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Should you stay or should you go?

Should you stay or should you go?

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Should you stay or should you go?

No doubt COVID-19 messed up Canadians’ travel plans this year, but when the pandemic has passed, what then? Should you stay or should you go?

Well, according to the Conference Board of Canada, the answer is… maybe.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

Conference Board research shows that in a typical spring, 75 to 80 per cent of Canadians are planning a trip. This year? Only 45 per cent were. And of those, more than half are hoping to travel later in the summer – and mostly domestically to visit friends or family.

This summer could see the return of the great Canadian road trip, as, for those who do plan to travel domestically, about 80 per cent plan to do it by car or RV, and 20 per cent by air, rail or bus.


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GTA homebuilders upbeat, foresee post-COVID-19 recovery

GTA homebuilders upbeat about post-COVID-19 recovery

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GTA homebuilders upbeat about post-COVID-19 recovery

The beginning of 2020 was looking especially bright in the new and resale home markets in and around the GTA. The economy was sailing along, interest rates were low, homebuyer appetite looked insatiable and everything that was built or put up for sale seemingly was snapped up in an instant.

Then COVID-19 hit, and everything changed.

Here we are now, mid-year and a few months into the pandemic, and while some insecurity remains, there are growing reasons for optimism.

The Conference Board of Canada, for example, reports that while major metropolitan economies may contract in 2020, assuming the virus’ spread is contained and companies can return to normal operations over the summer months, a recovery should begin in the second half of the year. Sharp rebounds should follow, and in the case of Toronto, GDP growth of 3.2 per cent from 2021 to 2024 could lead the country.

Another source, Altus Group, points out that the unique nature of this economic slowdown means the impact on housing markets will likely be mild and short lasting.

Altus Group Vice-President and Chief Economist Peter Norman says a relaxing of containment measures through early summer should bring a sharp resumption in new home sales activity.

Later in the year, home prices will likely return to their upward path, and expectations are for a five- to 10-per-cent year-over-year gain, nationally, by year-end.

The pandemic has been a challenging time for the homebuilding industry, an important economic driver. Construction was halted for a period, and though now allowed to resume, there is still some uncertainty in the market. Builders, however, remain largely upbeat.

Here’s how GTA area homebuilders are feeling:

Altree Developments

Jordan Debrincat
Director of Operations

We are very excited that construction can now continue on our sites. For our Thirty Six Zorra project in Etobicoke, we were at the point in our construction where we were just about to begin shoring and excavation before the shutdown took place, and we have to make some adjustments to our daily operations for this site. Now that construction is back up and running, we are ready to begin – full steam ahead. We were already ahead of schedule, so the provincial shutdowns didn’t affect our timing at all.

Construction resuming has put a lot of people at ease. This has allowed a number of people to return to work, developers to continue their operations, and purchasers the comfort that their home is going to be delivered on time.

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Aoyuan International

Vince Santino
Senior Vice-President of Development

M2M in North York is actively under construction. We’ve learned some great lessons about best practices and how to interact with each other when it comes to social distancing and providing a safe, informative sales experience. Part of that is adopting virtual sales tools, and leaning a little more on digital technology. We’re optimistic, and have plans to release a collection of townhomes and upper tower suites at M2M as part of M2M Spaces. These will be larger, more livable units, with a variety of outdoor spaces depending on the suite. There is a real emphasis on wellness, and pairing more spacious suites with the urban setting at Yonge and Finch.

The 8.6-acre M2M development will be one of Aoyuan’s largest master-planned communities in Canada and really gives us the opportunity to bring our healthy lifestyle vision to life. Everything from our amenity package, which includes a yoga and fitness area, indoor and outdoor kids play area and infinity pool, to our urban location, is geared around promoting healthy, active lifestyles. This corporate-wide focus on health and wellness positions us well in our collective, new reality. We’re thinking about the people who will be living at M2M, offering a range of suites sizes to accommodate a diverse cross-section of residents. We’re even providing homes for multi-generational families. I think space is going to be a cherished amenity for a lot of buyers, and we’re proud to be bringing a range of options to market.

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Carriage Gate Homes

Nick Carnicelli
President

Construction continues at Gallery Condos + Lofts in Burlington, with occupancy scheduled for 2022.

We moved the launch date for the first phase of our new large masterplanned community in Hamilton – Roxboro – from spring to the fall. Like many builders, we are continuing to plan for our launch, and may begin to change the way we launch projects in future. More virtual technology, no large crowds, with all appropriate COVID-19 measures in place.

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Flato Developments

Shakir Rehmatullah
President

We are very optimistic, as we’re already witnessing renewed confidence from homebuyers. We’re increasing our use of technology, as meeting virtually will become the new norm. For us, it’s business as usual. Our sites are under construction as planned, and more sites are beginning construction as per the government’s direction. We have been active in marketing, even though we couldn’t do physical sales events, and we have been conducting online webinars with good results. For new launches, we’ll likely adopt new technologies such as virtual openings for certain projects, to make sure vulnerable groups such as seniors are safe.

We believe the demand for lowrise homes and small buildings will increase as people embrace social distancing. And since more people will be working from home, many will invest more in their homes. Home offices will be a must.

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Menkes Highrise

Jared Menkes
Executive Vice-President

We are seeing signs of pent-up demand and positive sentiments among buyers, with the number of inquiries and people resuming their housing research growing every week. We expect that as the economy continues to reopen, buyers will regain confidence in their financial stability and capacity to buy.

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NATIONAL HOMES

Deena Pantalone
Principal

We have taken the COVID-19 situation very seriously, with offices open only via video or telephone. Now that the provincial government has opened up construction, we will continue to put the safety of our employees and our buyers first with strict protocols and social distancing.

Construction servicing is beginning at The Forest in Bradford, and in Brampton at Three Rivers Claireville. We are also beginning to book design studio appointments for this summer, with an even more personal, one-on-one approach to keep us all safe and healthy.

The demand is clearly still there for real estate. If anything positive can be said to have come from COVID-19, it’s that this virus has refocused our attention on the importance of our families, and the homes we live in.

Many people just need more from their residence; more space, different features, or even a different neighbourhood. That’s why we expect to see a strong market come back later this summer and fall. In fact, we have two new communities we are working towards launching, in Burlington and in Courtice, and we are incorporating unique features and technology that we believe people will want post-pandemic. So, homebuyers should look forward to not just new launches, but new innovations.

From recycling to renewable materials to energy-efficient features and Green products, to innovative new prefabricated wall systems, National is helping our buyers reduce their “Greenprint.

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Pinnacle International

Anson Kwok
Vice-President, Sales & Marketing

The market definitely took a quick pause to look both ways but people are now back to crossing the street, which is positive for the marketplace. Our construction teams were active and our projects continue to rise.

Pinnacle has a diverse offering of projects that can suit any prospective homebuyer. We have four active constructions sites and pre-construction developments, so there are opportunities to move in as early as this fall to the next five years. These master-planned communities are located in desirable neighbourhoods in Toronto, Etobicoke and Mississauga.

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Regal Crest Homes

Art Rubino
Contracts Manager/Marketing Manager

Construction has never stopped for us since the province declared residential construction as an essential service. New construction starts only follow up last year’s sales. The real story will be the coming weeks, as we slowly open up sales offices.

We are here to fulfill homebuyers’ dreams, and with interest rates still so low, it’s an excellent time to buy.

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Solmar Development Corp.

Angela Marotta
Director of Marketing and Sales

We are fortunate that our current projects are more than 80 per cent sold, as we launched well before COVID-19. The other projects we have coming up are still in preliminary stages, however they have been pushed back as consultants and city officials have yet to resume full-time scheduling. We are focusing on the planning process for Park Avenue Tower 3, and Bellaria Phase 2 in Vaughan, as they’ve been delayed.

We are continuing with the construction of Edge and Oro towers in Mississauga and Park Avenue towers 1 and 2. Our goal is to catch up and get our purchasers moved in. Many of them are renting, so this investment is giving them something to look forward to. It’s evident that as other markets show so many variables and uncertainties given the current climate, real estate remains a secure investment.

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Tridel

Samson Fung
Vice-President, Marketing

We were fortunate to be able to continue construction and delivering homes to our homeowners. We implemented strict enhancements to our health and safety protocols on our construction sites to help safeguard the well-being of our employees and the communities we’re building, and these will remain in place as things begin to open up. Generally, we remain optimistic and see the industry as a whole preparing to adopt new measures and stabilize within this new environment. We’re proud of our efforts over the last few months, and our resilience as we come back stronger as leaders in both real estate and construction, and we’re looking forward to a strong finish in 2020.

As we move into the second half of 2020, we’re eagerly preparing to bring new communities to the marketplace. In the meantime, our design appointments and pre-delivery inspections with homeowners have continued through the spring and we’re looking forward to welcoming our homeowners back when we can. This new era forced us to be innovative in a different way. We are putting new safety measures in place for all of our customer-facing environments and discovering new ways to connect with our audiences. Our new digital experience, called Tridel Live, brings more information directly to the consumer; from a live chat with our sales team and virtual tours of our model suites, to access to more digital assets for our sales team, and more. This is just the beginning of a new way of meeting our clients’ needs and finding new ways to meet them.

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Toronto

6 Ontario municipal elections to watch regarding housing

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6 Ontario municipal elections to watch regarding housing

Toronto

By Wayne Karl

The countdown is on – just days to go to the 2018 Ontario municipal elections. In Toronto, in what’s shaping up to be a two-horse race between Mayor John Tory and challenger Jennifer Keesmaat, housing is one of the key issues.

But it’s not the only city or town in and around the GTA where real estate development is a hot topic.

Here’s a select list of a few more municipal elections to watch, and we might as well start with the biggest and highest profile municipality:

TORONTO

Incumbent: John Tory
Challenger: Jennifer Keesmaat
What’s at stake: Housing affordability, or the lack thereof. Both Tory and Keesmaat have announced plans to address the growing affordability issue in the city – what some describe as a crisis. Keesmaat wants to build 100,000 units of “truly affordable, high-quality housing in the next 10 years.” This is a plan some sources in the industry have already declared as doomed to fail.

Tory proposes to build 40,000 affordable rental units over 12 years, or roughly 3,300 annually.

The challenge for both? Defining what affordable housing even is, in a city with median home prices of $883,892, andthe most expensive average one-bedroom rent in the country, $1,900 per month.

Home builders have been lobbying the City and the Province to address land supply and other policies which complicate this already complex issue.

 

MARKHAM

Markham

Incumbent: Frank Scarpitti
Challenger(s): Steven Chen, Shan Hua Lu, Abdul Rahman Malik, Jawed Syed
What’s at stake: As the fourth most populous community in the GTA after Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton, Markham has been a hotbed for economic growth and development for years. It has also become one the most expensive housing markets, with median home prices of almost $1 million for the third quarter of 2018, according to Royal LePageAnd Scarpitti, first elected in 2006 and known as developer- and builder- friendly, has been there through much of it.

 

BRAMPTON

Brampton

Incumbent: Linda Jeffrey
Challenger(s): Mansoor Ameersulthan, former Ontario PC Party leader Patrick Brown, Baljit Gosal, Wesley Jackson, Vinod Kumar Mahesan, John Sprovieri
What’s at stake: Brampton is booming, and Jeffrey is seeking a second term after winning the 2014 election with almost 50 per cent of the vote.

Vision 2040 is an ambitious long-term plan to reinvent Brampton, and includes transformations such as model new neighbourhoods connected by an expanding transit network, new core loop, walking and cycling networks, communities designed to promote walking, and a new eco-park and sustainability built into everything.

There’s also a significant education infrastructure project that will bring a new Ryerson University campus, with Sheridan College as an academic partner, to downtown Brampton for 2022. Oh, along with thousands of students.

 

ORANGEVILLE

Orangeville

Incumbent: Jeremy Williams
Challenger(s): Sandy Brown, Darrin Davidson
What’s at stake: Been to Orangeville lately? It’s no longer a sleepy little pit-stop town as you drive north to Collingwood or Georgian Bay.

With new home and community development taking place, particularly in the west part of town, the biggest challenge Orangeville faces is urbanization. Williams wants to preserve the small town feel and welcome development, while avoiding becoming a discount housing destination for people moving north out of the Toronto area.

Brown, a local realtor, likely understands the issues, and wants to “arrest out of control spending.”  He says Orangeville residents pay the highest property taxes in the GTA.

 

OSHAWA

Oshawa

Incumbent: Current mayor of Oshawa John Henry has given up his seat to run as Durham’s regional chair
Challenger(s): Kenneth Carruthers, Dan Carter, Joe Ingino, Adam Kunz, Sara Lear, Rosaldo Russo, Bob Rutherford
What’s at stake: In short, continued growth in population and economic diversity, which drive housing demand. Oshawa’s population grew to 379,848 in 2016, according to the 2016 Census, up 6.6 per cent from 2011. This is second in the entire province only to Guelph – and even ahead of Toronto at 6.2 per cent.

Oshawa is expected to boast one of the fastest growing economies in the province this year, with growth of 2.6 per cent, according to the Conference Board of Canada. And this is down from 3.2 per cent in each of the last two years.

In terms of housing development, several builders are active in the area with lowrise homes. Homebuyers are liking the comparative bargains and the proximity to Toronto.

 

BARRIE

Barrie

Incumbent: Jeff Lehman
Challenger: Ram Faerber
What’s at stake: Lehman is seeking his third term, while local businessman Faerber is looking to unseat him.

Barrie ceased being a weekend destination years ago, and has become a favourite among real estate investors for its population growth and the job opportunities that come with a growing and increasingly diverse local economy.

However, as a smaller centre (population of 197,059,up 5.4 per cent from 2011), Barrie is sometimes subject to market swings. Median home prices slipped five per cent for the third quarter of 2018, from the same period last year, to $505,136. Some shorter-term good news, however, is that prices are up 0.4 per cent from the second quarter of this year.

Wayne Karl is Senior Digital Editor at Homes Publishing. wayne.karl@homesmag.com 

RELATED READING

Keesmaat’s 100,000 housing plan doomed to fail

5 steps to solving the housing affordability issue in Ontario

Housing policies must focus on supply

 

 

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Canada has a new trade deal. Now what?

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Canada has a new trade deal. Now what?

dvp

by Wayne Karl

Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have a “new NAFTA” deal, the so-called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Now what?

And what does it all have to do with real estate?

Plenty, when you consider that economic health is essential to the housing market. And though there have been some ups, downs and regional disparities, the Canadian economy for the most part has hummed along for the last 10 years or so.

So too, has Canadian real estate – again, with provincial and local variances.

Without a strong economy, you don’t have job and wage growth. Without those, you don’t have population growth, which drives demand in real estate, whether renting or buying. And without all of that, you don’t get home building and construction, both key drivers of employment and economic growth.

The U.S. and Mexico are, respectively, Canada’s first- and third-largest merchandise trading partners in the world. Canada is respectively the second- and fifth-largest merchandise trading partner of the U.S. and Mexico, and the largest export market for the U.S.

In 2017, trilateral trade reached nearly US$1.1 trillion.

Anything that affects all of that, understandably, makes people nervous.

In its Canadian Outlook Executive Summary, Autumn 2018 – published pre-USMCA – the Conference Board of Canada cited concerns over trade negotiations for a lack of business investment and other risks to the economy.

The new USMCA, our federal government says, offers crucial predictability and stability for Canadian businesses, investors, traders, workers and innovators. The deal will “create good, well‑paying, middle class jobs, strengthen economic ties and expand Canada’strade in North America.”

The Canadian auto industry, for one, is pleased with the new trade deal.

“The (Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association) congratulates the Canadian government in finalizing the new agreement on a trilateral North American basis,” the CVMA said when the deal was announced. “While we look forward to reviewing the details pertaining to automotive trade more closely, the Canadian negotiating team is to be commended on reaching a modernized agreement which provides certainty and builds a strengthened platform for trade across the industry. We look forward to updates and working with government towards finalizing and implementing the USMCA.”

More than 136,000 jobs are directly tied to vehicle assembly in Canada, the CVMA says. All told, direct and indirect jobs associated with vehicle manufacturing in the country are estimated at more than 792,000.

Anything that risks employment– in Ontario cities such as Oakville, Oshawa and Windsor – understandably, makes people uneasy.

“The completion of the USMCA agreement may not be perfect, but what it does is bring is a level of surety,” Don Campbell, real estate investor, researcher and author told Homes Publishing. “Companies now know the new rules and can adjust their plans accordingly. They’ve been sitting and waiting to finalize plans, investment strategies, manufacturing plant building or renovations. They can now spend the next few months analyzing and planning for capital deployment for 2019.

“It also brings a sense of relief for those in the automotive cities in Ontario, and in fact could move some lost manufacturing back to Canada due to the “minimum auto wage” clause. That won’t be immediate but something to watch.”

SELECT ONTARIO AUTO INDUSTRY TOWNS

Oakville

  • A perennially strong performer in the GTA housing market
  • One of the priciest markets in the GTA, with median aggregate home price of $1.01 million for Q2 2018, according to the latest Royal LePage National House Price Composite
  • Increasingly diversified economy, not just dependent on the auto industry

 

Oshawa

  • One of more affordable markets in the GTA, especially for detached homes
  • Median aggregate home price of $533,888 for Q2 2018, according to Royal LePage
  • Hot bed for new home development at the moment
  • Though dipping slightly from 3.2-per-cent GDP growth in the last two years, Oshawa’s economy is forecast to advance a still healthy 2.6 per cent this year, the Conference Board says

 

Windsor

  • One of the hottest housing markets (yet very affordable) in Ontario, in terms of price growth
  • Median aggregate home price of $241,081 for Q2 2018, according to Royal LePage
  • 4.5 per cent median aggregate home price growth from Q1 to Q2, 2018 – and 16 per cent year-over-year
  • Local economic growth may slow to two per cent for 2018,after exceeding three per cent every year between 2014 and 2017, according to the Conference Board

IMPACT ON INTEREST RATES AND HOUSING

“The lack of a free trade agreement between Canada and the United States brought about a high degree of economic uncertainty in Canada in recent months,” James Laird, president of CanWise Financial and co-founder of Ratehub.ca, told Homes Publishing.

“With the USMCA providing a level of trade certainty, Canada’s economy is free to expand at its natural pace. The dominant variable under consideration by the Bank of Canada will now become inflation, and the Bank of Canada will likely use interest rate hikes to keep rising inflation numbers in check. It will be a shock if the Bank of Canada chooses not to increase interest rates on Oct. 24. Canadians should also expect a greater frequency of interest rate hikes in 2019, starting with a rate hike early in the new year.”

Wayne Karl is Senior Digital Editor at Homes Publishing. wayne.karl@homesmag.com 

RELATED STORIES

U.S. tariffs on steel will hurt Canadian real estate

GTA housing market correction coming to an end, ReMax says

 

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Worried About Weed

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Worried About Weed

The Conference Board of Canada recently released a report that found that more than half of Canadian businesses are concerned about the workplace implications when the recreational use of marijuana becomes legal on October 17, 2018. The number one worry was workplace safety.

rc_aug_22_2018_1

For some specific steps renovation and construction companies should take, see “High Times” in our February/March 2018 issue or an updated version in the Spring 2018 issue of Building Excellence.

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