Tag Archives: condos

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Location, location, location, why it’s so important when buying a condo

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Location, location, location, why it’s so important when buying a condo

I often write about condominium shoppers creating a spreadsheet or list of important items to consider. The number one thing is always location. The phrase “location, location, location” may seem trite, but in fact, it is based on solid truth. For most purchasers, the big picture is paramount in their final decision. Fortunately, in Toronto and the GTA, you will find a myriad of amazing choices, locations and designs available offered by some of the world’s finest developers and architects.

One of the first things to look at regarding location is whether the buildings are in established or up and coming neighbourhoods. You may feel that you prefer and can afford a residence in the midst of established amenities and mature trees and greenery. On the other hand, if price is a major factor for you, selecting a growing area with new amenities planned in the future might be more economically feasible. Again, you have numerous wonderful choices of both types.

Where do you work? Even with the pandemic-fuelled work-from-home scenario, there are still thousands and thousands of people across the GTA who have to go somewhere for their jobs. When you consider your commute from a new condominium, be sure to avoid the mistake of estimating times by the as-the-crow flies method. You are wise to actually do the commute during rush hour, whether by driving or using public transit, to be realistic.

And speaking of public transit, are the condos you are considering close to transportation access? In addition to making your life easier, they will hold their appeal more when you go to sell someday. Our transportation infrastructure continues to grow and expand, which is a wonderful boon to residents everywhere.

Transportation aside, what about walkability? Most condo owners want to live where they can shop, dine out, run errands and the like within a quick stroll. Visit walkscore.com, plug in the address of a condo, and you can find out what amenities and services are within walking distance.

How about the places and people you visit often – family and friends, and any clubs and associations you belong to? Will they be easy to get to from the new locales you are looking at? If you are a member of a yacht club or keep a boat on Lake Ontario, you might want to live right by the water.

Of course, price, architecture, building amenities, features and finishes and builder reputation and track record should all have prominent places in your comparison list or spreadsheet. Wherever and whatever you buy, keep in mind that when you purchase new, you benefit from the latest design and construction standards, as Ontario Building Code is regularly amended to increase quality and energy efficiency.

New-home buyers in the GTA are among the luckiest in the world. So, enjoy your shopping, consider the details and remember the big picture. Then take your place in it in a beautiful new condo!

Barbara Lawlor is President and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc. and winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, among other accolades. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in Canada in the GTA, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal, and internationally in Beijing. bakerrealestate.com

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Enjoy a staycation year-round in a condo

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Enjoy a staycation year-round in a condo

The term “staycation” was coined to represent people staying home during their holiday time and enjoying activities like they were on vacation. Pandemic aside, life in a condominium offers year-round resort-style benefits, with beautiful amenities under – and often on top of – your roof. Essentially, you can enjoy a “staycation” whatever the season. It all starts with the freedom from worrying about building maintenance, repairs and upkeep, which all contribute to the holiday “mood.”

As for the fabulous amenities within these buildings, who could ask for more? There are varying combinations of swimming pools, whirlpools, saunas, outdoor terraces with lush landscaping, rooftop terraces with barbecue areas, water features, fitness facilities, seating arrangements, virtual golf, theatres, party rooms… When you live in a condominium, a mini-vacation is always just an elevator ride away! From spending time with family and friends in one of these common areas to simply lounging on the rooftop terrace drinking in the views, fun and relaxation are always close at hand.

If your condo is beside the lake, even better. And if you are fortunate enough to live on top of a five-star hotel, you have the ultimate in vacationstyle living at your fingertips, with access to housekeeping services, valet parking and room service. The amenities in condominiums really do expand your lifestyle potential far beyond the square footage of your suite.

Wonderful waterfront

Of course, those who have purchased new condominiums, especially first-time buyers, may find their budget does not allow for a holiday the first year or two. The great news is that Toronto and the GTA are great places to live, with a multitude of seasonal activities, events, concerts, festivals and other get-togethers on the post-pandemic calendar.

Those for whom the “dog days of summer” include taking along their dogs, Toronto features several parks with off-leash zones. And of course, being a waterfront city, Toronto has wonderful harbourfront, with activities for all ages. Lake Ontario provides striking, ever-changing vistas throughout the year.

Whatever you consider fun, explore our beautiful city and its surroundings for eclectic restaurants from fast food to fine dining, live theatre, outdoor and indoor concerts, sports events, museums, art galleries and shopping, shopping, shopping. Once the pandemic is behind us, the possibilities will again be endless.

Peace of mind

And when you live in a condo and choose to go away on an actual vacation, the holiday feeling begins the moment you lock the door to your condo suite and leave, knowing your home will be protected and looked after. The peace of mind that brings is priceless. No more worrying about the lawn getting long or snow piling up while you’re away.

Cottages are wonderful and vacations are exciting. But in a condo, resort-style living is an everyday occurrence. Convenience, luxury and equity potential are all part of the condominium experience. Whatever your age and family configuration, there is a condo out there that will fit your personal preferences and staycation needs.

Barbara Lawlor is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand 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

RELATED READING

Outdoor lovers love condos

The condo buyer when money is no object

 

 

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GTA new home market understandably slow in April

GTA new home market understandably slow in April

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GTA new home market understandably slow in April

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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BILD February new home stats

GTA new home sales strong in February

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GTA new home sales strong in February

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

BILD February new home stats

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

Single-family surge

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

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

February new home sales by municipality

February 2020

Condominium units

Single-family homes

Total

Region

2020

2019

2018

2020

2019

2018

2020

2019

2018

Durham

89

21

4

489

97

49

578

118

53

Halton

227

22

46

380

275

113

607

297

159

Peel

545

127

103

289

193

35

834

320

138

Toronto

1,300

587

1,050

10

4

6

1,310

591

1,056

York

257

57

641

1,079

117

55

1,336

174

696

GTA

2,418

814

1,844

2,247

686

258

4,665

1,500

2,102

 Source: Altus Group

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

Pent-up demand

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

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

RELATED READING

GTA resale sales see drastic drop in March due to COVID-19

GTA home price growth to hit 10 per cent this year: TRREB

Get ready for a hot market in the GTA this spring

 

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7 small reno tips with a big impact

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7 small reno tips with a big impact

Always dreamed of turning your living space into your dream home or condo, but feel limited by your small space? The GTA condo craze means building up and sizing down, but this doesn’t have to mean limiting your creative capacity.

DIY and reno experts Mark Rason, Shawn Monteith and Jordan Spear will be at the 2020 GTA Home and Reno Show sharing tips and tricks to transform small spaces. Here’s a sneak peek at a few tips to try for yourself.

1 The wall pocket shelf

Adding some depth to your space is the perfect weekend project, according to Canada’s Handyman, Shawn Monteith. “A wall pocket shelf is extra shelving that is cut into an interior wall to maximize space, without actually taking up any precious living space.”

After checking for electrical and plumbing in the wall to make sure it’s safe to proceed, Monteith tells us this is also great option for small washroom walls that could use extra storage. In-wall medicine cabinets or in-shower shelving helps keep things organized without taking up too much space. “But remember,” says Monteith, “never do this to an exterior wall!”

2 Find space in unlikely places

Monteith also recommends using the back of doors to hold hangers for extra storage that is out of the way or installing chains from the ceiling to hang new shelves. “Make sure you screw into a truss for maximum support, which will let you keep the floor space under it open.”

Other ideas include renovating under the stairs to frame in shelving for maximum storage or making use of an odd wall connection with a corner shelf.

3 Add floor space with pocket or barn doors

Pocket doors can be tricky, but an easy way to remove the space that a swing door takes up. Reno expert Jordan Spear suggests cutting into the unused space between wall cavities to create a more streamlined opening. “Try adding glass to the doors – frosted if you require privacy – to allow light to pass from room to room. This helps make the room feel less closed off.”

4 Consider removing walls

Daring enough for a demolition? Consider removing non load-bearing partition walls to create an open-concept space, adding in light and flow between rooms. “Opening up two rooms into one will make the space feel larger, reducing the feeling of confinement in two smaller rooms,” says Spear. “Think a shared kitchen-dining room instead of two separate rooms.”

5 Creative custom closets

Upgrading your designated storage spaces can be a snap with custom closet installations, or even a simple reinforcement to keep things looking sharp and sturdy. Expert carpenter Mark Rason suggests replacing bowed shelves in closets, a common problem with aged properties, and is a relatively easy fix. “I always recommend using a thick, 3/4-inch melamine material in order to prevent bowing.”

Monteith also recommends adding a shelf eight to 12 inches off the floor in a small closet. “This gives you double the space to store things like shoes and boxes.”

6 Colours and painting to open up spaces

In small spaces everything matters, down to the paint colour. Soft tones like off-white, blue and green will open up small rooms, making them look bigger. This will give the illusion that the walls are farther back, while dark colours like purple and deep greys will fool the eye into thinking a space is smaller than it is.

7 Build up, not out

Just as condos are getting taller and taller, follow suit by also elevating your storage. Try installing an over-the-sink shelf, an easy and quick DIY project for people of any skill level. You can even use upcycled materials such as scrap pellet wood for an eco-friendly installation. Make sure to stabilize the shelf by placing the heaviest items on either end of the shelf, rather than the middle.

As GTA housing demand rises, so are properties. Builders are building up instead of out, and Toronto’s crowded skyline is creating the “vertical city,” giving people less and less space. Open up your space by implementing these tips recommended by DIY experts.

For more tips and organization inspiration, check out the GTA Home and Reno Show running from Feb. 14-17, 2020, at the International Centre in Mississauga. DIY and renovation masters Mark Rason, Shawn Monteith, Jordan Spear and other professional renovators will be on hand to answer questions and provide expert advice for your next project, big or small. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit gtahomeandrenoshow.com.

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In conversation with Gary Switzer and Noorez Lalani of MOD Developments

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In conversation with Gary Switzer and Noorez Lalani of MOD Developments

They say teamwork makes the dreamwork, and at MOD Developments, the management team of Gary Switzer and Noorez Lalani provides as solid a one-two combination as anywhere in the development industry. Switzer, with a background as an architect, a city planner and developer, and Lalani, with a law degree and MBA, provide unique leadership and deliver some standout properties.

We spoke with Switzer and Lalani to explore their partnership, and what makes MOD what it is today.

Gary Switzer Chief Executive Officer, MOD Developments
Noorez Lalani President, MOD Developments

Condo Life: Let’s start with an easy one… What’s 2019 shaping up like for MOD Developments, and what’s your outlook for 2020?

Noorez Lalani: This year has been great for us. First, we’ve seen the occupancy and registration of Massey Tower, the culmination of seven years of hard work. Secondly, we completed the rezoning of our development at 55-63 Charles St. E. and successfully launched it as 55C Residences in the spring. Finally, Waterworks is well under construction and is looking great.

Twenty-twenty will be another busy year for us. 55C will start construction in the spring, and occupancies for Waterworks will begin in the fall. We’re also looking at a few new sites, which we will be able to discuss in a few months.

CL: Your projects in downtown Toronto all seem to be centred around key landmarks and signature locations, focusing on statement architecture as opposed to master-planned communities. Why this strategy?

Gary Switzer: While our projects have all been on unique sites downtown, this has been a combination of opportunity and our ability to see potential in sites that had been overlooked or perceived as too difficult (Massey is a case in point). Our strategy in acquiring sites has always been to find transit-oriented sites in the best locations. This does not preclude us from one day doing a master-planned community.

CL: Any interest in expanding elsewhere, say in Vaughan or elsewhere in the 905 where condo demand is also growing?

Lalani: Quite simply, yes. It would depend on the location and site itself.

CL: What signature MOD features exist in all your projects… say, key qualities or characteristics that speak to your mission and say, ‘Yes, this is clearly a MOD development’?

Switzer: Architectural excellence, attention to detail (both on the exterior and interior), livability in the suites and an urbane presence in the neighbourhood.

CL: What have you learned from previous or current projects that you’ve made note of for future projects?

Switzer: In the end, the focus has to be on the suites and the future homeowners. We’re in the business of building homes for real people. All design decisions revolve around that.

CL: How much is purpose-built rental a part of your business – currently and in the near future?

Lalani: We have co-developed two purpose-built rentals to date and are currently looking at another opportunity. We believe that a healthy housing market has to include purpose-built rental.

CL: What are the challenges and opportunities in the rental business?

Lalani: There are financial challenges in developing purpose-built rental in terms of equity requirements, which have made for-sale housing much more attractive to developers, to date. At the same time, the demand for new rental is so great, owing to immigration and high employment, and the development community has responded with more rental housing being built within the last few years than in the previous decade.

Artist’s rendering of tower at 55C Residences

CL: What’s next for MOD Developments?

Lalani: More and more great buildings!

And on a personal note…

You seem to have a unique partnership as CEO and president, with complementary skillsets. How does this benefit MOD Developments?

Lalani: Between my background as a lawyer, a banker and obtaining my MBA with a specialization in real estate finance and development, and Gary’s background as an architect, planner and developer, MOD has the total “in-house” package: Experience in design, urban planning and development combined with sound business acumen and financial knowledge.

Gary, your background as an architect, city planner and developer is unique in the industry. How does this experience show up in your projects – say, in building inclusions, amenities, locations?

Switzer: My experience has helped MOD develop a reputation for producing buildings of the highest quality in terms of design, construction and customer service. We’ve learned how to push the envelope with respect to entitlements and produce buildings that set new standards in terms of not just height, but also suite design and concepts in amenities.

What insights did your time as a city planner provide you, say, in terms of how the ‘system’ works or ways to do things better, now that you’re on the development side?

Switzer: It’s much more difficult to develop buildings today as opposed to when I was a planner. When I was at Great Gulf and we won the Ontario Association of Architects Award of Excellence for “The Morgan” in 2005, this was at a time when there were no development charges, no Section 37 charges, park levies were half of what they are today, and approvals in the King and Spadina neighbourhood could be done through the committee of adjustment. Today, routine approvals can take two years. When I worked as a planner in the 1980s, it was much easier for planners to fast-track good projects. Unfortunately, today, city staff is laden with an overly-complicated approvals system that puts as much stress on them as it does on the developer. Focus has to be on simplifying the current process and emphasize good design.

PORTFOLIO

55C Residences
55 Charles St. E., Toronto
Coming soon

57 Spadina (rental)
57 Spadina Ave., Toronto
Coming soon

The Massey Tower
197 Yonge St., Toronto
Under construction

The Selby (rental)
592 Sherbourne St., Toronto
Under construction

Waterworks
505 Richmond St. W., Toronto
Under construction

moddevelopments.com

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Why condo co-ownership is gaining popularity

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Why condo co-ownership is gaining popularity

More Canadians are partnering up with friends and family to buy a condo. New data from Teranet, the provider of Ontario’s online property search and registration, shows co-ownership in condominiums specifically was more than 37 per cent in 2018. With condo prices continuing to rise year over year, for many, pooling their money is the only option to get into the condo market. For others it’s a more creative way to manage a huge responsibility, like owning real estate. Here is what the latest data shows.

The trend is growing

Compared to data from 2012 more condo purchases are being made with more than one person on title. Condos with only one person on title in 2018 was 48 per cent. That is down from 57 per cent in 2012. Parents are pitching in more too. For example, units owned with parental assistance is at more than 14 per cent. Compare that to 2012 when only nine per cent of condos were purchased with help from mom and dad.

Owners close in age

The data from Teranet show co-owners are relatively close in age. That number has also risen slightly. In 2012, 50.1 per cent of the province’s homes had several owners on title, with the age gaps being 20 years or less. This proportion went up to 51.6 per cent by 2018. The rise is small, but shows more people, young or old, are choosing to buy together, whether it be young people buying their first home, or retirees deciding to downside together.

Financing options

Owning a house with a friend of family member means you will need to apply for a co-mortgage. Some financial institutions are now launching products that are specifically aimed at this group of people eager to find a way to buy their first home. There are many factors to consider in a co-ownership situation. This will include how the regular monthly bills will be handled, who will get what room and how emergency costs can be covered. As well, have an exit plan if you co-own a property.

Consider the future

Unlike when you buy with your spouse or long term partner, life can change at different times. One co-owner may meet someone and want them to move in. Another may get a new job and want to sell the home and take the equity to buy a house elsewhere. Draw up a plan now of how you will handle the sale of the home and what each co-owner’s expectations are.

With co-ownership of condos on the rise, more needs to be done to protect all those involved in the transaction to make sure the real estate purchase is worth it for everyone.

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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The Davis Residences, Newmarket

In Conversation With… Daniel Berholz, President, The Rose Corporation

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In Conversation With… Daniel Berholz, President, The Rose Corporation

Daniel Berholz, The Rose Corporation
Daniel Berholz
President
The Rose Corporation

Attainable homeownership options are growing more and more important each day, as rising prices and tightening new home supply severely limit buying opportunities and locations.

The Rose Corporation is intent on doing something about that.

With – to get further insights into how The Rose Corporation plans to achieve these objectives.

Condo Life: The Rose Corporation seems like a bit of a different real estate company… What is it readers really need to understand about your firm?

Daniel Berholz: The Rose Corporation has had a diverse history over almost 40 years and has had experience and expertise in many forms and tenures of real estate and other businesses as well. Currently, however, Rose is a developer of visionary residential communities (both condominium and freehold) and a developer/owner of purpose-built rental properties.

CL: What is your primary focus in the GTA, in terms of both geography and product type?

DB: Newmarket has been a big focus for us recently. We just introduced Newmarket’s first new highrise condominium in more than 30 years – The Davis Residences at Bakerfield. We’ll be hosting our Grand Opening sales event on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 11 a.m. The Davis is part of a master-planned community that will consist of other similar buildings which will be high end rental buildings or condominiums.

The Davis Residences, Newmarket
The Davis Residences, Newmarket

Our King George School Lofts & Town Homes development is another community in Newmarket that we’re really proud of. It comprises 11 condo lofts within the old school building surrounded by 14 two-storey freehold townhomes.

As well, we recently completed the first privately funded, purpose-built market rental apartment tower in York Region since the 1980s, called 212 Davis Apartments – a 15-storey, 225-unit building.

In Kitchener, we are active in the purpose-built rental development market with the introduction of our first project, Woodside Terraces, which included 103 suites. The second phase will include 91 units and will feature a new wing being built on excess land.

And at 388 King St. in downtown Kitchener, we recently broke ground on a seven-storey, 70-unit purpose-built rental apartment.

CL: Who are your target clients? Purely investors? Homebuilders? Or homebuyers who want to become real estate investors?

DB: Our target clients are homebuyers who are looking for valuable, quality homeownership opportunities. We are focused end-users – from first-time buyers looking for their first home purchase, families who need more room to grow and even empty-nesters who are seeking more maintenance-free housing options with plenty of lifestyle amenities.

Our target clients also include investors who are seeking to diversify their real estate portfolio.

CL: How’s the market these days for the products that you offer?

DB: The market is strong for condo developments, which provide more affordable homeownership opportunities for first-time buyers and turnkey options for empty nesters who want to sell their large homes and keep a tidy savings for their retirement.

The Davis Residences lobby, Newmarket
The Davis Residences lobby, Newmarket

As more people are looking to move out of the GTA due to affordability, municipalities such as Newmarket, that were once viewed as bedroom communities, have been attracting more people to the area because buyers can get better value.

And with companies such as Celestica and York Region headquarters moving into Newmarket, this only adds to the demand of alternative to lowrise housing, such as condos and purpose-built rentals, which are more attainable options for commuter employees seeking to live closer to work.

CL: For residential offerings, affordability and “missing middle” type housing are key issues. How does The Rose Corporation address these issues in its projects?

DB: One of our primary focuses is working collaboratively with all levels of government on all of our projects so that together, we can deliver the type of housing that is needed to provide a complete community in the areas we develop.

Increases in prices for ground related housing have made ownership unattainable for many people over the past number years in Newmarket. The Davis Residences will provide the area the first opportunity to own new quality housing at affordable prices.

As well, Rose’s purpose-built rental housing developments provide affordable alternatives within their communities. This includes 212 Davis Apartments in Newmarket. This building leased up quickly due to its attractive and affordable price point relative to other options in the area.

CL: The Rose Corporation was nominated for the People’s Choice Award in the 2019 BILD Awards for your King George School Lofts & Town Homes development. What was it about this project that made it so special?

DB: King George School Lofts and Town Homes repurposes one of downtown Newmarket’s oldest and most beloved properties. The creation of this trendsetting new address, offering 11 condominium lofts within the old school building surrounded by 14 two-storey freehold townhomes, sets a new bar for innovative design.

Loft homes range from 640 to 1,250 sq. ft., while townhomes offer nearly 2,200 sq. ft. of magnificent living space. Both lofts and towns feature exceptional architecture and finishing features designed to reflect the ultimate in contemporary living. The architecture combines Victorian and Edwardian heritage with modern luxury. The project is set within a lush perimeter of 100-year-old trees, century old heritage buildings and iconic historical landmarks just steps from the historic downtown core of Main Street offering extensive amenities, shops, cafes and restaurants.

CL: What did you learn from that project, or the experience of being nominated for an award that consumers vote on, that you’re carrying forward to future projects?

DB: It’s always important to validate that what you think you’re doing well is widely recognized as such. We are still thrilled to win awards, but that’s not what we set out to do. Rose prides itself as an innovative developer.

Our big push now is to develop purpose-built rental apartments and condominiums to address the critical shortage of housing that is affordable that seniors, single and families alike need – and need now.

The Rose Corporation management team
Left to right, The Rose Corporation’s Project Manager David Bannerman; President Daniel Berholz; and Vice-President Andrew Webster

CL: What’s next for The Rose Corporation? Ideally, tell us something that isn’t largely publicly known…

DB: What most don’t know is that we are growing our executive management team. Rose has been active since 1983, and now a new generation of managers is transitioning as the old guard cedes authority and responsibility.

Fortunately, several senior members will remain with reduced roles. Now we will have the experience of a generation and the energy, skills and enthusiasm that a youthful team brings.

We are very excited to soon announce new partnerships with some experienced and well-known financial entities. These partnerships will allow us to advance our development aspirations with landowners we are in active discussion with.

The geography remains outside Toronto and includes locations in Peel, Halton and York regions, as well as new deals within the communities we are currently active in, Kitchener and Newmarket.

rosecorp.com

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Women buyers a force in the condo marketplace

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Women buyers a force in the condo marketplace

According to Statistics Canada, the number of single-person households has more than doubled over the past 35 years, and many of the people in this group are women. Although at one time, this group was largely made up of widowed seniors, these days women living alone come from every age group, especially between the ages of 35 to 64. According to a StatsCan report, one in five people who live alone do so in condominiums. Last year, a report in the U.S. showed that single women are the second-largest group, after married couples, of home purchasers.

At Baker Real Estate Inc., we regularly see this trend in action, with women choosing condominium suites as their primary residences, vacation residences and/or investment properties. One-bedroom suites sell like hotcakes, and I estimate that about a third of our sales for our clients are to female buyers. They may be young first-time purchasers who understand the value of owning a home, and who choose condos because of their relative affordability in the Greater Toronto Area. We have even helped women buy a condominium suite in partnership with another female in order to afford a larger suite than they would be able to carry by themselves, – a great way for both to build equity.

Seasoned professionals often want to live closer to where they work. Other scenarios include single mothers, or any women who have become widowed or separated and are now facing life on their own. Condos also offer a sense of freedom for women who travel extensively. They can just lock the door and leave, knowing they don’t have to worry about snow removal, lawn mowing and the cleaning and upkeep on the condominium’s amenities. In addition, there are savvy investors who recognize a tremendous return-on-investment opportunity.

Many who intend to live in the suites they buy appreciate the community and security aspects of condominium living. The concierge, for example, provides screening for visitors and “eyes on the street.” Today’s buildings are also equipped with advanced security features such as monitored cameras in the underground parking garage, entry phone and in-suite security systems.

Condos in essence are vertical neighbourhoods, and women appreciate the sense of community they find in these residences. If and when they need help with anything, plenty of neighbours live close by. Over time, they get to know each other in the elevators, hallways and amenity spaces. They may trade favours such as watering plants and caring for pets while away.

New condos also appeal partially because of the “new” aspect. I believe that every woman has a decorator in her soul, so being able to select your own colours and materials for flooring, countertops and other finishes is appealing.

Women of all ages and walks of life benefit from all aspects of condominium living. Buying instead of renting is a wonderful investment in their financial and lifestyle future, and they can enjoy the fruits of this investment every day.

Barbara Lawlor is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand 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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In Conversation With… Zev Mandelbaum, President and CEO, Altree Developments

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In Conversation With… Zev Mandelbaum, President and CEO, Altree Developments

Imagine growing up – quite literally – in the development industry, and becoming a third-generation builder. The lessons imparted by your father, and grandfather before him, and how such family mentoring would help shape who you are today and how you view not just developing projects but growing communities. Zev Mandelbaum, president and CEO of Altree Developments, is one such builder. We caught up with him to discuss two of the company’s new signature projects, and more.

Condo Life: What made Altree decide to choose The Queensway area in Etobicoke for your latest project, Thirty Six Zorra? Was it more a product of land availability, or is there something about the area in particular?

Zev Mandelbaum: Altree chose The Queensway for two principal reasons – ability for high-density development and ample surrounding amenities and entertainment for the public.

As Toronto expands and becomes a larger and more metropolitan city, fewer places are designated to allow for high-density development, and The Queensway was an area we could develop a community of this size. The land that spans from The Queensway to Islington, trickling into the Gardiner, is designated to allow for high-density condominium towers. So, when I saw that opportunity, I knew we would have the ability to build an entire neighbourhood from scratch.

In addition, the neighbourhood already has ample amenities, including the Cineplex Cinemas and Sherway Gardens just down the road, many restaurants and a tremendous parkland that was already planned and under construction at the time. We felt The Queensway would be the most optimal neighbourhood to live, work, play and grow a family. It’s the perfect opportunity to expand on a loyal community that was already present within the area.

CL: What do you foresee as the typical buyer profile? Singles, young families…?

ZM: As urbanization increases, condominium living will become the norm for the city dweller and lead to a whole new way of living. As people change their mindsets to own a home with a white picket fence and large backyard, the shift will be to a more urban lifestyle where amenities are at the tip of ones’ fingertips, with less worry about the maintenance of the property.

Thirty Six Zorra is going to contain a wide selection of amenities that will target all different types of buyers, from singles, to young couples, as well as those looking to downsize. This building will also cater to a larger mix of buyers because of the price point and affordability that will come with these units (compared to those found in the downtown core). Toronto is seeing a year-over-year increase in price per square foot of condominiums within the core, making condo options downtown less and less feasible to many working Torontonians. As a result, we also see a lot of Millennial demographic and end users gravitating to this particular building.

CL: Amenities are becoming an increasingly important part of any condo project – features that speak to the character of the local area and the target buyer demographic. What are the key differentiating amenities at Thirty Six Zorra?

ZM: The way we’ve approached this project is recognizing that The Queensway already has a great mix of retail amenities. For Thirty Six Zorra, we wanted to communicate that this building is really somewhere where prospective buyers can live, work and play on a daily basis. The Queensway offers a plethora of shopping and culinary experiences, and we wanted to bring this vibe into the building. We wanted to create something that really unites people by adding amenities focused on enjoying the company of others – getting off our phones and tablets and hanging out with one another. The building features a gym, a dry sauna, outdoor pool, and a rooftop patio ideal for throwing a great summer party.

The most unique amenities include a rec room that features a social space with various games for everyone to relax with friendly competition after a long day of work. We also added in a demonstration kitchen to allow for a communal space for future homeowners to share their passions and creativity through cooking. With the freelance working economy becoming so popular, there will also be multiple cohesive working spaces where buyers can base their office and hold meetings from the co-working space, the lounges, outside patio or parks that surround the project.

CL: You recently entered into a strategic partnership with EllisDon for Thirty Six Zorra. What are the reasons behind this decision, and how will it benefit the project? 

ZM: As a developer, ever since childhood I have loved to watch buildings being constructed and grow. I sought a partnership with EllisDon Capital – the best to do just that – build this community. My goal has not been to merely build a building, but to team up with someone as part of a strategic partnership where we could align our values and goals, leading to a long-term working relationship.

EllisDon is the number one leader in the construction industry in Canada, has built more buildings than anyone else and is set on building the best buildings for communities. Being able to have a strong alliance with EllisDon, not only as a constructor, but also as a fully dedicated partner in the project, gives us the longevity not only to do this project spectacularly well, but also to create more fantastic buildings in the city of Toronto.

CL: Etobicoke certainly as a price point advantage over downtown Toronto and elsewhere in the 416. How long do you think this will last, given more and more developers are seeing the potential of the area?

ZM: As Toronto and the downtown core continues to grow and pierce new heights within the price range of condominium projects, the affordability of units in this area becomes a farther stretch for many people. The multiplier effect means that once a city gets more attention, it gets more amenities and attracts more people who want to live there, just like New York City.

An economist once told me, 30 years ago Manhattan was overpriced, 20 years ago Manhattan was overpriced, 10 years ago Manhattan was overpriced and it’s still overpriced today. I believe the lesson in that was when you have a city that is desirable and continues to g row, it just builds upon itself. As it happens, when the price in Toronto becomes more and more unaffordable, people are starting to look just outside the core to acquire something that is within their price range. Since the pricing in the downtown core is so high, it is only reasonable to think that a market just outside the city, where average square foot prices are in the mid $8 00’s per sq. ft., there is more room to grow.

However, even with this room to grow, these areas will still remain at a $300 to $400 per sq. ft. discount from the downtown core. This is exactly where The Queensway market is, and future homeowners will see this value as well.

CL: Altree has plenty of other projects in the Toronto area. What are the common qualities or characteristics about these that speak to Altree’s mission, vision… that really say, yes, this is an Altree project? 

ZM: Altree is all about understanding neighbourhoods! When we decide on a neighbourhood, we place importance on understanding the character and feel that is already in place, so we are able to blend in. The common denominator of all our projects is that we are generally not coming into an area where there are other buildings in the immediate vicinity, meaning that the architecture of the area really has no identity. We need to create an identity within that building that is unique to the character of that neighbourhood. Essentially, we marry a building with the neighbourhood around it.

The most important vision to Altree, is we look for where a community is going to be in the next five to 10 years, not where it is today. It is difficult to do this, as humans are very “touch and feel,” where if something is not there, it’s hard to visualize. When we first look at a site, we analyze the area and really understand the core values and characteristics of a neighbourhood and build on how we understand it to be in the future. Once we understand this, the sky’s the limit. So, if you look at all our projects, we are entrenched in neighbourhoods that have the fibre of growth already existing.

CL: Forest Hill Private Residences is another milestone project from Altree Developments, in a high-profile neighbourhood. What is it about Forest Hill that will stand out from other projects in the area?

ZM: Forest Hill Private Residences is a unique building. When we first saw the project and the piece of land and understood how the zoning would come to be, we noticed that this was a project that would not only be on the cusp of Forest Hill but would be a statement to the neighbourhood.

Seeing that every floor from the third to the ninth has terraces – units with tremendous outdoor exposure – this aspect is one that is missing in buildings in the area and elsewhere in Toronto. Usable personal outdoor space while not having the responsibility of a lawn or backyard. There seems to be quite the gap between condominium and lowrise housing living. There are towers that span up 30 to 40 storeys with great views and exposure, but without much personal outdoor space. There are lowrise houses that have large lawns and backyards, but have become completely unaffordable. Forest Hill Private Residences is a project where we are marrying that outdoor and indoor space. Merging that indoor-outdoor lifestyle together in condominium living is a type of living that is missing in Toronto. It’s the missing middle between a home and a condo, and we are so happy that Forest Hill Private Residences will be able to bring this happy medium to the future homeowners.

CL: What is the current status, in terms of planning, sales launch, suite sizes and price range? 

ZM: Currently Forest Hill Private Residences is at the tail end of its zoning. We hope to have that completed by the end of the year and be in the market early next year, with units starting from 900 sq. ft. and up, so there are units catering to everyone.

On a Personal Note…

CL: You’re a third-generation developer… how has essentially growing up in the industry, with a strong family legacy, formed who you are and what you want Altree to become?

ZM: I have learned everything I know from my family. It all started with my grandfather, Sandy Hofstedter, who started H&R Developments 70 years ago. All I remember from a young boy was talk about buildings, neighbourhoods, construction and development. Dinner table talks were all about neighbourhoods in Toronto, the planning context and what we were doing to change it. So, to me, the only thing I have ever dreamt of was building buildings that add to Toronto – buildings that have names that people would look at. The satisfaction of being involved in developments that added to the city skyline, is something words can’t describe. My goal is to make sure Altree continues that legacy for my children for generations to come.

CL: You’ve had some other executive level stops in your career, at Marlin Spring and Lanterra Developments, for example. What did you learn – about development, housing or homebuyers – that aids you in your current role at Altree?

ZM: I started off working in all the family businesses, from H&R Developments to Lanterra Developments, until I formed Marlin Spring along with my two brother-in-laws. In each role, I specialized in the development industry, from acquisition to zoning to marketing to sales to construction to registration to warranty and all the way to the end. At each phase, I was able to delve deep into each aspect of condominium development. Anyone who regularly develops land can tell you that, when you’re a builder it’s all about perfection! It’s all about specialization, working the kinks out of the design, taking that design and tweaking it until it’s perfect.

Working at Lanterra allowed me to see massive projects at macro levels and being able to work alongside the team. When I formed Marlin Spring, I was able to take everything I learned from my family and work on different projects and partnerships. Now with Altree, I’m able to work on specific projects that interest me, allowing me to put my own stamp on this world.

CL: Your greatest inspiration in the development industry is:

ZM: My father and grandfather. For as long as I can remember, I have been inspired and awed by what they have accomplished – from so many great buildings in Toronto and so many artistic styles, to communities that have changed the landscape of the way we live. From ICE Condominiums to Maple Leaf Square, which has totally changed the south core of Toronto, to Murano and Burano that has completely changed the Bay St. strip, to many other areas that both H&R Developments and Lanterra Developments have been involved in shaping.

CL: When not at the office or in the field…:

ZM: I’m spending time with my three children and wife, exploring Toronto’s neighbourhoods and parks and exploring off beaten tracks of Toronto’s gorgeous ravine systems.

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