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Johnathan Schickedanz, General Manager, FarSight Homes

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Johnathan Schickedanz, General Manager, FarSight Homes

In homebuilding, foundations are obviously critical, for if not for solid grounding, homes simply can’t stand the test of time. The same can be said for homebuilders, the very companies that construct the quality homes and condos GTA residents demand.

At FarSight Homes, built by three generations of the Schickedanz family, foundation is everything. We spoke with General Manager Johnathan Schickedanz, incoming president of the Durham Region Home Builders’ Association, for his thoughts on all this and more.

HOMES Magazine: How’s 2019 shaping up for FarSight Homes, and how does 2020 look?

Johnathan Schickedanz: It has been a slow start for FarSight in 2019 on the sales front, but we are not alone. As the market is finding its resting spot from the recent rise, fall and pause in home pricing, consumers are sitting on the sidelines to see where the floor is.

It looks like change is in the air, though. Over the past few months, traffic has picked up at our Alliston sales office, where we are marketing our newly released Beeton Creek at West Country project. Consumer confidence seems to be returning to the north GTA market, and sales numbers are on the rise. FarSight is optimistically looking forward to 2020 as an all-round better year, as we continue to sell and build in Beeton. Also, the hope is that we will be bringing our new Alliston site, an infill site located in the heart of Alliston, to market. It’s a condo project that will offer a more price effective option to the local market.

HM: FarSight Homes has some great communities in areas outside the GTA core, such as Beeton, Alliston, Bowmanville and Pickering. Why these locations?

JS: FarSight is a family owned and operated business that has benefitted from generations of knowledge and expertise on knowing how to select developments that will not only offer value to our customers, but be a great investment for our purchasers.

HM: Where do you see the next opportunities for lowrise homebuyers?

JS: The future is looking good for future homebuyers of lowrise product. The provincial government is committed to seeing growth in the housing market to assist with the ever-increasing demand. It has also placed an emphasis on the industry to look into options on how we can supply more varying housing types and styles. So, future projects will likely be comprised of a greater mix of housing styles and price points to meet the needs of the different byers.

The other interesting policy piece is the ability and support the province is offering for the development of secondary suites. This will bring the opportunity for homebuyers to gain revenue off a portion of their home they wouldn’t otherwise, providing multi-generational housing where families can live together.

HM: You were just honoured by the Durham Region Home Builders’ Association (DRHBA) at the President’s Ball. What does this honour mean to you?

JS: It’s a truly humbling moment to be honored as the 68th president of the DRHBA. This association is rich in history and many presidents who have preceded me are people I look up to in the industry. I look forward to the year ahead and can honestly say that I have little to be worried about. This is due to the support I have from both the board of directors and DRHBA staff. With this much expertise in one place, only great things will be accomplished. Also, I am thankful to be able to give back to an industry that has provided so much for me and my family. I am a third generation builderdeveloper, and I and can say there is no other business that I could imagine being involved in.

Photo: Sabrina Byrnes

HM: In your view, what qualities and characteristics did DRHBA honour you for?

JS: Hard working, and a commitment to the association and industry.

HM: What have you learned from growing up in a family of developers that led you to where you are today?

JS: The market is cyclical and it will go through ups and downs, so be prepared.

The best way to learn about the business is a hands-on approach from the bottom up. I wasn’t handed an office position right out of school, but was challenged to learn as many trades and skills as possible. My family believes that the best leaders lead by example.

HM: What’s next for FarSight Homes?

JS: FarSight has just completed its first “Savings by Design” workshop, sponsored by Enbridge Gas Distribution. In this program, the coordinator brings together the trades, suppliers and the building scientists in one room where we are able to discuss opportunities for FarSight to build better-than-code homes. Through this program, I was made aware of the new developments in insulating products and air barrier systems that will allow us to build next generation homes. Also, this program has provided us the road map on the required steps to take our homes from where they are and to get them to net zero ready. Over the next year, we are looking to implement numerous new practices into our building program and are committed to building better-than-code homes for our purchasers.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE…

HM: Your uncle Bob is the new president of the OHBA. How exciting is that for the family?

JS: It has been an exciting time for our family! Today, we have three generations involved in the development and building business in Toronto. And now that Bob has been elected as the latest OHBA president, it has allowed our family to start to give back to an industry that has given so much to us.

In 1951, my grandfather and his cousins opened Schickedanz Brothers Ltd., with the goal of developing exceptional communities and quality homes. And now three generations later, we are still following the same dreams. Having Bob now meeting with industry leaders around the province gives testament to the dedication our family has to this industry and the betterment of communities and homes for the future generations.

HM: What are you doing when you’re not at the office or on a development site?

JS: I’m an outdoors and cottage kind of person and look forward to time spent with my wife, two daughters and dog.

I have my pilots licence and enjoy time in the air.

I also usually have a number of projects on the go that involve metal fabrication and welding, fibreglass and paint work or mechanical repair and/or restoration.

I’m a true do-it-yourselfer. Never afraid to get my hands dirty and take on a project.

I enjoy travelling to different places to see different types of architecture – preferably warmer places!

Portfolio

  • Beeton Creek at West Country, Beeton, Now open
  • Greenfields, Alliston, Now open
  • Timber Trails, Bowmanville, Coming soon
  • Forest Creek, Pickering, Coming soon

farsight.ca

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GTA buyers head west ReMax

GTA homebuyers continue to look west in search of affordability

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GTA homebuyers continue to look west in search of affordability

GTA buyers head west ReMax

Homebuying patterns in the GTA have increasingly shifted west over the last five years, particularly to Halton Region and west Toronto, according to a new report from ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

“Growing demand for affordable housing buoyed new construction and contributed to rising market share in Halton Region (from 2013 to 2018),” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Product was coming on-stream at a time when the GTA reported its lowest inventory in years and skyrocketing housing values were raising red flags. Freehold properties in the suburbs farther afield spoke to affordability.”

In analyzing sales trends in nine Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) districts over the past five years, ReMax notes that Halton Region – comprising Burlington, Oakville, Halton Hills and Milton – captured 10.1 per cent of total market share in 2018, leading with a 2.3-per-cent increase over 2013. Toronto West, meanwhile, climbed almost one per cent to 10.5 per cent. Toronto Central rose close to two per cent to 18.7 per cent of total market share, while Simcoe County jumped 0.6 per cent to 3.1 per cent. The gains came at the expense of perennial favourites such as York Region (down 3.2 per cent to 15.3 per cent); East Toronto (down 1.7 per cent to 9.3 per cent); Peel Region (down 0.5 per cent to 20.6 per cent); and Durham Region (down 0.3 per cent to 11.5 per cent). Dufferin County remained stable over the five-year period.

The quest for single-detached housing at an affordable price point has sent throngs of Toronto buyers into the Hamilton housing market over the past decade, ReMax says. The spillover effect has stimulated homebuying activity in most areas flanked by Toronto’s core and Hamilton. Burlington, in particular, soared between 2013 and 2018, with home sales almost doubling and average price climbing 50 per cent to $769,142.

Window of opportunity

But with such strong growth in Burlington, how long will this market remain an affordable option?

“The communities in the west will still be affordable compared to Toronto proper, but what we are going to see is a continued uptick in demand for more of the outlying communities like Brantford, Waterdown, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and even as far-reaching as London and Niagara,” Alexander told HOMES Publishing. “What will really impact the growth of these markets, outside of availability and affordability, will be the underlying transit systems and investments in local economies, as people still have a need to be connected to the GTA core.”

The upswing in new construction has contributed to the changing landscape. New housing starts in Halton Region averaged 3,100 annually between 2013 and 2016. In Simcoe County, just north of Toronto, new residential builds averaged close to 1,860 annually from 2013 to 2017.  During the same period, almost 39,000 residential units came on-stream in Toronto’s downtown-central waterfront area, while another 56,855 were active (approved with building permits applied for or issued and those under construction). Another 6,000 units came on the market in North York and Yonge-Eglinton.

 

GTA home sales ReMax

 

In Toronto’s west end, affordability has been a strong influence in helping Millennials redefine mature neighbourhoods such as The Junction, South Parkdale, Bloorcourt and Dovercourt Park through gentrification. Average price for the 8,000 plus homes sold in 2018 hovered at $755,658 – although the 10 districts within Toronto West range in price from $557,000 in Downsview-Roding, Black Creek and Humbermede to $1.2 million in Stonegate-Queensway.

“Freehold properties remain the choice of most purchasers in Halton Region and Toronto West,” says Alexander. “The same is true to a lesser extent in Toronto Central, but condominiums continue to gain ground. Just over one in three properties sold in the GTA was a condominium in 2018, and that figure is higher in the core. As prices climb in both the city and suburbs, the shift toward higher-density housing will continue, with fewer single-detached developments coming to pass.”

Toronto Central has seen rapid growth over the past five years, with Millennials fuelling demand for condos and townhomes in developments such as City Place, King West Village and Liberty Village. This cohort has also been instrumental in the gentrification of Toronto Central neighbourhoods such as Oakwood-Vaughan and Dufferin Grove as they snap up smaller freehold properties at more affordable price points, ReMax says.

ALSO READ: 2018 GTA new home sales drop to lowest mark in nearly 20 years

ALSO READ: GTA resale condo listings and sales dip to end 2018, but prices rise

ALSO READ: GTA among the most promising new home outlooks for 2019, Altus Group says

Baby Boomers have also been a major influence in Toronto Central, selling larger homes throughout the GTA and making lateral moves or downsizing to neighbourhoods close to shops, restaurants and amenities. Close to 15,000 properties were sold in 2018, with average price of $932,416, up almost 40 per cent since 2013. Properties within Toronto Central averaged 20 days on market and ranged in price from $709,660 in Bayview Village to $2.5 million in York Mills, Hogg’s Hollow, Bridle Path and Sunnybrook.

With an affordable average price point of $611,628 – and a range of $528,942 to $746,332 – younger buyers, empty nesters and retirees have flocked to Simcoe County in recent years. New construction in Adjala-Tosorontio, Bradford West, Essa, Innisfil and New Tecumseth has allowed the area to capture a greater percentage of the overall market between 2013 to 2018.

“As the Millennials move into their homebuying years, they will displace Baby Boomers as the dominant force in the GTA’s real estate market,” says Alexander. “Their impact on housing will have a serious ripple effect on infrastructure in the coming years, placing pressure on transit systems, roadways, local economies and their abilities to attract investors and new businesses, parks and greenspace development.”

The upswing in demand over the next decade is expected to re-ignite homebuying activity in Toronto East, York, Peel and Durham Regions. These areas still carry significant weight, despite the factors that have impacted softer performance in recent years, such as affordability, lack of available housing and fewer transit options.

GTA west vs east

As the west end of the GTA continues to see growth and price appreciation, a leveling effect will likely come into play (with the east region),” Alexander told HOMES. “Toronto’s GDP and the thriving economy will continue to attract people, so while affordability may continue to decrease, desire is unlikely to waver. That said, the current and next generation of homebuyers are taking this factor into account when they are making their decision to purchase – sacrificing space for lifestyle and convenience.  As they look to the greater GTA, if affordability becomes more leveled out between the west and the east, it’s likely that we will see more dispersion across the entire region as people’s desire to be connected to the GTA core remains strong.

GTA east areas such as Durham region currently don’t have the same appeal as the west. “The West end of the GTA has a greater diversity of communities that are attracting a diverse range of buyers.  In the past 10 years, there has been significant focus on the growth and development of these regions, whereas historically, Durham has not traditionally been viewed in this same regard. With the boom in areas towards the east, like Prince Edward County, and the affordability leveling out, we will likely see the tide begin to turn.”

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Delays in approval process contributing to housing affordability issue in GTA

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7 factors that will affect GTA housing in 2019 – and 5 reasons to consider buying NOW

 

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Whitby set to increase charges for new homebuyers

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Whitby set to increase charges for new homebuyers

Who pays residential development charges? New homebuyers.

This may seem self-evident but it is surprising how many people — from politicians to social activists and many others — do not understand that this is a cost that is paid for by the people who buy new homes.

Durham Region has a two-tiered system, which means both the region and the municipality charge development fees. The development charges account for close to $40,000 in cost for a single or semi-detached home. And now, consultants for the Town of Whitby are proposing an 80 per cent increase in the municipal fees, which will make the combined fee almost $50,000. The region charges $27,000 and Whitby currently charges $12,708, but a new report suggests it will increase to 22,848.

Everyone seems to be talking about the erosion of housing affordability, yet no one wants to do anything about it. Blame is generally placed on the hard-working risk-takers who buy land, develop it and build houses, but government taxes and fees on residential homes has increased exponentially over the years, with every level of government taking an ever-increasing bite of the housing cookie. From the federal GST to provincial taxes and land transfer fees, to regional and municipal building fees and charges, as well as development charges, it has been conservatively estimated in a 2013 Altus study that government fees and taxes on new homes account for around 25 per cent of the cost of a house.

In understandable numbers, that translates to about $125,000 in government fees on a $500,000 home. Unfortunately the people most threatened by these fees — first-time homebuyers — do not have a strong voice.

Anyone planning to buy a home in Whitby, or residents who hope their kids will one day own a home in Whitby, should be calling their councillors to complain about this 80 per cent proposed increase in development fees.

On the town’s side, we do need some charges to pay for new infrastructure and services for new neighbours, however a sudden 80 per cent increase in charges is not the answer.

As a not-for-profit association that monitors government policies and speaks for affordability and choice in housing, DRHBA will be calling on the Town of Whitby to pay attention to the effects of policies such as this and to find a fairer way of providing the services we need but not by placing such a heavy burden on the backs of people who are struggling to buy a home.

Anita DeVries is the executive officer at the Durham Region Home Builders’ Association.

http://drhba.com/

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