Tag Archives: housing market

Yeah, but do you really want to live here now?

Yeah, but do you really want to live there now?

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Yeah, but do you really want to live there now?

Housing in Canada’s biggest cities became less affordable over a recent 10-year period, while housing actually became more affordable in many growing cities in the United States – including those with increasing populations and rising incomes, according to a new study from the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

Photo: iStockPhoto.com
Photo: iStockPhoto.com

“Many people make the assumption that when you have a growing, prosperous city, housing will inevitably become less affordable, and the evidence suggests otherwise,” says Steven Globerman, a Fraser Institute senior fellow and co-author of Changes in the Affordability of Housing in Canadian and American Cities, 2006–2016.

The study measures changes in housing affordability – shelter costs as a share of income – over a 10-year period in 396 cities in Canada and the U.S.

It finds that while housing affordability increased by an average of 10.5 per cent for the 344 American metropolitan areas included in the analysis, housing affordability decreased by 7.6 per cent, on average, in the 52 Canadian metropolitan areas over the same 10-year period.

For example, the large metropolitan areas surrounding Dallas and Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia all experienced rapid population growth and rising incomes similar to Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. But whereas shelter costs relative to income in the three American cities fell by 13 to 16 per cent – meaning housing became more affordable – shelter costs relative to income increased in the Canadian cities by 10.6 per cent in Vancouver, 8.5 per cent in Toronto and 1.8 per cent in Montreal.

“Housing affordability is crucial to attracting top talent, so municipal policymakers in Canada should investigate how American cities managed to grow and prosper while at the same time remain affordable in a way that Canadian cities have not,” says Globerman.


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Behind the numbers: The GTA housing market in April 2020

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Behind the numbers: The GTA housing market in April 2020

TRREB released two market reports covering the month of April: the mid-April market update and the regular monthly Market Watch. Market conditions unfolded in a relatively uniform manner throughout April. Necessary physical distancing measures that continue to remain in place under the provincial state of emergency go hand-in-hand with the decline in resale housing market activity.

There were 2,975 sales reported through TRREB’s MLS system in April 2020, down 67 per cent on a year-over- year basis. Weekday sales remained within a relatively steady range during the month, averaging 130 sales per day.

Matching the decline in sales was the decline in new listings. In April, the number of new listings entered into the MLS system was down by 64.1 per cent year-over-year to 6,174.

Home prices, on the other hand, remained flat on a year-over-year basis. The average selling price in the Greater Toronto Area for April 2020 was $821,392 – up 0.1 per cent compared to April 2019. The number of sales remained high enough relative to listings to provide support for home prices, on average, at last year’s levels.

COVID-19 and its impact on the housing market

COVID-19 has impacted home sales and listings across the GTA. Realtors are adapting and have been able to facilitate transactions on behalf of buyers and sellers through the use of technology and innovative techniques, including virtual open houses.

Looking back at the first quarter of 2020 through the first two weeks of March, we saw a near-record pace for home sales and double-digit annual rates of price growth. However, when thinking about home prices during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember that the pace of price growth is dictated by the relationship between sales and listings.

So, while the onset of COVID-19 has understandably shifted market conditions and resulted in average selling prices coming off their March peak, there has continued to be enough active buyers relative to available listings to keep prices in line with last year’s levels.

It’s also important to note that breaking down recessions of the past, in addition to looking at their recovery phases, it does not necessarily provide the best guide on how the housing market will recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A key factor for the housing market recovery will be a broader reopening of the economy, which will result in an improving employment picture and a resurgence in consumer confidence. The province is currently undertaking carefully measured and monitored steps towards safely opening up some parts of the economy.

TRREB continues to encourage its member realtors to use alternative marketing strategies such as video and virtual tours wherever possible, under the current state of emergency, and to continue to follow directives and guidance being given by the government and public health agencies.

TRREB is further supporting its members by offering an improved virtual learning environment through its professional development department. Members are being educated on ways to use technology in innovative ways to conduct business virtually. They are also being provided with tools and services to meet clients’ needs.

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 trreb.ca.

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The GTA housing market in January 2020

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The GTA housing market in January 2020

Picking up where 2019 left off, 2020 began with strong sales growth, dwindling housing supply and high demand for ownership and rental housing. January 2020 continued the monthly trend of increased sales coupled with a dip in listings supply. More than 4,580 sales were reported through Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s MLS system in January 2020, up by 15 per cent compared to January 2019. However, the number of new listings entered into TRREB’s MLS system in January was down 17.3 per cent when compared to the same time last year.

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Increased sales up against a constrained supply of listings resulted in increased competition between buyers and stronger price growth in the first month of 2020. The average selling price for all home types combined was up by 12.3 per cent to $839,363, compared to $747,175 in January 2019.

When it comes to an outlook for 2020, without seeing a significant increase in supply, it is likely that new listings will not keep up with sales growth, and over the next year an acceleration in price growth can be expected.

TRREB calls on all levels of government to create concrete housing plans for the next decade

Since entering a new year and decade, tighter market conditions with increased competition between buyers and pent-up demand for both ownership and rental housing has remained an ongoing phenomenon.

Persistent demand for housing in the GTA market can be attributed to a strong regional economy, including low unemployment, steady population growth and low borrowing costs. However, part of the answer to satisfying the issue of ownership housing is the construction of more mid-density housing to provide GTA buyers with more affordable housing options.

TRREB has demonstrated an ongoing commitment in calling on all levels of government to create concrete housing plans. In fact, since 2015, our organization has released an annual Market Year in Review & Outlook Report to shed light on the issues discussed above, using clear and hard evidence, as well as to offer solutions to other major regional challenges in the GTA, including infrastructure requirements and transportation and traffic issues.

The 2020 edition of the report, subtitled “The Time is Now” is all about planning for growth in the Greater Toronto Area and broader Greater Golden Horseshoe.

With the release of this report each year, TRREB continues to make great strides in working with policymakers and industry stakeholders to present fresh ideas on what is critically needed to accommodate the increasing population across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

To download the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board Market Year in Review & Outlook Report, visit TRREB.ca. We hope you enjoy reading the report and join in the dialogue.

Michael Collins is president of the Toronto Regional 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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The GTA housing market in January 2020

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The GTA housing market in January 2020

Picking up where 2019 left off, 2020 began with strong sales growth, dwindling housing supply and high demand for ownership and rental housing.

January 2020 continued the monthly trend of increased sales coupled with a dip in listings supply. More than 4,580 sales were reported through Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s MLS system in January 2020, up by 15 per cent compared to January 2019. However, the number of new listings entered into TRREB’s MLS system in January was down 17.3 per cent when compared to the same time last year.

Increased sales up against a constrained supply of listings resulted in increased competition between buyers and stronger price growth in the first month of 2020. The average selling price for all home types combined was up by 12.3 per cent to $839,363, compared to $747,175 in January 2019.

When it comes to an outlook for 2020, without seeing a significant increase in supply, it is likely that new listings will not keep up with sales growth, and over the next year an acceleration in price growth can be expected.

TRREB calls on all levels of government to create concrete housing plans for the next decade

Since entering a new year and decade, tighter market conditions with increased competition between buyers and pent-up demand for both ownership and rental housing has remained an ongoing phenomenon.

Persistent demand for housing in the GTA market can be attributed to a strong regional economy, including low unemployment, steady population growth and low borrowing costs. However, part of the answer to satisfying the issue of ownership housing is the construction of more mid-density housing to provide GTA buyers with more affordable housing options.

TRREB has demonstrated an ongoing commitment in calling on all levels of government to create concrete housing plans. In fact, since 2015, our organization has released an annual Market Year in Review & Outlook Report to shed light on the issues discussed above, using clear and hard evidence, as well as to offer solutions to other major regional challenges in the GTA, including infrastructure requirements and transportation and traffic issues.

The 2020 edition of the report, subtitled “The Time is Now” is all about planning for growth in the Greater Toronto Area and broader Greater Golden Horseshoe.

With the release of this report each year, TRREB continues to make great strides in working with policymakers and industry stakeholders to present fresh ideas on what is critically needed to accommodate the increasing population across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

To download the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board Market Year in Review & Outlook Report, visit TRREB.ca. We hope you enjoy reading the report and join in the dialogue.

Michael Collins is president of the Toronto Regional 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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From one strong year to another

From one strong year to another

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From one strong year to another

The days are shorter, we wake up and go home in the dark, snow is often on the horizon, and the holiday season is now behind us. And, yet again, the seven-year cycle is defied; year 22 of the real estate cycle has come and gone. The market remains great for buyers, as the choices are out there and buying remains the right choice for those who can.

Indeed, 2019 was another strong year for the condo market. Even as new condos have increased in price in recent years, they still remain a more affordable option than detached homes, which remain somewhat scarce and pricey.

However, navigating throughout the GTA remains a challenge, given traffic and transit issues, and looks like it will for a while. New subway lines and public transit – both very necessary – are great, but these infrastructure improvements can’t come fast enough to keep pace with the new home and condo demand.

Despite these challenges, 2019 is highlighted by stories of very strong sales in the condo world. Downtown Toronto, Vaughan, midtown and some impressive new projects throughout the 905 region and beyond are set to rise soon. The market keeps growing.

In 2019, the housing market overall continued to rebound, as prices settled into place and buyers took advantage. Townhomes and urban (stacked) townhomes became a more prevalent housing type, as they appeared throughout parts of the GTA and were well received by new-home buyers.

One particular success story in this market segment, in a neighbourhood close to my North York roots, is Sheppard West. Steps from the Sheppard subway, a new community known as Greenwich Village will be taking shape next year. A dozen or so bungalows that front onto Sheppard will soon be demolished, welcoming approximately 150 new urban and traditional townhomes offering top-of-the-line finishes, two- and three-storey homes offering two- and three-bedroom variations, starting in the $700,000 range, a fraction of what it costs to buy a resale home in this established neighbourhood.

Concrete construction, flexible home designs and clever architecture make this new community a very special place to be, and what will undoubtedly be an important addition to a neighbourhood that should continue to appreciate. Just the right opportunity at the right time, something that allows people to stay in or come to a valuable neighbourhood at an attractive price. Something we dearly need throughout our desirable city.

Mark Cohen is a founding partner of The Condo Store Marketing Systems, a firm specializing in the design, marketing and sales of condo and new home communities in and outside of the GTA.


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Provincial Government's housing supply action plan is necessary to balance housing market

Provincial Government’s housing supply action plan is necessary to balance housing market

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Provincial Government’s housing supply action plan is necessary to balance housing market

Like all markets, Ontario’s housing market is driven by the laws of supply and demand. Strong demand for housing has created a persistent housing supply challenge that can only be solved by boosting the number of new homes being built. This approach makes common sense and has also been supported by numerous economists and academics. This is why BILD is encouraged by the provincial government’s focus on boosting housing supply.

Every month, BILD releases the previous month’s new home sales data, gathered by Altus Group, tracking the relative health of the new housing market as reflected in sales, inventory, price per sq. ft. and comparisons to historical trends.

The data we released for September 2019 pointed to a modest recovery from the slump of the previous year, but, given that new home sales and inventory increased in tandem, underscored that the GTA continues to experience a significant housing supply crunch.

In many previous columns I have highlighted that the GTA is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in North America, with an average of 115,000 net new residents per year. Our population is expected to reach 9.7 million by 2041. Given this robust growth in population, demand for housing of all types, to buy or rent, is strong and will remain so.

The challenge is that the supply side of the housing equation in Ontario is highly regulated and dependent on factors that can make it less responsive to demand signals. The first of these factors is the supply of land designated for residential construction and serviced with the appropriate infrastructure. Within the cities of the GTA, the amount of available lands for new residential construction has been steadily decreasing.

Another factor that restricts our housing supply relates to planning and approvals. New housing cannot simply be built anytime, anywhere. All new housing projects go through a complex and lengthy approval process, subject to multiple pieces of provincial regulation, which is interpreted and administered by municipal governments. This slows the supply side from being able to meet demand signals. As a result, in the GTA it takes on average 10 years to complete a typical highrise project and 11 years to complete a typical lowrise project.

Like a growing number of governments around the world, the Ontario provincial government has recognized that achieving balance in the housing market starts with increasing supply. The government recognizes that adding new homes helps moderate prices, creates trickle-down housing opportunities for those looking to enter the housing market and has a beneficial impact on the rental market.

BILD is highlighting some of the benefits of the province’s Housing Supply Action Plan in a public education campaign called The Math is Simple. I encourage you to learn more at bildgta.ca/themathissimple.

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on: Twitter.com/BILDGTA, Facebook.com/BILDGTA, YouTube.com/BILDGTA and BILD’s official online blog.


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Securing a mortgage

Looking to secure a mortgage? Now is the best time to negotiate

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Looking to secure a mortgage? Now is the best time to negotiate

 

Securing a mortgage

The Bank of Canada again held its influential overnight lending rate today at 1.75 per cent, signalling the continuation of a stable interest rate environment – and underlining that now may be the best time to negotiate a mortgage.

Why? We’ll get to that in a second.

First, the BoC held the rate for the fifth straight announcement – it’s been at 1.75 since October 2018 – citing growing evidence that the Canadian economic slowdown in late 2018 and early 2019 is now being followed by a pickup in the second quarter this year. Housing market indicators point to a more stable national market, albeit with continued weakness in some regions.

In addition, the Bank says, continued strong job growth suggests that businesses see the weakness in the past two quarters as temporary, with recent data supporting an increase in both consumer spending and exports in the second quarter, and it appears that overall growth in business investment has firmed.

“The Bank’s language indicates that things will need to change to the positive or negative in order to move from their current rate strategy,” says James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and president of CanWise Financial. “Therefore, Canadians can expect a stable rate environment for the foreseeable future.

“This announcement should bring peace of mind to consumers currently in a variable rate mortgage because it is unlikely that the prime rate will increase anytime soon,” he adds. “Going forward, a decrease seems as likely as an increase, which is also good news if you’re in a variable rate.”

Mortgage seasonality

Canadians may also be able to take advantage of seasonality in the mortgage industry to score the best deal on their lending rate. Just like spring is known as traditionally the busy season in real estate, it’s also a very good time of year to secure a mortgage.

Securing a mortgage to buy a condo in Toronto

Ratehub.ca, for example, analyzed historical rate data from 2016 to 2019 to identify the best times of year for Canadians to lock in to a rate, or refinance an existing mortgage.

According to Ratehub.ca’s historical data on the best five-year fixed and variable rates, Canadians have access to the lowest rates during the spring homebuying season – between April and July – every year. The second most competitive time period for mortgage rates occurs between October and December.

A similar story played out in 2017 when the average best five-year fixed rate fell to 2.4 per cent from 3.32 per cent, and the average variable rate dropped from 2.09 per cent to 2.04 per cent.

ALSO READ: Ontario releases plan to address housing affordability and supply issues

ALSO READ: Variable vs fixed mortgages? It’s complicated

A year later, 2018 proved that while a rising rate environment can override the benefits any spring mortgage deals, mortgage holders still benefited from certain promos. The average best five-year fixed rate increased from 2.94 per cent from January to March to 3.07 per cent, but the average best variable rate fell from 2.17 per cent to 1.96 per cent. Lenders actually slashed fixed rates over that period.

Spring promotions

“Lenders and mortgage providers come out with their strongest promotions during the busy spring and summer homebuying season,” Laird says. “Regardless of the interest rate environment, springtime is when lenders are willing to make the smallest margins in order to win business.”

During this period, many lenders will choose at least one rate and term to price very aggressively in order to attract attention to all of their mortgage products. Lenders also come out with special promotion offers to incentivize borrowers to lock in a rate. Consumers can expect to see cash-back deals to help with closing costs and refinance fees. Some lenders offer extra-long rate holds during this period. For example, BMO is currently offering a 130-day rate hold. The “30-day quick close rate” is another promotion many lenders opt for – this is a discounted rate that applies if your mortgage is closing in the next 30 to 45 days.

It’s crucial that lenders remain competitive through the spring market, Ratehub says, to hit their annual mortgage volume targets. In most cases, lenders will hit their targets during the second quarter (April to June) and, as a result, tend to be less competitive with promotions during the latter half of the year.

Consumers will typically see rates fall again in October, in the lead up to Oct. 31, when all of Canada’s major banks end their fiscal year. Lenders that want to get an early start on their targets for the following year often come out with promotions during this time period.

Bank results

Further benefiting the mortgage landscape for Canadians is that Canada’s big banks this week are reporting lower second quarter profits than expected.

“The poor results reported by Canada’s big banks in Q2 2019 could be good news for mortgage consumers,” Laird told Homes Publishing. “In light of these results, it would be unsurprising if the banks aggressively try to win mortgage business by offering lower rates to consumers or promotions to attract more business in the latter half of 2019.”

RELATED READING

Ontario releases plan to address housing affordability and supply issues

Three important questions facing the GTA housing market this year

 

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Three important questions facing the GTA housing market this year

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Three important questions facing the GTA housing market this year

As I predicted last year, our paradigm has shifted due to the government intervention of the stress test as interest rates increased. In a nutshell, the GTA real estate market has since slowed on both the buying and selling sides. All but condo prices have slowed. There is a high demand for the smaller properties, and it appears that first-time homeowners are grasping at the cheapest properties they can get.

There are still three big questions that will determine the playing field for 2019.

1. Where are interest rates going?

The answer is not so simple. In fact, it is almost impossible to answer. Interest rates are the product of the Bank of Canada lending rate, and the BoC determines the lending rate based on the economy. To figure out the economy is like trying to figure out a lock combination with a million different variables. My advice is to play it safe, and if you take a risk, make it a calculated one. I always use the inflation rate for appreciation and worst-case scenarios with my clients.

2. Will the federal government reconsider the stress test?

The stress test was introduced to prevent homebuyers from defaulting on their mortgages in case of an interest rate hike.

Since the stress test was introduced, the real estate market has slowed substantially due to qualification and affordability. This type of government intervention shouldn’t be taken lightly. Although the test was implemented in good faith, the government should have put some measures in place before implementing such a heavy-handed rule. Let me explain why.

Say the stress test was set up when the interest rate was in the low two-per-cent range. The stress test would mean that the qualifying rate was slightly more than four per cent at that time. Fast forward approximately 12 months and at least five interest rate hikes, and we are at a qualifying rate of slightly more than six per cent. Now the same person who qualified a year ago, will have a much lower borrowing power.

Who does this hurt? For starters, buyers who purchased pre-construction and are looking to close in the near future. The original pre-approval they once obtained is no longer valid, and if they can’t borrow the difference or get a co-signer, they won’t be able to close. As a real estate broker, I always warn my clients against such situations, as well as the potential reward if done right.

3. Where is 2019 headed?

Uncertainty is still the driver, but it’s safe to say this is our new normal. Last year, it was pretty shocking for everyone who got caught in the middle of all these new rules and rate hikes. Sellers were refusing to realize price drops, and every few weeks they would slowly introduce a price reduction.

Buyers experienced a harsh reality and were forced to revisit expectations. Although prices dropped, so did borrowing power, which led buyers to go back to renting and attempt to save some more or, as mentioned, lower expectations and purchase the next best property they can afford to get into homeownership.

There are still those who are waiting to close on a purchase and will have to come up with the difference, get a co-signer or go to a B lender and pay higher interest. However, as the dust settles, buyers are finding their confidence again. Sellers are being more realistic, and buyers also have a more practical approach.

Unless we keep seeing interest rate hikes, there is only one way to go, and that is up – as long as the government re-visits the stress test and configures it to adapt to the ever-changing interest rate environment.

ARIE BUZILO is a real estate broker and an investor specializing in buying and selling properties all over the GTA. He works out of Century 21 Leading Edge Realty.

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When the Elite purchase condos

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When the Elite purchase condos

When people shop for a new condominium, I always advise them to make a list of must-haves and nice to-haves. It can also be fun to make a wish list of everything you would like to have if money was no object. Of course, nowadays, price looms large in most people’s consideration, but there are many buyers who can afford absolutely everything they desire. Imagine what an experience that must be!

So, what can money buy? The first thing that comes to mind is the opportunity to customize a penthouse extensively. Let’s say a purchaser starts with a 5,000-sq.-ft. design. Depending on preferences, that buyer might want a traditional layout with separate living and dining rooms. Those with more contemporary tastes may opt instead to have an open concept main living area with plenty of space for entertaining on a grand scale. This ballroom-inspired space could hold tables for dining or could be kept open, depending on the event.

Another benefit of money-is-no-object shopping is the ability to incorporate things such as exercise facilities, a home theatre, media room and whirlpool into the suite, rather than sharing these amenities with other residents. Talk about pure luxury! Even a private landscaped rooftop terrace with a pool is a possibility. Some of the most elite penthouses include space for staff quarters and a separate entrance as well, sometimes a private elevator. Multiple balconies and terraces may also be part of the suite’s layout to maximize views and the ability to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is pleasant.

Today’s new condos all come with outstanding features and finishes, but purchasers who can afford it all can have sumptuous appointments brought in from around the world. Kitchens alone can feature items such as a barbecue stove, vegetable steamer beside the sink, pasta tap at the back of the stove and an exotic backsplash. Maybe buyers want appliances to rise out of the counter with the press of a button.

And let’s talk master bedrooms and ensuites. The possibilities are positively elegant, from marble counters to lavish oval soaker tubs, spa features and steam rooms. A special wall designed specifically to fit an art collection, multiple fireplaces, backlit coffered panels on high ceilings, elegant chandeliers… if you can imagine it, a developer can likely source and install it. Think of these as the most upscale of upgrades imaginable.

There is another way to live an ultra-pampered lifestyle in a condominium – purchase in a residence situated above a five-star hotel. Suite owners can tap into the world-class amenities of the hotel below. How wonderful it must be to simply hop on an elevator to indulge in spa treatments or dine at a superb restaurant.

For some elite buyers, a penthouse in Toronto is one of two or more residences they own. They may consider it a home base during business trips or vacations. Yes, this is a dream scenario for most of us, but isn’t it grand to know that a condominium wish list can become reality for those who can afford it?

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

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