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GTA homebuilders upbeat, foresee post-COVID-19 recovery

GTA homebuilders upbeat about post-COVID-19
recovery

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GTA homebuilders upbeat about post-COVID-19
recovery

The beginning of 2020 was looking especially bright in the new and resale home markets in and around the GTA. The economy was sailing along, interest rates were low, homebuyer appetite looked insatiable and everything that was built or put up for sale seemingly was snapped up in an instant.

Then COVID-19 hit, and everything changed.

Here we are now, mid-year and a few months into the pandemic, and while some insecurity remains, there are growing reasons for optimism.

The Conference Board of Canada, for example, reports that while major metropolitan economies may contract in 2020, assuming the virus’ spread is contained and companies can return to normal operations over the summer months, a recovery should begin in the second half of the year. Sharp rebounds should follow, and in the case of Toronto, GDP growth of 3.2 per cent from 2021 to 2024 could lead the country.

Another source, Altus Group, points out that the unique nature of this economic slowdown means the impact on housing markets will likely be mild and short lasting.

Altus Group Vice-President and Chief Economist Peter Norman says a relaxing of containment measures through early summer should bring a sharp resumption in new home sales activity.

Later in the year, home prices will likely return to their upward path, and expectations are for a five- to 10-per-cent year-over-year gain, nationally, by year-end.

The pandemic has been a challenging time for the homebuilding industry, an important economic driver. Construction was halted for a period, and though now allowed to resume, there is still some uncertainty in the market. Builders, however, remain largely upbeat.

Here’s how GTA area homebuilders are feeling:

Altree Developments

Jordan Debrincat
Director of Operations

We are very excited that construction can now continue on our sites. For our Thirty Six Zorra project in Etobicoke, we were at the point in our construction where we were just about to begin shoring and excavation before the shutdown took place, and we have to make some adjustments to our daily operations for this site. Now that construction is back up and running, we are ready to begin – full steam ahead. We were already ahead of schedule, so the provincial shutdowns didn’t affect our timing at all.

Construction resuming has put a lot of people at ease. This has allowed a number of people to return to work, developers to continue their operations, and purchasers the comfort that their home is going to be delivered on time.

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Aoyuan International

Vince Santino
Senior Vice-President of Development

M2M in North York is actively under construction. We’ve learned some great lessons about best practices and how to interact with each other when it comes to social distancing and providing a safe, informative sales experience. Part of that is adopting virtual sales tools, and leaning a little more on digital technology. We’re optimistic, and have plans to release a collection of townhomes and upper tower suites at M2M as part of M2M Spaces. These will be larger, more livable units, with a variety of outdoor spaces depending on the suite. There is a real emphasis on wellness, and pairing more spacious suites with the urban setting at Yonge and Finch.

The 8.6-acre M2M development will be one of Aoyuan’s largest master-planned communities in Canada and really gives us the opportunity to bring our healthy lifestyle vision to life. Everything from our amenity package, which includes a yoga and fitness area, indoor and outdoor kids play area and infinity pool, to our urban location, is geared around promoting healthy, active lifestyles. This corporate-wide focus on health and wellness positions us well in our collective, new reality. We’re thinking about the people who will be living at M2M, offering a range of suites sizes to accommodate a diverse cross-section of residents. We’re even providing homes for multi-generational families. I think space is going to be a cherished amenity for a lot of buyers, and we’re proud to be bringing a range of options to market.

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Carriage Gate Homes

Nick Carnicelli
President

Construction continues at Gallery Condos + Lofts in Burlington, with occupancy scheduled for 2022.

We moved the launch date for the first phase of our new large masterplanned community in Hamilton – Roxboro – from spring to the fall. Like many builders, we are continuing to plan for our launch, and may begin to change the way we launch projects in future. More virtual technology, no large crowds, with all appropriate COVID-19 measures in place.

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Flato Developments

Shakir Rehmatullah
President

We are very optimistic, as we’re already witnessing renewed confidence from homebuyers. We’re increasing our use of technology, as meeting virtually will become the new norm. For us, it’s business as usual. Our sites are under construction as planned, and more sites are beginning construction as per the government’s direction. We have been active in marketing, even though we couldn’t do physical sales events, and we have been conducting online webinars with good results. For new launches, we’ll likely adopt new technologies such as virtual openings for certain projects, to make sure vulnerable groups such as seniors are safe.

We believe the demand for lowrise homes and small buildings will increase as people embrace social distancing. And since more people will be working from home, many will invest more in their homes. Home offices will be a must.

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Menkes Highrise

Jared Menkes
Executive Vice-President

We are seeing signs of pent-up demand and positive sentiments among buyers, with the number of inquiries and people resuming their housing research growing every week. We expect that as the economy continues to reopen, buyers will regain confidence in their financial stability and capacity to buy.

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NATIONAL HOMES

Deena Pantalone
Principal

We have taken the COVID-19 situation very seriously, with offices open only via video or telephone. Now that the provincial government has opened up construction, we will continue to put the safety of our employees and our buyers first with strict protocols and social distancing.

Construction servicing is beginning at The Forest in Bradford, and in Brampton at Three Rivers Claireville. We are also beginning to book design studio appointments for this summer, with an even more personal, one-on-one approach to keep us all safe and healthy.

The demand is clearly still there for real estate. If anything positive can be said to have come from COVID-19, it’s that this virus has refocused our attention on the importance of our families, and the homes we live in.

Many people just need more from their residence; more space, different features, or even a different neighbourhood. That’s why we expect to see a strong market come back later this summer and fall. In fact, we have two new communities we are working towards launching, in Burlington and in Courtice, and we are incorporating unique features and technology that we believe people will want post-pandemic. So, homebuyers should look forward to not just new launches, but new innovations.

From recycling to renewable materials to energy-efficient features and Green products, to innovative new prefabricated wall systems, National is helping our buyers reduce their “Greenprint.

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Pinnacle International

Anson Kwok
Vice-President, Sales & Marketing

The market definitely took a quick pause to look both ways but people are now back to crossing the street, which is positive for the marketplace. Our construction teams were active and our projects continue to rise.

Pinnacle has a diverse offering of projects that can suit any prospective homebuyer. We have four active constructions sites and pre-construction developments, so there are opportunities to move in as early as this fall to the next five years. These master-planned communities are located in desirable neighbourhoods in Toronto, Etobicoke and Mississauga.

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Regal Crest Homes

Art Rubino
Contracts Manager/Marketing Manager

Construction has never stopped for us since the province declared residential construction as an essential service. New construction starts only follow up last year’s sales. The real story will be the coming weeks, as we slowly open up sales offices.

We are here to fulfill homebuyers’ dreams, and with interest rates still so low, it’s an excellent time to buy.

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Solmar Development Corp.

Angela Marotta
Director of Marketing and Sales

We are fortunate that our current projects are more than 80 per cent sold, as we launched well before COVID-19. The other projects we have coming up are still in preliminary stages, however they have been pushed back as consultants and city officials have yet to resume full-time scheduling. We are focusing on the planning process for Park Avenue Tower 3, and Bellaria Phase 2 in Vaughan, as they’ve been delayed.

We are continuing with the construction of Edge and Oro towers in Mississauga and Park Avenue towers 1 and 2. Our goal is to catch up and get our purchasers moved in. Many of them are renting, so this investment is giving them something to look forward to. It’s evident that as other markets show so many variables and uncertainties given the current climate, real estate remains a secure investment.

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Tridel

Samson Fung
Vice-President, Marketing

We were fortunate to be able to continue construction and delivering homes to our homeowners. We implemented strict enhancements to our health and safety protocols on our construction sites to help safeguard the well-being of our employees and the communities we’re building, and these will remain in place as things begin to open up. Generally, we remain optimistic and see the industry as a whole preparing to adopt new measures and stabilize within this new environment. We’re proud of our efforts over the last few months, and our resilience as we come back stronger as leaders in both real estate and construction, and we’re looking forward to a strong finish in 2020.

As we move into the second half of 2020, we’re eagerly preparing to bring new communities to the marketplace. In the meantime, our design appointments and pre-delivery inspections with homeowners have continued through the spring and we’re looking forward to welcoming our homeowners back when we can. This new era forced us to be innovative in a different way. We are putting new safety measures in place for all of our customer-facing environments and discovering new ways to connect with our audiences. Our new digital experience, called Tridel Live, brings more information directly to the consumer; from a live chat with our sales team and virtual tours of our model suites, to access to more digital assets for our sales team, and more. This is just the beginning of a new way of meeting our clients’ needs and finding new ways to meet them.

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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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Tarion names winners of 2019 Homeowners’ Choice Awards

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Tarion names winners of 2019 Homeowners’ Choice Awards

Tarion web

Tarion Warranty Corp. has named the winners of its annual Homeowners’ Choice Awards for outstanding builders who received the highest ratings from homebuyers across the province. These are the only awards that focus solely on customer service and are based on feedback from homeowners.

The recipients of the 2019 Homeowners’ Choice Awards are:

  • Brookfield Residential – Highrise Category
  • Hayhoe Homes – Large Volume Category
  • Timberland Homes – Medium Volume Category
  • Chris King and Sons Construction Ltd. – Small Volume Category

In 2017, Tarion introduced a new honour – the Ernest Assaly Award – for an Ontario builder that demonstrates a commitment to building quality and innovation, customer service and community involvement. Similar to a lifetime achievement award, a builder can receive this recognition only once.

The recipient of the 2019 Ernest Assaly Award is The Daniels Corporation.

“A new home is a place to make memories,” says Tarion President and CEO Howard Bogach, “and a builder has a big role in determining whether a homeowner’s first memories are positive ones. Thanks to their exemplary customer service, this year’s award recipients not only met – but exceeded – expectations and by so doing set an example for others to follow.”

The Homeowners’ Choice Awards are presented annually based on the results of surveys completed by new homebuyers from across the province. In 2018, Tarion polled 54,518 new-home buyers, asking them about their builder’s performance before, during and after they moved into their new home. More than 11,376 homeowners responded and their feedback determined the recipients for outstanding customer service in the four categories.

The Ernest Assaly Award recognizes the highest level of excellence in Ontario home building while honouring the legacy of Ernest Assaly, a highly respected leader in the residential building industry who was Tarion’s first Chair. Only a select number of Ontario builders met the rigorous criteria required to receive an invitation to make a submission. The recipient of the Ernest Assaly Award is determined by Tarion’s board of directors.

“A well-built home backed by excellent customer service equals a satisfied homeowner,” says Bogach. “Through Tarion’s awards program, these happy homeowners are able to recognize their builders for going the extra mile, and this helps build confidence in the new home building industry as a whole. We congratulate this year’s recipients for their success in creating a positive home-buying experience that their homeowners are happy to share.”

For the full list of Homeowners’ Choice Awards finalists, click here. For the full list of the Ernest Assaly Award finalists, click here.

RELATED READING

Consumer Protection: The Homeowners’ Choice Awards

 

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Buying a new home and have some questions? Ask now, and ask often

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Buying a new home and have some questions? Ask now, and ask often

BILDGTA_TSA web

“Got questions? We have answers.” If you’re a prospective new-home buyer in the GTA, you may have noticed an advertising campaign with these and other similar messages lately.

The “we” is GTA homebuilders, and through a Building Answers public awareness campaign launched by their representative body, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), they aim to provide the answers.

Indeed, this six-week program that began in early April should be just beginning of ongoing communications with homebuyers.

Comprising billboard, transit and media advertising and other communications, Building Answers strives to do just that – provide answers to many of the questions GTA homeowners and prospective homebuyers have.

It’s a long list. Here are some of them:

  • Why is there so much development in the GTA?

  • Do we really need all these condominiums and other developments?

  • What makes up the cost of a new home or condominium?

  • How does transit benefit from new development?

  • How much do homebuilders make on an average project?

  • Why does the price of homes in the GTA keep rising?

And the big one, for those who have been saving to buy a home, only to watch on the sidelines as prices continue to rise:

  • Will I ever be able to afford a home in the GTA?

These are not fictitious, marketing-oriented questions. They are actual queries from would-be homebuyers who legitimately wonder when, and how, they’ll be able to buy a home here. And if they can’t, should they look, and consider moving, elsewhere?

There are countless other questions, of course, and you can view the detailed answers to all of them – and ask your own – at a dedicated website buildinganswers.ca.

If you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars – or beyond a million – on a home, you have every right to ask all the questions you want. And if you don’t get an answer that satisfies you, ask again. Or move along to another builder.

With Building Answers, the companies that provide these new-home buying opportunities in the GTA have demonstrated they are open to the discussion.

Even beyond the scope of this program – raise your hand and ask all the questions you need to.

RELATED READING

GTA builders launch public awareness campaign

Development in the GTA

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

 

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