Tag Archives: Greater Toronto Area

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Why are condos selling like hotcakes in Toronto and the GTA?

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Why are condos selling like hotcakes in Toronto and the GTA?

To say that condominiums have become the new home of choice for most buyers in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area is an understatement. Even in the face of rising costs, the new condo market is continually robust.

The first reason is, of course, price. The cost of single-family homes has skyrocketed to the point that first-time buyers, in particular, are just not able to afford them. Even with prices of condos rising, they are still typically more financially attainable. People are also coming up with creative ways to afford condos, such as co-purchasing. Parents of college and university age children also often find buying a condo for their kids to live in while attending post-secondary school is more economical than paying for them to stay in a dorm. At the end, these parents have earned equity as well. Just look at how well condo owners who purchased a few years ago are doing. Savvy investors will also tell you that a condominium suite is a great addition to a financial portfolio. The nice thing is that exterior maintenance and amenity repair and upkeep are handled for them.

Lifestyle also has a lot to do with the trend toward condominiums. People of all ages today are just plain busy. Their lifestyles are hectic, so eliminating exterior maintenance from their lives frees up time for family, friends and leisure activities. And in a condo, they have wonderful amenities just an elevator ride away. Today’s beautiful common areas range from chic party rooms to equipped fitness centres, technologically advanced theatres, glorious swimming pools, spectacular barbecue terraces, children’s play centres and more!

Here is another reason – for most people, condominium living is fun. With people passing each other in hallways and meeting in elevators and common areas, they get to know their neighbours. There are so many options for relaxing, exercising and interacting in areas such as games rooms, that the building is truly a vertical community. In fact, condo purchasers have told me they rarely knew their neighbours in their single-family home communities, and that they find it easier to make friends in their building.

The icing on the condominium ownership cake is location. Nowadays, buildings are situated close to public transit and local amenities. In fact, many condo owners do not even need to own a vehicle, which frees up thousands of dollars to put toward their other expenses. There is a certain freedom that comes with being able to walk or hop on a bus or subway to go to work or run errands. Toronto and the GTA locations are all home to superb shopping, cultural venues, schools, parks, recreation centres… you get the picture.

If you are looking for a new home, and even if you can afford a single-family residence, consider a condo for any or all of the above reasons. Around the world, apartments and condominiums are the norm for everyone from singles to young couples, emptynesters and even families. Toronto and the GTA are catching up. Viva the condo!

Barbara Lawlor is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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The four seasons of condo living

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The four seasons of condo living

How does the song go? “Summertime, and the living is easy” – in a condo, that is! When exterior chores such as lawn mowing and weeding are left to the professionals, suite owners have more time to spend with family and friends. They also have the opportunity to enjoy a lifestyle of ease, convenience and activity year round.

Whether you live in the city or the Greater Toronto Area, if you are in a condominium, your summer includes basking in the fresh air on your balcony, rooftop garden or in the courtyard your building might feature. Some condos offer an outdoor pool with loungers for soaking up glorious sunshine. Landscaping is in full bloom, and the views of your building’s surroundings are incredible. Entertaining on the rooftop brings a whole new level of elegance and fun to any gathering. Those who indulge in container gardening can walk out to the balcony and harvest fresh herbs for dinner. Of course, summer is a time of festivals in most every section of the city and in the suburbs. The possibilities are endless and exciting, and when you live in a condo, you are likely within a quick stroll, bike ride or public transit ride away.

Come fall when the air turns crisper, urban views transform to autumn colours, and well-placed landscaping around condominiums morph to take on the new season. We always still have some beautiful weather in the fall, so condo residents will make the most of outdoor barbecue and dining while they can. Sitting on the balcony watching the stars and city lights may require a light jacket, but it is well worth the effort. Of course, as thoughts turn to interior activities, condo residents are fortunate to have wonderful amenities under their roof. School gets underway again, and families appreciate the time condo living frees up as their hectic lifestyles resume.

Winter in a condo is akin to living in a resort, with opportunities for swimming, playing pool, watching the big game in the theatre, hosting a party in the chic multi-purpose room, working out in the exercise facilities, and/or reading the latest bestseller in the cosy library. Today’s condo developers spend time and effort working with landscape architects to ensure that plant material is attractive all year long. Some ornamental grasses and other choices remain attractive during the winter. And for those suite owners who opt to go down south to escape some of the wintry weather, it’s simply a matter of locking their suite doors and leaving worry free, as snow clearing and maintenance of common areas are handled for them.

As spring approaches, there is the refreshing metamorphosis from snow to colour as the world wakes up to longer days and warmer temperatures. Green thumbs ready their balcony containers, and plants go in with the promise of another lush summer. The cycle continues, as condo residents revel in their day-to-day lifestyles. A condo is truly a home for all seasons.

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Inc., winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an indemand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Condos continue to provide affordable option for new-home buyers

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Condos continue to provide affordable option for new-home buyers

Greater Toronto Area realtors reported 4,731 condominium apartment sales through TREB’s MLS System in the first quarter of 2019. This means results were down by 6.8 per cent compared to Q1 of 2018.

As for new condominium apartment, listings were up by 2.4 per cent compared to Q1 2018, with 8,222 listings added in 2019 versus 8,029 listings added in the first three months of 2018.

I’d like to say that while we experienced a slightly better-supplied condo market in the first quarter of 2019, the market segment remained tight enough to retain the highest year-over-year rate of price growth compared to other major home types. Condos continue to provide prospective buyers with a relatively affordable housing option in the GTA, especially given the impact of the OSFI-mandated mortgage stress test.

The average price of a condominium apartment increased by 4.5 per cent from $533,520 in Q1 2018 to $557,377 in Q1 2019. Year-over-year price growth in the city of Toronto, which accounted for 69 per cent of transactions, was slightly higher at 5.4 per cent, resulting in an average price of $603,243.

The completion of new condominium apartment projects can certainly influence both the ownership and rental segments when it comes to the condo market. According to CMHC, condo apartment completions were up substantially year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2018, which could account for an uptick in condo ownership and rental listings in Q1 2019. Conversely, condo apartment completions were down year-over-year in Q1 2019, which could arguably impact listings in the opposite manner over the next three months.

The condominium apartment rental market remained very tight through the first three months of 2019. Average one- and two-bedroom rents were up well above the rate of inflation on a year-over-year basis in the first quarter. However, the condo rental market also benefited from an increase in the number of units listed, resulting in more choice for prospective renters. However, we would need to see a number of quarters with listings growth outstripping rental transaction growth in order for the market to become more balanced.

As a consumer, it’s easy to stay up to date about the GTA real estate market by following us on social, or if you want to search GTA Listings, updated in real time, visit trebhome.com.

Garry Bhaura is president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 48,000 professional realtor members in the Greater Toronto Area. You can contact him At Trebpres@trebnet.com. For updates on the real estate market, visit Trebhome.com. If commercial property is what interests you, contact a TREB realtor by visiting trebcommercial.com.

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Providing homes for hardworking individuals

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Providing homes for hardworking individuals

In hindsight, the signs were there all along: A rapid escalation of land values, the slowing of new development across the Greater Toronto Area, and a rise in community resistance against new development in existing neighbourhoods. This is the legacy of the previous provincial government’s Growth Plan and housing policies in the GTA. Our current challenges around housing supply and affordability are the result.

The new provincial government is looking to make much-needed changes, even as critics raise predictable objections. Never mind that these same critics never supported any development plan nor are likely do to so, and never mind the disheartening prospects confronting those looking for a new home or apartment in the GTA. Nor does it matter to these pundits that the region is growing annually by 115,000 people, all requiring housing, places to work, schools, and commuting infrastructure.

The fact is, despite the critics’ objections, the changes proposed by the government are quite measured and focus on two areas. The first is a housing supply action plan that outlines how we get more homes for rent and purchase built faster. The government is looking at proposals to remove barriers and speed up development, as it currently takes more than 11 years to complete an average lowrise development and 10 years to complete an average high rise development in the GTA.

The government is also looking for proposals on ways to encourage “missing middle housing” – the townhomes and low and midrise apartments that provide gentle density in existing neighbourhoods and can serve as starter homes at a lower price point. Finally, the government is looking for proposals to lower the cost of development by addressing the cost of land and the charges added to new developments. This in turn will positively impact the affordability of new homes.

The second area the government is focusing on is adjusting the Growth Plan, the policy that guides where and how development occurs across the GTA and the Greater Golden Horseshoe. One matter under consideration is adjusting density targets — the number of people and jobs required per hectare — a direct determinant of built form and housing mix. The current government has rightly pointed out that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, and that treating development in communities such as Brantford, Hamilton and Waterloo in a manner similar to Toronto makes no sense. Other proposed changes include giving municipalities some flexibility to develop housing on lands that have previously been designated as employment areas and on small pieces of land that are currently outside their settlement area boundaries, and continuing to encourage density around major transit station areas. If adopted, these changes will give more flexibility to municipalities and will encourage the right types of homes to be built and the right density based on the infrastructure available.

These proposed changes are all about one thing: Providing homes for hardworking individuals and families across a growing region. Our current generational housing challenge has been 14 years in the making, and through these actions the provincial government is making good on its promise of working to increase housing supply in our region while continuing to protect the environment.

DAVE WILKES is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). bild.ca

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Start the new year with a new condo!

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Start the new year with a new condo!

Affinity and Odyssey Condos
Affinity and Odyssey Condos, Rosehaven Homes.

Why start the new year with a new condo?

  1. Condominiums across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area have proven to be excellent additions to people’s lifestyle and financial portfolios. According to Urbanation, new condo prices hit an all-time high in the third quarter of 2018, while sales volume hit the third-highest Q3 total in the past 10 years. Think of the return on investment condominium owners who bought years ago have enjoyed. Get into the condo market now, while prices are still on the rise.
  2. You will find superb condominiums in remarkable locations close to amenities, public transit and parks. Some offer direct access to transit, which eliminates the need to own a vehicle. First-time buyers, in particular, find this tremendously helpful in affording an urban condo. Buyers of all ages appreciate the convenience of owning within walking and biking distance to run errands, and for some people, to their workplace.
  3. Today’s condominium architecture is stunning, whether the building is a sleek, modern point tower, an intimate boutique midrise, or anything in between. Traditional, transitional, contemporary… when you shop for a condo, you will find a variety of exteriors available to please a variety of sensibilities. Your condo should feel like “home” from first glance.
  4. Lifestyle in a condo is one of luxury, whether you move into a studio or compact one-bedroom suite or a sprawling penthouse. Beautiful building amenities span the gamut from party rooms to boardrooms, fitness centres to yoga studios, ground-level courtyards to rooftop oases with pools, barbecues, dining areas and/or lounges.
  5. The lifestyle is also one of ease as well, as residents’ maintenance fees cover the exterior upkeep such as landscaping and snow removal, as well as the cleaning and repair of all common areas in the building. Imagine the time that frees up to spend more time with family, traveling or enjoying hobbies.
  6. Suite interiors are masterpieces of design, with functional layouts that are flexible as well. With open-concept main living spaces, residents can delineate “rooms” to their preference using furniture groupings and area rugs. Gorgeous linear kitchens become part of the main living area and free up space. Dens can double as guest rooms, nurseries, home offices and anything else your imagination can conjure up.
  7. Today’s features and finishes rival those of condominiums around the world. In fact, our condominium purchasers here have much more choice than they do in the U.S. Even buyers who choose to appoint their suites with standards appreciate their beauty and quality.
  8. In Toronto and the GTA, we are fortunate to have some of the finest builders and developers in Ontario offering condominium communities. They enlist award-winning design firms to help bring their vision to reality.
  9. New condominiums in Ontario are still protected by Tarion Warranty Corp. Last year, the Minister of Government and Consumer Services announced proposed changes to enhance consumer protection, and Tarion is committed to supporting the province in this transition.

Those are just some of the reasons to start 2019 with a brand new condominium. Happy New Year!

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Incorporated, winner of the pinnacle 2017 Riley Brethour Award from BILD, and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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Condo Market: Why Go Condo?

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Condo Market: Why Go Condo?

Let me count the ways. Aside from the fact that condominiums in the Greater Toronto Area are far more affordable than low-rise homes, the reasons why people choose this type of real estate are many and varied. Location tops the list, with condos being developed across the City of Toronto and the GTA, all situated close to transportation nodes and amenities. The lifestyle promotes walking and bicycling rather than using a vehicle to run errands and access entertainment, shopping and the like. Most are also minutes to major highways for trips farther away.

And how about outward appearances? Whatever your preferred design style, you are sure to find condominiums that satisfy your taste architecturally. We have some of the world’s finest architects based right here, and they are brilliant when it comes to designing striking buildings that enhance their surroundings. Interior design has evolved over the years as well, to maximize space usage and incorporate features and finishes that rival the upgrades lists of yesteryear. Open-concept spaces, floor-t o-ceiling windows, linear kitchens … the highlights of these layouts speak directly to the way today’s savvy buyers want to live.

The Cardiff on Eglinton by Sierra Building Group.

And let’s talk building amenities, which are light years ahead of the old swimming-pool-in-the-dingy basement type of nicety. Today’s amenities are bright, beautiful and inviting, from exercise facilities to engaging theatres, gorgeous party rooms, stunning rooftop gardens, kids play areas, and even retail in some condo podiums. How convenient can you get?

Another great reason to choose a condominium is carefree living. With maintenance, repairs and upkeep facilitated by the condo board of directors, residents can lock the door and leave without worrying about any of that. People who love to travel also love that peace of mind. And speaking of peace of mind, new condominiums are constructed with the latest technologies and are built to Ontario Building Code standards. This document is updated regularly to ensure homeowners enjoy the best possible scenario in regard to quality and privacy. Add to that the effort developers are putting into lush landscaping, and the results are lushly luxurious. In addition, the new designs, materials, construction techniques and hardy landscaping translate to buildings aging more beautifully than ever before.

Condominium suite owners and their families also benefit from the work of the board of directors, a body of like-minded residents who set guidelines that protect your safety, privacy and investment. Restrictions on allowable pet sizes, reminders of common courtesy when in the common areas, limits on what residents can post on their suite doors and/or balconies … these stipulations are for the good of everyone involved. Of course, with most condos hiring a concierge, and with all of the security features built in, safety is a priority for everyone from single women to couples and families.

Whether you purchase a condo suite as an investor or enduser, you will likely appreciate a substantial return-on-investment in the long run. If you plan to live in your suite, your investment in your lifestyle is priceless. The moral of the story is GO CONDO – NOW!

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Incorporated and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at blog.bakerrealestate.com

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