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Toronto tour of laneway housing

Toronto tour of laneway housing

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Toronto tour of laneway housing

Photography: Craig Race Architecture Inc.

A few weeks ago, we took BILD’s RenoMark renovators and custom homebuilders, as well as a number of journalists, on a tour of laneway and infill homes in Toronto. We were delighted by the level of interest in this event and happy to add an extra bus to accommodate everyone. We were not surprised to see that people are enthusiastic about the possibilities of laneway housing and eager to learn about the technicalities of building them. With laneway dwellings allowed to be built “as of right” in Toronto and East York as of only last summer – and with city council expected to make a decision in the near future on expanding this to Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke – we are all entering exciting new territory.

The adjunct advantage

A laneway home is typically a second, smaller dwelling built at the back of a lot, facing onto a public lane that shares utilities with the main house. Laneway housing has many advantages, both for homeowners and for neighbourhoods. For the homeowner, a laneway home can be a source of rental income or provide extra living space for extended family. For neighbourhoods, having homes facing onto laneways can improve safety and inject beauty and vibrancy. Laneway housing increases density in a non-intrusive way, enabling a more efficient use of infrastructure such as: transit, schools and community centres. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, laneway homes will contribute some much-needed rental housing in the city of Toronto.

Style meets function in The Junction

The Junction

That will certainly be the case with the first project on our tour – a laneway home that just broke ground in The Junction. The homeowners, who graciously answered questions from our tour participants, are planning to rent out the two-storey, three-bedroom house when it’s completed later this year. With more than 1,400 sq. ft. of living space, this home will do away with notions that laneway homes are cramped sheds in backyards. The best part? The homeowners report that the neighbours are excited, and some are even interested in building on their own lots.

The second laneway home on the tour also offered a feeling of spaciousness, both in the open-concept living area on the ground floor and in the courtyard behind the house. This two-storey, two-bedroom Leslieville home, currently rented out to a young family, was converted from an existing garage.

Sustainable supplement

Leslieville

Next on the tour was an infill project in Leslieville. Infill construction means building and renovating homes in established neighbourhoods. Infill homes, like laneway homes, add gentle density in our communities. The infill home we visited was created after an architect severed an unusually shaped lot into two separate properties. The home is filled with light and its high-performance building envelope helps conserve energy. A basement apartment provides extra rental income.

Laneway building incentives

The City of Toronto is offering two programs to encourage homeowners to develop laneway suites. The first allows for a deferral of development charges for 20 years, while the second provides a forgivable loan for property owners who agree to rent out their laneway suites at an affordable rate for 15 years.

Are you thinking of adding a laneway home on your property, or building or renovating an infill home? Laneway and infill building projects come with their own unique challenges when it comes to zoning requirements, design considerations and construction techniques. Your best bet is to work with a professional RenoMark renovator or custom homebuilder who can guide you through the process. To find one in your area, visit renomark.ca.

Making sure we have enough housing for the 9.7 million people who will call the GTA home by 2041 is a generational challenge. We need innovative solutions — laneway and infill homes among them — to meet it.

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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GTA new home sales

GTA new home sales in July remain strong

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GTA new home sales in July remain strong

GTA new home sales

It was a busy month by July standards, as sales for both condos and single-family homes were up year-over-year, according to the latest statistics from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

There were 566 new single-family homes, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses, sold in July, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. Although sales increased 136 per cent from last July, they were 29 per cent below the 10-year average.

Sales of new condominium apartments in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, with 2,297 units sold, were up 22 per cent from July 2018 and 42 per cent above the 10-year average.

Brisk openings

“Typically, buyers take a bit of a vacation from the new condo apartment market in July” says Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “This year was no different, although the decline in sales was less pronounced than usual, resulting in the second strongest July on record. While few new projects launched in July, sales at projects opened in June were brisk.”

The benchmark price of new condominium apartments increased from last month, to $838,824, up 8.3 per cent over the last 12 months. The benchmark price of new single-family homes decreased slightly from last month, to $1.09 million, down 4.5 per cent over the last 12 months, continuing its moderating trend in 2019.

ALSO READ: Detached home sales and prices roar back to life in first half of 2019 – ReMax

Strong July sales, paired with traditional fewer summer openings, saw inventory decrease in July to 12,873 condominium units and 4,409 single-family homes. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction and in completed buildings.

Total new home sales in the first seven months of 2019, at 20,268 units sold, are up 45 per cent from the same period in 2018 and nine per cent below the 10-year average.

Price gap narrows

“The price gap between single-family homes and condos continues to shrink, leaving new-home buyers with a lack of choice,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “We must provide more ‘missing middle’ type development that can support transit in established neighbourhoods. More ‘gentle density’ housing in the form of midrise buildings, condos with street level retail, and stacked townhouses is needed to give consumers more choice.”

 

New home sales by municipality, July 2019

Municipality Condominium units Single-family homes Total
Region 2019 2018 2017 2019 2018 2017 2019 2018 2017
Durham 29 6 27 118 44 60 147 50 87
Halton 59 46 18 82 25 18 141 71 36
Peel 415 150 148 142 87 0 557 237 148
Toronto 1,522 1,557 1,118 46 8 6 1,568 1,565 1,124
York 272 120 461 178 76 34 450 196 495
GTA 2,297 1,879 1,772 566 240 118 2,863 2,119 1,890

Source: Altus Group

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Behind the numbers : The GTA housing market in June 2019

Examining the GTA affordable homeownership crisis

 

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Plan Ahead: BILD president shares insider tips to ensure your renovation comes up roses

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Plan Ahead: BILD president shares insider tips to ensure your renovation comes up roses

Like thousands of people in the GTA every year, I just had a major renovation completed on my home. It was a great way to make sure that my home meets the changing needs of my family, and that it is updated with features and designs that match our current tastes. In doing so, I experienced first-hand the benefits of using a professional renovation contractor, and putting into practice what the Building and Land Development Association (BILD) and its RenoMark renovators recommend to all their clients.

By following our own recommendations, I didn’t experience any nightmare scenarios that unfortunately, are more common than anyone would like to think. The end result was fabulous, the project was finished on time and on budget, and while most renovations often have some bumps in the road, the process went relatively smoothly.

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Spend the time upfront to have a very clear picture of what you want to achieve. Know your budget, and make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Chances are, as you proceed with your renovation, you will likely have to make some trade-offs between what you want and what you can afford.
  • Choose your renovation contractor carefully. Interview at least three. If you don’t know where to start, you can find a list of RenoMark renovators on the RenoMark.ca website with renovators in your city from coast to coast. The benefit of using a RenoMark member is that they are professionals, they carry all the applicable licenses and insurance coverages (including WSIB). Also, they will always provide a written contract, provide a two-year warranty on their work and continually upgrade their skills with ongoing education provided by the local home builder’s associations (HBA).
  • When interviewing potential renovation contractors, make sure that they understand your vision for the renovation and are able to work with you to fine-tune your project. Ask for references from previous clients and check them! Don’t just be satisfied with pretty pictures and a snazzy brochure. If they are not a RenoMark renovator, ask them to provide evidence of insurance and workers compensation coverage, ask about their warranty coverage and ask if they are members of the local HBA. Insurance and WSIB coverage are important because if the renovator does not have coverage, you, as the homeowner, could be liable in the event of an accident on the job site.
  • Make sure you have a comprehensive written contract with the renovator. This will make sure you get the renovation you want, and protects you in the event something goes wrong. Check our website for tips that outline some of the most common terms and features you will want to make sure are included in your contract.
  • As the renovation progresses, make sure to stay in regular contact with your renovation contractor. Book regular progress meetings. Changes are bound to occur with the project as you are working with an existing, and sometimes older, structure or home. When you do make changes, make sure to document them with your contractor in a change order.

Fortunately, my overall experience was a very positive one. I worked with a professional and was very happy with the end results. Remember: you wouldn’t hire someone off the street to repair your car; you would go to a licensed mechanic, so why would you risk the biggest investment of your life, your home, to a nonprofessional just to save a few dollars?

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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Toronto City Hall

City of Toronto councillors’ decision ‘irresponsible,’ will worsen housing affordability and supply problems

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City of Toronto councillors’ decision ‘irresponsible,’ will worsen housing affordability and supply problems

Toronto City Hall

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) is outraged by the announcement made today by City of Toronto councillors Joe Cressy, Mike Layton and Kristyn Wong-Tam. The trio said they would red light any development that supports council approved TO Core Plan, ignoring the direction given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approved plans. These actions are a clear example of political interference that slows the development of new housing and increase costs.

Blatant disregard

“This blatant disregard of provincial policy is the opposite of a housing strategy, in fact it’s an anti-housing strategy,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD. “The net impact will add cost to the City, add cost to new home purchasers, increase the delays of much needed livable housing close to transit and lengthen approvals times as challenges and appeals are undertaken to ensure that the law is respected,” adds Wilkes.

It was the City of Toronto’s decision to file the Official Plan Amendment for TO Core with the province under Section 26 of the Planning Act. This rarely used mechanism requires ministerial approval and is non-appealable. Disliking the results of this decision, the councillor’s statements to developers that they will de-prioritize projects that are in accordance with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s decision and not the City’s version of the plan is like asking them to take sides in schoolyard spat. Councillors Cressy, Layton and Wong-Tam are disregarding the planning process, abdicating their responsibility and adopting planning by threat.

“The decisions to amend the official plans just prior to the last election was politically motivated and went against the recommendations of the City’s own planning staff,” says Wilkes.

Desperate need

“More housing is desperately needed to accommodate growth in the region. It makes sense for this type of housing to be built in places that can leverage existing investments in infrastructure and be transit supportive. We are calling on Toronto City Council to take the necessary steps to address housing supply and affordability in Toronto.”

The provincial government rightly recognizes that changes are desperately needed to provide adequate and affordable housing to a growing province. More than 115,000 new residents are expected in the GTA every year through 2041 and the population is set to grow by 40 per cent. Meeting this generation challenge will require policies that enable housing supply and affordability, not illegal actions that add cost, delays and restrict supply.

BILD is the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA. With more than 1,500 member companies, the industry provides $33 billion in investment value and employs 271,000 people in the region.

TREB reminder

The Toronto Real Estate Board is also concerned about the councillors’ decision.

“With some City of Toronto councillors announcing plans that could add obstacles to the creation of new housing supply in their wards, TREB is reminding all levels of government that housing supply is one of the most important issues in Toronto and the GTA, and is encouraging cooperation between governments,” the organization says. “TREB has been at the forefront in calling for governments to do what they can to ensure an adequate, appropriate and affordable supply of housing for the Toronto and GTA real estate markets.

“This is an issue that will require both provincial and municipal government efforts and policy initiatives from various perspectives, including minimizing unnecessary red tape, while maintaining the high quality of life that makes Toronto and the GTA such a desirable place to live, work, and play.  TREB is encouraging provincial and municipal decision makers to work cooperatively to make the interests of homebuyers their first priority.”

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GTA builders launch public awareness campaign

 

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Aoyuan: M2M's T1 Tower Suites

M2M’s T1 Tower Suites: Right-size your home and upsize your lifestyle

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M2M’s T1 Tower Suites: Right-size your home and upsize your lifestyle

Get a glimpse into a vibrant lifestyle currently being offered by Aoyuan International at Yonge and Finch. Now open, is the three-bedroom model suite at M2M. This insider’s perspective offers a first-hand appreciation for this 8.6-acre masterplanned community, situated close to the Yonge/Finch subway station.

All roads lead to M2M

M2M recently received the 2019 People’s Choice Award from BILD – GTA. With 1,680 new residences, it has been earmarked as an exceptional new development. On-site amenities include a community centre, a day care and a new public park, as well as 180,000 square feet of retail and office space. Just steps from the main subway artery and transit hub, other travel options whisk you away to the downtown core or suburban destinations. In additon, direct access to Highway 401 is situated just south of M2M.

Floor-to-ceiling curtain wall windows on the corner suite.
Floor-to-ceiling curtain wall windows on the corner suite.

A model suite

Within the M2M Presentation Centre, a fully furnished three-bedroom suite is now open for viewing. Featuring a 1,101-square-foot corner unit, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a 220-square-foot balcony, this model showcases an incredible living space.

At M2M there’s no need to compromise on space, style or comfort. If downsizing, this is the ideal first step. Exceptional quality is evident with clean lines, walnut flooring and gold accent detailing. An overall asthetic appeal is reflected in all the fine finishes.

Double-height yoga studio.
Double-height yoga studio.

Attention to detail

As you enter the model suite, you’ll notice that the inviting foyer includes much-needed storage space. In the heart of the home, the kitchen features Caesarstone on the countertops and on the island, with sleek waterfall edges on both ends. A space-saving convenience includes additional counter space that pulls out from between the microwave and the dishwasher when needed. The counter is complemented by a beautifully tiled, white marble backsplash in a Moroccan arabesque pattern. The kitchen also includes integrated appliances, a Kohler sink, shaker-style woodgrain cabinetry and under-cabinet lighting – all of these upgrades are standard in all of M2M’s T1 tower suites.

The open-concept dining area is connected to the kitchen and to the living room, and features sculptural lighting to offset your furniture. Bedrooms are located on opposite ends of this suite to promote privacy and tranquility. This three-bedroom layout also includes two bathrooms, a walk-in laundry, a storage closet and natural light is optimized throughout.

Aoyuan offers a wide variety of layout options for those who appreciate expansive spaces, with the option to remove bedrooms, and open up floorplans, where possible. Other floorplans include one- and two-bedroom layouts with dens, as well as double-master suites. The flexible designs can accommodate a variety of family requirements or multi-generational living.

The extended community

Beyond the doors of each suite, an active lifestyle awaits. Residents can choose to relax, socialize or take advantage of various fitness opportunities, including a double-height yoga studio, a sauna and change rooms. Also within the development are beautifully landscaped areas with exclusive outdoor spaces that are accessible to residents on the third and ninth floors. In addition, there’s an infinity pool, a barbecue area and an outdoor dining room – plus plenty of space to unwind.

For those who love to entertain, there is a party room, a theatre room and lounge areas that are perfect for get-togethers with friends and family. From initimate dinner parties to celebratory events with an extensive guest list, the on-site dining room offers a full chef’s kitchen.

M2M places residents in the centre of this amenity-rich area of North York, close to transit, schools, parks and other community destinations. The M2M sales team is made up of knowledgeable professionals, who understand the local market, and are on hand to assist with this all-important decision.

CONTACT INFORMATION

The model suite and sales office are now open at 5851 Yonge Street.

416.901.2720

m2mcondos.com


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GTA new home sales continue stronger upward trend in April

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GTA new home sales continue stronger upward trend in April

The GTA new home market saw continued momentum in April, as prices remained relatively flat and condominium inventory increased, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

Total new home sales, with 3,853 new homes sold, were up 123 per cent from last year, and about even with the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence.

Single-family growth

There were 800 new single-family homes sold in April, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses, up from last April’s low of 443, but still 50 per cent below the 10-year average. This is the sixth month in a row that new single-family home sales have increased year-over-year. Sales of new condominium apartments in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, with 3,053 units sold, were up 137 per cent from April 2018 and 37 per cent above the 10-year average.

“The last two months have seen stronger new home and condominium sales in the GTA after a sub-par April in 2018,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “There seems to be a resiliency in the market as new-home buyers are coming off the sidelines.”

“Both builders and buyers stepped up their game in the new condominium apartment market in April,” adds Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “The number of units in new projects launched, and the number of sales, were well above the April average of the past 10 years. While it is still too early to call the market as being on the upswing, the stronger showing in April is encouraging.”

Price growth

The 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, up slightly at 0.3 per cent over the last 12 months, while the benchmark price of new condominium apartments was $758,585, up 2.5 per cent over the last 12 months.

Remaining inventory in April included 13,707 condominium apartment units and 4,580 single-family homes. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction and in completed buildings.

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Planning a renovation?

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Planning a renovation?

Like thousands of people in the GTA every year, I just had a major renovation completed on my home. It was a great way to make sure that my home meets the changing needs of my family and also updating features and designs to meet our current tastes. In doing so, I experienced first hand the benefits of using a professional renovation contractor and of practising what the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and its RenoMark renovators recommend to all their clients.

By following our own recommendations, I didn’t experience any nightmare scenarios that unfortunately are more common than anyone would like. And the end result was fabulous, the project was finished on time and on budget, and while most renovations often have some bumps in the road the process went relatively smoothly.

HERE ARE SOME OF OUR TOP TIPS:

1. Spend the time upfront to have a very clear picture of what you want to achieve. Understand your budget and have a list of must-haves and nice-tohaves. Chances are as you proceed with your renovation you will likely have to make some trade-offs between what you want and what you can afford.

2. Choose your renovator contractor carefully. Interview at least three. If you don’t know where to start, you can find a list of RenoMark renovators on the RenoMark.ca website with renovators in your city from coast to coast. The benefit of using a RenoMark member is that they are professionals, they carry all the applicable licenses and insurance coverages (including WSIB), they will always provide a written contract, provide a two-year warranty on their work and continually upgrade their skills with ongoing education provided by the local home builder’s associations (HBA).

3. When interviewing your renovation contractor, make sure they understand your vision for the renovation and are able to work with you to fine-tune your project. Ask for references of previous clients and check them! Don’t just be satisfied with pretty pictures and a snazzy brochure. If they are not a RenoMark renovator, ask them to provide evidence of insurance and workers compensation coverage, ask about their warranty coverage and ask if they are members of the local HBA. Insurance and WSIB is important because if the renovator does not have coverage, you as the homeowner could be liable in the event of an accident on the job site.

4. Make sure you have a robust written contract with the renovator. This will make sure you get the renovation you want and protects you in the event something goes wrong. Check our website at renomark.ca for tips that outline some of the most common features you will want to make sure are included in a contract.

5. As the renovation progresses, make sure to stay in regular contact with your contractor. Book regular progress meetings. Changes are bound to occur with the project as you are working with an existing and sometimes older structure or home. When you do make changes, be sure to document them with your contractor in a change order.

My overall experience was a very positive one. I worked with a professional and was very happy with the end results. Remember, you wouldn’t hire someone off the street to repair your car; you would go to a licensed mechanic. Why would you risk the biggest investment of your life, your home, to a non-professional just to save a few dollars?

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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Savvy savings: Energy-efficient tips for your home that will ultimately save you money

Savvy savings: Energy-efficient tips for your home that will ultimately save you money

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Savvy savings: Energy-efficient tips for your home that will ultimately save you money

Your home may look the same as your neighbours’ home, but it may be costing you more money to maintain it. The assumption that all homes are created equal is not true. Within the GTA, there are homes that were built in the 1800s and have since been renovated 20 times or more. Let me help explain where you might be wasting money every month and provide you with some tips to help improve the energy efficiency of your home on your next home renovation.

Energy efficiency in your home is a combination of many different parts (electricity, heating, cooling, air leakage and insulation). Making your home more energy efficient in an integrated way can be very complicated and needs to consider all aspects of your home. You can start this process on your own with a few easy steps.

Electricity

Managing your electricity costs can be as simple as switching your light bulbs to LED. This alone can save you over 60 per cent of your lighting electricity use. You can go one step further and use newer light switches that have a dimming feature, occupancy sensor (it will turn the light off if you leave it on) and smart-home features. These light switches cost more upfront, but they will save you money in the long run – especially if you have a person in your home that always forgets to turn off the light when they leave the room!

Heating and cooling

Make sure that your thermostat is installed in a central location without anything blocking it. If you have a curtain or something else blocking the airflow around it, then it will not register the temperature in your home properly and lead to over-heating or over-cooling. Don’t forget to check the expiry date on your thermostat! Just like smoke detectors, there is a practical life expectancy for these devices. I suggest that after 10 years of use, you should consider replacing it.

As for the temperature setting, this is a personal preference. Some people like a warmer or cooler house, and control of that is completely up to you. But consider your temperature settings for when you are not at home, and adjust your temperature setting by 10 degrees Celsius. Your system won’t turn on when you don’t need it to, so this will save you money in operational costs and also increase the lifespan of your heating and cooling system. A Smart thermostat allows you to return your home to a comfortable temperature, firing the system 30 minutes before you arrive.

Your passive choices

After addressing the more proactive things, like your thermostat settings and lighting systems, you should look at the passive parts of your home that are costing you money. Let’s look at air leaks. If the seals around windows and doors are leaking, then you are losing valuable heated or cooled air all the time. This can be fixed simply by replacing the gaskets or applying caulking. You can also eliminate air leakage and create a much better building envelope by rebuilding old exterior walls – integrating a well-detailed air and vapour retarder and adding insulation to create a more comfortable living space.

Using a professional renovator to help guide you through the process of making your home more energy efficient will help save you money. Always remember to obtain a detailed contract and get building and electrical permits when they are required, this will protect you and ensure that the work is completed according to code.

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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How the Liberals missed the boat on affordable housing

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How the Liberals missed the boat on affordable housing

Now that we’ve had a couple months to digest the most recent federal budget, we can now safely say Ottawa missed the boat on affordable housing.

Indeed, the Liberals had a golden opportunity to make some simple tweaks to the mortgage system in Canada that would have allowed more first-time buyers to get into the housing market and assist second-time buyers to move up, without major changes to the policies implemented over the last two years to cool the market. Industry groups across the country including the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, Ontario Home Builders’ Association, various real estate associations, boards of trade, lenders and housing advocates, have all beseeched the government to take some steps to ease up on the various stress tests and mortgage restrictions. Most of these requests were embodied in a list of recommendations from the Chair of the Federal Liberal Housing Affordability Caucus, Francesco Sorbara. Sadly, only one of the many recommendations was implemented.

Little impact

Instead, the Liberals decided to use taxpayer money to the tune of up to $1.25 billion to assist first-time buyers to purchase homes by advancing up to 10 per cent of the purchase price of new homes and a five per cent of the price of resale homes in conjunction with a CMHC-insured policy. Incomes were capped at $120,000 annually, and the loan portion cannot exceed four times annual income. Effectively, the program by its very capping of the loan portion, excluded major centres such as Vancouver and Toronto, which have suffered significant declines in both sales and prices over two years. Much criticism has already been levelled against the proposed program as having little impact on increasing housing affordability.

There is no question that these proposals will assist first-time buyers of homes in less expensive areas with the biggest beneficiaries being places like Montreal and western provinces. However, the government will have t0 advance significant sums of taxpayer monies by way of repayable loans plus significant cost to administer the program.

This is not to say there isn’t some merit to this program. However, there are many private, non-profit institutions such as Trillium and Options for Homes which offer similar second mortgage loans and share in the equity upside with purchasers. The government has not totally revealed how the sharing will work, but has indicated that there would be no interest costs during the term of the loan.

On the other hand, the recommendations of the Liberal Housing Affordability Caucus would not cost the government a single dime, and would have allowed a broader section of the marketplace, including those in Vancouver and Toronto, to gain access to housing markets which have now been closed to them because of the new and tightened mortgage rules.

Some of these proposals included:

  1.  Exempting mortgage renewals from the stress test. Currently, institutions, whether those refinancing existing loans with the same borrower or new institutions, are
    applying the new stress test to existing loans. This can put a homeowner in danger of having to pay down his loan in order to qualify even though he has been fully complied with all of the obligations;
  2. Extending the amortization period for blended payment mortgages from 25 years to 30 years. Although this seems like a small adjustment, it would lower overall carrying costs for buyers and materially expand the number of eligible purchasers for financing. Again, 30-year amortization is fairly standard in most countries and in Canada it was raised to 35 years at the height of the financial crisis in 2009;
  3. Modify the current stress test. Requiring purchasers to be able to carry a mortgage which is two per cent above the quoted rate or meet the posted five-year rate (which is usually higher than the real five-year rate) has done enough damage, particularly in the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets, but more so, has impacted on other markets that were not overheated. Some minor adjustments would have made a big difference. The suggestion was to have a declining rate stress test such that the percentage over the proposed mortgage rate (now two per cent) would decline the longer the term of the mortgage that was being obtained. For five- or seven-year mortgages, purchasers are locked in and protected from having to face significant interest rate increases for many years and did not need such a stringent stress test to protect them from increased rates.
  4. Increase the Home Buyers’ Plan which allows purchasers to borrow from their RRSPs. This proposal was in fact partially implemented with the limit of $25,000 being increased to $35,000; and
  5. Increase the GST/HST rebate thresholds of $400,000 to reflect today’s current marketplaces, as proposed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. When GST came out in 1991, the level of $400,000 was supposed to be adjusted periodically for inflation. There has not been one adjustment since 1991 and there is no recognition of variations between regions of average prices. Again, this recommendation was ignored.

Markets on ice

In reality, the Liberals were looking for flashy, vote getting, news catching type of proposals that would show that the government is putting its money behind first-time buyers. Making adjustments to the stress test and amortization period really isn’t sexy, but would have had a far greater beneficial impact with no cost to the government. The Liberals have responded to this criticism that the prior changes in the stress test are doing their job in cooling the markets and should not be changed at this time. In fact, many markets have not only cooled, but have been put on ice – such as the lowrise market in GTA for instance.

Leor Margulies is a partner at Robins Appleby LLP and a member of the board of directors of BILD.

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M2M Condos

Aoyuan International’s M2M Condos master-planned community wins BILD People’s Choice Award

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Aoyuan International’s M2M Condos master-planned community wins BILD People’s Choice Award

While far from its first real estate development on a global scale, M2M is Aoyuan International‘s initial project in Toronto, as well as its most ambitious to date. Planning for the multi-faceted community project first started in 2017, when Aoyuan International acquired the Newtonbrook Plaza and began to lay out plans for its largest residential complex in Canada.

When completed, the 8.6-acre master-planned community at Yonge and Finch in North York will be a fully integrated neighbourhood designed for living, working, and playing. Featuring five towers and two podiums, M2M’s all-encompassing community will be home to a total of 1,650 residential units, as well as hundreds of thousands of square feet of office and retail space, a community centre, children’s daycare, and even its own greenspace for a future park.

The Aoyuan International team is thrilled to have received the BILD People’s Choice Award at the 39th annual BILD Awards on May 3, where the award was presented by the Building Industry and Land Development Association.

The BILD Awards are an annual event held to highlight new real estate projects that standout taking place in the greater Toronto area and to celebrate “excellence in the GTA’s land development and new home industry,” With awards that recognize distinction in everything from marketing and sales to project design, BILD aims to recognize the myriad hard-working people behind the hundreds of new communities that appear on the market every year.

Aoyuan International shares the People’s Choice Award with key strategic partners who are equally responsible for M2M’s success, including Wallman Architects, U/31, Ferris + Associates Inc., Baker Real Estate Inc. and KG&A.

In a lengthy selection process, most winners of the BILD Awards are chosen by a jury of industry experts. However, for the People’s Choice Award, the power of selection is put into the hands of the general public, which makes the award one of the most coveted in the BILD Awards. This prize is considered massively important within the industry, as it represents the voice of the GTA people who will ultimately occupy the award-winning dwellings.

Initially shortlisted alongside seven other finalists, Aoyuan International’s master-planned community ended up snagging the award. The project was also nominated for the Best Suite Design award, thanks to M2M’s expansive square footage, smart home features, and thoughtful details, such as laminate wood flooring, Kohler fixtures, integrated appliances, and under-cabinet lighting.

Aoyuan International believes in and is committed to “building a healthy lifestyle” for its residents, and is thrilled that the M2M site has received its official approval from the city. With the BILD People’s Choice win drawing even more attention to the project, all eyes will definitely be on this exciting new community as the Newtonbrook Plaza is transformed over the coming years. The TTC Yonge subway expansion, which will soon bring downtown public transit access to M2M’s door, will make the master-planned community an even more attractive place to call home for daily commuters between the 416 and 905 area codes.

With such a positive start in the Toronto market, there’s no telling what successes await Aoyuan International and M2M, but the outlook so far is incredibly optimistic, and the team is excited to build out its master-planned community with its many amenities — from a yoga studio, infinity pool, and co-working space to a marketplace and park for families in the neighbourhood. It’s this very blend of modern development, design, marketing, and communications that Aoyuan International believes led to M2M’s victory at this year’s BILD award.

Aoyuan International encourages a healthy urban lifestyle. To learn more about the project, visit the M2M Presentation Centre and model suite, located at 5851 Yonge St.. The Presentation Centre is open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m. weekends. For further information or an appointment, call 416.901.2720 or visit the website.


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