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Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Developments Inc.

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Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Developments Inc.

New lowrise home supply and pricing are causing some buyers to look elsewhere – specifically north and out of the GTA. One company intent on catering to this demand is Flato Developments Inc., with projects in locations such as Beeton, Dundalk and Shelbure.

President Shakir Rehmatullah explains why, and what homebuyers can expect from Flato, this year and beyond.

HOMES Magazine: You have said that 2020 is looking to be a strong year for Flato Developments, and you’re focusing on developing communities outside the GTA. How much of a trend do you think this will be – people buying outside the GTA in order to afford a home they truly want?

Shakir Rehmatullah: I see a big trend of people living outside the GTA, basically because affordability and the new mortgage rules have made it very difficult for people to qualify for a mortgage. The average annual salary in the GTA is $36,573, household income $73,146. The maximum mortgage they can get is $350,000 to $400,000, so with a 20-per-cent down payment, the house price couldn’t be higher than $500,000. How many $500,000 homes are available in the GTA? Condos can be an alternative, but not everyone wants that type of home. Therefore, moving outside of GTA will be the choice for many young families and downsizers.

HM: You’re developing communities in Dundalk, Beeton and Shelburne. Why these areas, other than the above point. Specifically, what is it about these towns that appeals to Flato?

SR: Beeton is close to Hwy. 400, and Dundalk and Shelburne are connected to GTA by highways as well. Our projects in Dundalk and Shelburne are located along Hwy 10, so the commute won’t be a problem for homeowners. These areas are not over developed. On the contrary, with new homes being built and more people moving in, infrastructure will improve because the towns are growing the population and economy. In Dundalk, for example, because we are building big communities there, we will also build an apartment for seniors, and a commercial plaza for retailers. On one hand, people can live in a more convenient neighbourhood; on the other, more people will find jobs there. Towns grow this way. Moreover, these areas are calm, quiet and beautiful. People can enjoy their life there by living in a nice environment, with kind neighbours, and most importantly, living in a decent townhome or single-detached home. Flato is happy to help the towns grow, build decent homes for new families, downsizers and everyone who wants to live in a bigger home with an affordable price.

HM: What are you able to offer buyers in these communities, that you can’t in the GTA?

SR: We offer great value for the homes by offering large size lots and quality finishes. We believe in complete communities where people have good schools, good parks, walking trails, clean air to breathe, away from the hustle and bustle of a heavily populated city. We are able to offer bigger homes at lower prices, well-planned communities with schools, parks and trails close by. Our design caters to an older generation which likes the heritage style, as well as younger buyers who like modern style. Every homeowner is not just moving into a house, they are moving into a well-established community.

HM: What are you learning about building in these communities that, say, might differ from projects in the GTA or parts of Toronto? Whether it’s home sizing, pricing, amenities or…

SR: Home sizes are certainly larger, as our goal is to build good quality, decent sized homes at affordable prices. Our price per sq. ft. is much lower than in the GTA. Our communities are in the core of each area, with all amenities close by. For example, our projects in Beeton, Beeton Village and GreenRidge, are on and close to the main street, where all the restaurants, grocery stores, banks and other amenities are located. In Dundalk, our projects also sit right in the heart of town, with the amenities within walking distance. We plan them out when we plan the whole communities. That’s why we say we are building communities, not homes.

In addition, we are learning that people are okay to drive further north to get the home that they really want, in a community where they can live and grow their families.

HM: What’s next for Flato Developments… where might you build next, after Dundalk, Beeton and Shelburne?

SR: Planning and then building a master-planned community is a large undertaking, and we are currently very busy in delivering on the vision we have for these areas. But we also have other plans; our first senior apartment building will launch in Dundalk this year. We will also launch commercial projects in Markham, Mississauga and Dundalk this year. We have more plans down the road, but I can’t discuss them just yet.

HM: Flato is very active and involved in the community, through activities such as your sponsorship of the Flato Markham Theatre. Why is this so important to you?

SR: We strongly believe in working with the communities in which we build, that it’s our corporate responsibility to give something back. You can’t go wrong by giving back to your community, and as a community developer, Flato is proof that we keep our promises.

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE…

If I wasn’t in the homebuilding industry, I would: Otherwise work towards making life better for people.

When I’m not at the office, I am: With my family. I enjoy my time with my kids! But during weekdays, I’m on the road for different meetings with municipalities and business partners to plan our next community.

My greatest inspiration for doing what I do is: My dad. I always watched him working hard in his construction business, and I just want to be like him.

Portfolio

• Beeton Village, Beeton, Now open

• Carriage House, Dundalk, Coming soon

• GreenRidge, Beeton, Coming soon

• Canvas on the Rouge, Markham, Now open

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Buyer confidence remains high

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Buyer confidence remains high

In December 2019, residential sales reported through TREB’s MLS System by Greater Toronto Area realtors were up by 17.4 per cent year-over- year to 4,399. Total sales for calendar year 2019 amounted to 87,825 – up by 12.6 per cent compared to the decade low 78,015 sales reported in 2018. On an annual basis, 2019 sales were in line with the median annual sales result for the past decade.

We certainly saw a recovery in sales activity in 2019, particularly in the second half of the year. As anticipated, many homebuyers who were initially on the sidelines moved back into the market place starting in the spring. Buyer confidence was buoyed by a strong regional economy and declining contract mortgage rates over the course of the year.

While sales were up in 2019, the number of new listings entered into TREB’s MLS system was down by 2.4 per cent year-over-year. For the past decade, annual new listings have been largely in a holding pattern between 150,000 and 160,000, despite the upward trend in home prices over the same period.

I asked Jason Mercer, TREB’s chief market analyst, for his thoughts on the latest numbers.

“Over the last 10 years, TREB has been drawing attention to the housing supply issue in the GTA. Increasingly, policy makers, research groups of varying scope and other interested parties have acknowledged that the lack of a diverse supply of ownership and rental housing continues to hamper housing affordability in the GTA. Taking 2019 as an example, we experienced a strong sales increase up against a decline in supply. Tighter market conditions translated into accelerating price growth. Expect further acceleration in 2020 if there is no relief on the supply front.”

The MLS Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 7.3 per cent on a year-over-year basis in December 2019. From June 2019 onward, the annual growth rate in the MLS HPI Composite Benchmark accelerated. The average selling price in December 2019 was $837,788 – up almost 12 per cent year-over- year. For calendar year 2019, the average selling price was $819,319 – up by four per cent compared to $787,856 in 2018.

I asked TREB’s CEO John DiMichele what the new year has in store for the GTA real estate market.

“TREB is committed to conducting and sponsoring evidence based, empirical research on housing market and broader regional economic issues. We share this research in order to contribute to the policy debate. On February 6, 2020, TREB will be releasing its Market Year in Review and Outlook report, which will contain consumer polling results, market overviews and forecasts, and new third-party research on housing and the economy in the GTA.”

Michael Collins is president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 54,500 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.

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Get ready for a hot market in the GTA this spring

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Get ready for a hot market in the GTA this spring

From the economy to interest rates, to government involvement and the mortgage stress test, to new home supply and affordability, there’s a lot to pay attention to this year as you go through the new-home buying experience. But, for all the challenges that these topics represent, know this: Ontario, and especially the GTA, is once again positioned for a hot market this spring.

According to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey, the aggregate price of a home in Canada increased 2.2 per cent year-over-year to $648,544 in the fourth quarter of 2019. And for this year, the realty firm is forecasting 3.2-per-cent price growth to $669,800. For the GTA, the news is even better, and homeowners and homebuyers can expect a hot market this spring.

Greater Toronto Area

Low supply, population growth and increased consumer confidence continue to fuel home prices in the GTA. In the fourth quarter last year, the aggregate price of a home in the region increased 4.8 per cent year-over-year, rising to $843,609. During the same period, the median price of a standard two-storey home rose 4.4 per cent to $982,944, bungalows 2.4 per cent to $806,977, and condominiums increased 7.8 per cent to $565,919.

“The Greater Toronto Area is at a pivot point where we are seeing signs that prices could begin to rapidly increase,” says Kevin Somers, chief operating officer, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. “The region has a very low supply of listings while we are seeing more potential buyers trying to enter the market.”

Home price growth varied significantly across the region in 2019. While some areas showed stabilizing prices and healthy price growth, many regions, including the city centre, showed the potential for rapidly accelerating appreciation rates driven by high demand and low inventory. Significant price gains were seen in Pickering and Mississauga, where the aggregate price increased 9.7 per cent and 7.9 per cent year-over-year, respectively. The aggregate price of a home in the City of Toronto increased 6.6 per cent year-over-year.

Ajax and Oshawa were the only two areas to show a year-over-year decline in aggregate price. The aggregate price of a home in Ajax and Oshawa decreased 1.2 per cent and 1.8 per cent to $661,049 and $524,423, respectively.

Changes to the stress test?

In the first half of 2019, some buyers remained on the sidelines waiting to gauge the potential impact of the federal mortgage stress test, but began to return to the market in the third quarter.

“The federal government has signaled that changes could come to the mortgage stress test mechanism in 2020,” says Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “The stress test pushed people out of real estate markets across Canada temporarily. For the most part, buyers have adjusted, yet it still represents a significant hurdle as families pursue the dream of owning their own home.”

Soper adds that the impact of the regulations-driven drop in demand is felt very differently in different parts of the country.

“We believe policy makers have the necessary experience to modify the tool to meet the reality of today’s Canada – that we have very different and varied economies, and by extension housing policy needs, from region to region.”

RELATED READING

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year

Forecast 2019 – where are Canada’s hottest housing markets?

 

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2020 must be the year of action on housing in the GTA

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2020 must be the year of action on housing in the GTA

“May you live in interesting times,” goes the expression, and we may well live through very interesting times in 2020 when it comes to housing and the economy. The coming year needs to be the year that governments and citizens focus on dealing with the housing supply shortage in the GTA. Fortunately, 2020 may provide several opportunities to start to address this generational challenge.

Let’s first look at some of the challenges we face in the housing market and in the economy. Sales data for the GTA’s new home and resale markets for the last two quarters of 2019 show a return to inflationary pressure on prices, after a moderation in 2018 and persistent housing supply shortages. Simply put, demand is picking up, prices are responding and supply continues to fail to keep up with demand.

The Canadian economy is showing signs of slowing, including the shedding of more than 70,000 jobs in November and the slowing of GDP growth due in part to trade tensions amongst large Canadian trading partners. Interest rates lowered somewhat in 2019, lowering mortgage rates. With the economy slowing, the Bank of Canada is likely to maintain its neutral to negative bias. Shortages of skilled labour and trades are a persistent issue for the building and land development industry in our effort to increase supply.

Still, I am optimistic for 2020, because I believe these challenges will also present opportunities to close the housing supply and affordability gap. First of all, there is now a broad consensus that the building of much-needed new housing supply has been inhibited by layers of time-consuming bureaucracy and slow approvals. These barriers should start to lessen in 2020, as municipalities update their policies to meet new requirements under the Ontario government’s Housing Supply Action Plan and changes to expedite Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearings, which aim to increase housing supply by cutting red tape and speed up approvals.

Lower interest rates provide prospective homebuyers with lower borrowing costs, easing the barrier to entry. In a slowing economy, government spending on infrastructure and job skills training provides stimulus and a bridge back to growth and job creation. All three levels of government have the perfect opportunity in 2020 to focus on city-building infrastructure such as transit, water main enhancement and waste water capacity and treatment, which in turn supports and enables housing creation.

To help more Canadians find good jobs, governments could give more support to training for the skilled trades. The building industry is one of the few where well-paying jobs are unlikely to be moved offshore. Building houses, townhouses and condo apartments provides jobs, tax revenue and investment opportunities, in addition to providing the housing supply required to ensure the GTA remains an attractive and desirable place to live.

The signals in our economy and the housing market point to interesting times in 2020. Let’s seize all opportunities to make this year the year of housing.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

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Outlook 2020 – Jim Andrews, Director of Sales & Marketing, Fieldgate Homes

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Outlook 2020 – Jim Andrews, Director of Sales & Marketing, Fieldgate Homes

Part of our series of Outlook 2020 Q&As with building industry executives

What is the outlook for the new home industry in 2020?

We see continued growth in lowrise developments, owing partly to a resurgence in consumer confidence in the past six months. With aggressive pricing and lower interest rates, consumers seem to have eliminated some of the concerns that were more evident in the first part of 2019. To meet the needs for a renewed demand in housing, more lands should be released, thanks to streamlining the approval process by the Ontario government.

Jim Andrews
Jim Andrews, Director of Sales & Marketing Fieldgate Homes

Affordability will remain a challenge, so there will be more innovations designed in different forms of housing to try and keep prices within reach for the maximum number of purchasers. More growth in outer suburban areas such as Hamilton and Oshawa and areas outside the GTA (such as Shelburne) where affordability is still strong, will help.

And for Fieldgate?

We have 10 new communities coming in Markham, Milton, Vaughan and elsewhere, so it will be a very exciting year for us.

What is your company doing to address the issues facing the homebuilding industry – namely, affordability and new home supply?

The land development team at Fieldgate acquires new parcels of land on a regular basis and works as efficiently as possible to deliver them to the marketing team. The marketing team spends a lot of time working and reworking our floorplans and elevations to ensure quality engineering that is more efficient in smaller designs. We strive to introduce unique, modern elevations which are efficient to build and have low maintenance features, rather than the same elevations that have been in use for decades.

We also pay attention to changing trends in how people live in their homes – looking beyond our borders into other markets to see what innovations in housing design we can incorporate here. We are developing new designs of single-family homes to assist all of our market segments. We are introducing rear-lane townhomes and singles with double car garages to satisfy the demand for homes in commutercentric neighbourhoods. Smaller lot townhouses with three storeys will produce more affordable interiors for first-time buyers.

What more could the industry do to address these issues?

Release more land! GTA land supply has become extremely tight and therefore more costly. Reviewing the cost of levies, development charges and the lengthy approval process would be beneficial for both builders and consumers. It often takes more than 10 years from acquisition of land to bring homes to market. The various levels of government need to work with the builders to reduce the red tape.

What should prospective new-home buyers know about Fieldgate Homes for 2020?

Fieldgate Homes has been building new homes in the GTA for more than 60 years, and we take pride in what we do. It gives us great pleasure to have previous Fieldgate homeowners come to one of our new communities because they enjoyed the previous experience and want another Fieldgate home. We have a great many repeat purchasers!

Why should prospective new-home buyers consider buying from your company in 2020?

Choice, quality, reputation, more than 60 years of new-home building, excellent service, a vertically and horizontally integrated company, where we do our own land development, planning, design and building. Also, we develop community infrastructure so that when you buy from Fieldgate, you’re buying a complete community, with respect for the customer and setting a standard that makes Fieldgate Homes proud of the homes we build.

Special Report: Outlook 2020

Outlook 2020 – Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Development Inc.

Outlook 2020 – Mike Parker, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, Georgian International Build Corp.

Outlook 2020 – Brad Carr, CEO, Mattamy Homes Canada

Outlook 2020 – Deena Pantalone, Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation, National Homes

Outlook 2020 – Art Rubino, Contracts Manager & Marketing Manager, Regal Crest Homes

 

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Outlook 2020 – Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Developments Inc.

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Outlook 2020 – Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Developments Inc.

Part of our series of Outlook 2020 Q&As with building industry executives

How do you see the outlook for the new home industry in 2020?

It’s bright. The economy is getting better and more homes are being sold, financial and mortgage markets are improving and the federal government is a little easier to deal with. However, the affordability for new-home buyers, especially firsttime buyers, is a challenge because of the stress test. We need to help these buyers, not make it more difficult.

Shakir Rehmatullah
Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Development Inc.

And for Flato Developments?

Similarly, the outlook is strong, largely because our target market is firsttime buyers and young families, and the homes we build are lower than the $1-million price point. For Flato Developments, most of our new homes will be outside of the GTA, from mid $400’s to $1 million, so affordability is key. People don’t mind driving outside the GTA as long as the location is right, the community is good, and they are getting value for their homes. It’s not just because home prices are lower, the cost of living is, as well. Living outside of GTA will be a trend.

What is your company doing to address the issues facing the homebuilding industry – namely, affordability and new home supply?

Affordability is the key. Most people can’t afford homes in the GTA. They are becoming too expensive too quickly, especially in last five years. All associated costs keep going up, such as developing charges, parkland levies, cost of construction, infrastructure and taxes. But personal incomes haven’t risen accordingly, so there is a gap and affordability has been affected.

In addition, the mortgage market has become very difficult and very tight. Most young families can’t afford to buy a home in the GTA. For example, single-detached homes in Markham are about $1.5 million. At Flato, we are stepping outside the GTA and going to place such as Dundalk, Beeton and Shelburne. We are exploring those areas because of the lower development charges, and we can afford to build the houses that people can afford.

What more could the industry do to address these issues?

The biggest thing is to work with the government, and we are fortunate to have the Conservatives in Ontario. They are cutting the red tape, and they are open for business. The less red tape, the better the market will be. The sooner we can bring homes online, more choices and more supply will bring down the prices. So, we need more supply, and the supply can only come with the government’s help. We also need to cut the red tape at the municipal level. The industry should continue to work with BILD on these initiatives.

What should prospective new-home buyers know about Flato Developments for 2020?

We are going to continue to build our Canvas on the Rouge condos in Markham, where construction just began, and the goal is to complete the project as soon as we can. We are continuing to build our master-planned communities in Dundalk and Beeton. Every year, we are looking to finish a part of the subdivision of these projects. In Dundalk, we have Edgewood Greens and we are excited to release Carriage House. In Beeton, we have Beeton Village and going to release another one, Green Ridge. We will have Grand Openings for Carriage House and Green Ridge early this year. They are all townhomes and single-detached. We are going to release the first senior apartment building, called Edgewood Suites, in Dundalk.

Why should prospective new-home buyers consider buying from your company in 2020?

We are building communities, not just homes. We spend a lot of time on master-planning the communities. We consider everything that homebuyers will need, from amenities to accessibility to facilities to transit. We consider where the parks and schools will be, and how residents can walk to these places safely. Wherever we can do safer plans for them, save greenspace, plant more trees and work with the conservation authorities… we do it. We take all of these things into consideration at Flato.

Our customers have chosen to trust us when it comes to making the biggest investment of their lives, and we strive to return that trust – from the moment we meet them, to the time we hand over the keys, and beyond.

Special Report: Outlook 2020

Outlook 2020 – Jim Andrews, Director of Sales & Marketing, Fieldgate Homes

Outlook 2020 – Mike Parker, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, Georgian International Build Corp.

Outlook 2020 – Brad Carr, CEO, Mattamy Homes Canada

Outlook 2020 – Deena Pantalone, Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation, National Homes

Outlook 2020 – Art Rubino, Contracts Manager & Marketing Manager, Regal Crest Homes

 

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Outlook 2020 – Brad Carr, CEO, Mattamy Homes Canada

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Outlook 2020 – Brad Carr, CEO, Mattamy Homes Canada

Part of our series of Outlook 2020 Q&As with building industry executives

How do you see the outlook for the new home industry in 2020?

We see continuing strength in the marketplace, with demand re-establishing itself from the downturn that occurred following the peak in spring 2017. Pricing has firmed up in recent months, and we are seeing good traffic at our communities. Overall, the GTA market is characterized by strong fundamentals – solid immigration trends and wage growth as well as low unemployment and a favourable interest rate environment. The outlook is all positive.

Brad Carr
Brad Carr, CEO, Mattamy Homes Canada

And for Mattamy Homes?

We’re continuing to leverage the diverse offering of a number of exceptional communities we have across the GTA, from Halton to Durham, as well as the strength of the well-established Mattamy brand in “stronghold” sub-markets such as Milton, Oakville and Brampton. We’re certainly heading into 2020 with an optimistic outlook for both our business and the industry as a whole.

What is your company doing to address the issues facing the homebuilding industry – namely, affordability and new home supply?

At Mattamy, we are always looking for new and creative ways to deliver attractive built forms at a lower cost. We continue to offer a broad range of housing types that appeal to customers whatever their stage in life or circumstances. This includes the introduction of midrise buildings and stacked townhomes – examples of a continuous cycle of product evolution and innovation to create new forms of housing at lower price points that both meets customer demand for affordability while still offering lifestyle opportunities.

What more could the industry do to address these issues?

With no significant policy changes on the horizon that would increase overall levels of supply, we continue to encourage all levels of government to find ways to create thoughtful solutions that increase supply as a way of tackling affordability while at the same time respecting the concerns of existing residents. We would welcome the opportunity to work more collaboratively with government, the broader building industry and other businesses in the housing ecosystem to find a way to bring more homes to market that are affordable and meet the needs of society.

What should prospective new-home buyers know about your company for 2020?

Mattamy is going to deliver our 100,000th home in 2020, which is a story of growth that’s pretty unprecedented. Growing from a single house closing in 1978 to becoming North America’s largest privately-owned homebuilder, delivering more than 8,000 homes this year is a journey we are extremely proud of. Even with that scale, for us it’s still all about one customer, one home at a time.

Why should prospective new-home buyers consider buying from your company in 2020?

We have a number of exciting new master-planned communities launching in multiple markets across the GTA (such as Caledon, Toronto and Seaton). We’re also thinking a lot these days about ever-evolving customer expectations around technology. We are aware and paying close attention to all of the experiences our customers bring from other brand relationships and how these influence their expectations for ease and simplicity in the homebuying process. Things are changing very quickly, and we’re working very hard to stay on the leading edge of both technology and customer expectations.

Special Report: Outlook 2020

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year

Outlook 2020 – Jim Andrews, Director of Sales & Marketing, Fieldgate Homes

Outlook 2020 – Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Development Inc.

Outlook 2020 – Mike Parker, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, Georgian International Build Corp.

Outlook 2020 – Deena Pantalone, Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation, National Homes

Outlook 2020 – Art Rubino, Contracts Manager & Marketing Manager, Regal Crest Homes

 

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Outlook 2020 – Deena Pantalone, Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation, National Homes

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Outlook 2020 – Deena Pantalone, Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation, National Homes

Part of our series of Outlook 2020 Q&As with building industry executives

How do you see the outlook for the new home industry in 2020?

We’re going to see strong demand fueled by record population growth. The period from August 2018 to July 2019 was the largest 12-month population increase in Canada’s history. And the industry is not building enough housing, especially rental housing. At the end of November 2019, ReMax predicted a six-per-cent increase in the average cost of a Toronto resale home in 2020 – fueled by demand that just isn’t being met.

Deena Pantalone
Deena Pantalone, Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation, National Homes

Ben Myers of Bullpen Research says Toronto needs 22,000 new rental apartments a year to create a healthy vacancy rate of three per cent. If you include all the new purpose-built rental units coming on, say 4,000, plus if you assume that three-quarters of all new condos will be rented, then we’re still falling 9,000 units short. That’s not good for renters, homeowners or the health of our economy.

One thing I definitely see is that people are open to new ideas, new technology and design that will make their lives easier and give them time for the important things in their lives. And that means property technology (Proptech) will become more and more central to their lives, and to the building industry in general.

And what’s the outlook for National Homes?

For decades now, National has focused on putting the needs of our customers first, and that’s what our You are the Blueprint philosophy is all about.

This year, we’re introducing a wide range of “Bright Ideas” that were developed at National’s inaugural Blueprint Workshop. Globally recognized leaders in the fields of technology, product development and design, participated in group interactions and the co-creation process. Also taking part were dozens of past and prospective National buyers of varied ages and demographics; National staff architects, designers and engineers; and students from York University’s Schulich School of Business real estate master’s program. The results are now being unveiled in our newest communities.

What is National Homes doing to address the issues facing the homebuilding industry – namely, affordability and new home supply?

Our Bright Ideas are intended to make people’s lives simpler, from innovative Proptech to design solutions. We are introducing four different townhome projects, from Courtice in the east to Burlington in the west. We are also introducing new construction thinking, such as our Panergy Wall Systems that bring factory efficiency and quality with significant energy cost savings, year after year.

We’re also making it easier for young families to own with plans for flexible down payment programs.

What more could the industry do to address these issues?

It’s all about innovation! The building industry hasn’t changed much in 100 years. New thinking, new products, new technology… the only way we’re going to adapt to the needs of a new millennium are by doing things differently and better.

Our industry needs new ways of building that save time, and therefore money, new products that save real dollars in energy costs, new construction methods that reduce waste and improve quality.

What should prospective new-home buyers know about National Homes for 2020?

In Bradford, we have 40 detached ravine lot homes from the mid $800’s at The Forest. In east Brampton’s Three Rivers Claireville, we have Phase 2 of our townhomes, right next to the 850- acre Claireville Conservation Area. In Burlington, we’re launching townhomes at Tyandaga Heights on Brant Street, by the Tyandaga Golf Course. And in Courtice, we’re introducing The Vale by National, backing onto woods and a stream.

Why should homebuyers consider buying from your company in 2020?

We design with the needs of our customers in mind. That’s more than a motto, it’s central to the way we work. Our Blueprint Workshops are the spark that drives our design. We learn what people want; what they wish builders could offer; then we create the communities, the homes and the features that satisfy those dreams. And we’re building communities from east to west, so if you’re looking for a National home, we’re where you want to live.

Special Report: Outlook 2020

Outlook 2020 – Jim Andrews, Director of Sales & Marketing, Fieldgate Homes

Outlook 2020 – Shakir Rehmatullah, President, Flato Development Inc.

Outlook 2020 – Mike Parker, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, Georgian International Build Corp.

Outlook 2020 – Brad Carr, CEO, Mattamy Homes Canada

Outlook 2020 – Art Rubino, Contracts Manager & Marketing Manager, Regal Crest Homes

 

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Outlook 2020 – Angela Marotta, Director of Sales & Marketing, Solmar Development Corp.

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Outlook 2020 – Angela Marotta, Director of Sales & Marketing, Solmar Development Corp.

Part of our series of Outlook 2020 Q&As with building industry executives

Condo Life: What is the outlook for the new home industry in 2020?

Marotta: We’re very optimistic, as national averages increase together with market demand and population growth, especially as employment opportunities increase. We see growth in the outer cores of Toronto, namely Mississauga, Vaughan and Scarborough, as price surges in Toronto make it unaffordable for some to own. We see an increase in lower density housing, as condo prices continue to increase, making a townhouse, semi or detached in some municipalities more affordable and desirable to own.

Angela Marotta
Angela Marotta, Director of Sales & Marketing Solmar Development Corp

CL: And for Solmar?

Marotta: We have almost 1,000 units across two highrise projects hitting the market this spring – Oro at Edge Towers in Mississauga, and our final tower at Park Avenue in Vaughan. The first two towers at each of these projects are sold out, so these new towers at each project are the final ones. We’re planning new mixed lowrise density developments for 2021 and into 2024 in various areas across the GTA, including Niagara on the Lake, Caledon and Erin – all of them master- planned communities.

CL: What is your company doing to address the issues facing the homebuilding industry – namely, affordability and new home supply?

Marotta: We are building in various parts of the GTA and surrounding areas, which allows us to plan and build various types of housing at various price points. Master-planned communities are in preliminary stages in Caledon and Erin, which sees us building mixed lowrise, together with employment lands which will continue to attract new homebuyers. Some of our other lands within the GTA will be designated highrise density, as we foresee this continuing to be a growing market.

It will be interesting to see how the First-Time Buyer Incentive program impacts the market, as most properties in the GTA cost more than $525,000 and with a minimum required income of $120,000, I’m not sure if these homebuyers can afford to carry the property, even with the assisted down payment of 10 per cent. It would require a lot of lifestyle changes that perhaps most people are not willing to make. Increasing the RRSP withdrawal cap to $35,000 is a great incentive for first-time homebuyers, as down payment is an issue even if qualifying for a mortgage isn’t.

Solmar will continue to promote homeownership, as it remains a stable investment opportunity for all and gives great sense of pride.

CL: What more could the industry do to address these issues?

Marotta: It’s difficult because there are a lot of regulatory costs, increased development levies and other costs that are not unique to us as a developer and builder. The end consumer will ultimately be affected by growing end costs, and this results in increased prices across all housing types, regardless if they’re high- or lowrise.

At Solmar, we try to be as efficient as possible during the planning stages of development, but we are all at the mercy of regulatory and political authorities. As an industry, we also need to look at providing more product that is more “affordable” to encourage homeownership across all sectors. This would push development out of the city core, so municipalities need to focus on infrastructure and transit to allow for this expansion, which in turn could allow for growth of more affordable product.

CL: What should prospective new-home buyers know about your company for 2020?

Marotta: Oro, the third and final tower at Edge Towers in Mississauga, is set to open in early spring, with pre-registration now open. It will rise to 50 storeys and have 630 residential units. Indoor and outdoor amenity space stretches over two floors with views over the city. A mix of one bedroom, one plus den, two- and three-bedroom suites are available, including three luxury penthouses across the top floor. It is the only new project that borders the future LRT transit line.

The third and final tower at Park Avenue in Vaughan is slated to open this spring, with more than 24 floors and about 250 suites, located in a prime area of Vaughan surrounded by a park setting. It is a luxury condo project with a similar mix of suites as Oro at Edge.

Bellaria Phase 2 in Vaughan will be an exciting project, following in the footsteps of Bellaria Phase 1, which was the first highrise condominium project in Vaughan, with four towers. We are in design stage and plan for launch in 2021.

CL: Why should prospective new-home buyers consider buying from your company in 2020?

Marotta: Solmar homeowners have seen healthy increases in overall value, which has them purchasing from us again and again. This is based on the location of our communities, proximity to transit, design and quality of their home, our continued in excellence with Tarion Warranty Corp. and referrals from past Solmar homeowners. Our reputation with the industry and consumers alike is very important, and we have worked very hard over the past 30 years to attain it and cherish it!

Special Report: Outlook 2020

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year

Outlook 2020 – Jared Menkes, Executive Vice-President, Menkes High Rise

Outlook 2020 – Anson Kwok, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, Pinnacle International

Outlook 2020 – Samson Fung, Vice-President Marketing, Tridel

Outlook 2020 – Nick Carnicelli, President, Carriage Gate Homes

Outlook 2020 – Fan Yang, Deputy General Manager, Aoyuan

Outlook 2020 – Jordan DeBrincat, Director of Operations, Altree Developments

 

 

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Outlook 2020 – Jared Menkes, Executive Vice-President, Menkes High Rise

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Outlook 2020 – Jared Menkes, Executive Vice-President, Menkes High Rise

Part of our series of Outlook 2020 Q&As with building industry executives

Condo Life: What is the outlook for the new home industry in 2020?

Menkes: This year will continue to be a year of low supply and high demand, which will keep housing prices high, especially in prime locations. Overall, the 905 has experienced the largest growth, and will continue to grow, however the largest demand continues to be for housing along mass transit. Vaughan, in particular, will continue to be a very desirable location.

Housing supply will continue to fall short of meeting demand. RBC reported that Toronto CMA needs 22,000 new rental apartments and rented condominium units per year to satisfy demand between 2019 and 2023.

RBC also says that even if we anticipate that 70 per cent of all new condos are rented, and we have 4,000 new purpose-built rental apartments in the GTA every year, we still wouldn’t hit that 22,000-unit mark.

Jared Menkes
Jared Menkes, Executive Vice-President, Menkes High Rise

CL: And for Menkes?

Menkes: From a highrise perspective, sales for our projects in 2019 were strong and continue to demonstrate that people desire walkable communities in proximity to transit. Sugar Wharf on the Toronto waterfront was named the bestselling condo project in Canada for 2018, then we had a top-selling mixed-density project in Vaughan with Mobilio. With that success, we’ve moved to an even bigger four-tower project nearby, which will launch this year. Our prime locations, combined with the fact the city continues to experience a housing shortage, leads me to believe that we’ll experience strong sales in 2020.

CL: What is your company doing to address the issues facing the homebuilding industry – namely, affordability and new home supply?

Menkes: With many families priced out of the downtown core, they’re looking for more affordable options in the 905. At Mobilio, one of our most recent projects in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC), we’re offering a mix of housing types on one site, so we’re catering to every type of family and lifestyle. Since the community is close to Vaughan’s new subway station and all that VMC will offer over the next decade – including offices, shops and restaurants – we’re also fulfilling the desire to live in an urban setting at a more affordable price than downtown.

As the largest employment centre in York Region, Vaughan is becoming an increasingly desirable option for both young professionals and families. Festival, our latest highrise project in VMC, will be a four-tower community which will fulfill the area’s fundamental need for more density.

Clearly, family-friendly condos are an increasingly important segment in the market. Menkes will continue to deliver projects that offer familyfriendly amenities such as playrooms, entertaining spaces and co-work areas.

Townhomes, such as the ones we launched at Mobilio in Vaughan, are also offering families a more affordable option in an urban setting. We will continue to offer more townhomes with our Lake & Town project that will be coming to South Etobicoke this year.

CL: What more could the industry do to address these issues?

Menkes: We need a healthier, more balanced market. People don’t have choices right now. The City and Province need to take a look at getting more supply on the market, and developers simply need to continue to build more product. Regardless of whether new housing is “affordable,” more supply will eventually lead to lesser discrepancy between supply and demand, and therefore reduce costs in the long run.

CL: What should prospective new-home buyers know about your company for 2020?

Menkes: Our reputation speaks for itself, but if buyers want to know the quality of a Menkes building, they can tour one of our buildings themselves. We are very proud of all our projects and believe the best way for buyers to educate themselves on builders is to actually see their work.

CL: Why should prospective new-home buyers consider buying from your company in 2020?

Menkes: There has increasingly been a flight to quality by prospective homeowners, opting for brands they know and trust, and we are fortunate to be one of those brands. We have reputation as one of Toronto’s top builders because not only do we take pride in the quality of our work, but we continue to deliver. We take it very seriously that people are investing their life savings with us.

Also, it’s important for builders to be innovative and to shift as homeowner needs and trends change. We have done this in the past – as we saw the trend to more families living in highrise buildings – and we will continue to do so.

We also manage our projects, which puts us at an advantage because we have the opportunity to get daily feedback on the management and operations of our buildings, and we strive to continuously improve.

Special Report: Outlook 2020

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year

Outlook 2020 – Angela Marotta, Director of Sales & Marketing, Solmar Development Corp.

Outlook 2020 – Anson Kwok, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, Pinnacle International

Outlook 2020 – Samson Fung, Vice-President Marketing, Tridel

Outlook 2020 – Samson Fung, Vice-President Marketing, Tridel

Outlook 2020 – Nick Carnicelli, President, Carriage Gate Homes

Outlook 2020 – Fan Yang, Deputy General Manager, Aoyuan

Outlook 2020 – Jordan DeBrincat, Director of Operations, Altree Developments

 

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