Tag Archives: Debbie Cosic

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Why do condo prices rise even when the economy is down?

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Why do condo prices rise even when the economy is down?

If you keep up with new home real estate in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, you likely know that between May of this year and last, the price of lowrise homes stayed the same, and that between April and May 2020, there was a -0.7-per-cent difference. Yet from April to May of this year, condominium prices were 0.1 per cent higher, and were 26.4 per cent higher than May 2019.

Why? It’s a great question, and there are several reasons why condo prices continue to rise, even during economic downturns.

The first has to do with two ongoing situations. First, demand continues to be much higher than supply. Second, we have approximately 120,000 new residents settling in the GTA each year. We also have Millennials coming of age and wanting to own homes, and they represent a big chunk of the population in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Plus, we also have Baby Boomers retiring en masse and looking to move down in housing size. There simply are not enough residences – especially condos – to accommodate everyone who wants to buy. Before the pandemic, we were selling slightly more than 30,000 units a year, and even the COVID pandemic slowdown didn’t abate those numbers. We have been selling online throughout the past few months, and some projects have sold out right away. Purchasers have embraced the electronic methods in place to prevent in-person contact as much as possible.

There is something else critical to consider: Builders’ costs keep going up. Most trades worked throughout the pandemic, and once contracts are up for renewal, it is only logical to believe their prices will go up. Then, there’s land. Everyone knows that land prices across the GTA will not go down in price. In fact, the opposite – as land becomes scarcer, it also becomes more expensive. Builders have to anticipate these costs, along with materials and the umpteen other costs incurred as they carry on the process of creating communities. As they bring new homes and condos to market, they are holding steady with prices and even raising them.

In Mississauga City Centre, we helped to launch a condominium that was sold 95 per cent within a short time, and when the remaining suites were released, they sold out online at prices that were the same as they were in January and February. And believe me, builders are bringing new projects to market. At In2ition Realty, we are gearing up for six upcoming launches this summer. We’re experiencing high call volumes from real estate agents and we have huge registry lists. People are looking, COVID or not.

Also, although some existing lowrise inventory may have dipped a little in price, this seems to have been short-lived, as we’re now back to pre-COVID pricing and in some cases – even higher. For some buyers, a lowrise home is the perfect choice. Again, however, pent-up demand, our aging population and continued immigration to Toronto and the GTA will only make condos even more desirable in the future – and rising prices will reflect that.

Debbie Cosic is founder and CEO of In2ition Realty, an innovative real estate brokerage that specializes in project marketing, merchandising and selling of new home communities and condominiums. In2ition assists clients with land assembly, market research, sales and marketing, design services, broker relations and leasing and property management. in2ition.ca

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In Conversation With… Debbie Cosic, Founder & CEO In2ition Realty

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In Conversation With… Debbie Cosic, Founder & CEO In2ition Realty

New-home buyers, builders and marketers had big plans this spring. Then COVID-19 struck and things changed. Consumers went into a holding pattern, and developers and sales outfits had to figure out what to do.

For In2ition Realty of Mississauga, Ont., a prominent new home and condo marketing firm, that meant pivoting quickly to online and virtual sales. Founder and CEO Debbie Cosic explains how the company responded – and how she sees the market post-pandemic.

How’s the business of marketing and selling new homes and condos during these challenging days?

To say the least, challenging. All of our sales offices are (at press time) currently closed and have converted to online sales. We have been running virtual sales offices across the GTA, and at any given time we have about 20 sites operating.

Fortunately, we’re used to this, as we’re a pretty tech savvy company. This whole challenge has made us kick everything up a notch. We believe the online new home sales world is definitely here to stay. We’ve had to change our method of operations.

We’re still very busy internally with Zoom and conference calls, with developers a couple times a week on various projects. We had 24 sites to launch in 2020, and just before COVID started we basically got two out of the gate. So that means 22 still to launch. Will they all launch this year? We hope so. None of them have been cancelled. We’re hoping that these delays will just toggle things into a fall market, or some of them into the summer market, fall, winter or early next year.

How are consumers responding to virtual sales? Buying a home is obviously a very significant purchase, so to do so without being able to go to the development site…

Even during the shutdown, we have been doing deals consistently. Buyers may be a little slower to consummate the deal, but it always surprises me how technologically savvy everybody is. We’re all online with Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram. Young or old, people are connected to the computer, they’re online shopping or reading the news every day. So, if you make it simple, which is what we’ve done, using Zoom or FaceTime, our team walks them through all the steps, and we have the presentations ready online. Sometimes it may take a little longer, maybe a second or third meeting, but we make it extremely easy for them to be able to navigate.

We all got some good news when the province announced that construction could resume on May 19. How do you think the market will react – will it quickly lead to renewed buyer interest and activity?

It will spur our whole industry to start moving. Everybody’s sort of gearing up. We have a master blueprint on how to reopen our sales offices safely when the time comes, such as following the government precautions for social distancing, and otherwise doing things to make them feel safe.

We have regular calls on the status of our developments, to get a pulse on the market and feedback from clientele. Some buyers are pushing us to open, we’re getting requests regarding particular projects and we still have people in the pipeline. Do 100 per cent of interested buyers still want to proceed? It’s a new normal now, so we just want to get out there and start selling, whether it’s 80 per cent volume or 50 or 20… We don’t know that yet.

When the restrictions are fully lifted, do you foresee buyers easing their way back into the market, or will there be more of a rush because there might be some pent-up demand?

It may take some time, but I believe things will return to a normal marketplace. In 2019, we had a banner market with 76,500 pre-construction sales in high- and lowrise combined. The first couple of months of 2020, we launched two projects and we basically blew through them, and within a couple of weeks we sold out beyond our construction thresholds. That, we are not expecting, and our brokers are not expecting either. We just believe that we’re going to return to a normal balanced market. And we’re fine with that. Instead of us selling out a development in a couple of weekends, it may take six or nine months or even a year to get to preconstruction thresholds. We’re fine with that.

We’re anticipating a new normal, even in the way we conduct sales, in that we’re not going to be able to have big groups in our sales offices, and these big events that create a lot of hype. We know that it’s going to be a more tempered sale because only smaller groups can come in. As long as you manage expectations, we’re all happy to go back to work and start doing some sales. That’s the important thing.

How do you think homebuyer intentions may change? Do you foresee people buying smaller homes or buying condos instead of lowrise homes or buying more with friends and family?

I think intentions are going to change differently for different segments of the population. Some buyers may enjoy being closer to family, or they’ll prefer a multi-family residence, or a loft upstairs from their parents, or splitting a home with a sibling.

Some experts believe there will be a notable and growing segment of buyers who prefer the bigger homes, larger lots and more space, given everything the pandemic has taught us about being apart from others. Supply and affordability issues in the GTA may preclude that, but areas outside the GTA – Kitchener-Waterloo or Hamilton, for example – may represent opportunities. What are your thoughts?

Definitely. In recent years, areas outside the downtown core have become more desirable…the 905s and some of the 519 areas and even in 705, and that will continue to grow.

I also believe others will migrate back into the city because they will not want to endure public transit, because of concerns over the lack of social distancing.

Do you see any other fundamental changes either for builders or buyers? For example, working from home may become more prevalent, so will home designs further change to accommodate more places people can work separately in the home?

I definitely believe that. Just in my own experience, I have a house with a den, and I have a desk in my bedroom, each of the kids have a desk in their bedrooms, and it’s still not enough. They’re being schooled from home, I’m working from home, the other adults in my house are working from home… We’re all looking for that quiet space, whether it’s a room in the basement, a den in their next house, or a flex space or solarium in a larger condo.

There will also be a portion of population that will want to age in place, so we’ll have to have housing that can accommodate that.

New home supply in the GTA has long been a very serious issue. During the pandemic, governments have clearly shown that when they want to, they can act quickly. How hopeful are you that such legislative agility – clearing red tape and shortening development approval processes – can extend beyond COVID-19?

I’ve been preaching for years that a lot of the legacy supply has been sold off, especially in lowrise and midrise homes. But governments really need to look at the way they’re allowing approvals to occur – not just the speed, but the type of product they’re allowing. They should be allowing more multi-family residences in our subdivisions and communities. I’m not saying we should turn a whole subdivision of 40-ft. lots into triplexes, but you should allow some of these build forms, because they’re desirable, affordable and something we really need.

Instead of a 3,000-sq.-ft. home, why not build a 2000-sq.-ft. home with 1,000-sq.- ft. loft or secondary suite? That kind of thing. Some of this is allowed, but I really think it has to be speeded up, and fast, so on a dime, a developer can change a planning application to have these different types of build forms woven into these communities.

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And on a personal note …

If I wasn’t in the new home and condo marketing business, I would: Be working on Wall street as a venture capitalist. I love the energy and challenges of that industry, and I love NYC.

My greatest inspiration in this business is: My life partner Ralph, who has taught me to believe in the power of the universe and the power of positive thinking. He has the attitude of “some will, some won’t, others always do.” And if something bad happens, don’t fret over it, learn from it and let it go. Something bigger and better is around the corner.

My greatest reward is: Spending time with my loved ones and surrounding myself with the wonderful group of people who work with us. I’m also grateful this industry has given me not only the financial means but also the time to help people less fortunate than I am. I love and thrive on our charitable endeavours.

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In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

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In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

As challenging as the pandemic has been, there’s also been no shortage of good news, feelgood stories among new home and condo builders, developers, marketers, suppliers and others, as they pitch in to do their part for COVID-19 relief.

Among them is In2ition Realty. The Mississauga, Ont. new home and condo marketing and sales firm has long been involved in charitable initiatives.

“For us, being involved in a charity has been part of our work life and our work culture,” Founder and CEO Debbie Cosic told HOMES Publishing.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, uncovering other needs in the community, and other ways In2ition could help.

“We were looking for a charitable endeavour during these trying times, when many of us were home in the beginning kind of wondering what to do with our time, until more normalcy of our meeting schedules returned,” says Cosic.

Feed Mississauga reached out to In2ition, asking not just for much needed funds, but to help provide some social media and creative expertise to further raise awareness.

“It’s turned out to be very timely for us, that we could really roll up our sleeves and lend a hand,” Cosic says. “The food bank was down 50 per cent in both donations and in volunteers, so they were at a crisis point.”

Other COVID-19 relief initiatives from the homebuilding industry

Kids artwork raising funds for COVID-19 relief

Real estate firms raise more than $200,000 for COVID-19 relief

Flato Developments supporting Ontario frontline workers in fight against COVID-19

Program helps builders get back to business safely after COVID-19

Ambassadors for The Mikey Network aid with coronavirus relief efforts at SickKids


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How buyers can prepare for the busy buying season – post-COVID-19

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How buyers can prepare for the busy buying season – post-COVID-19

Spring is typically busy season in real estate, but this year, COVID-19 has brought the market to a slowdown.

One day soon, though – and we hope very soon – things will return to “normal,” and consumers will be back looking for new homes and condos in the GTA and elsewhere, driving the housing market and the economy.

In the meantime, prospective homebuyers can take advantage of this expert advice from a who’s who of new home marketing executives.

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Before COVID-19, the spring market was shaping up to be very strong, based on early sales results so far this year. With historic lows in inventory, especially in the GTA, new lows in interest rates and changes to the mortgage stress test, sales are already very brisk.

The outskirts of the GTA will continue to provide affordable options. Locations such as Brantford, Ancaster, Hamilton, Newcastle and Barrie will continue to offer lowrise alternatives for homebuyers. In Toronto and elsewhere in the GTA, lowrise homes will continue to become available in the form of stacked, back-to-back and traditional townhomes. In the city, the future for lowrise alternatives will continue to be the redevelopment of potential B and C class mom and pop commercial plazas along transit lines.

In the highrise market, we will see a major uptick in 905 sales, as end users and investors see greater value in price per square foot, with continued concerns about pricing in the city. Developers will continue to make units smaller to drive sales in the core, and a new market will emerge north of Eglinton, with better availability of two- and three-bedroom condos for first-time buyers and families wishing to stay in the city.

At the end of the day, always buy within your means and with your family’s best interests at heart.

Joseph Bozzo
Owner
Spectrum Sky
Vaughan, Ont.

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More than 60 per cent of annual new home sales usually occur in a four month period in spring, and with the right preparation, you could experience the joy of buying a home.

1. Eliminate emotion through preparation
A new home purchase will be one of the biggest events of your life, and often an emotionally charged situation. We spend more time preparing to buy a new pair of $100 shoes than we do $1-million property. Uncertainty causes confusion, and confusion leads to indecision and inaction. Knowledge, on the other hand, leads to confidence, and confidence leads to power – so get prepared.

2. Set your priorities
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Focus on your target by creating a Motivation and Housing Needs chart. On the left column, list your (and your partner’s) motivations, such as marriage, family or a new job. On the right column, list your housing needs, noting how your life changes affect your housing needs. This isn’t a wish list, but a very real and practical definition of your current and maybe anticipated housing needs. This step will clearly define your priorities.

3. Dare to compare
If you have selected potential locations and housing types, it’s time to create a spreadsheet and write it all down. List the builder, site and home type on the left, and across the top note the location, home size, financing, price, features and finishings. Give each of these key points a score from one (the least desirable) to five (the most), and come up with a total score for each selected home. The objective is to narrow your favoured choices to two.

4. Know your costs
This is the most fundamental part of the homebuying process, but it’s also the one where people are the most unprepared. The mortgage stress test adds a significant variable to the approval process. How much can you afford? Will you have to “drive till you qualify”? What are your anticipated closing costs? Do you have all the funds necessary? That’s a lot of questions, but the good news is that all of the major banks can help you through this process. Take advantage of this guidance and prepare yourself – well before you attend any open houses or new home openings.

5. Take action
Finally, don’t be indecisive. Once you have conquered the first four steps, you are ready to take action – with confidence.

Andrew Brethour
Chairman & CEO
PMA Brethour Realty Group
Markham, Ont.

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Considering the way prices are these days, it is essential that prospective buyers, as a first step, get pre-approved for a mortgage. And be aggressive about finding financing. If you don’t have the full deposit, you can always go to a B lender for a second mortgage or line of credit. Some buyers are fortunate enough to be able to obtain funds from the “Bank of Mom and Pop.”

If all else fails, look at purchasing a unit with a friend or family member for co-ownership. You can both live in it as roommates, or sell it outright and take the profit as your seed deposit money for your own individual units.

My point is: Move heaven and earth to get into the market. Prices are going up, and supply is still very tight, which bodes well for owners. If you postpone, as the years pass, prices will be even higher, and you’ll wish you’d gotten into the market years ago. Think about how happy homeowners who bought several years ago are today, having seen their financial investment grow.

Remember, too, that whether you buy a condo, townhouse, semi- or single detached house, it doesn’t have to be in Toronto or the GTA. Keep an open mind and you’ll find great affordability in markets such as Hamilton, Kitchener and even Picton.

Expand your horizons and be prepared to try alternative methods for attaining homeownership. In the end, it will all be worth it.

Debbie Cosic
Founder & CEO
In2ition Realty
Mississauga, Ont.

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New home sales were off to a great start this year, and developers are working hard to offer more affordable housing solutions and incentives. If you’re in the market for a new home or condo, it’s definitely a great time to buy.

Just make sure you know what you want (or really need) and have shopped the competition to ensure you’re investing in the right neighbourhood, product and builder.

Consider locations outside Toronto and elsewhere in the GTA that are close to transit. Places such as Hamilton and Milton are especially hot, with some exciting new projects geared toward first-time buyers. Meanwhile, pockets of Pickering and Ajax still offer exceptional value for growing families.

We’re also seeing a lot of empty nesters eyeing cottage country in locations such as Collingwood, Blue Mountain and Huntsville, where you’ll find beautiful, four-season lifestyles, complemented by the same urban amenities you’d find in the city.

Tami Kenwell
President
Madhouse Advertising
Toronto

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In Toronto and elsewhere in the GTA, demand will continue to exceed supply for the foreseeable future. We are looking at ongoing population growth from immigration and migration, as Toronto continues its role as an international city and economic hub. Market prices will only increase as time goes on. With the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto already more than $2,500 per month, a new condo is still a wise and likely lucrative investment.

Carefully selecting the right location is a key starting point; location, location, location has long been the mantra for real estate. Choose a building in an up and coming area for a better price point, or in an established neighbourhood where you’re likely to pay a little more. Either way, buy the best condo and suite you can for the money, keeping in mind your lifestyle. Proximity to transit is also important; consider that investors usually purchase close to mass transit, since that’s a feature that appeals to renters. It’s all common sense.

This market will not change overnight, and may never change. We are still in a low-interest-rate environment… and who knows how long that will last? If you are in a position to get into the condominium ownership market, my advice is to buy now, rather than later.

Barbara Lawlor
President & CEO
Baker Real Estate Inc.
Toronto

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Friends often ask me where the best value in the GTA is, since I have been marketing new homes and condos for 25 years. What area has the best opportunity for appreciation?

I usually recommend heading east, to Courtice, Ajax, Bowmanville, Oshawa… really anywhere in Durham or Clarington is a great option for new-home buyers today. East GTA offers very affordable pricing compared to the west, as well as every feature you could ever need, including regular GO Transit service to downtown Toronto, easy access to the lake and beautiful conservation areas for hikes. There are excellent schools, tons of shopping and a great family lifestyle. The east is where it’s at!

I would also advise prospective buyers to explore the federal government’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive program which offers a down payment boost of up to 10 per cent. It doesn’t need to paid back until you sell your home, at which time the government will share in the equity you have built up over time. It’s an excellent opportunity that not enough people are taking advantage of yet.

Lianne McOuat
Vice-President, Strategy
McOuat Partnership
Markham, Ont.

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Spring is typically the busy season in real estate, and this year the market in southern Ontario looked like it was really going to heat up. But this area is so popular year-round it’s unique: Traditional seasonality is quickly blurring. High demand, combined with a shortage of housing supply, ensure this trend will continue. In resale, for every house listed for sale there is a buyer ready and waiting. The best thing buyers can do to ensure they get what they want, when they want, is to get themselves in the ready position.

Despite mainstream media suggesting it is next to impossible to purchase a home here, opportunities present themselves all the time, especially to those who are ready to go. New homes provide a great option. By signing up for mailing lists of reputable builders in your areas of interest, prospective buyers will be the first to know when a community is coming, what the housing options are and what the price points will be. This process, and the information that comes with it, gives buyers knowledge to make informed decisions, better positioning them for their next move.

Fraser M. Wilson
Senior Vice-President
International Home Marketing Group
Toronto, Ont.

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Moving into a home the smart way

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Moving into a home the smart way

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a professional couple, a growing family or an empty-nester, if you are considering the purchase of a new or resale condominium suite or lowrise home with a condo component, it is best to be aware and prepared. The following are a few tips to get yourself organized so you come up with the best choice.

  1. Ask yourself, what are your personal and family needs? My advice is to make a list of priorities. Are you buying for the first time? Upsizing? Downsizing? Are you looking for more space, less space, or if you’re living in your parents’ basement, will any space at all do? Do you like the idea of having a backyard in a townhome, or does the idea of having beautiful condo amenities under your roof appeal? If children are involved, do you require proximity to a school? Realize that size is relative – you will find condo suites that are larger than some townhomes, and vice versa. Keep layout at the top of your interior priorities. Think about how you like to live and determine which plans accommodate those needs.
  2. Once you want to start looking around, hire a good realtor. The marketplace is packed with choices (including condominiums and lowrise homes with a condo component) in Toronto and the GTA. There are realtors who are familiar with the area you select, and they will guide your search. Remember that purchasing a condominium is different from freehold lowrise; it is wise to work with a realtor who can help you understand all of the nuances.
  3. Consider pre-construction for a variety of reasons. Resale is fine for some shoppers, but in many ways, it is like wildly looking in the dark. Buying early in the selling cycle of a new mid- or highrise condominium usually allows you a two-to-five year window until move-in, which means you can save more for your down payment, and you will likely earn equity before you even take possession. Many condo purchasers nowadays earn 20 to 40 per cent in equity prior to closing. This is huge for anyone, but especially young first-time buyers.
  4. Next, get your finances in order. Find out what you can afford, and buy as much as that allows for – as long as you’re comfortable with it. You know what debts you have to pay off and how much disposable income you need each month to keep up your current lifestyle. If you are downsizing from a large lowrise home, you have to decide how much money to take out of the home, how much to invest, and whether to use a condo as your main residence or a second property.

There are condominiums popping up in Regions of Peel, Halton, York and Durham, where prices are more attainable than Toronto. From Mississauga to Pickering and beyond, you will discover a plethora of choices with differing architecture, amenities, views, layouts, sizes and prices. The goal is to find the right one for you, and a realtor can help you along the way to your best decision.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. in2ition.ca

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New home and condominium sales will continue momentum in 2020

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New home and condominium sales will continue momentum in 2020

Predictions for new home and condominium sales in 2020 are abounding in the media, and I have some of my own. I see sales being similar to last year, with a heightened awareness for affordability driving the momentum and style choices. I also see a major shift in expectations for all generations of home and condo buyers, and as the last bastion of affordability, the condominium market should remain strong.

Condo sales in the Greater Toronto Area did extremely well in November, up 32 per cent from November 2018, which already put these numbers among the top four years ever. What’s interesting is how the demand for condos is growing in the outer boundaries of, and outside of the GTA. I call the 905 areas around Toronto the “ring of fire” for new condo sales. These are all areas people can drive to in an hour or so from the city. One example is Chestnut Hill Developments’ Universal City in Pickering, where the first two towers have sold out, and the third is in the registration stage anticipating a Public launch this Winter. Amacon’s AVIA Condos in the Parkside Village community in Mississauga City Centre is another multi-phased condominium residence experiencing hot sales.

Farther out, we are seeing heightened interest in new condos in areas such as Hamilton, Kitchener and Waterloo, which are within an hour’s drive of the outer boundaries of the GTA. In 2018, we launched the first phase in Sorbara Group’s The Way Urban Townhomes in Erin Mills, which nearly sold out, and the second phase released late 2019 is nearly 95 per cent sold. We’re getting ready for another release early this year. This product is smaller and tighter than in the GTA and offers affordable end prices. We’ve sold close to 500 homes in Dundalk over the last few years and our phones are ringing off the hook for Rosehaven Homes’ KiWi Condos on King William in Hamilton.

Remember those changing expectations I mentioned? We are seeing a strong market of Millennials who plan on being permanent renters, as owning in Ontario is becoming more of a financial challenge as time goes on. This is encouraging news for condo investors.

In November, we also saw lowrise sales in the GTA up 207 per cent over November 2018, which is largely due to builders divesting themselves from legacy communities of large lots. We will continue to see a redesign of more affordable home types. In addition, a growing number of people purchasing lowrise homes want multigenerational designs that include a basement apartment, loft, coach house or garage made into living space. Having accommodations for three to four generations that can share expenses is a hot trend right now, especially as not many people can afford millions of dollars for a home.

The other shift I see is in mortgage trends. Three-year mortgages are around three per cent, but some buyers are paying five to six per cent to have an edge in entering the marketplace. They will make that sacrifice to realize the dream of homeownership.

The economic indicators are there to keep new home and condo sales going strong: Immigration, jobs and interest rates. Time will tell.

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

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Three ways to afford a single-family home

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Three ways to afford a single-family home

Detached houses in the GTA cost $1 million-plus to purchase. How to afford one?

It can seem as though it’s nearly impossible to afford a detached home in the Greater Toronto Area these days, with the cost of real estate as sky high as it’s become. According to Altus Group, the benchmark price for new single-family homes in the GTA in August was a whopping $1.08 million. That’s actually down 4.1 per cent versus the same period last year, but it’s still a big chunk of change.

Condominiums represent a slightly more affordable alternative to detached homes, but not everyone wants to live in a multi-storey tower. Plus condos don’t always have a large outdoor space or have backyards, which can be an issue, particularly when you have kids. So if you’ve got your heart set on purchasing a detached home, what are your options? Here are three possibilities to explore:

1. Be a landlord of your own home

By using a portion of your detached house as a rental property – creating a basement suite is the most common approach, but laneway housing is another solution being examined across Toronto – you can generate significant revenue to help you pay your mortgage. You would also be contributing much-needed rental housing stock in a city where vacancy has been hovering around one per cent. Note, however, that being a landlord comes with great responsibilities:

You’ll have to find tenants and manage relations with them, fix things in the rental suite (or pay someone to do it), and comply with various rental bylaws. It’s a lot of work, but it can help you become mortgage-free sooner.

2. Keep it in the family

Multi-generational family homes are becoming more popular, and this is a great way to be able to afford to own a detached house. You can provide accommodation for aging parents in the form of an in-law suite, and they can help to shoulder some of the costs of owning the home. There are other advantages to this arrangement: You can look after your folks, and if you have kids, your parents can serve as a built-in babysitting service on date night. And if you’ve got grown children, don’t be so fast to push them out of the nest. Instead, invite them to remain at home, or to move back in following post-secondary school – as long as they pay rent, of course. Think of all the family-bonding opportunities you’ll have with your parents and kids living under the same roof!

3. Divide the house into a duplex

Another solution for being able to afford a detached home is to go in on the big purchase with family members, and then divide the house into a duplex. Bear in mind that there are some bureaucratic hurdles currently standing in the way of this being a viable solution. That’s why it’s high time our government leaders tweaked existing bylaws to allow for homes on traditional 40- and 50-ft. lots to be built or retrofitted into internal duplexes. Then, that 3,000-sq.-ft. $1-million-plus home becomes a 1,500-sq.-ft. duplex, along with basement storage, garage space and a yard – the detached-home dream.

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

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Design Tips, Mixing materials and staying natural

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Design Tips, Mixing materials and staying natural

My team at In2ition Realty is immersed in the GTA market, enabling us to stay on top of the latest home design trends. Here’s a rundown on tips to design your home.

Mix it up

Material mixing is hotter and easier than ever! We are no longer bound to boring looks and conventional design rules and ideas – we can mix woods, metals, stone, porcelain and fabrics to create beautiful layers and fresh-looking spaces. Inspired by the Danish term “Hygge,” meaning “cosiness,” a mix of materials creates a comfortable and inviting getaway in any space.

Envision a contemporary bedroom adorned in velvets, and luxurious rugs and fabrics, with tone-on-tone colours shown in a variety of textures and materials (white on white, grey on grey), mixed with wood furniture that’s accented with metal or resin inlays. All of these elements work together to give a room a luxurious warmth.

Mixing metals, such as metallic and muted golds, chrome, ombre gold, rose gold and chrome is also on trend. This metal trend carries through to the kitchen as well, with the introduction of matteblack appliances: Sinks, faucets, even bathtubs.

Au Natural

Natural materials continue to grow in popularity. Marble is no longer just an option for countertops and backsplashes; we’re now seeing marble finishes on tables, trays and candles – giving everyday household items a calming look and feel. Natural woods are also in style, with homeowners trending toward wide-plank grey and blonde flooring, and using warmer-toned or white washed woods for accent walls.

Concrete is no longer reserved just for lofts and commercial spaces; designers are using it in furniture to provide a striking accent piece for kitchens or bathrooms. Natural curves are hot as well, from organic shapes in wallpaper to products such as curved sofas and rounded accent chairs, giving a natural softness to spaces.

Quality Items

When it comes to furniture, we’re holding out for key quality pieces, and are willing to spend more when we find them. This is especially true on big-ticket items such as sofas, dining tables and beds. Given the ever-shrinking size of GTA condominiums, and the ever-rising costs to live in them, people want furniture that not only looks great, but that also serves multiple functions and is well built, showcasing its quality. Statement pieces are where we tend to spend our budgets, and we love showing them off.

Reuse and recycle with imagination is becoming the old-is-new mantra for interior decorators, as designers give older pieces a rebirth with updated materials and textures. Vintage fixtures are always in good taste when refurbished – to add a touch of character and warmth, offsetting the clean, clinical look of modern homes.

Rich and Bold

Rich colours, such as a strong cobalt blue or an elegant emerald green, are currently on point. Same goes with large pops of colour incorporated in unexpected ways, such as vibrantly coloured kitchen appliances, or fresh new paint for tired old cabinets. Accent walls with bold-print wallpaper, especially in floral or organic patterns, enhance small areas such as powder rooms and entryways, giving personality and importance to smaller spaces.

In the kitchen, designers are showcasing bold, oversized glass pendants in a variety of geometric forms and finishes, boasting a unique look to our kitchens. Most importantly, choose your home finishings and decor to reflect your personality and lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to make a statement and have some fun while decorating your new home.

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

In2ition.ca

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Condo investor checklist : Location, amenities and low maintenance

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Condo investor checklist : Location, amenities and low maintenance

Successful condo investors know that there are a number of key considerations to keep in mind when selecting a property that will reap them a solid return on their investment.

Here is a rundown of what investors should be focusing on in their search for a profitable rental property.

Photo courtesy Activa

Affordability

In the GTA’s increasingly expensive housing market, affordability tops the list of considerations for investors. A condo unit should be purchased at a price you can afford to carry, and you’ll need to consider condo fees and property taxes alongside sale price.

Also keep in mind the costs of routine upkeep for the property, particularly as you begin renting it out, and the potential for damage rises (hopefully it’s minor.) Speaking of damage, you will need to cover the cost of insurance for the condo unit; this is required by condo corporations.

Make sure you’re doing a cost benefit analysis of all of this to be certain that the rental income you get not only covers your carrying costs but also provides a bit of profit on top. The goal is to be cash flow positive, but it might take a year or two to get there.

Low-maintenance

Be mindful of a property that will require maintenance outside the routine needs, such as lawn mowing or snow shovelling. Buildings with swimming pools, for example, will have higher maintenance and common element fees down the line, which will cut into the rental income potential for the investor.

Room to grow

Space is a key consideration, especially with more families looking to live in condo properties versus actual houses, which are getting out of most people’s price range — buyers and renters alike. Two-bedroom, two-bathroom rental units with parking and storage will see greater demand from tenants who are willing to pay higher rental rates in order to have more room. If buying close to university or college, larger units can accommodate more residents, which helps students share the monthly rent.

Location

The essential element in the assessment of any condo property’s potential. The condo will have much greater value as a rental unit if it is close to transit, universities and colleges, and retail offerings. It should be noted that many new condo developments — such as the Regent Park revitalization in Toronto — are helping to reshape communities for the better. And the value of condo units in these areas is seeing significant growth as a result.

Jobs

Nearby employment opportunities should be a key consideration when assessing whether a condo unit will carry greater value as a rental property, such as locations that are close to work nodes. Basically anything in downtown Toronto, where much of the younger talent is flocking nowadays, will generate a stronger rental income.

Amenities

Amenities are definite value-add when it comes to rental properties. Gyms, party rooms with catering kitchens, front desk/ concierge service, bike parking and storage — all of these will translate into higher rental rates. The same is true for community amenities. A building will see far more renter interest if it’s close to parks, trails and libraries, with a variety of nearby shopping, dining and entertainment options. And that increased demand will mean more rental dollars.

DEBBIE COSIC, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for more than 25 years.

In2ition.ca

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There’s no time like the present, as lowrise prices are moderating

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There’s no time like the present, as lowrise prices are moderating

Lowrise prices are moderating, and homebuilders are offering purchase incentives

The prospect of owning a lowrise home in the GTA has traditionally been a cost prohibitive one for most buyers in the market. But the once yawning price gap between lowrise homes and condominiums has started to come a bit more into balance as of late. This means it could be a good time for some to consider the purchase of a lowrise home; if not a detached house, then perhaps the relatively more affordable option of a townhouse.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is forecasting that the GTA’s lowrise housing market is headed for a slight downturn this year, largely owing to a lack of land for the development of single-family and townhouses. That said, suburban regions such as Peel, Durham and York will account for higher concentrations of the GTA’s single-family detached sales and listings moving forward, and CMHC says that should slow price appreciation in the lowrise segment.

Condos continue to be the more affordable alternative to new single-family homes. But the difference in pricing between new single-family homes and new condos has narrowed significantly over the past two years, according to a new report from Altus Group.

The benchmark price of a singlefamily home in the GTA finished 2018 at $1.14 million, about 13 per cent below the peak it reached in July 2017, Altus Group notes. Meanwhile, the benchmark asking price for a new Toronto condo hit $796,815 at the end of 2018, an increase of 11 per cent from the previous year and a new all-time high for condos.

There is still a limited selection of affordable lowrise options out there for most buyers in the market, with only one in five new single-family homes available to purchase at the end of 2018 priced below $750,000. But Altus Group notes that single-family inventory levels rose slowly and steadily throughout 2018 and rose above the 5,000-unit mark by late 2018, the first time this has been the case for the GTA since way back in June 2015.

What’s more, in a bid to compensate for the dip in demand that followed the federal government’s introduction of new more stringent mortgage rules last year, lowrise homebuilders have been offering a range of purchase incentives, including sharpen prices, décor dollar credits, and designer upgrades.

Lowrise homes are still priced well above the average condo and many still won’t be able to afford to purchase that category of housing. However, townhouses, which offer a more reasonable price point than detached homes, and more space than condos to accommodate growing families, could represent the best of both worlds. Townhouses generally cost less to purchase than detached houses, and they typically tend to appreciate in value faster than condos, at least in the early years.

Whether it’s a single-family home or a townhouse, if you wanted to get into the GTA lowrise home market, it would appear that there’s no time like the present.

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

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