Tag Archives: Condo Market

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Is this the right time to buy?

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Is this the right time to buy?

Summer has come and gone, and it was a nice one in the GTA as far as climate is concerned. As the Labour Day weekend kicked in, we felt the change in the temperature, and started putting away the short sleeves.

It’s a good time to reflect and be thankful for travel, reconnecting with friends and maximizing whatever time you could with family and those who matter most. It’s also a natural time of year to reflect on work, progress and betterment. To take the seasonal run before the shutdown again around the holiday season.

Home and condo builders, too, find themselves in a busy mode, with dozens of new projects opening this fall. A new buying and selling season is here. The cost of land, both in terms of processing and the mere outright cost of it, hasn’t gone down. There has been some slowing in the constantly rising price of new homes, in particular, and it was necessary. New homes aren’t inexpensive, with the GTA average now exceeding $1 million. Condo prices, meanwhile, have increased, as all the factors that influence their costs also continue to rise. Bottom line? New home pricing is not likely to improve any time soon.

In fact, despite our conservative outlook, there’s no reason to think pricing won’t continue to rise. It simply costs more to build and buy new homes. Supply seems far below adequate, and that hasn’t changed recently. Borrowing costs are low, rents are high, vacancies nonexistent, and the city is growing annually. Competition is fierce. The products we offer are extraordinary, a good testament to the efforts of so many in this world-class mecca of new home and condo development that we live in.

So, is this the right time to buy? You bet it is. It’s not going to get any better any time soon. Do your homework and do your shopping. Be ready to buy. Go for it!

Mark Cohen is a founding partner of The Condo Store Marketing Systems, a firm specializing in the design, marketing and sales of condo and new home communities in and outside of the GTA . condostorecanada.com mark@condostorecanada.com

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Selling your condo in 2020? Here’s what you should know

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Selling your condo in 2020? Here’s what you should know

The real estate market has been indecisive lately, so if you are planning on selling your condo in the near future, it’s understandable that you have lots of questions you need to find answers for. Is it a good time to sell? Will you be able to get the desired price? Is the market strong enough?

Real estate experts have some predictions for 2020, but whether they will come true is yet something everyone has to wait and see. Last year, for example, it was predicted that the mortgage interest rates in the U.S. will be increasing for 2019, but now, after the start of the second half of the year, things are turning out to be quite the opposite. If you do plan to sell your unit in the year to come, there are some things to keep in mind, no matter how the economy changes.

Condo prices may drop considerably

A possible recession has been on the lips of everyone in the first half of the year. If this is going to happen, then the real estate market is going to shift on the buyer’s side and prices may to drop considerably.

In fact, financial experts think that a possible recession is going to hit Canada harder than it will affect the United States, for various reasons. To determine this, experts have taken into consideration factors such as the savings rate, which fell to 1.1 per cent in the first quarter of the year, as compared to the U.S., where the rate is 6.7 per cent. This means that, in the case of an economic crisis, Canadian households will have to work harder to get back on their feet.

But the real estate market is quite unpredictable and a lot can change in the second half of 2019. Bottom line is, if you want to sell your suite in 2020, you might want to do it in the first half, to avoid prices dropping too low. At the same time, if you plan on buying a new home, it is suggested to wait a bit more until the market turns on the buyers’ side.

Buyers are becoming pickier

In the events of a recession, buyers will have more power over the market, as there are simply going to be more condos for sale, than people looking to buy one. This means that the power will shift in their favor and they will become more pretentious.

If you want to have a higher chance to sell your unit, make sure it is an extremely desirable one. Make some small adjustments, invest in some modifications that will increase the value of the condo, such as making it more energy-efficient.

Millennials are going to be the next homebuyers these next few years, so you are going to want to make the condo appeal more to them. The Millennial generation is more interested in how they affect the environment, so they are going to look for homes that are more environmental-friendly.

You may have a higher chance with an agent

If you want to sell your apartment fast, hiring a real estate agent who knows the market may be your best shot. Agents are up to date with all the changes happening on the market and will be able to advise you to make the best decision. Make sure you find a reputable agent that has your best interests at heart and is not only in it for the money. Look online, ask for recommendations from friends and family and meet for a discussion before deciding on an agent.

Homeowners are often trying to sell the house by themselves, to avoid having to pay a commission for the agent. Truth be told, yes, you can end up saving quite a significant amount of money if you are looking to sell the house by yourself, typically around five per cent of the sale price. But real estate agents are charging these fees because it is their job to expose your house to a much bigger list of potential buyers. This way, they are making sure you get the best possible deal out of it. Without an agent, you are going to have to take care of preparing and marketing the house yourself, as well as reviewing all the offers that are going to come your way. Not an easy job, to be honest.

Certain areas sell better in particular months

Market dynamics are a strong indicator when it comes to determining when is the best time to sell your condo. While the national market trends are something you need to consider, you also have to keep in mind that, in some months, buyers prefer to look for homes in certain areas.

Experts analyzed the sales activity in the city of Toronto for the past 18 years and have discovered some interesting facts. While some homeowners may think that spring is the best time to sell their condo, it may not always be the case. Some areas are more searched for in the fall season. Oshawa and Pickering are, indeed, more attractive in late spring, while Simcoe sellers are advised to list their condos in February for a chance to get a higher price.

In Vancouver, fall seems to be the best time to sell your condo in various areas, such as New Westminster, North Vancouver, as well as Surrey. If you live in Abbotsford, Mission or Port Moody, then the summer is the right time to put up the “For Sale” sign. For those living in Chilliwack, Richmond or Whistler, spring may bring the best possible prices.

As the economy continues to bring up surprises, the real estate market seems to shift the power towards the buyers. If you are planning to sell your condo in 2020, you need to pay close attention to the way the market is evolving. The less stressful option is to hire an agent that can take care of these things for you and ensure you will be getting the best possible offer.

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Look for the condo market’s hidden gems this spring

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Look for the condo market’s hidden gems this spring

We can almost see the end of winter, and with spring tantalizingly around the corner, perhaps this is the year to buy your new home.

The market is changing daily; our city continues to grow and the shortage of new homes and new condos continues; demand still far outweighs supply. New detached housing took it on the chin a little, although there is little available, and little on the horizon. Average pricing across the GTA still exceeded $1 million.

With my three kids still to buy their first new home, I guess retirement isn’t on the horizon for me and many others as soon as I expected. They’ll need help getting into the market. Rents are forecasted to increase about 11 per cent citywide, so owning will still look like a better option if you can get in. I predict a return to a strong detached new home market in the not so distant future. Builders are feeling the pain of the buyers’ inability to get in; new mortgage rules are good in a general sense, but not making it any easier for would-be buyers. Still, we need more housing and it will bounce back and get absorbed faster from the buying public.

The condo market remains robust, although pricing has crept up significantly in recent years. Pricing is still well below the average freehold home that’s out there for the taking. Look for continued interest on all of the condo apartment projects that get launched or reintroduced to the market. While the builders have to protect themselves for the future by building in anticipated increases in costs of all kind, the market remains competitive and perhaps more of a buyers market than we’ve seen in some time. Lots of great choices are expected; make sure you do your homework and see what’s out there before you buy.

Winlock townhomes
Winlock townhomes

Look for some hidden gems out there as well. The urban townhome, or stacked townhome continues to grow in popularity. For those who want more space than a typical highrise condo, yet less than, a typical detached house, these fall nicely in the middle. There are lower maintenance fees and a larger space spread out over two or three floors, separating the living areas from the sleeping areas, all the bells and whistles you’ll find in our highly competitve marketplace and, perhaps most importantly to many, certainty as to timing. Builders can start them earlier as the presale requirements are smaller; the buildings or clusters of buildings have far fewer units than a typical highrise. And the construction process is simpler and much shorter. This provides more certainty as to when they will start and, more importantly, when they will be completed.

Some of these new townhome opportunities are presenting themselves in prime locations, places you never thought had any room for more development. One prime example will rise soon in the prestigious Bayview and Finch neighbourhood. Crown Communities, a company with deep roots, is introducing Winlock Towns, a collection of 30 new homes, 20 urban towns and 10 more traditional. An opportunity to live in a neighbourhood that commands very high resale values, with older product in the one, $2 million to $3 million range. Winlock offers a good selection of two- and three-bedroom plus urban and traditional townhomes starting at less than $800,000, ranging to slightly more than $1.2 million. The builder has thrown in all those bells and whistles, with over height ceilings, the best in finishes, appliances, free parking and, unlike many of the townhomes on the market old and new, concrete construction. All this, right in the heart of an established neighbourhood, minutes from Bayview Village, Fairview Mall, North York Centre and public transit, GO, the 400 highways and everything you need. Look for this and other hidden gems this Spring. It will be an exciting one for sure.

Mark Cohen is a founding partner of The Condo Store Marketing Systems, a firm specializing in the design, marketing and sales of condo and new home communities in and outside of the GTA. condostorecanada.com mark@condostorecanada.com

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Holiday Gift Suggestions For Condo Owners

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Holiday Gift Suggestions For Condo Owners

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

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

Coaster set WestElm.ca

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

Velvet cushion WestElm.ca

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

Cashmere throw from Restoration Hardware RH.com

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

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

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

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New condos in Toronto hit record high in prices

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New condos in Toronto hit record high in prices

Toronto condos web

The new condo market in Toronto heated up in the third quarter, with average prices exceeding $1,000 per sq. ft. for the first time, and sales jumping four per cent year-over-year to reach the highest third-quarter volume in the last 10 years.

“The condominium market has performed exceptionally well during its transition from an overheated 2017,” says Shaun Hildebrand, president of Urbanation Inc., in releasing the firm’s Q3-2018 condo market results. “Low supply and stabilized demand should continue to provide structural support for prices. However, signs of a slower pace of price growth ahead, from factors including rising interest rates and higher completions, should be factored into decision making with respect to purchasing investment units.”

Quarterly new condominium sales have settled into a relatively steady pace in recent quarters, following frenetic levels in 2017, Urbanization says.

However, the market appears poised to receive a boost in the final months of the year as a significant number of new units launch for pre-sale, which should be met by strong demand, given current trends.

The average opening quarter absorption rate for new launches has remained above 55 per cent for 11 straight quarters dating back to Q1-2016 (averaging 58 per cent in Q3-2018). This was not solely reflective of increased investor activity, as projects with a mix of buyers, as well as those geared primarily to end-users, have been achieving high absorptions upon opening.

Not every project is selling quickly, Urbanization cautions. Eight of 17 projects launched in Q3-2018 sold less than 30 per cent of their units, compared to only one of 15 launched in Q3-2017 — illustrating increased price sensitivity, a dispersion of new projects across the GTA region, and the importance of a strong marketing campaign. High price points in the current new condominium market should prevent another sustained resurgence in sales activity in the immediate future.

Other highlights include:

  • New condominium apartment sales in the GTA increased four per cent year-over-year to 4,738 units in Q3-2018, reaching the third highest Q3 volume of the past 10 years
  • Year-to-date sales of 14,055 units were down 46 per cent from the record high of 25,839 sales recorded during the same period last year
  • Resale condominium apartment sales grew two per cent annually in Q3-2018 to 5,253 units, marking the first annual increase since Q1-2017
  • Unsold inventory of new condos in development increased two per cent quarter-over-quarter and 22 per cent year-over-year to 9,927 units, although remaining 33 per cent below the 10-year average of 14,806 units. Unsold inventory equaled 5.2 months of supply, rising from 5.1 months in Q2-2018 and 3.0 months a year ago in Q3-2017
  • Despite the growth in supply, the average sold price for all actively marketing projects in Q3 increased 11 per cent annually to $745 psf, with asking prices for unsold units up 19 per cent to an average of $972 psf. Within new projects that opened for pre-sale during the third quarter, prices averaged $745,416, a 33-per-cent jump from a year ago ($562,340). The average size of a new unit launched in Q3-2018 was 714 sq. ft., resulting in average per square foot prices for new launches rising past $1,000 for the first time ($1,044 psf)
  • Average resale condominium prices grew by 6.5 per cent year-over-year to $690 psf, or $577,000 based on an average size of 837 sq. ft, representing a sharp deceleration from the 27-per-cent annual pace recorded a year ago in Q3-2017
  • Construction started on a record 8,150 new condominiums in Q3-2018, raising the total number of condos under construction to a new high of 67,581 units in 236 buildings. Projects under construction were 95-per-cent pre-sold on average.

RELATED READING

GTA new home market shows some improvement in September

GTA new home market quiet in August

 

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The fall condo market in the GTA is in full swing

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The fall condo market in the GTA is in full swing

Although October has been unseasonably warm, it’s just a tease. Most of us have closed our cottages, people on the water were wearing ski jackets and toques this Thanksgiving. The barometer has dropped and its that time of the year. We survived September; kids back at school and everyone seems to be busy back at work in full swing. As always, the great real estate developers in our town are now showcasing the latest and greatest. Some new housing opportunities, detached, attached, stacked and so forth are available. Nice to see with the general prevailing shortage of new housing opportunities that exist in the GTA, that there are some good choices out there.

New housing opportunities in town should be looked at carefully; they are few and far between and it’s not going to get better. Many of the house sellers took their time to reflect this summer, re entering the market place with a view of offering a competitive and fair value to the buyers while trying to make sure they make a living selling. Some great choices exist out there. Speaking of ‘out there’, some of them are really out there. Last month, I moved into a new condo in the centre of town and bought a new home just outside of town. Room for the kids in both but I’m pushing towards being a youngish empty nester. I love this city; but Saturdays and Sundays are for somewhere else.

New condo choices are here; many of the developers also reflected this summer; enjoying the heat, and preparing their launches with new opportunities, new design and an assortment of new buildings in (416), (905) and beyond. Rents are continuing to increase almost ad finitem; (if you can even get your hands on a rental); owning makes more sense than ever if you can find the downpayment. Great new opportunities are here all over town. Look carefully at the neighbourhood; the property values there, the demographics and the trends. Do your homework. Talk to your realtor if you’re working with one. Talk to the on site agents and ask them about the neighbourhood they’re selling in. They should know what’s happening and, perhaps more importantly, what is likely to happen down the road. Get into gear. The fall market is here.

MARK COHEN is a founding partner of The Condo Store Marketing Systems, a firm specializing in the design, marketing and sales of condo and new home communities in and outside of the GTA. condostorecanada.com
mark@condostorecanada.com

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Condo Market: The Evolution of the Condo

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Condo Market: The Evolution of the Condo

Bigger is often better

I guess the old adage that ‘what goes around, comes around’ is right on. It spans into our universe — the condo universe. Right here in the centre of the condo universe. I was fortunate enough to work with the pioneers in the business, starting right out of university about 35 years ago.

Condos represented about 10 per cent of the new housing market; slowly creeping up over the years, to 15 and 20 per cent at best. The suites were big; two-bedrooms almost always. I remember selling them at $120 to $150 a foot in some pretty good neighbourhoods. Those now hit upwards of $1,000 per foot in North York, Thornhill, places like that.

I marketed thousands of new homes concurrently. They were everyone’s first choice — the backyard, 2 and one half kids and a dog, the right school district and all those other things. Really, that was everyone’s first choice. Prices per square foot were lower, sticker prices were higher. That part hasn’t changed much, even today.

As the world evolved, and Toronto became a destination for so many new Torontonians, we went condo crazy. Had no choice. The Greenbelt was frozen, the lake remained and we went east and west, and further north. Condos were it. But it no longer was necessarily an affordable alternative to housing. It became, as it is now, a first choice for many.

The average new condo still is hundreds of thousands of dollars less than its detached counterpart, despite the rising costs of development and construction in recent years. And those have been whopping.

We saw not so long ago the micro suites, the quantity of components, i.e. bedrooms and bathrooms, becoming more important than the sizing of the rooms themselves. Critical dimensions we used to use in creating spaces became downsized considerably. The 600-square-foot two bed/two bath condo came of age. And it continues to exist appropriately in some locales.

But as the world has turned, and as sexy condo locations are being filled and becoming harder to find, some of the great new offerings are being found right in the neighbourhoods that people value and want to stay in, places where they didn’t have opportunities to downsize without compromising their lifestyle in terms of suite design particularly. I personally moved last week from an 800-square-foot two-bedroom condo to a 950-squarefoot condo. Same components, but very different spaces. Night and day in many ways. Both serve and will serve a purpose; different costs of course.

Look for these types of things in many of the great new projects that will be entering the market this time of the year. One particularly good example of this is coming this fall to the Kingsway; I’ve had the privilege to work on the design, architecture and the planning of this great soon to be master planned community — 293 The Kingsway. This is a redevelopment consisting of five new buildings in a rare private enclave setting in an outstanding established valuable neighbourhood. The suites very much reflect the upsizing of things in all categories — one bedrooms, one plus den, two-bedrooms and two pluses.

It’s a reflection of just how far we’ve come as an industry, and just how integral condo living is in our great town. No longer an alternative choice; it has become very much our first choice.

MARK COHEN is a founding partner of The Condo Store Marketing Systems, a firm specializing in the design, marketing and sales of condo and new home communities in and outside of the GTA.

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mark@condostorecanada.com

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Condo Market: Demand For Condos Grows Upward and Outward

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Condo Market: Demand For Condos Grows Upward and Outward

The proliferation of condominiums across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area has been astounding over the past decade. Purchasers span the gamut from first-time homebuyers who find detached residences out of their financial reach, to professional couples, families, empty-nesters and retirees, all seeking the convenient lifestyle condos offer.

Once relegated to the City of Toronto, condominiums are popping up all over the GTA as well. The Altus Group statistics from July 2018 released by BILD show that there were 1,284 new condominiums sold in Toronto, while the total for Durham, Halton, Peel and York Regions was 795. Now, it looks as though this trend is spreading out to places beyond the 905 areas.

This is especially true for baby boomers. The Royal LePage Boomer Trends Survey (https://bit.ly/2KFIahg), released on August 8, shows that more than 1.4 million baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) plan to purchase a new home in the next five years. Over half of the people surveyed consider their current local housing market unaffordable for their retirement years, and 32 per cent responded that they will likely buy a condominium.

M City

The survey indicated that in Ontario, nearly half of the respondents said they hope to move to a smaller home to downsize (or as I prefer to say, right-size) their lifestyles. Most boomers in Ontario have a preference to moving into a smaller detached home, yet 46 per cent said they would consider a condo. With 40 per cent saying they would be willing to move to a new city or suburb for more affordability, Ontario has the highest rate in Canada. In fact, 32 per cent of those respondents would even consider moving more than an hour away from where they currently live.

Greater Toronto Area developers who have been focusing on building condos in the 905 areas will likely find this trend agreeable, as boomers move from homes in urban Toronto to locations that offer affordability and a more laid-back lifestyle. Places such as Barrie, Innisfil, Peterborough, Grimsby, Orillia and the like will probably see their condominium rosters increase with new buildings.

We tend to read a lot about first-time homebuyers turning to condos for affordability, but a lot of this trend has to do with boomers discovering the retirement savings they thought would carry them comfortably into the future will not take them as far as they thought, in the style to which they are accustomed. Plus, nine per cent of the total boomers surveyed expect their children to stay at home until after the age of 35, which adds to their dilemmas. It is easy to understand why condominiums are in such demand with this demographic.

This also supports my continual comments that condos are a driving force in the housing market and will continue to be for quite some time.

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

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Higher Rates and New Rules Cooling the Condo Market

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Higher Rates and New Rules Cooling the Condo Market

Higher Rates and New Rules Cooling the Condo Market: But It’s Not Bad News

After remaining at a record low for close to a decade, the Bank of Canada has started to raise its benchmark interest rate. A strong economy and positive job growth are some of the reasons behind the hike. This increase means anyone with a variable rate mortgage is now paying more for the same loan. Money is getting more expensive to borrow.

More Cooling Effects

Added to this, new mortgage rules brought in at the beginning of 2018 are making it harder for borrowers to qualify for more. The lender is now required to stress test all mortgages, regardless of the down payment or the amount being borrowed. These new rules mean borrowers have to show they could pay their mortgage if rates were two percentage points higher than their contract rate, or the Bank of Canada posted fixed rate, whichever is more. Overall this is keeping homebuyers away and has had a cooling effect on the housing market, including condos. One report by the Mortgage Professional of Canada claims 18 per cent of home buyers can’t pass the stress test, even though they can afford the mortgage payments.

What Industry Critics Are Saying?

No surprise mortgage brokers, and the association that represents them, are concerned homebuyers will no longer be able to borrow enough for the home they want. The recent report by the Mortgage Professionals of Canada found that, “New government policies are causing consumers to have a more negative outlook for housing and real estate in Canada.” The Report on the Housing and Mortgage Market in Canada says most consumer still see real estate as a good investment but “overall strength of consumer sentiment has been weakened by increasing interest rates and the new rules making it harder for homebuyers to secure mortgage financing.”

One Solution

The report argues that the stress test, albeit important, is too strict (or maybe too stressful), for first time homebuyers in particular. Paul Taylor is the president and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada. He says, “We support a stress test, albeit at a reduced rate of 0.75 per cent, as it is a useful tool to test a borrower’s ability to make future payments. However, the cumulative impact of rising rates, a two percentage or greater stress test, provincial government rules in Ontario and British Columbia, and further lending restrictions are negatively supressing housing activity not just in Toronto and Vancouver, but throughout the country.”

Managing Expectations

The Bank of Canada is hinting rates are poised to go higher. Before the end of 2018 the Bank could raise rates again, making money even more expensive. They are warning debt seeking homebuyers to pull the reigns on the amount they agree to borrow, because it will cost more when rates rise. The stress test represents where rates could be by the end of the mortgage term. They are realistic and frankly, in my opinion, they are needed. Canadians are close to a record level of debt. Statistics Canada data shows in June 2018 Canadians owed $1.68 cent for every dollar of disposable income. That is actually down slightly from the beginning of the year, indicating the new mortgage rules are already working.

Canadians shopping for a home need to be realistic about what they can now afford. Looking in the rear view mirror is not helpful. Where prices were and what you could afford then is not the reality now. Crunch your numbers based on this new reality, higher rates and stricter rules, and see how much you can afford. Even then, you don’t have to borrow the whole amount the bank offers. By borrowing less, you will automatically save yourself thousands in interest payments. Mange your expectations of the house you are buying. Maybe a smaller home, or a condo in a different area is the solution. Keep your options open.

Rubina ahmed-haq is a journalist and personal finance expert. She is HPG’s Finance Editor. She regularly appears on CBC Radio and TV. She is a contributor on CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She has a BA from York University, received her post graduate journalism diploma from Humber College and has completed the CSC. Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney.

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Condo Market: Valuable neighbourhoods offer Valuable new Choices

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Condo Market: Valuable neighbourhoods offer Valuable new Choices

‘Housing prices are often the truest testament to where values are best’

The city continues to explode with new opportunities popping up everywhere. We are into year 16 of the 7-year cycle, and it seems as though it will never stop. New mortgage rules are offering us all a good opportunity to pause and make sure we can finish what we started, i.e. close the 30,000 plus new homes that we continue to buy annually.

Condos still remain the lion’s share of the market, building up remains an option whereas the freehold opportunities remain scarce and pricy in many cases. It’s amazing how little $I million buys these days, and just how far away it is from the centre of town. But as a great city of neighbourhoods, places far away are no longer alternative choices for many; they continue to be places of choice. Access to transit and highways remains key, and has helped ensure that builders can get their prices so that they can make a living building in what used to be the ‘outskirts’.

But a few in town opportunities grabbed my attention in recent weeks. Wycliffe Homes, a huge contributor to the makeup of our city for over 65 years, has recently launched two projects in areas where we thought there was no room to grow. Steps from the Promenade Mall, they are just introducing a stunning collection of 82 modern yet classic townhomes in the 2,500 to 3,000 square foot range, two floors of sleeping space, rooftop terraces, huge decks and backyards, two-car indoor parking and a whole range of options allowing you to choose, at no additional cost, anywhere from two to six bedrooms with all the fixings, i.e. the best in finishes and brand name accompaniments. The same week, they introduced an 84-suite collection of urban townhomes situated within five small buildings steps from the Lawrence West subway station, offering entry into a housing market for a fraction of what it would cost to buy new freehold product. Non highrise opportunities are relatively scare in (416), a testament to so many years of developing new housing wherever we could in the core of our city.

Look for more established areas with valuable housing to offer infill options and mixed use opportunities; places like the Kingsway and greater Mississauga, where we thought there was little left to develop. New opportunities arise on the waterfront to the east as much of what existed downtown in the core has been consumed in recent years. Look for new large scale projects in Durham, a region I’m very familiar with, having sold thousands of new homes there. Now, with the maturity of those locales, people who have grown to love the area are downsizing and moving into new condos and other housing forms that didn’t exist there not so long ago.

Significant new communites , many condominium in nature, will start to appear in Milton to the west, again a reflection of the maturity of that region and the huge volume of new homes built there over the years. As Miton fills up, look for the next divide in Guelph, an area that will offer small town charm, yet relatively close proximity to the GTA and favourable pricing. Perhaps the Durham of the west, an area that will fill in nicely in the immediate future and provide an alternative commute to those who work in our great city. Expect the same to the southwest, all the way to the Niagara region, with significant new opportunities all along the way. Expansion will continue as it must, but don’t overlook some of the rare opportunities to stay in town where you always were or always wanted to be.

Some great new choices are now out there for the taking. Slide open the sun roof and take a drive in your neighbourhoods of choice. There are some great opportunities out there!

Mark Cohen is a founding partner of The Condo Store Marketing Systems, a firm specializing in the design, marketing and sales of condo and new home communities in and outside of the GTA. condostorecanada.com mark@condostorecanada.com

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