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

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Caps on parkland fees should still be a priority

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Caps on parkland fees should still be a priority

The Ontario government recently introduced changes that will adjust the way development pays for the infrastructure, facilities and services required to support growth. The changes, the result of extensive consultation, are good news for municipalities, builders and ultimately homebuyers, but they underscore the challenges of producing one-size fits-all housing policy for a province as diverse as Ontario. As an example, while the province chose to leave the way municipalities fund new parks essentially unchanged, BILD will continue to advocate at the municipal level for caps on parkland fees.

Currently, municipalities can require that each new development contribute land for a park, or pay a fee in lieu, to be used to purchase parkland. Our industry believes that parks are vital parts of any vibrant and complete community, but we have concerns about the cash in lieu (CIL) of land that some municipalities opt to collect. Our concerns are threefold.

First, as CIL rates are linked to the value of the land, collection of parkland charges can act as a disincentive to density. This is especially true with high rise buildings in downtown areas across the GTA, where it is not unusual for a one bedroom condominium to attract double or more in parkland fees compared to a single-family home.

Second, many municipalities have a record of collecting far more in parkland fees than they spend on new parks. A study conducted by Altus Group in 2018 found that GTA municipalities had accumulated $1.13 billion in parkland cash reserves. This means that new-home buyers are paying for new parks as part of the cost of their new homes, but not necessarily receiving them.

Lastly, with infill development in existing neighbourhoods, parks are generally already in place, which leads us to wonder what new-home buyers are paying for with their parkland fees.

While the changes introduced by the province allow municipalities to set alternative parkland dedication rates and allow municipal parkland dedication bylaws to be appealed, it is still important to have a maximum cap for parkland rates in certain GTA municipalities so that new-home buyers are not asked to pay more than their fair share.

The changes introduced by the provincial government are a very positive step in addressing the housing supply and affordability challenge in the GTA. They provide builders with greater clarity and certainty about costs and allow municipalities to recover 100 per cent of costs for facilities such as daycare centres, long-term care homes, playgrounds and libraries. BILD’s advocacy with certain municipalities on parkland fees is meant to ensure that the way we fund parks does not add unnecessary costs for new-home buyers and erode affordability.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the homebuilding, 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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City and industry work together to remove barriers to homeownership

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City and industry work together to remove barriers to homeownership

This is a challenging time for families who had been planning to buy a place to live in the GTA in the near future. Those who are still able to contemplate a new home purchase in this time of economic uncertainty will find fewer choices as the building industry recovers from construction delays due to the pandemic. It has never been more important for governments to work with our industry to alleviate the financial pressures on homebuyers and remove barriers to the renewal of construction activity. Two developments at the City of Toronto make me hopeful.

The first development could potentially ease some of the tax burden on first-time homebuyers in Toronto. City Council recently considered a report from the chief financial officer that identifies opportunities to provide first-time buyers with greater relief from the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT), including potentially revising the maximum price eligibility threshold of $400,000 to reflect increased home prices in Toronto. BILD supports council’s direction on the MLTT, and we are looking forward to developments on this item when it is considered by the budget committee in November.

The second development at City Hall will help our industry bring more new home supply to consumers. At the end of last month, council adopted Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s motion to have staff prepare a plan to clear the backlog at the Committee of Adjustment, the body that makes decisions on builders’ applications for minor variances from the Zoning By-Law, by the end of 2020, and find ways to increase future capacity.

Alleviating Committee backlogs was one of the recovery recommendations BILD made to the Mayor and the Office of Recovery and Rebuild. We provided Deputy Mayor Minnan-Wong with data from our COVID-19 Economic Impact Survey, which found that pandemic-related construction delays would result in the loss of about 9,000 housing starts over the course of 2020 and 2021, and the delayed occupancy of more than 8,000 units by the end of 2021. Implications would also include the loss of close to 10,000 jobs per year and the loss or delay, beyond 2021, of about $850 million in government revenues.

Despite disruptions due to COVID-19 and a number of regulatory and logistical hurdles, service levels at the City have improved significantly since the start of the pandemic. City Planning was able to approve projects representing more than 12,000 housing units between mid-March and mid-June.

We will work with the City to help clear the remaining backlog of Committee of Adjustment applications and toward greater service efficiency post-pandemic so we can replenish Toronto’s new home inventory. We are stronger when we work together. Our industry looks forward to working with all of the municipalities of the GTA to remove barriers to homeownership and renewal of construction activity as we set out on the road to economic recovery.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the homebuilding, 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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Our economic recovery will be led by building and development

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Our economic recovery will be led by building and development

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Canada, Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area, and my heart goes out to residents of the GTA who have been affected or lost loved ones to this terrible virus.

Millions of people were let go from their jobs and the economy has all but ground to a halt. As governments at all levels begin to look at recovery, they will need to focus on the GTA. Our region is the heart of Canada’s economy, accounting for 20 per cent of Canada’s GDP 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. Our industry is well-positioned to play a significant role in the recovery of our region, Ontario, and Canada. Working with our colleagues at both the Ontario and Canadian Home Builders’ Associations, we have put together a roadmap for simple changes that can have a big impact.

Our industry submitted a report to the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee that includes 19 recommendations to all three levels of government to get our economy back on track. These recommendations will create an immediate and significant impact to consumers and businesses, and will involve little to no new money from government. Proposed measures include suspending the Canadian mortgage stress test, transferring mortgage tenancy to the date of occupancy for new condominiums, eliminating security deposits for the Ontario land transfer tax on affiliated transfers, and freezing municipal increases to property tax reassessments and development charges. Many people have lost their jobs in all sectors of the economy.

Many projects have been delayed, constraining consumer and industrial/commercial liquidity. Government coffers are also not bottomless, which is why they need to focus on liquidity and freeing up funds that would otherwise be stuck in such things as municipal agreements (refundable deposits paid by developers) and replacing them with surety bonds. These changes can be transitory until such time as we can all fully adjust to the new normal, or when a vaccine for the coronavirus is widely available.

Other suggestions include reinstating home improvement tax credits for homeowners to support ageing-in-place improvements or energy retrofits. In the past, these programs have paid for themselves, since they cut out the black and grey renovation market.

I encourage you to read the full report at bild.ca and support us as we work toward recovery in the GTA, Ontario and Canada through residential and commercial construction and professional renovation.

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

bild.ca

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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.

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 municipalities and regions where they operate.

Individual company actions may vary based on their own unique situations. Companies are enabling social distancing through remote 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.

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 fulfill 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.

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

bild.ca

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What Bill 108 means for housing affordability in the GTA

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What Bill 108 means for housing affordability in the GTA

Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, received Royal Assent on June 6. The policy changes are intended to improve housing affordability in the GTA by ensuring cost certainty for development projects, reducing red tape and shortening the time frame for land use approvals. This will enable the delivery, more quickly, of more quality places to live and work.

Let’s take a look at the changes to the Development Charges Act (DCA), which enables municipalities to impose charges on development to pay for municipal services such as roads, water and public works. Bill 108 proposes to narrow the range of services for which development charges can be imposed in order to align with the new Community Benefits Authority (CBA), which will fund soft services like daycare centres and libraries. Development charges would then be imposed for certain hard services, like water, roads and transit. Changes to the DCA will also increase predictability for the industry and for consumers by allowing for development charges to be locked in earlier in the development process.

The government’s key objective in introducing changes to the DCA is to make housing more affordable and provide more certainty about some of the costs associated with building housing in the GTA. Development charges account for approximately 10 per cent of the cost of a new home across the GTA and have been rising quickly. These changes make upfront development costs more predictable and transparent, benefiting the new home buyers who ultimately pay for these costs in the price of a new home.

Rental housing is not left out. In order to support a range and mix of housing, including new rental buildings, changes allow for the deferral of development charges for rental housing and not-for-profit housing until occupancy, with payment occurring over five years, and freeze development charge rates at an earlier point in time. This provides an incentive, and reduces barriers, to build rental and not-for-profit housing by allowing for an amortization of some of the upfront costs over a period of time.

Speeding development

An overall focus on speeding development and reducing duplication is woven throughout Bill 108 and gives communities and the development industry more confidence on what they can build and where they can build it. It can take years before shovels can break ground on a new housing project. Some government policies and processes are duplicated and can create delays for no reason, which drives up costs for new home buyers. Complex administrative red tape can slow down developments as a project can face dozens of municipal, regional and provincial studies, reports, checklists, plans and standards required as conditions of approvals, many duplicate. This is in part why it takes 11 years to complete a lowrise project and 10 years to complete a highrise project in the GTA.

Lastly, the changes provide more clarity when it comes to being able to build denser communities near transit nodes, in areas where it makes sense due to investments in infrastructure that have been made to support growth. It will now be easier and faster to build more housing, including affordable housing, near transit. Municipalities will get help to implement community planning permit systems near major station areas and provincially significant employment zones, which will streamline planning approvals to 45 days. Transit supportive housing just makes good planning sense.

Desperate needs

As the government moves toward developing regulations to support Bill 108, there will undoubtedly be lots of discussions. It would serve us well to remember that the changes are about encouraging more housing that the region desperately needs, in the right mix, quicker, near transit and at a price the average resident can afford. It’s hard to argue with that.

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

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Providing homes for hardworking individuals

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Providing homes for hardworking individuals

In hindsight, the signs were there all along: A rapid escalation of land values, the slowing of new development across the Greater Toronto Area, and a rise in community resistance against new development in existing neighbourhoods. This is the legacy of the previous provincial government’s Growth Plan and housing policies in the GTA. Our current challenges around housing supply and affordability are the result.

The new provincial government is looking to make much-needed changes, even as critics raise predictable objections. Never mind that these same critics never supported any development plan nor are likely do to so, and never mind the disheartening prospects confronting those looking for a new home or apartment in the GTA. Nor does it matter to these pundits that the region is growing annually by 115,000 people, all requiring housing, places to work, schools, and commuting infrastructure.

The fact is, despite the critics’ objections, the changes proposed by the government are quite measured and focus on two areas. The first is a housing supply action plan that outlines how we get more homes for rent and purchase built faster. The government is looking at proposals to remove barriers and speed up development, as it currently takes more than 11 years to complete an average lowrise development and 10 years to complete an average high rise development in the GTA.

The government is also looking for proposals on ways to encourage “missing middle housing” – the townhomes and low and midrise apartments that provide gentle density in existing neighbourhoods and can serve as starter homes at a lower price point. Finally, the government is looking for proposals to lower the cost of development by addressing the cost of land and the charges added to new developments. This in turn will positively impact the affordability of new homes.

The second area the government is focusing on is adjusting the Growth Plan, the policy that guides where and how development occurs across the GTA and the Greater Golden Horseshoe. One matter under consideration is adjusting density targets — the number of people and jobs required per hectare — a direct determinant of built form and housing mix. The current government has rightly pointed out that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, and that treating development in communities such as Brantford, Hamilton and Waterloo in a manner similar to Toronto makes no sense. Other proposed changes include giving 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, and continuing to encourage density around major transit station areas. If adopted, these changes will give more flexibility to municipalities and will encourage the right types of homes to be built and the right density based on the infrastructure available.

These proposed changes are all about one thing: Providing homes for hardworking individuals and families across a growing region. Our current generational housing challenge has been 14 years in the making, and through these actions the provincial government is making good on its promise of working to increase housing supply in our region while continuing to protect the environment.

DAVE WILKES is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). bild.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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In Conversation With Cheryl Shindruk, BILD Chair, & Executive Vice-President, Geranium

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In Conversation With Cheryl Shindruk, BILD Chair, & Executive Vice-President, Geranium

Homebuyers may not realize or appreciate it, but hard at work behind the scenes on their behalf are industry organizations such as the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). In the last few years, given the challenging affordability, supply and policy issues facing the GTA housing market, BILD is not just important but essential to protecting the public interest.

Charged with building on this momentum for the next two years as BILD Chair is Cheryl Shindruk, who also is executive vice-president of land development at homebuilder, Geranium.

HOMES Magazine spoke with Shindruk to get her insights on these and other issues.

HOMES Magazine: You recently spoke at BILD’s Chair’s Dinner, with your topic being “leading change.” How do you, or BILD, plan to lead change in your tenure as Chair?

Cheryl Shindruk: The continued success of BILD, and our reputation as an industry, depends on our commitment to professionalism and excellence. We must be principled and fact-based in our approach; determined to have a voice and communicating our message loud and clear.

One way we can achieve change is to continue to focus on educating the public on the role our industry plays in contributing to the high quality of life this region offers, and the challenges we have delivering housing that people can afford, where and when it is needed.

HM: What were some of the other key messages in your address?

CS: Our advocacy agenda with government achieved some great momentum in 2018. We need to continue our work to help government create a regulatory environment and approvals process that is fair and streamlined, free of duplication, while protecting the public interest, and creates positive conditions that allow our members to build and renovate homes, and places for people to work and play. Collectively, we need to work to restore balance and stability in the housing market.

HM: The industry – through BILD, the OHBA and TREB – has made great strides over the last few years in getting governments to understand the challenges facing builders and developers, and therefore homebuyers. What’s your outlook for these relationships – how do you see things progressing over the next year or so.

CS: I believe in the power of partnership and collaboration with all levels of government, with the financial institutions, sister construction associations, chambers of commerce and BIAs, with our colleagues in the environmental and resource sectors and, with the media. We will continue to strengthen these partnerships as a means to achieving regulatory environment that allows us to meet the housing, commercial and industrial building needs of this region.

HM: Try to look ahead to a year or so from now. What accomplishment would signal your tenure as BILD Chair as a success you would be proud of?

CS: Our organization is poised to take on the challenges of 2019. The staff and board of BILD are highly qualified when it comes to talent, experience and work ethic. Advancing our advocacy agenda with government; further educating homeowners and prospective buyers; and restoring balance and stability in the housing market will signal to me that we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.

BILD Chair
BILD Chair Cheryl Shindruk, centre, with BILD President Dave Wilkes, left, and William Moore, president, Solutions Ink.

HM: Through this interview with HOMES Magazine, you’re also speaking directly to prospective homebuyers – who are growing increasingly concerned about affordability in the GTA. What would you say to them on this and other topics they need to be aware of, to keep their homebuying hopes realistic?

CS: Two things: Educate yourselves on the issues contributing to affordability, and get involved. In conjunction with traditional media channels, the Internet provides an abundance of information about our industry. Be sure to check sources and subscribe to different outlets for a balanced picture.

Ensure that your elected officials understand your concerns and viewpoint, at all levels of government.

We are committed to working with government and stakeholders so that our industry can do its part in delivering an ample supply and mix of housing options, and achieving balance and stability in the housing market. We need a regulatory environment and approvals process that allows this to happen.

HM: How has your work at Geranium prepared you for your position as Chair of BILD?

CS: I have been fortunate to have been able to pursue a career that merges my passions for city planning, community building, business and volunteerism. Since joining Geranium in 2003, I’ve had the opportunity to work on many complex and challenging files, receiving guidance and mentorship from outstanding business partners and Geranium’s principals, who lead by example. I’m inspired by our land development team, and we’ve all embraced a strong commitment to communication, consultation and collaboration. This is what helps me most in my role with Geranium and prepares me for the position of Chair of BILD.

Chair’s Dinner
Shindruk at the podium, delivering her keynote address at the 2019 Chair’s Dinner.

HM: Let’s talk more about Geranium… What’s in store for 2019?

CS: On the sales and marketing side, we will continue to sell and build our design-forward new homes in Aurora, Stouffville, Toronto East and Pickering. With our partners in Friday Harbour, Innisfil, we’re bringing this resort community to fruition on Lake Simcoe. We expect to launch new home communities in Port Perry and Pickering. We’ll also be continuing our planning and development processes on existing land holdings, working with government and agencies to create places which contribute to the diversity of housing styles, employment and lifestyle opportunities, while enhancing the communities we have the privilege of working in.

HM: How do you think your work at BILD will benefit you in your day job at Geranium?

CS: I value the work of BILD, OHBA and CHBA, which is why Geranium is a member. Our President, Boaz Feiner was a two-term BILD board member, and Louie Morizio, senior vice-president of construction, has served on RESCON’s board of directors. Whether through a formal role, or in other ways, Geranium and I will continue to have a voice in our industry.

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Millennials Concerned About Housing

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Millennials Concerned About Housing

Poll shows they lack confidence in the affordability of homes in the GTA

Surveying 1,503 GTA residents on behalf of the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), a recent Ipsos poll shows there is great concern among GTA millennials that they will be unable to afford a home in the GTA. However, there is some optimism from this group regarding their views on housing supply for new residents.

GTA residents also expressed a lack of confidence about the likelihood their children will be able to remain in the communities where they grew up.

Here are some key findings from the Ipsos poll:

Interestingly, although millennials are concerned about the ability to own a home, they are also the most optimistic group regarding housing supply, with 41 per cent of them believing that the GTA is well prepared to provide housing for the number of new residents that settle here every year. That is substantially higher than those aged 35 to 54 (31 per cent) and those over 55 (27 per cent).

When choosing a new home, 60 per cent of GTA residents say they value a neighbourhood that is walkable and bikeable in addition to being within close proximity to shopping, entertainment and government services. This is closely followed by those who prefer access to convenient transit (56 per cent) and close proximity to work and school (54 per cent).

Nearly 7 out of 10 respondents feel that their children will be unable to afford a home in the community where they grew up. This group of respondents agrees that it is important for young families to be able to afford to live and work within the GTA without having to deal with long commutes.

When asked, “To what extent do you strongly or somewhat agree or disagree with the following”:

  • 92 per cent agree that the dream of homeownership is becoming more difficult to achieve for young people living in their city.
  • 86 per cent agree that it is important that young families can afford to live and work within the GTA without having to commute over an hour to get to work.
  • 39 per cent agree that there are enough homes being built in their city to help keep housing affordable.
  • 33 per cent agree that the GTA is well prepared to provide housing for roughly 115,000 new residents that settle here each year.
  • 33 per cent agree that their children (or their friends’ children) will be able to afford a home in my community when they grow up.

The best public policy is proactive, not reactive. We hope these poll results demonstrate that the time for municipal decision makers to start thinking about housing choice and supply for all GTA residents who want to own a home is now.

The results of the poll are accurate to within +/- 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had all adults in the GTA been polled.

Garry Bhaura is president of the Toronto Real Estate Board. You can contact him at TREBpres@trebnet.com. For updates on the real estate market, visit TRREB.ca. If commercial property is what interests you, contact a TREB realtor by visiting TREBcommercial.com.

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Home Realty: Don’t Believe Everything You Read

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Home Realty: Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Context is key when seeking to understand the GTA real estate market

If you only pay attention to what is reported in the mainstream media about the GTA real estate market, it’s likely you’ll be getting an inaccurate picture of what’s actually happening.

This past March saw a total of 1,960 new home sales across the region, according to Altus Group. Of those sales, 1,649 were condominium apartments in lowrise, midrise and highrise buildings and stacked townhouses. This was down 67 per cent from March 2017, and down 21 per cent from the 10-year GTA average.

In the single-family home market, there were just 311 sales of detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses). This was up from the 265 homes sold in February, but down 77 per cent from March 2017, and down 79 per cent from the 10-year average.

At first glance, this might seem like a drastic drop in sales and the media tends to cite these sorts of figures as evidence that the GTA market could at long last be experiencing a correction.

But context is tremendously important here when it comes to understanding what is really going on.

For example, some of the demand that might have been seen in the early part of this year was brought forward last year, largely in anticipation of new mortgage restrictions. This contributed to a record year for condo apartment sales in 2017, the fourth strongest year for GTA new home sales since Altus Group started tracking the market in 2000.

And it’s likely that the cumulative effects of the government measures to cool the housing market are continuing to keep potential buyers out of the housing market, with many purchasers opting to take a wait-and-see approach. But the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and Altus Group say they expect home sales to be up relative to 2017 in the second half of this year.

While new home sales may have dropped compared to last year — again, 2017 was a record year and somewhat of an anomaly — prices have remained more or less consistent, although in the case of condos, they have been rising significantly.

In March, the benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1,207,832, which was 7.4 per cent above last year, and the benchmark price for new condos rose to $742,801, 39.4 per cent above last March.

But again, context is important here.

It’s primarily the low supply of new housing that is keeping prices high. The supply of both condos and single-family homes dipped in March, with the total new home remaining inventory at 12,457 units (8,756 condos and 3,701 single family homes). This represents about four months of inventory. A healthy new home market would have nine to 12 months of inventory available for sale.

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) notes that in order to fix the region’s housing supply problem, it’s essential that we remove barriers to development, including outdated zoning that doesn’t support intensification, government red tape and a lack of critical infrastructure.

New home sales have dipped, but rest assured they’ll be back up again soon. And if supply issues are rectified in accordance with BILD’s recommendations, price increases will moderate, as well.

So don’t believe everything you hear from the media: the GTA housing market is strong, resilient and — in the long run — as good a bet as they come.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years.

In2ition.ca

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