Tag Archives: Debbie Cosic

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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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Why the cost of condos in Toronto continues to rise

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Why the cost of condos in Toronto continues to rise

There was a lot of buzz on Twitter recently when many realtors and industry professionals started the discussion on the long list of reasons as to why Toronto condo prices have risen so substantially over the past decade.

The fact that condo prices are increasing shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s been living in the GTA. Our housing market has been red hot, and condos have become the go-to option for buyers who can no longer afford detached homes and who want to live in bustling downtown locales. Condos have also been popular with investors who buy units and rent them out, generating decent returns.

Andrew LaFleur, a well-known and respected realtor in the pre-construction industry, outlined 15 factors that have contributed to the rising GTA condo prices; I’m going to focus on a few of the key ones.

LACK OF LOW-DENSITY LAND

The scarcity of land for the development of detached homes has had the most significant impact on Toronto real estate. The province’s pro-intensification growth policy has triggered a huge shift in the market, forcing developers to build up, not out. Amid ever-shrinking supplies of lowrise homes, prices for that product have gone through the roof. This has pushed purchasers into condos. And while condos are cheaper than lowrise homes, the ever-rising popularity of this product type has meant a steady uptick in prices.

INCREASED IMMIGRATION

Toronto is a popular destination for newcomers from across Canada and around the world, with most newcomers choosing to locate in the city centres. Despite all the cranes you see on the skyline for condo projects, we are actually not building enough new units to accommodate this influx. And supply and demand dynamics mean condo prices have been steadily climbing amid this strong desire among newcomers to live in centrally located condos.

LOW INTEREST RATES

The GTA condo market has benefited from historically low interest rates over the past decade, as buyers have been able to borrow money cheaply to purchase condos. But the surge in demand for condos, amid a lack of supply to meet that demand, has meant sizeable increases in condo prices. And the uptick in interest rates of late has driven the cost to purchase a condo even higher.

DOWNTOWN GENTRIFICATION

Condo buyers want to be located in proximity to amenities like transit and walkable neighbourhoods, as well as shops, restaurants and entertainment. But while there used to be pockets of cities where condos were priced lower because those areas were considered frontiers for pioneering purchasers, spots like these are fewer and farther between now. Growing urban gentrification means there are no longer discounts to buy in locations boasting potential. Condo buyers must pay big bucks to live in the centre of the action.

TALLER CONDO TOWERS

It used to be that a 50- or 60-storey condo building was exceptional; now we’re seeing towers shooting up past 70 storeys, and soon higher than 80 and 90 storeys, just like in New York and Hong Kong. These “super-talls” are more expensive to develop, due to increased costs for material and labour, and the sophisticated technology and infrastructure to support these towers. Those increased costs are passed on to condo buyers, pushing up average prices. As Toronto gets more super tall towers, expect higher premiums. It’s the cost we pay to live in a world-class city.

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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Don’t Doubt The Market

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Don’t Doubt The Market

There is no shortage of demand at the launches of new projects

The GTA housing market is as robust as ever and things have been humming along quite nicely for many years now.

And yet there will always be those who believe we are doomed, that the good times cannot continue for the GTA’s hot housing market — that it’s no doubt headed for an inevitable crash.

Well, that’s just not the sentiment we’re seeing at In2ition Realty as we’ve launched a series of successful projects across the region in recent weeks.

There was certainly no shortage of demand at the launch this summer of the first tower at Universal City, a Chestnut Hill Developments master-planned community in Pickering. The project enjoys lake views and is located just minutes from the GO Transit station. It sold out in record time and a second tower of 324 units just launched last month. The interest for tower two was equally as strong.

In Port Credit, on the other side of the GTA, it was the same story with the recent launch of Tanu Condos, a 204-unit tower and townhouse project by Edenshaw Developments. We had a lineup on the first day of launch!

Truth be told, Toronto condo builders can’t launch developments quickly enough to satisfy the insatiable demand.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the GTA housing market in 2018, mind you. The introduction of a new stress test on mortgage applicants certainly had an impact on home sales, sidelining some buyers.

And the GTA housing market faces considerable ongoing challenges, including trade labour shortages, development approval process and timing, project cost escalation, ability to secure financing, profit margins, land availability and cost … there are tons of hurdles for the building industry to contend with.

Although sales figures are down 40 per cent from last year, a portion is from lack of supply. In 2017 we saw 128 launches in highrise condos versus 56 in 2018.

The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) reported a 6 per cent uptick in regional home sales in October 2018, compared to the same month a year earlier. And the average sale price of a detached home in the GTA last month was up 3.5 per cent on a year-overyear basis, to $807,340. The average sale price for a condo in Toronto was $603,153, compared to $461,013 in the 905.

Renovation spending is also at an all-time high: $12.3 billion was spent on home alterations and improvements in Ontario in the first half of 2018, according to Altus Group.

Homebuying intentions are up, as well, despite affordability and qualifying challenges. An Altus Group survey of current homeowners and current renters showed that most GTA households are saying yes, they plan to buy a home in the next year or so.

The evidence doesn’t lie. Households and investors alike see the GTA housing market as a quality long-term investment. And why shouldn’t they? A thriving and diverse regional economy and a steady stream of 100,000-plus new arrivals in the GTA each year — more migration than any other city in Canada — will keep this market strong for years to come.

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

In2ition.ca

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Easy Living

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Easy Living

Smart home technology and tech-driven features simplify how we interact with our homes

A growing number of new condos are equipped with smart home features that promise to make day-today living more convenient and easier than ever before.

State-of-the-art automated home technology is simplifying the way we enter our homes, operate appliances and lights, manage temperature settings and security and receive delivered packages.

Smart buildings are operated through a central network, integrating multiple systems to enable shared services and the individual features within each suite.

This technology means residents can count on having voice and high-speed data connectivity throughout the condo building, which is essential as more people cut the cord on landlines and cable, and therefore require robust wifi. This is of particular importance to those who work from home, enabling them to work in various areas of a condo building.

Here’s a look at some ways technology is revolutionizing the way we live in condos:

Remote control: Home automation technology gives residents the ability to adjust the temperature and lighting of their units, set the security alarm and receive notifications through an in-suite wall pad, or remotely via a smartphone app. The wall pad lets homeowners see and speak with guests before allowing entry, ensuring the utmost security for the building. Using in-suite cameras, condo owners can keep an eye on their home, making sure their belongings are safe while they’re away.

Keyless entry: Digital door locks require a personalized access code for entry, and additional codes can be programmed for family members, friends, or service providers like a dogwalker or repair person. A personalized smartphone app unlocks common area doors as a resident approaches, and licence plate recognition provides automated entry to the parking garage for residents and registered guests — no fob or door opener is required.

Advanced appliances: Appliances like your dishwasher and washer-dryer can be wifi-enabled, and then controlled (and monitored) from afar through a smartphone. In the future ovens will be wifi-powered so a resident can warm up the appliance for dinner before getting home. Home automation technology can also be used to water your plants via a smartphone, reminding you when to water and analyzing your watering history to create a schedule.

Package drops: With the rising popularity of e-commerce, condo residents need a convenient solution for having their packages received when they’re not home. Technology is helping here, too. Condos are being equipped with automated smart locker systems. When a package arrives, residents are sent a digital message and the package is held until it’s convenient for them to pick it up.

Home electronics: You can use a smartphone app to turn electronic devices on and off. This home automation technology can also tell you how much power or energy you use on your electronics, giving you valuable insight into which electronics and appliances are costing you the most each month.

Fire and carbon monoxide monitoring: These are two of the biggest safety hazards in a home, and automation technology gives homeowners the ability to monitor these from anywhere with an app. Alerts instantly notify you if the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm goes off and the app provides real-time updates about smoke and carbon monoxide levels. It can also notify you when the batteries are low in your alarms.

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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Home Realty: Toronto Housing Market Can’t Be Stopped

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Home Realty: Toronto Housing Market Can’t Be Stopped

Strong fundamentals mean it’s headed upwards

The construction consulting firm Rider Levett Bucknall recently released its RLB Crane Index for the third quarter of 2018, which is a report on the number of construction cranes in major American and Canadian cities during the most recent quarter.

Guess which city topped the list? For the third time in a row, it was Toronto, which nabbed the No. 1 spot with 97 cranes (that’s up from 88 in January, and 72 a year ago). Interestingly, 85 of those cranes are being used on residential projects. In case you’re wondering, Seattle was a distant second on the list, with 65 cranes, followed by Chicago (40) and Los Angeles (36).

All those construction cranes in Toronto can only mean one thing: the city’s condo market is thriving. And with strong fundamentals underpinning its growth, the market is headed nowhere but up, despite what naysayers may say.

The market is being driven by ongoing migration to the GTA, which sees 100,000 new arrivals each year on average. All those people will need to live somewhere.

The Toronto market is also being fuelled by low mortgage interest rates; yes, they’ve been hiked in recent months, but they’re still quite low compared to historic rates (recall mortgage rates topped out at a whopping 18.45 per cent in the early 1980s).

Then there’s the fact that the lowrise housing market continues to face serious supply challenges, with far more people looking for detached homes that simply aren’t available, or are far too expensive for the average buyer to afford.

This has shifted momentum to the condominium market, which had its best year in 2017, with more than 36,000 new condo sales, according to the Altus Group. Hence the reason why we’re seeing so many construction cranes dotting the skyline.

The Toronto condo market’s momentum is being propelled by investors looking to snap up units to rent out to desperate apartment hunters in a city where vacancy hovers around 1 per cent, and by first-time buyers, who have all but given up on the dream of owning a single-family home. Plus many boomers are now moving out of larger homes and want to live in condos for their convenience and central locations.

Yet affordability continues to be significant problem with pent-up demand for lowrise homes, which, owing to a chronic shortage of developable residential land, can’t be built in large enough quantity to supply the market.

Toronto’s housing market is perennially one of the world’s top performers, and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Some observers persist on maintaining that we’re due for a severe correction, that the market can’t possibly remain this strong for this long — surely the boom will soon turn into a bust, they say.

But critics have been trying to count out the GTA housing market for years, and yet Toronto continues to defy the naysayers, its condo sector especially.

All those construction cranes dotting the sky are testament to the vigour of Toronto’s housing market, which actually can’t produce units quickly enough to meet demand. This is a city that is attracting people from around world in droves, whether it be for job opportunities or simply to live in a place that is peaceful, safe and culturally diverse.

Doomsayers might be disappointed, but the GTA’s red-hot real estate market refuses to cool off.

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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Home Realty: Flexible Building Equals Affordability

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Home Realty: Flexible Building Equals Affordability

Four-storey infill projects have distinct cost advantages

Municipalities across the GTA are looking to add density along their city streets, particularly urban corridors that are serviced by transit.

While midrise condo buildings — those that range between five and 11 storeys — are well-suited to achieving this objective, the scale of midrise projects can present certain challenges for developers that make it difficult to deliver affordable units to home purchasers.

For example, the development of a midrise condo has many of the same input costs as that of a highrise building (construction labour and skilled trades, land assembly, rezoning processes and underground parking, to name a few), but a midrise project doesn’t enjoy the same economies of scale. That is, there aren’t as many condo units over which to spread those same costs, so the midrise suites end up being more expensive than those sold in a highrise tower.

But there’s a new type of infill building that’s been gaining traction in the market that offers a happy medium. Known as a high lowrise building, it is typically a four-storey mixed-use structure built over one or two lots, replacing smaller one- or two-storey buildings, and often slotted in beside or behind existing buildings.

High lowrise projects deliver the same benefits as midrise buildings — adding density to transit-oriented areas and blending well within existing neighbourhoods — but can usually be constructed at a lower cost than a midrise project. And the reasonably priced units that can result from this makes the development accessible to a broader market of buyers.

As most of the GTA’s best developable lots get snapped up for residential and commercial projects, the opportunities that remain tend to be on awkward-shaped sites that have discouraged redevelopment in the past.

High lowrise buildings are flexible, however, and can be wedged into narrow or shallow lots with greater ease. Plus these previously unattractive sites can be bought at a discount (albeit slight), and ideally those savings are transferred down to buyers.

Other potential savings with high lowrise buildings include having no elevator. At four-storeys, these can be constructed as walk-up buildings. And the structure is typically built using wood-frame construction, versus concrete, which is more expensive and skilled-labour intensive. Best of all, there is no re-zoning required for high lowrise buildings, so they can be redeveloped under the existing zoning designation. This saves money on administrative processes and fees. It also means the buildings can get built more quickly. All of this translates into lower costs for all concerned, particularly the purchasers of the suites.

What’s more, high lowrise buildings mix retail, employment and residential uses, with commercial and retail space on the ground floor, offices on the second floor and condos or apartments above. This mix ensures vibrancy and street activity around the building most of the day, making for a better and safer neighbourhood. An added bonus is that high lowrise buildings often tend to have the same smaller-sized retail footprint as the buildings they’re replacing, so they remain well-suited to housing independent businesses.

By delivering cost savings while ensuring the preservation of neighbourhood character, high lowrise buildings are poised to be the future of our intensifying cities.

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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Home Realty: Don’t Believe Everything You Read

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Home Realty: Don’t Believe Everything You Read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But again, context is important here.

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

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

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

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

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

In2ition.ca

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