you are more likely to find the type of home you want and can afford.

Until these proposed changes are implemented, we will continue to face a different reality. The GTA is forecast to grow to 9.7 million people by 2041, yet we are not building enough homes to accommodate this change. We are falling short by about 8,000 to 10,000 homes every year. This supply shortfall drives up home prices and rents, creating pressures that are particularly felt by young families and first-time homebuyers.

The proposed changes to the Growth Plan would help us address this generational challenge. The government is to be applauded for taking these concrete, positive steps in the right direction.

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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Should I renovate or rebuild?

Should you renovate or rebuild?

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Should you renovate or rebuild?

The beginning of spring offers a sense of renewal; I know it does for me. The warmer weather often has many of us thinking of spring cleaning, home improvement or a home renovation. If you are thinking of a renovation, you can choose to renovate your kitchen or bathroom, or be bold and add an addition to your home. Adding square footage not only enhances the enjoyment of your home, but can increase the value of your property.

When you embark on a large renovation project to add more space, you should ask yourself if you require an addition or a complete re-build. There are many things that need to be considered when making this decision, such as your budget, the state of your existing home and regulatory approval processes.

Reasons to do an addition to your existing home

  • If you are only looking to add a little more floor area, you may want to extend the rear of the house to help make your ground floor living area larger. A small and simple addition is a practical way of creating more space.
  • If you want to add a second storey to your bungalow, and the structure can handle the additional load, building a simple vertical addition can avoid costly work like a new foundation.
  • Heritage, conservation or site density regulatory restrictions may mean that it is impossible to tear down your home and build a new one, so therefore your only choice is to renovate the existing structure.

Reasons to demolish and build a new home

  • The structure isn’t strong enough to handle a second floor addition. A lot of older bungalows are built with very little structure on the ground floor. This would include exterior walls that don’t meet today’s building standards. In this case, you would have no choice but to undergo a costly and invasive structural upgrade, or build new.
  • The quality of your existing home may become too costly to repair. When a home has undergone a series of renovations, there may be a number of construction challenges to be dealt with before creating the new envelope. There is the possibility of illegal or non-conforming work that will need to be brought up to current building code requirements. Other considerations are a damp basement, the state of services (water, sanitary, and hydro) to the home, or general quality of existing finishes.
  • The layout of the house you want is dramatically different from the one you currently have. There is a tipping point where the amount of work to create new or different layouts overwhelms the savings of working with an existing one. Working with an existing structure generally means losing the opportunity for higher ceilings or a fresh start on floorplans. It can quickly become more favourable to build a new home.
  • A strong factor in the matrix of evaluators for decision making is location. Aside from the amount of work or time commitment, staying in the same place may feel right for you.

I encourage you to visit renomark.ca and educate yourself on the RenoMark Code of Conduct that gives homeowners peace of mind. RenoMark renovators must abide by the RenoMark Code of Conduct. It requires renovators to offer a minimum two-year warranty on all work, carry a minimum of $2 million in liability insurance and provide a detailed written contract.

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.


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Three opportunities to positively impact housing in 2019

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Three opportunities to positively impact housing in 2019

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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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New home sales

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

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

New home sales

Last year saw the lowest total sales in almost 20 years in the GTA new home market, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) reports.

Overall in 2018, there were 25,161 new homes sold in the GTA, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence, making 2018 the year with the lowest number of new home sales in the GTA since Altus Group started tracking new home data in 2000.

New record low

There were 21,330 condominium units sold in 2018, including those in low-, mid and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units – down 38 per cent from 2017 but only four per cent less than the 10-year average. Setting a record low since Altus began tracking new home data in 2000, there were only 3,831 single-family homes sold in 2018, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses). This is down 50 per cent from 2017 and down 74 per cent from the 10-year average.

“A number of factors combined to produce the drop in GTA new home sales in 2018,” says Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “More stringent mortgage stress testing, rising interest rates and lack of single-family product affordable to a broader range of buyers all played a role. As well, the record new condo apartment sales in 2017 brought forward some demand that would otherwise have occurred in 2018.”

In December, the benchmark price for new condos was $796,815, up 11.2 per cent over the last 12 months. The benchmark price for single-family homes was $1.14 million, down 6.7 per cent over the last 12 months.

Out of balance

“From our point of view, the market is out of balance,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “We must continue to work with all levels of government to ensure that policies don’t artificially price consumers out of the market.

“We commend the provincial government for taking action toward increasing housing supply in Ontario,” Wilkes adds. “We join other industry groups in calling on the federal government to revisit the stress test and allow a longer amortization period for first-time buyers. And we look forward to working with our municipal partners on removing barriers to development such as excessive red tape and outdated bylaws.”

At the end of December, there were 15,768 new homes available for purchase, comprised of 10,687 condominium units and 5,081 single-family homes. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings.

 

December New Home Sales by Municipality

December 2018 Condominium apartments Single-family Total
Region 2018 2017 2016 2018 2017 2016 2018 2017 2016
Durham 40 17 50 44 15 75 84 32 125
Halton 48 163 59 21 47 93 69 210 152
Peel 108 89 130 32 11 152 140 100 282
Toronto 479 404 1,684 9 8 31 488 412 1,715
York 129 195 345 30 62 274 159 257 619
GTA 804 868 2,268 136 143 625 940 1,011 2,893

Source: Altus Group

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GTA new home market back to typical sales and openings levels in November

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

GTA condos lead resale price growth in 2018

 

 

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Now is the time to start planning this year’s renovation

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Now is the time to start planning this year’s renovation

You meant to redo your kitchen and finish your basement last summer, but the warm days came and went and your renovation project remained only an idea. Not to worry, because now is the perfect time to start planning to make your renovation a reality this summer.

With a generous lead time, you can afford to be thorough with every step in the renovation process, increasing your chances of success. The first step is to articulate what goals you want to achieve with your renovation, and develop a clear description of what you want to change. Write down your priorities and items that would be nice to have if your budget allows. Make sure everyone in your home participates in the discussion so you have a complete picture of what is needed.

Photography: bigstock.com
Photography: bigstock.com

Research a reputable renovator

Next, find a professional renovator who will guide you through the process. The good ones get booked up months in advance. You will be putting a lot of trust in this person, so look for a renovator who is a member of BILD’s RenoMark program, which means that they have committed to the RenoMark code of conduct and BILD’s code of ethics. To find a RenoMark renovator, visit renomark.ca.

Price is an important consideration when choosing a renovator, but experience, construction schedule and references are just as crucial. Take the time to check three references to get a good understanding of how the company operates.

Plans & permits

Once you have selected your professional renovator, he or she may bring in a designer or architect, and together you will work through your project outline and create plans and specifications. These will help determine the budget estimate and any building permits and approvals you will need. In some municipalities, obtaining building permits and approvals can take many weeks and even months – another reason it’s good to start the process early.

When you are comfortable with the preliminary design, budget, and timetable, you’re ready to draw up a written contract with your renovator. The contract sets out the precise scope of the work, the price, a schedule of payments, a reasonable timetable for completing the work, product-specific details and a warranty clause. The contract should be reviewed by a lawyer.

Get it in writing

A RenoMark renovator will provide a contract for all projects. Avoid renovators who offer to work without a contract, even if they promise to skip the HST or offer another incentive. They may not be paying workers’ compensation or carry adequate insurance, leaving you at financial risk.

My final piece of advice is to spend some time on RenoMark.ca and read the articles in our Ask a Renovator series – they cover various aspects of renovation in more detail.

Renovating your home is exciting and rewarding. And as you can see, there’s plenty you can do now to prepare for this year’s renovation. By starting early, you will have your renovator team selected, contract signed, and permits and approvals in place by the time renovation season returns.

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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2018 web

5 things we can learn from real estate in 2018

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5 things we can learn from real estate in 2018

2018 web

With much of 2018 in the rear-view mirror, It’s been quite the year for the housing market in the GTA and elsewhere in Ontario. From sales and price fluctuations to supply concerns to rising housing costs. As 2019 approaches, here are five things we can learn from real estate in 2018.

 

1 Get used to the affordability issue

Get used to affordability challenges, especially in the GTA. This oft-cited issue is not going away any time soon, despite lobbying from the likes of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).

Key economic fundamentals such as population and employment growth will continue to drive housing market demand. Over the next decade, almost 700,000 first-time buyers will target the GTA or Hamilton markets, according to a report from the Ontario Real Estate Association. Meanwhile, the supply of new homes is not yet being addressed, which contributes to rising prices.

With recent interest rate hikes and other changes, sales and prices in the GTA saw some moderation in 2018. But this will be short-lived, and a return to price growth is expected.

 

2 Increased government involvement – finally

Government lobbying by BILD and TREB seems to be paying off, in the sense that the Province is increasingly aware of the issues facing the industry – and buyers.

Buyers, you may not realize it, but you should thank BILD, TREB and other associations for that.

In late November, Ontario announced it was committing to a housing action plan “to help create more housing faster, give people more choice and bring down housing costs.”

Like anything involving government, though, this process will likely be slow moving – meaning, some of the challenges, namely increasing housing supply – will take time to be resolved.

But at least the issues are on the agenda.

One real example of this improved awareness is Ontario’s recent plan to change the 40-year-old apprenticeship system in the province – a move the home building industry says is a “game changer.”

It’s a game changer because the new one-to-one ratio, a significant change from the existing 3-to-1 ratio, will enable home builders and renovators to more easily hire and train new apprentices. Besides creating more job opportunities for trades workers, the move also helps builders and renovators operate their businesses

 

3 Fixing on interest rates

The Bank of Canada raised its overnight rate three times in 2018 – January, July and October – to where it sits now, 1.75 per cent.

Canada’s major banks, as is usually the case, responded by immediately raising their own rates.

Naturally, all of this has Canadians feeling a little uneasy.

The Conference Board of Canada’s latest Index of Consumer Confidence confirms that rising interest rates and weaker wage growth have started to take their toll on confidence. With interest charges squeezing Canadian wallets and weakening wage growth offering little reprieve, consumers have become hesitant to make major purchases and are less positive about the state of their finances.

In its latest rate announcement on Dec. 5, the Bank of Canada noted that global economic expansion is slowing, and the effects of the “oil price shock” are being monitored.

“We expect that the Bank will not move the overnight rate until the effects of the declining energy sector are known,”according to interest rate comparison website ratehub.ca. “However, the Bank makes it clear that they still plan on raising the key interest rate in 2019, likely more than once.”

This moderated stance might put downward pressure on fixed rate mortgages, however, so Canadians may see better fixed rates in the coming weeks, ratehub.ca says.

 

4 Real estate is more local than ever

It’s a simple point that escapes some consumers: Real estate is local, and in 2018, it became more local than ever.

What do we mean?

Well, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) and other major real estate bodies are mandated to oversee the national market.

So, when CREA issues a release that says Canadian home sales are down by X per cent, or when CMHC reports the national vacancy rate is down for the second consecutive year – and major media report such headlines – people tend to worry.

It’s essential to remember, however, that when you buy a home, you don’t buy the national market. You buy one house, on one street, in one neighbourhood, in one city and region.

If you live in Ontario, why do you care that Alberta’s ongoing oil industry struggles are pulling sales and prices down in markets in that province? Or that prices in Vancouver are even less affordable than in Toronto?

Forget the national headlines. Drill down into what’s happening in your market.

And why is real estate more local then ever? Because…

 

5 Lessons from Oshawa

General Motors Canada’s November announcement that it was closing its Oshawa assembly plant sent shockwaves not just through the province but all of Canada. To be sure, the loss of at least 2,500 jobs – not to mention untold positions in related suppliers – in a community of 170,000, is going to hurt. Hurt whom, and how badly, are the only questions.

This development should serve as a stark reminder to us all – of how important it is for cities to develop diversified, modern economies. Overdependence on any one ge, singular industries leads to overexposure in the case of downturns or, in GM’s case, outright shutdowns. It hurts the local economy, which impacts employment and wage growth, which impacts the housing market.

Oshawa, thankfully in recent years, has been diversifying its economy and expanding in technology, education and other industries. It will help, but the impact of the GM closure will likely play out over many months, if not years.

These developments could push housing in Oshawa into a buyers’ market, and prospective buyers could benefit from more options and softening prices.

In new homes, builders remain undeterred, encouraged by the longer-term growth and development throughout the Durham Region. Still, some may offer incentives such as discounts or inclusions to entice qualified buyers.

 

RELATED READING

GTA moving into balanced market for 2019

GTA new home market gains further momentum in October

What the GM plant closure means for Oshawa’s economy and housing market

New home buying opportunities abound in Oshawa and Durham Region

Where are interest rates headed in 2019?

 

 

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