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

Construction industry to lead post-COVID-19 economic recovery

Construction industry to lead post-COVID-19 economic recovery

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Construction industry to lead post-COVID-19 economic recovery

The new home construction industry is well-positioned to play a significant role in the post-COVID-19 recovery in the GTA, Ontario and Canada, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

“Working with our colleagues at the Ontario and Canadian Home Builders’ Associations, we have put together a roadmap for simple changes that will have a great impact to the economy,” says David Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD.

The CHBA, OHBA and BILD submitted a 20-point plan to the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee to help kick-start the Canadian economy post pandemic.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Canada, Ontario, and the GTA, the groups say. Millions of people lost their jobs and the economy has all but ground to a halt. As governments at all levels start to look at recovery, they will need to focus on the GTA, as the region is the engine of Canada’s economy, accounting for 20 per cent of Canada’s and 50 per cent of Ontario’s GDP.

The residential and commercial building and development industry, and the professional renovations industry, are major contributors to economic activity in the region. Collectively, they employ more than 360,000 people in the GTA, paying $22 billion in wages and generating $42 billion in investment value annually.

Unlock investments

“With all levels of government facing financial challenges and funding requests, we are providing ideas that will unlock consumer and industry construction investments that will kick-start the economy,” says Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the OHBA.

Proposed measures include transferring mortgage tenancy to the date of occupancy for new condominiums, eliminating security deposits for Ontario Land Transfer Tax on affiliated transfers and freezing municipal increases to Property Tax Reassessment and development charges.

Another proposed recommendation is to free up monies that would otherwise be stuck in such things as municipal agreements (refundable deposits paid by developers) and replace them with surety bonds, freeing up billions in potential investments that otherwise would have been parked.

Stimulate growth

“To help stimulate economic growth and keep Canadians properly housed, we will need to foster housing supply while also ensuring demand-side measures are adjusted to reflect the times,” says Kevin Lee, CEO, CHBA. “Accordingly, we recommend 30-year amortizations for insured mortgages, and adjusting the mortgage stress test for both insured and uninsured mortgages. Removing the GST on new homes purchased for 2020 and 2021 would also be a timely catalyst for new home construction.”

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GTA homebuilders upbeat about post-COVID-19 recovery

Municipalities and building industry working together now to ensure housing essential after COVID-19

 

 

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Municipalities and building industry working together now to ensure housing essential after COVID-19

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Municipalities and building industry working together now to ensure housing essential after COVID-19

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the government of Ontario had earlier decided to include construction sites as essential workplaces, permitting our industry to continue working on homes that were close to completion, while practicing social distancing. And on May 19, all construction was allowed to resume.

The earlier reduction of construction activity, particularly where it is seasonally dependant, could negatively impact housing supply in an already tight market. All municipal governments must continue to put the proper processes in place now, so that the industry can hit the ground running to meet the region’s pressing housing needs when things return to “normal.”

BILD is working closely with GTA municipal governments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry representatives are engaged in regular calls with GTA city officials, and we have seen success in unlocking doors that were initially closed to the industry. This is imperative progress towards ensuring that we can meet the demand of new homes once normalcy returns.

Many, but not all GTA municipalities, have adopted exceptional best practices, or have enhanced existing ones, and have created new protocols to allow for online building permit application submissions, virtual inspections and construction permit issuance. Some municipalities have facilitated vital communication between the public, the industry and city committees and councils to promote important stakeholder consultations. It’s not business as usual, but this type of virtual public and industry consultation has allowed the approval process to continue keep the industry moving.

Most municipalities had the technical capacity prior to COVID-19 and have been in a position to easily enhance these capabilities to best adapt to changing priorities. For example, city council meetings are live-streamed on city websites or available on YouTube, keeping the public and industry engaged. Residents and industry groups have been encouraged to email submissions and make deputations at virtual town halls. Larger delegations have participated via telephone or by virtual conferencing.

Zoom meetings have moved out of the boardroom and onto construction sites, as homebuilders are working with municipalities to schedule remote video inspections to ensure that newhome buyers can take possession of their homes as soon as possible while protecting workers and the public. It is this type of resourcefulness that will allow the building industry and the economy to bounce back more quickly.

Unfortunately, this type of proactive engagement is not universal to all municipalities, and housing supply and affordability will suffer in some of the GTA’s cities as a result.

The innovative measures taken by some municipal governments to continue with construction has been encouraging and we applaud and appreciate their efforts. However, as we get closer to opening the economy there are processes that can be put into place now. All municipal governments must provide a form of an online permit portal, continue with the approval processes as requests come in and continue with inspections so that the building industry can continue to make significant contributions to building communities and help rebuilding the economy.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). bildgta.ca

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GTA new home market understandably slow in April

GTA new home market understandably slow in April

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GTA new home market understandably slow in April

The GTA new home market saw record low new home sales numbers in April, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

It was the lowest April for total new home sales, as well as single-family and condominium unit sales, since Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence, started tracking in 2000.

“As we expected, the April new home sales numbers reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the GTA economy,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “The good news is, the residential and commercial building and development industry, along with the professional renovations industry, is positioned to play a significant role in the recovery of our region and Ontario. In the coming weeks, we’ll be putting forward recommendations for all three levels of government that can accelerate the healing of our economy.”

A total of 771 new homes was sold in April, down 80 per cent from April 2019 and 78 per cent below the 10-year average. Single-family homes, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses), accounted for 301 new home sales, down 62 per cent from last April and 79 per cent below the 10-year average.

Sales of new condominium suites, including units in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, at 470 units sold, were down 85 per cent from April 2019 and 78 per cent below the 10-year average.

“The plunge in new home sales in April came as both builders and potential buyers stepped back from the heated activity of the first quarter, adjusting to the new reality ushered in by COVID-19,” says Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “Most planned new project launches were put on hold, sales programs for existing projects moved to virtual or by-appointment-only models, and short-term homebuying plans were disrupted by employment uncertainty, as well as the challenges of stay-at-home routines.”

Benchmark prices for both new condominium apartments and new single-family homes increased slightly in April, compared to the previous month. The benchmark price for new condo units was $984,369, up 29.8 per cent over the last 12 months. The benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1.11 million, down 0.2 per cent over the last 12 months.


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BILD report April 20 issue

New-home building and renovation industry acts to protect workers, customers

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New-home building and renovation industry acts to protect workers, customers

In times like these, people’s health and well-being are of the utmost importance. This extends to workers in Ontario’s new-home building and renovation industry and to our industry’s customers. For many residents of the GTA, this is a period of heightened anxiety and concern, so I want to take the opportunity to let readers know how our industry is striving to be part of the solution.

BILD report April 20 issue

I have been in regular contact with our members to understand what actions they are taking and to co-ordinate responses with provincial and municipal authorities. Without fail, BILD members are taking action to help meet community needs and respond to the health crisis, guided by the best information available, that is, information from the public health authorities in the municipali- ties and regions where they operate.

Individual company actions may vary based on their own unique situations. Companies are enabling work where possible. Many are opening sales centres by appointment only, or closing them entirely for now. They are taking steps to ensure increased hygiene, sanitation and cleaning for locations that remain operational.

Working diligently

We all know that the current situation is not normal and that as we all work to address and overcome this global pandemic, there will be impacts. Global supply chains, movement of goods and productivity are all affected. Our industry is working diligently to ensure that we continue to fulfil our responsibilities to our customers. We also recognize that eventually the effects of the current situation will extend to the delivery of new homes and completion of renovations, as well as any warranty work that might be required under builder warranties and Ontario’s New Home Warranties program.

In this regard, Tarion, Ontario’s body for consumer protection and administration of the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act and regulations, has recently issued an advisory for home builders and new-home buyers on what to expect during the COVID-19 situation. This material can be accessed at tarion.com. It provides solid guidance, but should not replace direct dialogue with your builder.

The GTA’s new-home building industry, professional renovators and land developers are doing their best to continue to meet the housing needs of residents, while at the same time doing their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. At times like these, we must all pull together by working collaboratively and taking care of each other. That is our industry’s commitment to our colleagues, our customers and each other.

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Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

bild.ca

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BILD February new home stats

GTA new home sales strong in February

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GTA new home sales strong in February

In what might be the last surge for a while, GTA new home sales were exceptionally strong in February, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

BILD February new home stats

There were 4,665 total new home sales in February 2020, which was up 211 per cent from February 2019 and 57 per cent above the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. It was the highest number of new homes sold in February since 2002 and the third highest in the past 40 years.

Single-family surge

It was also the strongest February since 2004 for sales of new single-family homes, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses). With 2,247 new single-family homes sold, sales were up 228 per cent from last February and 44 per cent above the 10-year average.

Sales of new condominium apartments, including units in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, at 2,418 units sold, were up 197 per cent from February 2019 and 48 per cent above the 10-year average. It was the second strongest February of the past 40 years for new condominium apartment sales, after the record high of February 2017.

February new home sales by municipality

February 2020

Condominium units

Single-family homes

Total

Region

2020

2019

2018

2020

2019

2018

2020

2019

2018

Durham

89

21

4

489

97

49

578

118

53

Halton

227

22

46

380

275

113

607

297

159

Peel

545

127

103

289

193

35

834

320

138

Toronto

1,300

587

1,050

10

4

6

1,310

591

1,056

York

257

57

641

1,079

117

55

1,336

174

696

GTA

2,418

814

1,844

2,247

686

258

4,665

1,500

2,102

 Source: Altus Group

“Following on a month of strong new home sales in February, our industry and our customers are facing a time of challenges and uncertainty due to COVID-19,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “We are working diligently to coordinate responses with provincial and municipal authorities, protect workers and customers and ensure that we continue to fulfil our responsibilities to new-home buyers. One of those responsibilities is building enough homes to top up depleted inventory and ensure our region’s new home supply keeps up with demand.”

Pent-up demand

“Prior to the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 situation, the new-home sector in the GTA was on track for a strong sales performance in 2020,” adds Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “Low mortgage rates were triggering the release of pent-up demand that had been building on the back of strong employment and population growth, which helped boost February sales.”

In February, the benchmark price for new condo units was $961,268, which was up 21.3 per cent over the last 12 months, and the benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1.09 million, down 2.2 per cent over the last 12 months.

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Now is the time to fix the housing supply problem in the GTA

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Now is the time to fix the housing supply problem in the GTA

Every month, BILD reports on new home sales in the GTA. This data is collected and compiled by the Altus Group and provides us with important information on how many new homes were sold, the average asking price and the remaining number of new homes in builders’ inventory. It is an important tool that gives those involved in housing, real estate and development real time insight on how government housing regulations, fiscal policy, economic conditions and consumer confidence influence the housing market in the region.

BILD recently released the 2019 year end new homes sales data, showing that GTA new home sales rallied from the 22-year low of 2018. Overall in 2019, there were 36,471 new homes sold in the GTA. Only 24,855 new homes had been sold the previous year, which made 2018 the year with the lowest number of new home sales in the GTA since 1996.

There were 26,948 condominium apartments, including units in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, sold in 2019, up 27 per cent from 2018 and 16 per cent above the 10- year average. Single-family homes, including detached, linked, and semidetached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses), accounted for 9,523 new home sales, up 157 per cent from 2018 (the lowest year for new single-family home sales since comprehensive tracking started in 1981), but still 30 per cent below the 10-year average.

So what do these numbers mean? At first glance, it looks like new home sales were solid for 2019, but that was not the case. That’s what happens when the market recovers from the 22-year low of the previous year and new home sales remain 30 per cent below the 10-year average. What we saw in 2019 was a release of pent up demand from 2018. We need to keep our focus on increasing housing supply, making sure that there’s a solid inventory base to ensure that housing prices remain stable. Consumer demand has not diminished; in fact, as the region continues to grow we can be sure it will remain robust and we must make housing more affordable for the average person living in the GTA by eliminating barriers and build homes faster. We have to accept that demand will continue to increase, and both the building industry, municipal governments, and the provincial government must work together to keep all types of housing (rental and ownership) within reach.

On average, it takes 10 years to build a typical highrise project and 11 years to complete a lowrise project in the GTA. New homes must be built faster. Layers of bureaucracy, outdated zoning, and complex policies and procedures have created barriers to the efficient operation of the housing market that have resulted in a generational shortfall of housing. These obstacles have delayed the development of new homes, and have contributed to the increase in housing costs experienced over the past decade.

In addition, demand for new housing has increased as the Greater Toronto Area has become one of the most desirable places to live. The GTA is the fastest growing region in North America, with an estimated 115,000 new residents arriving every year. The population of the GTA is set to grow by 40 per cent, or an estimated 9.7 million people, by 2041; that timeline is not far away.

In May, 2019, the Ontario government announced the Housing Supply Action Plan, representing the first major step by any provincial government to address the supply challenges facing the housing market and their effects on affordability. The proposed changes also acknowledge the cumulative effect that taxes, fees and charges have on housing affordability. Land transfer taxes, HST, parkland fees and development charges collectively add $124,000 to the cost of an average new condo in the GTA, and $222,000 to the cost of an average new single- family home.

This is not a time for small plans. The numbers don’t lie. This year, all levels of government and our industry must continue to work together so we can fix the housing supply problem in the GTA.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

bildgta.ca

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The Power Seat – building industry CEOs call for government change

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The Power Seat – building industry CEOs call for government change

The Power Seat is a new feature series in which we put one pointed question to a select, specific audience.

We asked CEO level executives among the homebuilding community:

“You have been invited to a meeting with representatives of municipal, provincial and federal governments, and it’s your turn to speak. What do you say to them?”

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This year is one of continual growth, which presents the opportunity to respond to the current and future challenges Ontarians face. All levels of government project an increase in Ontario’s population of 2.6 million #homebelievers by 2031. Change is where need meets opportunity.
We need more housing supply and choice across Ontario, and that means housing can be a cornerstone solution to climate change, the employment skills gap and the economy. Instead of viewing growth as a problem, let’s view it as the change opportunity for the type of future, communities and neighbourhoods that Ontarians want to call home.

Joe Vaccaro
CEO, Ontario Home Builders’ Association

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All three levels of government need to work collaboratively, rather than in silos, and with one agenda, rather than competing ones. With a housing affordability and supply problem impacting the GTA, we need solutions-oriented collaboration.
We need to make it simpler to bring new homes to market by streamlining the process, faster to build new homes by reducing approval times, and fairer by making sure fees and taxes are equitable

Dave Wilkes
President and CEO, BILD

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Help us do our job to create new housing. We have a shortage of housing because of the lack of supply. Don’t look at new housing as a golden goose that you can keep laying on more and more municipal charges. Right now, about 24 per cent of the cost of all new housing is going to some level of government in the form of taxes, levies, charges and fees.

Gary Switzer
Chief Executive Officer MOD Developments, Toronto

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The three levels of government, as well as builders and developers, may all have different constituencies, but our objectives are remarkably similar.

Affordable housing works for all of us. Good planning works for all of us. Good design works for all of us. Building Green buildings works for all of us. Governments working together with developers works for all of us and can help facilitate all of this.

At The Rose Corporation, we accomplished exactly this, working with York Region, the Town of Newmarket and the federal government (CMHC). Together, we are now building a sustainable, complete and better overall community for having worked in close consultation with each other.

Daniel Berholz
President, The Rose Corporation

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The largest issue surrounds climate change, GHG emissions and resilience in new housing. Over the next decade, these may be some of the biggest changes our industry will face. Our building code is about to be changed to begin steering the industry towards net-zero homes.

Government needs to support the R&D side of the construction industry so that new and better products can be developed. Net-zero homes are achievable. There are a number of builders that have already constructed a discovery home and are looking at the ability to market this in a production capacity. Although from a technical perspective this is achievable, it will come at a significant cost. Net-zero homes will not be cheap.

The bigger question, then, is, will such initiatives be affordable? This is what governments will have to balance. When they regulate such a high minimum standard, our industry will be forced to meet the requirements. This is where R&D pays back. We need materials and products that are approved and available at the best price points possible to adopt into our building program.

Government should keep a close eye on the timing for mandating high standards of construction, and be mindful that affordability must be a top priority in the implementation.

Johnathan Schickedanz
General Manager, FarSight Homes, President, Durham Region Home Builders’ Association

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Housing affordability is one of the most important issues facing Canadians today. TREB remains diligent, along with other real estate boards and associations across Canada, in urging all levels of government to remove barriers and reduce the cost of homeownership.

With all levels of government in Canada, plus reputable international bodies acknowledging that we have a housing supply problem, and specifically the affordability pressures facing the GTA, it’s imperative for the growth of our city and region that we have flexible housing market policies that will help sustain balanced market conditions over the long term.

The time is now and policymakers need to translate their acknowledgment of supply issues into concrete solutions in 2020 to bring a greater array of ownership and rental housing online. As always, TREB will be there to help policymakers have the right impact on the market and Canadians.

John DiMichele
CEO, Toronto Real Estate Board

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The bottom line is this: Unless we can shorten the time it takes to bring developments through the approval process and to market faster, demand is going to continue to outstrip supply.

There have been some very positive enhancements the provincial government has put through to try and reduce these timeframes, by reducing red tape and other changes, and we’re grateful for that.

But in many cases the Province and the municipalities do not see eye to eye on how policies should be applied, and this constant fighting continuously thwarts the positive efforts and mires the process.

We have to work together – the politicians, building industry and public – to accept growth, have growth pay for growth, and not for unrelated municipal spending as well. We need to plan to have adequate supply of all types of housing, but especially what is missing in our urban areas today – the two- and three-bedroom midrise condos – the “missing middle.”

 cl_feb2020_the_power_seat_bob_finniganBob Finnigan
Principal and COO of Acquisition & Housing, Herity, Toronto

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It’s vital that all three levels of government work together to address the housing affordability issue by increasing the supply of housing to meet demands of growth in the GTA for decades to come.

Sustained infrastructure growth requires multi-level government support partnering with private enterprise to foster innovation in procurement and delivery and that the planning approval process is streamlined to avoid increased costs which impact housing affordability.

The cities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe need to actually adopt and implement provincial policies on development densities near transport nodes. Ultimately, the homeowners carry the burden of the increased costs from a lack of land supply, approval delays and development charge increases.

Niall Collins
President, Great Gulf Residential, Toronto

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Canadian economists and politicians have spent the better part of the last decade sighing with relief and sharing kudos for having skirted the U.S. housing crisis. Meanwhile, north of the border, Canadians are on a rollercoaster ride, as a result of government intervention and other factors. We’ve experienced record-high housing prices, record-low interest rates, economic downturns, and domestic speculators and foreign investors pushing people out of their homes because they can’t afford to live there anymore. We’ve seen housing inventory drop, and new development hindered by red tape and mounting development fees.

We need to keep up with housing demand to maintain sustainable housing values. It’s a complex issue with many moving parts.

To Mayor John Tory: Eliminate the municipal Land Transfer Tax, or at the very least, cap it. With Toronto’s ever-increasing property values, this tax is prohibitive in an already unaffordable market. The prospect of having to pay double LTT is deterring some move-up buyers from listing their homes, further straining the already low housing supply. How do you intend to stimulate housing market activity?

To Premier Doug Ford: Domestic and foreign immigration to Ontario is critical to a healthy economy, but as you work to continue attracting the biggest and best businesses to the province, where will you house the employees and their families? Housing supply is critically low, with developers stuck behind red tape and buried under development fees, preventing them from building the homes Ontarians so desperately need.

To Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Canada needs a National Housing Strategy that addresses inventory and affordability in our cities. Many Canadians, especially Millennials, new immigrants and those employed in the so-called “gig economy” feel homeownership is becoming less tangible by the day. While politicians of all stripes acknowledge the mounting urgency of affordable housing, few are offering any timely or compelling solutions. Focus on creating supply and affordability in a sustainable way, instead of continuing to support corrective measures that have constrained Canadians from participating in the economically beneficial practice of homeownership.

Christopher Alexander
Executive Vice-President and Regional Director, ReMax of Ontario- Atlantic Canada

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DIY or hire a pro?

DIY or hire a pro?

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DIY or hire a pro?

Photography: Sosna Total Contracting

Renovating your own home looks so easy in all those design TV shows, magazines and Instagram stories, doesn’t it? Appearances can be deceiving, though. Before you try your hand at redoing your bathroom or finishing your basement, think through a few simple questions to determine whether you will be better served by calling in a professional RenoMark renovator.

Kitchen and Main Floor renovation by Sosna Total Contracting
Kitchen and Main Floor renovation by Sosna Total Contracting

Do you have what it takes?

The first question to answer is whether you have the skills and knowledge needed for your renovation project. Can you carry out the work safely and effectively? Do you know what permits you need to obtain? When it comes to renovations involving plumbing, electrical, gas appliances, structural changes or roofing, unless you know exactly what you are doing, it’s safer to leave the work to the professionals.

Is time on your side?

If you have the skills and knowledge to tackle your renovation project, the second question to ask yourself is whether you have the time, given everything else you are doing. If the work is extensive and you don’t have enough time to devote to it, you could end up disrupting your home and your daily routine for weeks or months. A RenoMark professional, on the other hand, can give your project the time and attention it deserves.

Budget constraints

Finally, ask yourself whether your main motivation for wanting to tackle the renovation on your own is saving money. If so, talk to a RenoMark renovator before you decide. He or she may be able to suggest ways to reduce the cost of your project while still using professional services.

Buy some peace of mind

Working with a RenoMark renovator has many other benefits, too. RenoMark members commit to a Code of Conduct that requires they provide a written contract for all jobs, carry all applicable licenses and permits, offer a minimum of a two-year warranty on work, carry a minimum of $2 million in liability insurance, and work only with contractors who are properly insured.

The RenoMark Program, established in 2001 by the Toronto-based Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), identifies professional contractors who have agreed to abide by renovation-specific Code of Conduct and to provide superior level of service.

Is it worth the risk?

You may know someone who promises to do the work under the table for cheap, but working with a renovator who does not adhere to the high standards outlined in RenoMark’s Code of Conduct could cost you more in the end. For instance, if a renovator does not provide a written contract, what recourse do you have if some of the work doesn’t get done? And if a renovator is not adequately insured, who will pay in case of property damage or injuries on the work site? Hiring a RenoMark renovator gives you peace of mind that these important details are covered.

As part of our ongoing efforts to make the RenoMark program the best it can be, in 2020 we are adding a requirement that RenoMark renovators complete a certain amount of professional education every year to keep up with changes in regulations, practices and materials in the industry. You can have confidence that your RenoMark renovator is providing you with the very latest information and advice.

If you have thought through the questions I mentioned earlier and have decided to work with a RenoMark renovator for your home renovation project, look for one in your area at renomark.ca. It’s your best start to a successful home renovation.

Dave 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, @bildgta, or visit bildgta.ca.


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What does my crystal ball say about design this year?

What does my crystal ball say about design this year?

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What does my crystal ball say about design this year?

Over the years that I have been involved in new condominium marketing and sales, I have seen suite designs evolve to keep up with changing purchaser needs and wants. Separate kitchens have morphed into linear layouts and become part of the main living area. Barn doors on bedrooms have eliminated the space required for swing doors. Entrance hallways are rare nowadays, as they represent wasted space.

I have been thinking about what changes might be next, and I believe one may be the attitude toward balconies by both developers and buyers. As prices have increased dramatically over the past few years, square footages have gotten smaller to make suites more affordable. Currently, having a personal outdoor space is a must for many buyers, so developers typically include as many balconies as the building design will allow for. Nowadays, however, with prices continuing to rise, I see buyers wanting every square foot possible in their suite interiors. If you look at, say, a 10-by-five-ft. balcony, that is 50 sq. ft. that could make a big difference inside. This predicted trend is a reality in cities such as New York right now, where you do not get balconies in new condos period.

Looking at this another way, keep in mind that the outdoor shared amenity spaces in today’s condos are extraordinary. When residents want to commune with nature, there are plenty of opportunities to do so in courtyards and on terraces and rooftop gardens. We even see urban vegetable and herb gardens in some condos.

The other design trend I see catching on in the future is the addition of more Zen-type spaces in the amenity rosters of condos. In many ways, the condominium lifestyle is conducive to well-being and healthy living. Buildings are located close to local amenities so residents can walk or bicycle to run errands. Exercise facilities right in the buildings makes keeping fit convenient. Lately, I notice yoga/Pilates and stretch studios being included as well, plus Zen gardens to encourage meditation.

There has been a lot of media attention recently to circadian rhythms – our 24-hour cycles that are affected by internal physiology, as well as sunlight, temperature and other external cues. In short, our circadian rhythms are our sleep/wake cycles. When these are out of whack – which happens a lot nowadays because of our hectic lifestyles – we can experience insomnia, daytime sleepiness or both, putting us at greater risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. The trend toward including Zen gardens and areas in new condos has started, and I see more of this type of shared space in the future. We will likely even see nap rooms in offices and work areas, to encourage mindfulness and enhanced health.

The word from the agencies we deal with at Baker Real Estate Incorporated is that condominiums represent 60 per cent of new construction, and that percentage is growing. Imagine the positive impact that the increase in well-being for condo residents will have on society as a whole!

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., 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.


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Provincial Government's housing supply action plan is necessary to balance housing market

Provincial Government’s housing supply action plan is necessary to balance housing market

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Provincial Government’s housing supply action plan is necessary to balance housing market

Like all markets, Ontario’s housing market is driven by the laws of supply and demand. Strong demand for housing has created a persistent housing supply challenge that can only be solved by boosting the number of new homes being built. This approach makes common sense and has also been supported by numerous economists and academics. This is why BILD is encouraged by the provincial government’s focus on boosting housing supply.

Every month, BILD releases the previous month’s new home sales data, gathered by Altus Group, tracking the relative health of the new housing market as reflected in sales, inventory, price per sq. ft. and comparisons to historical trends.

The data we released for September 2019 pointed to a modest recovery from the slump of the previous year, but, given that new home sales and inventory increased in tandem, underscored that the GTA continues to experience a significant housing supply crunch.

In many previous columns I have highlighted that the GTA is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in North America, with an average of 115,000 net new residents per year. Our population is expected to reach 9.7 million by 2041. Given this robust growth in population, demand for housing of all types, to buy or rent, is strong and will remain so.

The challenge is that the supply side of the housing equation in Ontario is highly regulated and dependent on factors that can make it less responsive to demand signals. The first of these factors is the supply of land designated for residential construction and serviced with the appropriate infrastructure. Within the cities of the GTA, the amount of available lands for new residential construction has been steadily decreasing.

Another factor that restricts our housing supply relates to planning and approvals. New housing cannot simply be built anytime, anywhere. All new housing projects go through a complex and lengthy approval process, subject to multiple pieces of provincial regulation, which is interpreted and administered by municipal governments. This slows the supply side from being able to meet demand signals. As a result, in the GTA it takes on average 10 years to complete a typical highrise project and 11 years to complete a typical lowrise project.

Like a growing number of governments around the world, the Ontario provincial government has recognized that achieving balance in the housing market starts with increasing supply. The government recognizes that adding new homes helps moderate prices, creates trickle-down housing opportunities for those looking to enter the housing market and has a beneficial impact on the rental market.

BILD is highlighting some of the benefits of the province’s Housing Supply Action Plan in a public education campaign called The Math is Simple. I encourage you to learn more at bildgta.ca/themathissimple.

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.


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