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TCS Marketing Systems

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TCS Marketing Systems

With decades of experience, the people behind this company provide keen insights

In the fast-changing Toronto area real estate market, the team at TCS Marketing Systems always has their fingers on the pulse. The people behind this innovative sales and marketing consulting agency excel at anticipating coming trends, due to their three decades of experience, keen insight and extensive market data.

TCS Marketing Systems has been involved in numerous projects across the GTA and Ontario, including mid- and high-rise condos, townhomes, single-detached homes and master-planned communities. The company has a single guiding principle – integrity – and has set itself apart by being the first consultants in and last out on every project.

Mark Cohen (centre back row) and his TCS Marketing Systems management team.

Wealth of experience

Managing partner of TCSMS is Mark Cohen, a highly respected and well known expert in the industry. His wealth of experience includes key roles with powerhouse developers, including Bramalea Ltd., Menkes Developments, Concord Adex and Tribute Communities. Throughout his career, Cohen has pioneered many of the sales and marketing strategies that are now common in today’s marketplace and is always on the lookout for the next breakthrough.

“When Mark is in the room with the architects, he thinks about what people do after they come home and throw their keys on the table,” says Onkar Dhillon, vice-president of operations and one of The Condo Store’s founding members. “He thinks about how they live. We are designing with consumers in mind. For example, Amazon delivery is the way people get parcels, so we’re adding automated parcel delivery rooms. That’s the kind of thoughtfulness required in design.”

Dhillon has been working with Cohen for 20 years, since they met when Cohen was vice-president of sales and marketing for Concord Adex’s Cityplace, the largest residential highrise development in Toronto history.

Better projects, better designs

Condos used to be subordinate to lowrise homes, Dhillon says, but condos are a lifestyle choice and the challenge is to create better projects and design better spaces to serve consumers.

“Our philosophy is there is a condo for every person, and there’s a purchaser for every condo,” says Glen Buttigieg, vice-president of sales. “We make a case for every condo, whether it’s to take in the morning sun, to see the lake, or the advantage of being near the rooftop terrace. We painstakingly comb over every suite, trying to find the advantage and tailor it for each buyer. Our agents are listening to buyers and determining what suite would serve them best.”

For TCSMS’s developer clients, Cohen and company get in early, sitting in on all of a project’s marketing and design meetings and then create a rationale. They continue working with the same care and commitment until the last unit is sold, understanding the importance of making the projects profitable for their clients.

“What I influence is the design, marketing, sales and customer relationships for different projects,” says Cohen. “Instead of working on 12 projects for one person like I used to, I work on 12 for 12 different builders.”

Bungalow on Mercer Street in downtown Toronto.

TCSMS is equally well-versed in selling and marketing high-, mid-, and lowrise developments. Buyers’ expectations are changing. Due to constraints on land available for building and affordability, people are realizing they don’t have to aspire to 4,500-sq.-ft. houses in rural settings and can live well in smaller homes.

“The market doesn’t want space for space’s sake,” adds Serena Quaglia, vice-president of marketing. “People want common space, a study nook… that’s the challenge for the lowrise market. It’s not going anywhere, but the designs are not what they used to be.”

Quaglia brings more than a decade’s experience in the design, marketing and sales of master-planned communities and believes today’s buyers are more sophisticated and knowledgeable when it comes to evaluating properties. “The most important role we play when working with developers is our ability to accurately represent the needs and desires of each and every buyer. And that starts with being great listeners.”

Altered approach

For example, Bungalow is an ultraluxury condo project by Kalovida Canada Inc. in the heart of the Entertainment and Financial Districts, with just 13 units, just one per floor. Cohen recognized that buyers spending $2.5 million for a suite – hedge fund managers, athletes, entertainment industry types – would likely not be using them as primary residences, but as places to entertain and relax when they were in town. This type of clientele wants a certain type of wine cellar, concierge and modest, rather than overthe- top luxury.

In another example, construction is starting soon at 293 The Kingsway, a luxury condominium by the Benvenuto Group. The Kingsway is a classic Toronto neighbourhood with lush, green streets and good schools, and 293 reflects the prestigious area, with large units, a park-like setting and stylish contemporary design.

And for Wycliffe Homes’ Promenade luxury townhouse development in Thornhill, TCSMS largely focused marketing around the developer, wellknown for its white-glove treatment, first-class finishes, exceptional locations and the opportunity it gives buyers to customize. Staying true to the prestigious Thornhill neighbourhood, Promenade’s townhomes are classy and tasteful, with top-notch features and finishes.

Whether it’s dealing with super luxury projects or condos geared to first-time buyers or investors, TCS Marketing Systems brings the same level of dedication to each one and works until the last unit is sold.

“Real estate is one service that hasn’t been greatly altered by technology,” says Cohen. “Homes are still sold by people, not machines. The quality of renderings is better, the ways to communicate more extensive, but at the end of the day, whether you are selling something to a client or to a customer or pushing a consultant to do something, most of it involves eye-to-eye contact. People move people to move mountains, and that hasn’t changed.”

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In Conversation With… Benjamin Bakst, CEO of Marlin Spring

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In Conversation With… Benjamin Bakst, CEO of Marlin Spring

Creative and innovative housing is the order of the day in the GTA these days, with land availability, housing supply and affordability all an increasing focus for industry and consumers. For developers, this means making the most of prized locations, and bringing forward-thinking and imaginative housing options to market. Marlin Spring, with a portfolio of low- and midrise and mixed-use projects in west end Toronto, Oshawa and other locales, is one such company. CEO and Co-Principal Benjamin Bakst explains.

HOMES Magazine: How are things progressing at your Symphony Towns in Oshawa these days?

Benjamin Bakst: Our team has developed a fantastic relationship with City staff and our neighbours. The plans were created with much of their feedback and we are thankful beneficiaries of that input. What started with the concept of a blank canvas populated with townhomes has now become a plan for a vibrant, unique parkside village. Our sales and marketing teams felt the name Symphony would express more than just a tie-in to Harmony Drive; it would also give the feel of a development that blends well into the neighbourhood while maintaining its individuality.

We’ll be revealing more about the project in the coming weeks with sales starting very soon.

HM: The city received some challenging news last year, with the planned closure of the GM assembly plant. What new opportunities does the city have to grow beyond this long-time focus?

BB: We aim to look forward and assess opportunity, and the City of Oshawa has long been focused on diversifying its economy and providing knowledge-based employment training and options. Manufacturing may have been the centre of all things Oshawa in the past and in the minds of those not living there, but what’s really happening is growth in many sectors, including health, educational services and other emerging areas which now represent more than a quarter of Oshawa’s total employment base – and growing. GM was great, Oshawa is greater.

HM: What are some of the things about Oshawa, and about Symphony specifically, that will contribute to the city’s continued reshaping?

BB: Symphony is taking a piece of Oshawa that is near and dear to a lot of residents’ hearts. It sits on the site of an old school, Dr. F.J. Donevan Collegiate Institute, that was there for many years. We’re building well thought-out prairie-modern style townhomes that complement the existing homes as well as speak to current trends in exterior materials and colours. We’re also creating a big open park which will be gifted to the city for everyone to enjoy. This unique feature will be visible from Taylor Rd. and sure to be enjoyed by our homeowners as well as the broader community.

HM: The Stockyards District Residences in Toronto’s west end is another exciting project you have on the go. How is it progressing?

BB: The Stockyards District Residences is one of my favourite projects at the moment, and our team is working diligently toward the start of construction this summer, as sales have proceeded extremely well. It’s an exciting project for us in a fantastic neighbourhood full of hidden gems. The more I learn about it and get feedback from our clients, the more excited I am to see the finished product. Not long ago, some didn’t understand the vision. No one questions it now.

HM: That area is really on the upswing, with lots of new commercial and residential development connecting with local history. How do you see the neighbourhood progressing or changing in the foreseeable future?

BB: There’s a lot on the horizon in this area. The upcoming closure of the space currently occupied by Maple Leaf Foods and a number of other developments (including another one yet to be announced by Marlin Spring, just east of the Stockyards District Residences) over the next while will mean significant population increase and a continued growth and vibrancy to the existing streetscape and retail along the St. Clair West corridor. Another fascinating phenomenon is the transformation of older buildings in the area. The Symes Event Space and Rainhard are great examples – that building was originally a Toronto waste incinerator – fast forward to today, and it perfectly demonstrates the potential in this city. Both our partners and clients entrust and rely on us to always be looking forward.

HM: How do the Stockyards District Residences reflect the history of the area? Are there any specific design elements, for example, that speak to the Stockyards heritage?

BB: Our joint development and marketing teams, along with the award-winning team at Graziani & Corazza Architects, did an amazing job utilizing the industrial aesthetic of the area as inspiration for the architectural elements of the building. It carries a lot of (expensive) brick and black metal on the exterior, and has very interesting step backs and shape that not only give the building character, but also allowed us to design a lot of unique suites. Many of our owners will have a one-of-a-kind suite, which we are thrilled to be able to offer.

HM: Affordability is a key challenge for housing in the GTA these days. What is Marlin Spring doing to address the issue – in either of these projects or elsewhere?

BB: Our multi-family residential property division is intently focused on this need, and to this end have purchased and currently asset-manage many thousands of apartments across Canada and the US. We see this as one of the greatest challenges facing our city, and have prioritized purchasing units in the GTA, investing time, effort and resources into these buildings to bring them up to 2019 standards and beyond. This generally allows us to maintain lower rental rates than purpose-built rentals. In addition, on our development side, we have multiple projects within which we are building affordable homes. These include our Canvas Condominium project, currently under construction, as well as our Lakeshore project, which is in the development stage.

HM: What’s next for Marlin Spring?

BB: What I am most excited about at the moment, is the upcoming formal launch of our Marlin Spring Foundation. I cannot share details at the moment, but our internal team is aware of our plans and is so supportive and excited!

marlinspring.com

Portfolio

  • Canvas Condominiums Danforth Ave. and Woodbine Ave. Under construction
  • Citron Towns in Richmond Hill Leslie St. and 19th Ave. Registrations only
  • Stockyard District Residences St. Clair Ave. W. and Jane St. Now selling
  • Symphony Parkside Towns in Oshawa Taylor Rd. and Harmony Rd. S. Registrations only
  • The Mack, Parkside Towns Major Mackenzie Dr. W. and Hwy. 400, Vaughan Final release
  • WestBeach Queen St. E. and Coxwell Ave. Under construction

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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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GTA new home market shows encouraging signs in March

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GTA new home market shows encouraging signs in March

CL June 19 News BILD

The GTA new home market continued to show some encouraging signs in March, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

Total new home sales, with 2,314 new homes sold, were up 20 per cent from last year, though still 36 per cent below the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. There were 886 new single-family homes sold in March, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses, up from last March’s low of 295, but still 38 per cent below the 10-year average. This is the fifth month in a row that new single-family home sales have increased year-over-year.Sales of new condominium units in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, with 1,428 units sold, were down 13 per cent from March 2018 and 34 per cent below the 10-year average.

Broader availability

“The desire to own a new single-family home never went away, but many would-be buyers have been taking a wait-and-see approach in the past two years,” says Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “While the affordability of single-family homes in general remains a challenge, the broader range of product at more favourable price points that is starting to emerge has attracted some of these buyers into the market.”

The benchmark prices of both single-family homes and condominium apartments moderated slightly compared to the previous month. The benchmark price of new single-family homes was $1.12 million, down 7.6 per cent over the last 12 months, while the benchmark price of new condominium units was $780,839, up 5.1 per cent over the last 12 months.

Affordability still an issue

“Despite the recent slight moderation in new home prices, affordability is an issue for many people in the GTA, as we have learned from our Building Answers campaign, which encourages residents to ask questions about development,” says David Wilkes, BILD president and CEO. “Affordability will continue to be a challenge until structural remedies are introduced to fix the GTA’s housing supply shortage. It is clear that we all – industry, government and public – need to look for ways to build more housing faster and to mitigate unnecessary delays and costs on new housing.”

Remaining inventory in March included 11,744 condominium units and 5,054 single-family homes. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction and in completed buildings.

 

March new home sales by municipality

Condominium units Single-family homes Total
Region 2019 2018 2017 2019 2018 2017 2019 2018 2017
Durham 35 14 188 173 66 209 208 80 397
Halton 70 64 110 107 59 296 177 123 406
Peel 84 99 197 307 126 366 391 225 563
Toronto 953 1,081 3,628 88 5 93 1,041 1,086 3,721
York 286 382 442 211 39 372 497 421 814
GTA 1,428 1,640 4,565 886 295 1,336 2,314 1,935 5,901

Source: Altus Group

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New single-family home sales in the GTA jump in February

Development in the GTA

 

 

 

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Development in the GTA

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Development in the GTA

Recently I completed 16 months as the President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association of the Greater Toronto Area (BILD). With 1,500 member companies, BILD GTA is amongst the largest local home building associations in Canada, and with the level of residential and commercial construction occurring across the region, the time has flown by. A consistent occurrence during this period, however, has been the number of questions I get from members of the public about development and homebuilding in the region. Residential and commercial construction is highly visible, cranes dot the skyline from Mississauga to Pickering, and so it’s only natural that residents want to know what’s happening in their communities and why change is occurring. They have questions, such as “Is all this development necessary?” (Yes, we have a housing shortage in the GTA), “Who decides what gets built where?,” “Why in my neighbourhood?,” and perennially “Why is new development so dense?”

After all, that is a primary role of an industry association, to act as conduit between media, the public and the industry. Invariably, two things come out of these interactions. The first is that we get a better understanding and appreciation of the perspectives, concerns and questions of the nearly seven million residents of the region. We use this to inform our communications, columns, and interviews, as chances are the perspectives and questions are more broadly shared. In fact, we often reflect these perspectives in our interactions with municipal and provincial governments. The second is, in our responses we are able to provide answers and information. The development and construction process is complex, lengthy and highly regulated, and more often than not these inquiries are informed by perceptions and information people have gathered through the “grapevine.” Following our interactions, BILD GTA frequently receives a follow-up thanking us for the response, indicating we provided information that was not previously known. While the interaction may not change the concerns that gave rise to the inquiry in the first place, it always leads to a more informed discussion and debate.

The reality is that while the pace of development will ebb and flow year to year with economic cycles and other factors, the long-term trajectory will be for more residential and commercial development across the region. With the population of the GTA expected to grow 40 per cent by 2041 or approximately 115,000 new residents every year, providing places for all these new residents to live, work and play will require a concerted and prolonged development effort. This will require unprecedented levels of co-ordination and partnership between all levels of government, the industry and residents, and key to that is informed discussion and debate. The past 16 months have gone by in the blink of an eye, and I look forward to continuing to work with this dynamic industry for many years to come. Please keep asking us your questions and we will continue to answer them to the best of our ability. Together, we can have constructive dialogue that ultimately helps to inform and shape our region as it assumes its rightful place as a world class city.

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

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Yes, you do need a home inspection

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Yes, you do need a home inspection

With the surge in home prices in Ontario over the last few years, buyers have often opted to forego the inspection part of the process in order to make their offer more appealing to the seller. Once all the papers are squared away, though, the home will be yours to take care of – including all the good and bad.

Having an inspection will ensure that there are no unseen damages that will end up costing you in repairs in the future. When buying an older home, it’s easy for a standard renovation to turn into a costly one when you find out what’s behind your walls is no longer up to code. This will also make sure your family is living in a safe home that is up to current standards right when you move in.

An inspection will also include checking the roof and the foundation for any leaks or repairs that need to be made. This includes the attic and any exterior damage that you may not notice for years. Electrical, heating and cooling will be checked for efficiency as well, so you know what you might need to change in order to lower annual costs.

You can then make an informed decision on your purchase, and whether you decide to go with it. This knowledge could then allow you to lower the offer and save money for future renovations, if needed.

Vahid Azari is the founder of All Season Inspection, a full-service property inspection and energy auditing service organization.

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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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New single-family home sales in the GTA jump in February

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New single-family home sales in the GTA jump in February

Single-family homes web

The GTA new home market in February saw the highest number of single-family homes sold since April 2017, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

There were 639 new single-family homes sold in February, including detached, linked and semi-detached houses and townhouses, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. This was up 147 per cent from last February, though still 50 per cent below the 10-year average. Sales of new condominium apartments in low-, medium- and highrise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, with 772 units sold, were down 58 per cent from February 2018 and down 51 per cent from the 10-year average.

“Softer new condominium apartment sales in February can, at least in part, be attributed to the rapid increase in prices in the past two years, which has priced many would-be buyers out of the market,” says Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice-president, Data Solutions. “The good news is that, although still relatively low in historical terms, there is now more inventory available to purchase and this is curbing the upward pressure on prices.”

ALSO READ: Budget 2019 comes up short

Remaining inventory in February included 11,269 condominium units and 5,233 single-family lots. Remaining inventory includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction and in completed buildings.

Benchmark prices of both single-family homes and condominium apartments moderated slightly compared to the previous month. The benchmark price of new single-family homes was $1.12 million, down eight per cent over the last 12 months, while the benchmark price of new condominium apartments was $792,709, up 8.6 per cent over the last 12 months.

“We are hopeful that the measures introduced last week in the federal budget will enable more first-time homebuyers to enter the market and purchase the type of home they want,” says BILD President and CEO David Wilkes. “However, these measures are only the first step, and BILD will continue to advocate for a review of the mortgage stress test so more first-time homebuyers can realize the dream of homeownership.”

Wilkes adds that the GTA is still grappling with challenges around supply. “BILD is continuing to call on the provincial government and municipal governments to take the steps necessary to facilitate additional housing supply to meet the growing need across the GTA.”

February New Home Sales by Municipality

Condominium units Single-family Total
Region 2019 2018 2017 2019 2018 2017 2019 2018 2017
Durham 22 4 113 54 50 302 76 54 415
Halton 39 46 96 269 113 457 308 159 553
Peel 120 104 384 189 34 201 309 138 585
Toronto 533 1,065 1,822 4 6 42 537 1,071 1,864
York 58 641 345 123 56 447 181 697 792
GTA 772 1,860 2,760 639 259 1,449 1,411 2,119 4,209

Source: Altus Group

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

 

 

 

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Breaking down the GTA housing market in 2019

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Breaking down the GTA housing market in 2019

This year has gotten off to a good start with sales, listings and price all up on a year-over-year basis. This is encouraging, especially when the inclement weather experienced in the GTA on the last week of the month is considered.

There were 4,009 home sales in January 2019, up 0.6 per cent and listings were up 10.5 per cent with 9,456 homes listed on TREB’s MLS system in January. While the average selling price was up by 1.7 per cent on a year-over-year basis, after preliminary seasonal adjustment the average selling price edged lower when compared to the previous month.

One trend to keep an eye on as we move through 2019 is stronger price growth for higher-density lowrise (such as condo townhomes, duplexes) and condominium apartment home types.

As the market experiences increasing affordability pressures, it is likely that many of those looking to buy a home will prefer to purchase these often lower-priced home types. Much of the affordability pressure we are seeing in the GTA has been driven by the OSFI mandated two percentage point mortgage stress test, a provision TREB is urging the government to revisit with an eye toward more flexibility.

A BROADER LOOK AT THE GTA HOUSING MARKET THROUGH TREB’S MARKET YEAR IN REVIEW & OUTLOOK REPORT 2019

On Feb. 6, TREB released its Market Year in Review & Outlook Report. While you can download a copy of the report from trebhome.com, I want to highlight some of the exciting contents and ground-breaking research contained in this year’s issue.

The report takes an in-depth look at the market in 2018 and provides a forecast for 2019. The analysis is punctuated by TREB-commissioned Ipsos surveys of existing homeowners and intending buyers, and helps to predict what 2019 will look like in terms of sales and price. It also shines the spotlight on issues ranging from preferred home types to the impact of the new mortgage qualification guidelines on buying intentions. The report also breaks down the rental market, the commercial market, and the new homes and residential land sectors.

This year’s report focused on envisioning housing options and supply for livable communities and features TREB-commissioned research on transit supportive development from the Pembina Institute and a study on missing middle housing from Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Policy and Land Development.

The effects of transit-supportive development are highlighted by two real-life case studies – at Long Branch and Pickering GO Stations – and show that housing built within a 10-minute walk of a transit station, and in areas that feature a balanced mix of housing, jobs, shopping and services, can result in potential housing and transportation savings ranging from 10 to 56 per cent for individuals, families and retirees.

The Ryerson University Centre’s research offers some workable ideas on how to create more missing middle housing, which could fill the gaps in the types of homes needed and positively impact affordability. The study shows that there is plenty of opportunity to build this type of housing and that doing so could result in savings of between 20 to 49 per cent.

Garry Bhaura is president of the Toronto Real Estate Board. 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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Budget 2019 comes up short

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Budget 2019 comes up short

GTA waterfront homes

The federal government released the much-anticipated Budget 2019 this week, with homebuyers, builders and others awaiting measures to address housing issues.

And in short, it comes up, well… a little short.

First-time homebuyer help

Much of the housing focus in Budget 2019 was on addressing the needs of first-timers, namely with a new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive.

  • The Incentive would allow eligible first-time homebuyers who have the minimum down payment for an insured mortgage to apply to finance a portion of their home purchase through a shared equity mortgage with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
  • About 100,000 first-time buyers would benefit from the Incentive over the next three years.
  • Since no ongoing payments would be required with the Incentive, Canadian families would have lower monthly mortgage payments. For example, if a borrower purchases a new $400,000 home with a five-per-cent down payment and a 10-per-cent CMHC shared equity mortgage ($40,000), the borrower’s total mortgage size would be reduced from $380,000 to $340,000, reducing the borrower’s monthly mortgage costs by as much as $228 per month.
  • CMHC to offer qualified first-time homebuyers a 10-per-cent shared equity mortgage for a newly constructed home or a five-per-cent shared equity mortgage for an existing home. This larger shared equity mortgage for newly constructed homes could help encourage the home construction needed to address some of the housing supply shortages in Canada, particularly in the largest cities.
  • The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive would include eligibility criteria to ensure that the program helps those with legitimate needs, while ensuring that participants are able to afford the homes they purchase. The Incentive would be available to first-time buyers with household incomes of less than $120,000 per year.
  • Budget 2019 also proposes to increase the Home Buyers’ Plan withdrawal limit from $25,000 to $35,000, providing first-time buyers with greater access to their Registered Retirement Savings Plan savings to buy a home.

Noticeably absent from the housing measures was any adjustment to the stress test, which a number of experts say is necessary.

Industry reaction

“The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) agrees with (Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s) comments that there aren’t enough homes for people to buy or apartments for people to rent,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO.

“BILD feels the policies presented in (the) budget are a step in the right direction to help first-time homebuyers. We will continue to advocate for a review of the stress test so that first-time homebuyers can realize the dream of homeownership. Supply challenges still exist and are at the centre of the current unbalanced market, and we call for action on these by the provincial and municipal government.”

Supply challenges in the Greater Golden Horseshoe are serious, and Budget 19 fails to address them.

“This was a re-election budget that didn’t move the dial for new-home buyers in the GTA,” Richard Lyall, president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) told HOMES Publishing. “While increasing RRSP borrowing for first-time homebuyers is helpful, creating The First-Time Homebuyer Incentive at a maximum of $500,000 doesn’t help many Torontonians or GTA residents.”

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) had been recommending a shared appreciation mortgage approach for some time, as a tool to help those who can’t get into homeownership but have the means to pay rent.

The modification to the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan will help get Canadians into their first home, but will also act as a burden because the loan has to be repaid within 15 years, including a minimum of 1/15th per year.

“This means that, in the years following their home purchase, a homeowner has the additional financial responsibility of repaying their RRSP,” says James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and president of CanWise Financial.

Important details of the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive program have yet to be released. For example, says Laird, it remains unclear whether the government would take an equity position in homes, or whether the assistance would act as an interest-free loan.

“This is an important distinction because if the government is taking an equity stake in a home, the amount the homeowner would have to pay back would grow as the value of the home increases,” he says.

The very launch of the program is surprising, Laird says, given that the BC Government implemented a similar measure a couple years ago, with unsuccessful results, and it was terminated in 2018. First-time home buyers found it difficult to understand and unappealing to have the government co-own their home.

Let’s do the math

Under existing qualifying criteria, including the stress test, homebuyers can qualify for a house that is 4.5 to 4.7 times their household income.

Under the new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, however, the government has set a purchase limit of four times household income for the mortgage, plus the amount provided by the government, according to Ratehub.

By participating in this program, first-time homebuyers effectively reduce the amount they can qualify for by about 15 per cent, and their monthly mortgage payment naturally decreases in lockstep.

A household with $100,000 of income, putting a minimum down payment of five per cent, can currently qualify for a home valued at $479,888 with a $2,265.75 monthly mortgage payment.

Affordability calculations

The maximum purchase price for the same household, if they participate in the first-time homebuyer incentive, drops to $404,858.29 with a five-per-cent minimum down payment. The total mortgage amount would then be $400,000 (or four times their household income).

Mortgage payment calculations

If the household took a five-per-cent incentive from the government (for resales), their mortgage amount goes to $378,947.37, and monthly payment is now $1,810.90.

If the household took a 10-per-cent incentive, (for new homes) their mortgage amount goes to $357,894.73, and  monthly payment is now $1,710.29.

Stress test modifications

The CHBA is among the industry groups that is pushing for modifications to the existing mortgage stress test, which has served to lock out too many well-qualified Canadians due to the market and interest rate changes of the past year.

“The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, if coupled with immediate adjustments to the stress test, has the potential for getting the housing continuum functioning again,” says CHBA CEO Kevin Lee. “It is essential that these changes come quickly, though. Current restrictions on mortgage access mean that many millennials and new Canadians are seeing homeownership slipping away, and in many markets the economic impacts are substantial.”

Looking ahead to the 2019 federal election, CHBA will be encouraging all federal parties to address housing affordability in very meaningful ways in their respective platform documents.

Budget 2019 housing measures

Budget 2019

 

 

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