Tag Archives: homebuyers


Perspectives: How Big Should Your Home Be?

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Perspectives: How Big Should Your Home Be?

As home prices remain high in the GTA, more homebuyers should appreciate that smaller homes are the way to go.

According to The Globe and Mail, the average home size in Canada in 1975 was 1,050 square feet. By 2010, that figure had nearly doubled to 1,950 square feet. Over roughly the same period, the average number of people living in a home declined from 3.5 to 2.5.

Today, Canada ranks third in the world in terms of average home size according to Point2Homes.com, behind Australia and the U.S.

Our living space per person averages to 618 square feet, which is 36 per cent larger than in the U.K. and 44 per cent more than Brazilians.

Clearly, we are a nation that cherishes our space. However, with average home prices holding steady at over $1 million in Toronto, more homebuyers may have to make due with more modestly sized dwellings.

This is a reality that we might just have to live with. After all, Toronto has finally arrived on the global scene as a truly world class city. So, just as in Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris, more families are probably going to have to consider smaller homes and condominiums.

It’s a trend that is actually already well under way. According to The Toronto Star, as of the last census in 2011, there were 10,500 more Toronto families with children living in condos, up to 129,000 in total from just over 118,000. This meant that growth in condo living families (8.9 per cent) was over double the growth of total number of families living in the region (3.9 per cent).

This may not have been the dream for some homebuyers, but many families will love the sense of community and access to amenities that is available in the condominium scene.

Smaller houses have their benefits, too. They offer reduced maintenance costs, and you’ll need fewer items to furnish them, which can also save you a bundle. Small homes lend a taste of family, they can be cozy and promote more unity.

So, with home prices showing no signs of lowering any time soon, you may want to expand your criteria to consider the concept of life on a smaller scale. It’s the big decision that might just make all the difference in your life, and your finances.

Lisa Chester is vice president, sales and marketing, at International Home Marketing Group. IHMG.ca


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Real Insight: Behind The Numbers

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Real Insight: Behind The Numbers

A deeper look into the GTA housing market

As president of the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) for 2018/2019, I’m excited to use this column to help break down the numbers behind the GTA real estate market.

We saw continued positive signs in the market in July 2018, with strong growth in both the number of home sales and the average selling price compared to July 2017.

At 6,961, July sales were up by more than 18 per cent compared to the same month last year. The average price for these sales was $782,129, up by almost 5 per cent compared to July 2017.

These are certainly encouraging figures for the health of the real estate market, which is a key economic engine, and point to initial signs that some people who had moved to the sidelines due to the psychological impact of the Fair Housing Plan, as well as changes to mortgage lending guidelines, have begun to re-enter the market.


Starting with the provincial election last month and looking forward to the upcoming municipal elections this fall, the TREB has been busy working with elected officials and candidates to ensure that homeownership and housing affordability are a priority on the agendas of policymakers at all levels.

In order to truly make strides in terms of housing affordability, governments must prioritize increasing housing supply, especially the missing middle housing options (home types that bridge the gap between detached houses and condominium apartments), and reducing tax burdens, such as land transfer taxes.

On the latter point, we have clear evidence that residents agree. In a recent poll of 1,200 GTA residents conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs in May 2018, 77 per cent of respondents said they supported reducing the provincial land transfer tax, while 68 per cent supported repealing it. Similarly, 76 per cent supported reducing the Toronto municipal land transfer tax, while 69 per cent supported repealing it. Most residents are opposed to land transfer taxes because they are a barrier to homeownership and discourage individuals and families from right-sizing.

We look forward to working with all elected officials to help provide effective solutions to housing affordability issues such as these and will continue to speak out for homebuyers, sellers and renters.

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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Consumer Protection: More Deposit Protection

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Consumer Protection: More Deposit Protection

Changes to act means down payment coverage has increased

When you buy a resale home, you can see what you’re getting before you sign an agreement and invest your money.

However, when purchasing a newly built home, your home may only exist as a floorplan when you put your deposit down. It’s then on your builder to bring your investment to life.

But if your home never makes it beyond the floorplan and your builder does not — or cannot — return your deposit, it’s good to know that your deposit is protected.

As of January 1, changes to regulations under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act mean that new homebuyers of non-condominium freehold homes have more of their deposit money protected than ever before.

How does this work?

If you paid $600,000 for your home or less, you are eligible to receive up to $60,000 to reimburse you for amounts paid to the builder. If your home was more than $600,000, you are eligible to receive up to 10 per cent of the purchase price, to a maximum of $100,000.

In addition, the passage of the Strengthening Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2017, means that this deposit protection now includes other payments, such as those made for upgrades and extras.

While this enhanced coverage only applies to non-condominium freehold homes, it’s important to note that condo buyers are also protected by the Condominium Act, which requires that the full deposit be placed in trust. If, for some reason these funds are released improperly from the trust, Tarion will cover up to $20,000.

A new home is a big investment – one of the biggest of our lives. And while you can’t put a price on peace of mind, I’m pleased that we’re able to provide deposit protection that is more in line with today’s home prices.

If you’re looking to buy a new home this year, I encourage you to visit Tarion. com to learn more about Tarion’s new deposit coverage.

Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corporation. His column appears 10 times a year in HOMES Magazine. For more information about how Tarion helps new homebuyers, visit Tarion.com or find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/TarionWarrantyCorp


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First-time homebuyers face new challenges in 2018

First-time homebuyers face new challenges in 2018

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First-time homebuyers face new challenges in 2018

There are still plenty of opportunities for first-time homebuyers to enter the real estate market.

by Matthew Ablakan

Last year, we experienced many significant changes with regards to qualifying for a mortgage. In addition, the Bank of Canada increased their overnight rate twice for the first time since 2008. What does this mean for first-time homebuyers? A more difficult process to qualify for a mortgage, less purchasing power and more compromise.

As of January 1, 2018 buyers that have a down payment of less than 20 per cent will have to qualify using the Bank of Canada’s Benchmark Rate, which is currently at 4.99 per cent, or 2 per cent more than the interest rate they are being offered by their lending institution (whichever is higher). And the Bank of Canada has already signaled that Canadians should prepare for a series of interest rate hikes in 2018.

Matthew Ablakan, founder of Millennial’s Choice
Matthew Ablakan, founder of Millennial’s Choice

So, it seems, that this year will be filled with optimism as well as uncertainty. But there are still plenty of opportunities for first-time homebuyers to enter the market. With financial support such as the Land Transfer Tax rebate, HST rebate, Home Buyers’ Tax Credit and the ability to use your RRSPs for your down payment, there is still a lot of hope.

I recommend using a licensed broker who has great relationships with builders as well as banks and alternative lending institutions. This will give first-time buyers more flexibility, as well as options when it comes to making a purchase.

Some lending institutions — not the big banks — have more flexible guidelines that allow them to make certain exceptions when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. And some builders offer incentives especially for first-time homebuyers.

Purchasing pre-construction real estate, whether a condo or a new home, offers flexibility as well as different options for first-time homebuyers. You have the opportunity to enter into the marketplace without having to dish out money for a mortgage and other expenses right away. All you need to worry about is the deposit the builder requires, as well as a mortgage pre-approval. This gives you lots of time to prepare for your final closing.

With that being said, if you purchase a condo that is going to be ready in three to four years, you might be able to afford something a little more expensive than if you were to purchase it right now. In the intervening years, you may be more established in your career, have a spouse who can contribute and you may be starting a family. All of these factors play a role in purchasing a home. Purchasing a new home or condo gives you flexibility in the event these things change.

But it is important not to overextend yourself when making a purchase. There are more costs to owning a home then just your mortgage payment. You must be prepared for things like property taxes, utilities, maintenance and upkeep, as well as things like cable, Internet and phone bills.

Another helpful tip is to move away from your parent’s way thinking. What your parents were able to purchase just doesn’t exist anymore. That is a fact. That is the reality that first-time buyers are faced with today. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a one-bedroom condo to get your foot in the door. This will allow you to build wealth and help you get one step closer to that dream home.

When it comes to purchasing real estate, there are many different factors involved. I strongly recommend you do your own research as well as consult with different professionals. There are some professionals who offer things like buyer seminars. It is also important to know what you qualify for before you start your search. This will save you lots of time. Also, ask your broker if he/she can recommend a lawyer as well as a mortgage broker. This will save you the hassle of finding someone that is trustworthy and reliable. Always remember that a real estate salesperson or broker cannot provide you with legal advice. The onus is on you to show your contract to a lawyer, who can then provide you with that peace of mind.

Purchasing a home is supposed to be fun. It represents the start of a new chapter and adventure. Compromise does not mean settlement. When you are in your home, it should feel like home.

Matthew Ablakan is the founder of Millennial’s Choice, a team of experienced real estate and mortgage brokers dedicated to serving the millennial generation.


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Record October 2017 for new condo sales

Record October 2017 for new condo sales

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Record October 2017 for new condo sales

Average price for available new detached homes rises to $1,548,888

New construction home sales soared in the GTA in the month of October, primarily driven by sales of multi-family homes, condo apartments in highrise and midrise buildings and stacked townhomes, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) announced November 24.

There were 5,377 new homes sold in October, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. About 91 per cent of them (4,884 units) were multi-family homes and only 9 per cent (493) were lowrise single-family homes such as detached and semi-detached houses and townhomes. Condo sales for October were 81 per cent above the 10-year average of 2,697, and the highest October yet recorded, while lowrise sales were 64 per cent below the 10-year average of 1,388.

As of the end of October, 39,476 new homes have been sold in the GTA in 2017, 82 per cent of them condo apartments in highrise and midrise buildings and stacked townhomes.

“October data shows that the new homebuyer is left with very little choice when it comes to purchasing a new home,” said BILD president and CEO Bryan Tuckey.

“Provincial intensification policy has our members building more high and midrise dwellings making housing choices a challenge. The cost of a single-family home is out of reach for many consumers pushing them to buy a condo over a house. As a result we are seeing record-breaking condo sales and higher prices this year for new lowrise homes.”

While supply of new housing increased again in October and reached 12,500 units, it is still well below what is considered a healthy level. Supply of new housing is typically measured by the number of new homes available for purchase in builders’ inventories at the end of the month. At the end of October, there were 9,308 multi-family homes and 3,192 single-family homes available in the GTA.

“Demand for newly-built condominium apartments is being fueled by three key buyer groups – small investors who have become the de facto providers of new rental housing supply in the GTA; end user buyers who might prefer a single-family home but are seeking out more affordable options; and the more traditional end users who value the lifestyle and amenities of well-located projects,” said Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice president of research consulting services.

Prices of available new homes in October increased slightly for both single-family lowrise homes and multi-family homes. The average for available new single-family homes was $1,217,428 up from $1,204,829 in September, and 29.8 per cent above last October’s average price of $937,689. The average price for available new detached homes was $1,548,888 and the average for available new townhomes was $995,571.

Meanwhile the average price of available new condo apartments in highrise and midrise buildings and stacked townhomes was $677,456 in October, up from September’s $661,188. The average price per square foot was $791 and the average unit size was 857 square feet.

October 2017










































































Source: Altus Group


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GTA home sales drop in April

GTA home sales drop in April

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GTA home sales drop in April

(CNW)—According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales declined in April 2017.

Home sales over Canadian MLS Systems fell by 1.7 per cent in April 2017 from the all-time record set in March.

April sales were down from the previous month in close to two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and offset by gains in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 7.5 per cent year-over-year, with declines in close to 70 per cent of all local markets. Sales were down most in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where activity continues to run well below last year’s record-levels. The GTA also factored in the decline, with faded activity compared to record levels set in April last year.

“Sales in Vancouver are down from record levels in the first half of last year but the gap has started to close,” said CREA president Andrew Peck. “Meanwhile, sales are up in Calgary and Edmonton from last year’s lows and trending higher in Ottawa and Montreal. All real estate is local, and realtors remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to.”

“Homebuyers and sellers both reacted to the recent Ontario government policy announcement aimed at cooling housing markets in and around Toronto,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist. “The number of new listings in April spiked to record levels in the GTA, Oakville-Milton, Hamilton-Burlington and Kitchener-Waterloo, where there had been a severe supply shortage. And with only 10 days to go between the announcement and the end of the month, sales in each of these markets were down from the previous month. It suggests these housing markets have started to cool.

“Policy makers will no doubt continue to keep a close eye on the combined effect of federal and provincial measures aimed at cooling housing markets of particular concern, while avoiding further regulatory changes that risk producing collateral damage in communities where the housing market is well balanced or already favours buyers.”

The number of newly listed homes jumped 10 per cent in April 2017, led overwhelmingly by a 36 per cent increase in the GTA. Housing markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe also saw similar percentage increases.

The jump in new listings and drop in sales eased the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 60.1 per cent in April compared to 67.3 per cent in March.

A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers’ and sellers’ markets respectively.

The ratio was above 60 per cent in just over half of all local housing markets in April, mostly in British Columbia and Southwestern Ontario. The GTA downshifted into the middle of the balanced range in April, while Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have returned to sellers’ market territory.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents how long it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were 4.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of April 2017, up slightly from 4.1 months in March when it fell to its lowest reading in almost a decade.

Although new listings surged in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, inventories remain tight at near or below one month across the region. Ontario’s recent changes to housing policy were announced late in the month, so their full effect on the balance between supply and demand has yet to be determined.

The Aggregate Composite MLS HPI rose by 19.8 per cent year-over-year in April 2017. Price gains accelerated for all benchmark housing categories tracked by the index.

Two-storey single-family homes posted the strongest year-over-year price gains (+21.8 per cent), followed closely by townhouse/row units (+19.9 per cent), apartment units (18.8 per cent) and one-storey single-family homes (17.2 per cent).

While benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in 11 of 13 housing markets tracked by the MLS HPI, price trends continued to vary widely by location.

After having dipped in the second half of last year, home prices in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia have been recovering, are up from levels one year ago, and are now at new heights or trending toward them (Greater Vancouver: +11.4 per cent y-o-y; Fraser Valley: +18 per cent y-o-y).

Meanwhile, benchmark home price gains remained in the 20 per cent range in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island. Price gains were in the 30 per cent range in Greater Toronto and Oakville-Milton, and ranged in the mid-20 per cent in Guelph.

By comparison, home prices eased in Calgary (-0.9 per cent y-o-y) and Saskatoon (-2.6 per cent y-o-y) and are now about 5.5 per cent below their peaks reached in 2015.

Home prices were up modestly from year-ago levels in Regina (+0.4 per cent overall, led by a 2 per cent increase in apartment prices), Ottawa (+4 per cent overall, led by a 4.9 per cent increase in two-storey single-family home prices), Greater Montreal (+3.7 per cent overall, led by a 5.5 per cent increase in prices for townhouse/row units) and Greater Moncton (+4.8 per cent overall, led by a 12.7 per cent increase in prices for townhouse/row units).

The MLS Home Price Index (MLS HPI) provides the best way of gauging price trends because average price trends are prone to being strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in April 2017 was $559,317, up 10.4 per cent from where it stood one year earlier.

The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are two of Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations trims more than $150,000 from the average price.

MLS Systems are co-operative marketing systems used only by Canada’s real estate boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry trade associations, representing more than 120,000 realtors working through some 90 real estate boards and associations.

Further information can be found at http://crea.ca/statistics.


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CHBA president to talk housing affordability with feds

CHBA president to talk housing affordability with feds

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CHBA president to talk housing affordability with feds

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Bob Finnigan, president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, or CHBA, heads to Ottawa this week to talk to the federal finance committee about housing affordability. Of particular concern for the group is one of the latest changes to mortgage rules, which expanded an existing stress test from a limited pool of prospective homebuyers to all insured borrowers.

The stress test raises loan eligibility rules by requiring prospective homebuyers to qualify for mortgages at a higher interest rate than what they will actually pay, as a way to gauge their ability to absorb interest-rate hikes. In some cases, the move disqualified prospective homebuyers who qualified for mortgages under the old rules, said Finnigan, and it has adversely affected markets outside of active regions such as Toronto and Vancouver.




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TREB releases market year in review and outlook report

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TREB releases market year in review and outlook report

(CNW) — The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) released its annual Market Year in Review and Outlook Report January 31 at its Economic Summit.

The report provides a look forward into the 2017 housing market and tackles top-of-mind issues, including consumer intentions, foreign buying activity in the Greater Toronto Area, impact of transportation infrastructure on housing affordability, and the lack of housing supply.

TREB is forecasting another strong year for home sales through its MLS System in 2017, with more than 100,000 sales forecast for the third consecutive year. Between 104,500 and 115,500 home sales are expected this year, with a point forecast of 110,000 — down slightly from 113,133 sales reported by GTA realtors in 2016.

Ipsos, on behalf of TREB, undertook a homebuyers survey in November 2016. The survey focused on consumer buying intentions in 2017. Compared to a similar survey conducted at the end of 2015, the number of likely buyers was down slightly. However, GTA households still seemed upbeat about ownership housing. This included first-time buyers, whose share of overall buying intentions increased to 53 per cent from 49 per cent a year earlier.

“While changes to federal mortgage lending guidelines and higher borrowing costs may impact some would-be homebuyers, the big impediment will be the lack of inventory,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis. “Active listings at the end of December were at their lowest point since before 2000. It is unlikely that the shortage of listings will improve to any great degree over the course of the next year. This will put a ceiling on sales growth.”

As a result of very strong demand for ownership housing up against an extremely constrained supply of listings in 2017, double-digit annual rates of price growth are expected to remain in place for the majority of home types across the GTA. The growth rate for the average selling price will be between 10 and 16 per cent with an average price range between $800,000 and $850,000. TREB’s point forecast for the average selling price is $825,000.

Lowrise home types, including detached and semi-detached houses and townhouses, will experience the strongest annual rates of price growth, but the condominium apartment market segment will remain tight as well.

The Ipsos homebuyers survey confirmed that likely homebuyers are expecting to see strong home price increases in 2017. However, Ipsos also found that the average homebuyer is planning on making a substantial down payment – 27.6 per cent for all recent homebuyers combined and 23.9 per cent for first-time buyers. The sources of homebuyers’ down payments were also quite diverse, including savings within and outside an RRSP, gifts from friends/family and equity built up in their current dwelling.

Despite relatively large down payment percentages, home price growth has obviously been a concern from an affordability perspective. The policy reaction to date has been focused on the demand side of the price growth equation. Changes to federal mortgage lending guidelines and ruminations about a foreign buyer tax for the GTA dominated the headlines in the second half of 2016.

A foreign buyer tax in the GTA would be misguided. In order to obtain actual empirical data on foreign buying activity in the GTA, as opposed to conjecture, TREB commissioned Ipsos in November 2016 to survey its members, who acted on behalf of homebuyers during the preceding 12 months, as to foreign buying activity in the region. Key findings were as follows:

  • Only an estimated 4.9 per cent of GTA transactions, in which TREB members acted on behalf of a buyer, involved a foreign purchaser.
  • The great majority of foreign buyers purchased a home as a primary residence (40 per cent), to rent out to tenants in an extremely tight GTA rental market (25 per cent), or for another family member to live in (15 per cent).
  • Less than 2 per cent of realtors had been involved in a transaction for a foreign buyer that they knew was impacted by the foreign buyer tax in British Columbia.

An additional land transfer tax on foreign buyers could have unintended consequences, including:

  • Tighter market conditions and stronger price growth in neighboring communities/regions without a tax;
  • Less rental supply, because the number of investors looking to purchase and rent out a property could decline;
  • A potential negative impact on immigration. It is important to remember that population growth in the GTA, on net, is driven by immigration.

“Housing affordability, and affordable homeownership in particular, is a growing concern. Home prices will increase well above the rate of inflation and income growth in 2017, as the supply of listings remains very constrained.” said TREB CEO John DiMichele. “While governments have been focusing their policy solutions on allaying demand, what is needed are policies that focus on the lack of available homes for sale and for rent. The public, private and not-for-profit sectors need to come together to focus on innovative solutions to the housing supply issue.”

In addition to analyzing market fundamentals influencing demand, supply, price growth, and, ultimately, affordability, TREB had the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA) undertake a study on how improved transit infrastructure, and particularly the Metrolinx Regional Express Rail plan (RER), can impact housing affordability. The study found that the impact of RER on affordability is largely positive in the regions making up the GTA and surrounding GGH, especially when residents take advantage of the new transportation infrastructure and switch their mode of commuting. Improved transit infrastructure can also add price premiums of up to 12 per cent to a home’s value. The findings of CANCEA’s study are summarized in the report.

The report can be found at http://trebhome.com/market_news/release_market_updates/news2017/pdf/2017-MarketYearInReview.pdf


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