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In Conversation With… Debbie Cosic, Founder & CEO In2ition Realty

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In Conversation With… Debbie Cosic, Founder & CEO In2ition Realty

New-home buyers, builders and marketers had big plans this spring. Then COVID-19 struck and things changed. Consumers went into a holding pattern, and developers and sales outfits had to figure out what to do.

For In2ition Realty of Mississauga, Ont., a prominent new home and condo marketing firm, that meant pivoting quickly to online and virtual sales. Founder and CEO Debbie Cosic explains how the company responded – and how she sees the market post-pandemic.

How’s the business of marketing and selling new homes and condos during these challenging days?

To say the least, challenging. All of our sales offices are (at press time) currently closed and have converted to online sales. We have been running virtual sales offices across the GTA, and at any given time we have about 20 sites operating.

Fortunately, we’re used to this, as we’re a pretty tech savvy company. This whole challenge has made us kick everything up a notch. We believe the online new home sales world is definitely here to stay. We’ve had to change our method of operations.

We’re still very busy internally with Zoom and conference calls, with developers a couple times a week on various projects. We had 24 sites to launch in 2020, and just before COVID started we basically got two out of the gate. So that means 22 still to launch. Will they all launch this year? We hope so. None of them have been cancelled. We’re hoping that these delays will just toggle things into a fall market, or some of them into the summer market, fall, winter or early next year.

How are consumers responding to virtual sales? Buying a home is obviously a very significant purchase, so to do so without being able to go to the development site…

Even during the shutdown, we have been doing deals consistently. Buyers may be a little slower to consummate the deal, but it always surprises me how technologically savvy everybody is. We’re all online with Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram. Young or old, people are connected to the computer, they’re online shopping or reading the news every day. So, if you make it simple, which is what we’ve done, using Zoom or FaceTime, our team walks them through all the steps, and we have the presentations ready online. Sometimes it may take a little longer, maybe a second or third meeting, but we make it extremely easy for them to be able to navigate.

We all got some good news when the province announced that construction could resume on May 19. How do you think the market will react – will it quickly lead to renewed buyer interest and activity?

It will spur our whole industry to start moving. Everybody’s sort of gearing up. We have a master blueprint on how to reopen our sales offices safely when the time comes, such as following the government precautions for social distancing, and otherwise doing things to make them feel safe.

We have regular calls on the status of our developments, to get a pulse on the market and feedback from clientele. Some buyers are pushing us to open, we’re getting requests regarding particular projects and we still have people in the pipeline. Do 100 per cent of interested buyers still want to proceed? It’s a new normal now, so we just want to get out there and start selling, whether it’s 80 per cent volume or 50 or 20… We don’t know that yet.

When the restrictions are fully lifted, do you foresee buyers easing their way back into the market, or will there be more of a rush because there might be some pent-up demand?

It may take some time, but I believe things will return to a normal marketplace. In 2019, we had a banner market with 76,500 pre-construction sales in high- and lowrise combined. The first couple of months of 2020, we launched two projects and we basically blew through them, and within a couple of weeks we sold out beyond our construction thresholds. That, we are not expecting, and our brokers are not expecting either. We just believe that we’re going to return to a normal balanced market. And we’re fine with that. Instead of us selling out a development in a couple of weekends, it may take six or nine months or even a year to get to preconstruction thresholds. We’re fine with that.

We’re anticipating a new normal, even in the way we conduct sales, in that we’re not going to be able to have big groups in our sales offices, and these big events that create a lot of hype. We know that it’s going to be a more tempered sale because only smaller groups can come in. As long as you manage expectations, we’re all happy to go back to work and start doing some sales. That’s the important thing.

How do you think homebuyer intentions may change? Do you foresee people buying smaller homes or buying condos instead of lowrise homes or buying more with friends and family?

I think intentions are going to change differently for different segments of the population. Some buyers may enjoy being closer to family, or they’ll prefer a multi-family residence, or a loft upstairs from their parents, or splitting a home with a sibling.

Some experts believe there will be a notable and growing segment of buyers who prefer the bigger homes, larger lots and more space, given everything the pandemic has taught us about being apart from others. Supply and affordability issues in the GTA may preclude that, but areas outside the GTA – Kitchener-Waterloo or Hamilton, for example – may represent opportunities. What are your thoughts?

Definitely. In recent years, areas outside the downtown core have become more desirable…the 905s and some of the 519 areas and even in 705, and that will continue to grow.

I also believe others will migrate back into the city because they will not want to endure public transit, because of concerns over the lack of social distancing.

Do you see any other fundamental changes either for builders or buyers? For example, working from home may become more prevalent, so will home designs further change to accommodate more places people can work separately in the home?

I definitely believe that. Just in my own experience, I have a house with a den, and I have a desk in my bedroom, each of the kids have a desk in their bedrooms, and it’s still not enough. They’re being schooled from home, I’m working from home, the other adults in my house are working from home… We’re all looking for that quiet space, whether it’s a room in the basement, a den in their next house, or a flex space or solarium in a larger condo.

There will also be a portion of population that will want to age in place, so we’ll have to have housing that can accommodate that.

New home supply in the GTA has long been a very serious issue. During the pandemic, governments have clearly shown that when they want to, they can act quickly. How hopeful are you that such legislative agility – clearing red tape and shortening development approval processes – can extend beyond COVID-19?

I’ve been preaching for years that a lot of the legacy supply has been sold off, especially in lowrise and midrise homes. But governments really need to look at the way they’re allowing approvals to occur – not just the speed, but the type of product they’re allowing. They should be allowing more multi-family residences in our subdivisions and communities. I’m not saying we should turn a whole subdivision of 40-ft. lots into triplexes, but you should allow some of these build forms, because they’re desirable, affordable and something we really need.

Instead of a 3,000-sq.-ft. home, why not build a 2000-sq.-ft. home with 1,000-sq.- ft. loft or secondary suite? That kind of thing. Some of this is allowed, but I really think it has to be speeded up, and fast, so on a dime, a developer can change a planning application to have these different types of build forms woven into these communities.

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And on a personal note …

If I wasn’t in the new home and condo marketing business, I would: Be working on Wall street as a venture capitalist. I love the energy and challenges of that industry, and I love NYC.

My greatest inspiration in this business is: My life partner Ralph, who has taught me to believe in the power of the universe and the power of positive thinking. He has the attitude of “some will, some won’t, others always do.” And if something bad happens, don’t fret over it, learn from it and let it go. Something bigger and better is around the corner.

My greatest reward is: Spending time with my loved ones and surrounding myself with the wonderful group of people who work with us. I’m also grateful this industry has given me not only the financial means but also the time to help people less fortunate than I am. I love and thrive on our charitable endeavours.

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In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

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In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

As challenging as the pandemic has been, there’s also been no shortage of good news, feelgood stories among new home and condo builders, developers, marketers, suppliers and others, as they pitch in to do their part for COVID-19 relief.

Among them is In2ition Realty. The Mississauga, Ont. new home and condo marketing and sales firm has long been involved in charitable initiatives.

“For us, being involved in a charity has been part of our work life and our work culture,” Founder and CEO Debbie Cosic told HOMES Publishing.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, uncovering other needs in the community, and other ways In2ition could help.

“We were looking for a charitable endeavour during these trying times, when many of us were home in the beginning kind of wondering what to do with our time, until more normalcy of our meeting schedules returned,” says Cosic.

Feed Mississauga reached out to In2ition, asking not just for much needed funds, but to help provide some social media and creative expertise to further raise awareness.

“It’s turned out to be very timely for us, that we could really roll up our sleeves and lend a hand,” Cosic says. “The food bank was down 50 per cent in both donations and in volunteers, so they were at a crisis point.”

Other COVID-19 relief initiatives from the homebuilding industry

Kids artwork raising funds for COVID-19 relief

Real estate firms raise more than $200,000 for COVID-19 relief

Flato Developments supporting Ontario frontline workers in fight against COVID-19

Program helps builders get back to business safely after COVID-19

Ambassadors for The Mikey Network aid with coronavirus relief efforts at SickKids


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Moving into a home the smart way

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Moving into a home the smart way

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a professional couple, a growing family or an empty-nester, if you are considering the purchase of a new or resale condominium suite or lowrise home with a condo component, it is best to be aware and prepared. The following are a few tips to get yourself organized so you come up with the best choice.

  1. Ask yourself, what are your personal and family needs? My advice is to make a list of priorities. Are you buying for the first time? Upsizing? Downsizing? Are you looking for more space, less space, or if you’re living in your parents’ basement, will any space at all do? Do you like the idea of having a backyard in a townhome, or does the idea of having beautiful condo amenities under your roof appeal? If children are involved, do you require proximity to a school? Realize that size is relative – you will find condo suites that are larger than some townhomes, and vice versa. Keep layout at the top of your interior priorities. Think about how you like to live and determine which plans accommodate those needs.
  2. Once you want to start looking around, hire a good realtor. The marketplace is packed with choices (including condominiums and lowrise homes with a condo component) in Toronto and the GTA. There are realtors who are familiar with the area you select, and they will guide your search. Remember that purchasing a condominium is different from freehold lowrise; it is wise to work with a realtor who can help you understand all of the nuances.
  3. Consider pre-construction for a variety of reasons. Resale is fine for some shoppers, but in many ways, it is like wildly looking in the dark. Buying early in the selling cycle of a new mid- or highrise condominium usually allows you a two-to-five year window until move-in, which means you can save more for your down payment, and you will likely earn equity before you even take possession. Many condo purchasers nowadays earn 20 to 40 per cent in equity prior to closing. This is huge for anyone, but especially young first-time buyers.
  4. Next, get your finances in order. Find out what you can afford, and buy as much as that allows for – as long as you’re comfortable with it. You know what debts you have to pay off and how much disposable income you need each month to keep up your current lifestyle. If you are downsizing from a large lowrise home, you have to decide how much money to take out of the home, how much to invest, and whether to use a condo as your main residence or a second property.

There are condominiums popping up in Regions of Peel, Halton, York and Durham, where prices are more attainable than Toronto. From Mississauga to Pickering and beyond, you will discover a plethora of choices with differing architecture, amenities, views, layouts, sizes and prices. The goal is to find the right one for you, and a realtor can help you along the way to your best decision.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. in2ition.ca

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New home and condominium sales will continue momentum in 2020

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New home and condominium sales will continue momentum in 2020

Predictions for new home and condominium sales in 2020 are abounding in the media, and I have some of my own. I see sales being similar to last year, with a heightened awareness for affordability driving the momentum and style choices. I also see a major shift in expectations for all generations of home and condo buyers, and as the last bastion of affordability, the condominium market should remain strong.

Condo sales in the Greater Toronto Area did extremely well in November, up 32 per cent from November 2018, which already put these numbers among the top four years ever. What’s interesting is how the demand for condos is growing in the outer boundaries of, and outside of the GTA. I call the 905 areas around Toronto the “ring of fire” for new condo sales. These are all areas people can drive to in an hour or so from the city. One example is Chestnut Hill Developments’ Universal City in Pickering, where the first two towers have sold out, and the third is in the registration stage anticipating a Public launch this Winter. Amacon’s AVIA Condos in the Parkside Village community in Mississauga City Centre is another multi-phased condominium residence experiencing hot sales.

Farther out, we are seeing heightened interest in new condos in areas such as Hamilton, Kitchener and Waterloo, which are within an hour’s drive of the outer boundaries of the GTA. In 2018, we launched the first phase in Sorbara Group’s The Way Urban Townhomes in Erin Mills, which nearly sold out, and the second phase released late 2019 is nearly 95 per cent sold. We’re getting ready for another release early this year. This product is smaller and tighter than in the GTA and offers affordable end prices. We’ve sold close to 500 homes in Dundalk over the last few years and our phones are ringing off the hook for Rosehaven Homes’ KiWi Condos on King William in Hamilton.

Remember those changing expectations I mentioned? We are seeing a strong market of Millennials who plan on being permanent renters, as owning in Ontario is becoming more of a financial challenge as time goes on. This is encouraging news for condo investors.

In November, we also saw lowrise sales in the GTA up 207 per cent over November 2018, which is largely due to builders divesting themselves from legacy communities of large lots. We will continue to see a redesign of more affordable home types. In addition, a growing number of people purchasing lowrise homes want multigenerational designs that include a basement apartment, loft, coach house or garage made into living space. Having accommodations for three to four generations that can share expenses is a hot trend right now, especially as not many people can afford millions of dollars for a home.

The other shift I see is in mortgage trends. Three-year mortgages are around three per cent, but some buyers are paying five to six per cent to have an edge in entering the marketplace. They will make that sacrifice to realize the dream of homeownership.

The economic indicators are there to keep new home and condo sales going strong: Immigration, jobs and interest rates. Time will tell.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years.

In2ition.ca

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Three ways to afford a single-family home

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Three ways to afford a single-family home

Detached houses in the GTA cost $1 million-plus to purchase. How to afford one?

It can seem as though it’s nearly impossible to afford a detached home in the Greater Toronto Area these days, with the cost of real estate as sky high as it’s become. According to Altus Group, the benchmark price for new single-family homes in the GTA in August was a whopping $1.08 million. That’s actually down 4.1 per cent versus the same period last year, but it’s still a big chunk of change.

Condominiums represent a slightly more affordable alternative to detached homes, but not everyone wants to live in a multi-storey tower. Plus condos don’t always have a large outdoor space or have backyards, which can be an issue, particularly when you have kids. So if you’ve got your heart set on purchasing a detached home, what are your options? Here are three possibilities to explore:

1. Be a landlord of your own home

By using a portion of your detached house as a rental property – creating a basement suite is the most common approach, but laneway housing is another solution being examined across Toronto – you can generate significant revenue to help you pay your mortgage. You would also be contributing much-needed rental housing stock in a city where vacancy has been hovering around one per cent. Note, however, that being a landlord comes with great responsibilities:

You’ll have to find tenants and manage relations with them, fix things in the rental suite (or pay someone to do it), and comply with various rental bylaws. It’s a lot of work, but it can help you become mortgage-free sooner.

2. Keep it in the family

Multi-generational family homes are becoming more popular, and this is a great way to be able to afford to own a detached house. You can provide accommodation for aging parents in the form of an in-law suite, and they can help to shoulder some of the costs of owning the home. There are other advantages to this arrangement: You can look after your folks, and if you have kids, your parents can serve as a built-in babysitting service on date night. And if you’ve got grown children, don’t be so fast to push them out of the nest. Instead, invite them to remain at home, or to move back in following post-secondary school – as long as they pay rent, of course. Think of all the family-bonding opportunities you’ll have with your parents and kids living under the same roof!

3. Divide the house into a duplex

Another solution for being able to afford a detached home is to go in on the big purchase with family members, and then divide the house into a duplex. Bear in mind that there are some bureaucratic hurdles currently standing in the way of this being a viable solution. That’s why it’s high time our government leaders tweaked existing bylaws to allow for homes on traditional 40- and 50-ft. lots to be built or retrofitted into internal duplexes. Then, that 3,000-sq.-ft. $1-million-plus home becomes a 1,500-sq.-ft. duplex, along with basement storage, garage space and a yard – the detached-home dream.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. In2ition.ca

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Design Tips, Mixing materials and staying natural

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Design Tips, Mixing materials and staying natural

My team at In2ition Realty is immersed in the GTA market, enabling us to stay on top of the latest home design trends. Here’s a rundown on tips to design your home.

Mix it up

Material mixing is hotter and easier than ever! We are no longer bound to boring looks and conventional design rules and ideas – we can mix woods, metals, stone, porcelain and fabrics to create beautiful layers and fresh-looking spaces. Inspired by the Danish term “Hygge,” meaning “cosiness,” a mix of materials creates a comfortable and inviting getaway in any space.

Envision a contemporary bedroom adorned in velvets, and luxurious rugs and fabrics, with tone-on-tone colours shown in a variety of textures and materials (white on white, grey on grey), mixed with wood furniture that’s accented with metal or resin inlays. All of these elements work together to give a room a luxurious warmth.

Mixing metals, such as metallic and muted golds, chrome, ombre gold, rose gold and chrome is also on trend. This metal trend carries through to the kitchen as well, with the introduction of matteblack appliances: Sinks, faucets, even bathtubs.

Au Natural

Natural materials continue to grow in popularity. Marble is no longer just an option for countertops and backsplashes; we’re now seeing marble finishes on tables, trays and candles – giving everyday household items a calming look and feel. Natural woods are also in style, with homeowners trending toward wide-plank grey and blonde flooring, and using warmer-toned or white washed woods for accent walls.

Concrete is no longer reserved just for lofts and commercial spaces; designers are using it in furniture to provide a striking accent piece for kitchens or bathrooms. Natural curves are hot as well, from organic shapes in wallpaper to products such as curved sofas and rounded accent chairs, giving a natural softness to spaces.

Quality Items

When it comes to furniture, we’re holding out for key quality pieces, and are willing to spend more when we find them. This is especially true on big-ticket items such as sofas, dining tables and beds. Given the ever-shrinking size of GTA condominiums, and the ever-rising costs to live in them, people want furniture that not only looks great, but that also serves multiple functions and is well built, showcasing its quality. Statement pieces are where we tend to spend our budgets, and we love showing them off.

Reuse and recycle with imagination is becoming the old-is-new mantra for interior decorators, as designers give older pieces a rebirth with updated materials and textures. Vintage fixtures are always in good taste when refurbished – to add a touch of character and warmth, offsetting the clean, clinical look of modern homes.

Rich and Bold

Rich colours, such as a strong cobalt blue or an elegant emerald green, are currently on point. Same goes with large pops of colour incorporated in unexpected ways, such as vibrantly coloured kitchen appliances, or fresh new paint for tired old cabinets. Accent walls with bold-print wallpaper, especially in floral or organic patterns, enhance small areas such as powder rooms and entryways, giving personality and importance to smaller spaces.

In the kitchen, designers are showcasing bold, oversized glass pendants in a variety of geometric forms and finishes, boasting a unique look to our kitchens. Most importantly, choose your home finishings and decor to reflect your personality and lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to make a statement and have some fun while decorating your new home.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years.

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There’s no time like the present, as lowrise prices are moderating

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There’s no time like the present, as lowrise prices are moderating

Lowrise prices are moderating, and homebuilders are offering purchase incentives

The prospect of owning a lowrise home in the GTA has traditionally been a cost prohibitive one for most buyers in the market. But the once yawning price gap between lowrise homes and condominiums has started to come a bit more into balance as of late. This means it could be a good time for some to consider the purchase of a lowrise home; if not a detached house, then perhaps the relatively more affordable option of a townhouse.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is forecasting that the GTA’s lowrise housing market is headed for a slight downturn this year, largely owing to a lack of land for the development of single-family and townhouses. That said, suburban regions such as Peel, Durham and York will account for higher concentrations of the GTA’s single-family detached sales and listings moving forward, and CMHC says that should slow price appreciation in the lowrise segment.

Condos continue to be the more affordable alternative to new single-family homes. But the difference in pricing between new single-family homes and new condos has narrowed significantly over the past two years, according to a new report from Altus Group.

The benchmark price of a singlefamily home in the GTA finished 2018 at $1.14 million, about 13 per cent below the peak it reached in July 2017, Altus Group notes. Meanwhile, the benchmark asking price for a new Toronto condo hit $796,815 at the end of 2018, an increase of 11 per cent from the previous year and a new all-time high for condos.

There is still a limited selection of affordable lowrise options out there for most buyers in the market, with only one in five new single-family homes available to purchase at the end of 2018 priced below $750,000. But Altus Group notes that single-family inventory levels rose slowly and steadily throughout 2018 and rose above the 5,000-unit mark by late 2018, the first time this has been the case for the GTA since way back in June 2015.

What’s more, in a bid to compensate for the dip in demand that followed the federal government’s introduction of new more stringent mortgage rules last year, lowrise homebuilders have been offering a range of purchase incentives, including sharpen prices, décor dollar credits, and designer upgrades.

Lowrise homes are still priced well above the average condo and many still won’t be able to afford to purchase that category of housing. However, townhouses, which offer a more reasonable price point than detached homes, and more space than condos to accommodate growing families, could represent the best of both worlds. Townhouses generally cost less to purchase than detached houses, and they typically tend to appreciate in value faster than condos, at least in the early years.

Whether it’s a single-family home or a townhouse, if you wanted to get into the GTA lowrise home market, it would appear that there’s no time like the present.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. In2ition.ca

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Why the cost of condos in Toronto continues to rise

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Why the cost of condos in Toronto continues to rise

There was a lot of buzz on Twitter recently when many realtors and industry professionals started the discussion on the long list of reasons as to why Toronto condo prices have risen so substantially over the past decade.

The fact that condo prices are increasing shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s been living in the GTA. Our housing market has been red hot, and condos have become the go-to option for buyers who can no longer afford detached homes and who want to live in bustling downtown locales. Condos have also been popular with investors who buy units and rent them out, generating decent returns.

Andrew LaFleur, a well-known and respected realtor in the pre-construction industry, outlined 15 factors that have contributed to the rising GTA condo prices; I’m going to focus on a few of the key ones.

LACK OF LOW-DENSITY LAND

The scarcity of land for the development of detached homes has had the most significant impact on Toronto real estate. The province’s pro-intensification growth policy has triggered a huge shift in the market, forcing developers to build up, not out. Amid ever-shrinking supplies of lowrise homes, prices for that product have gone through the roof. This has pushed purchasers into condos. And while condos are cheaper than lowrise homes, the ever-rising popularity of this product type has meant a steady uptick in prices.

INCREASED IMMIGRATION

Toronto is a popular destination for newcomers from across Canada and around the world, with most newcomers choosing to locate in the city centres. Despite all the cranes you see on the skyline for condo projects, we are actually not building enough new units to accommodate this influx. And supply and demand dynamics mean condo prices have been steadily climbing amid this strong desire among newcomers to live in centrally located condos.

LOW INTEREST RATES

The GTA condo market has benefited from historically low interest rates over the past decade, as buyers have been able to borrow money cheaply to purchase condos. But the surge in demand for condos, amid a lack of supply to meet that demand, has meant sizeable increases in condo prices. And the uptick in interest rates of late has driven the cost to purchase a condo even higher.

DOWNTOWN GENTRIFICATION

Condo buyers want to be located in proximity to amenities like transit and walkable neighbourhoods, as well as shops, restaurants and entertainment. But while there used to be pockets of cities where condos were priced lower because those areas were considered frontiers for pioneering purchasers, spots like these are fewer and farther between now. Growing urban gentrification means there are no longer discounts to buy in locations boasting potential. Condo buyers must pay big bucks to live in the centre of the action.

TALLER CONDO TOWERS

It used to be that a 50- or 60-storey condo building was exceptional; now we’re seeing towers shooting up past 70 storeys, and soon higher than 80 and 90 storeys, just like in New York and Hong Kong. These “super-talls” are more expensive to develop, due to increased costs for material and labour, and the sophisticated technology and infrastructure to support these towers. Those increased costs are passed on to condo buyers, pushing up average prices. As Toronto gets more super tall towers, expect higher premiums. It’s the cost we pay to live in a world-class city.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. In2ition.ca

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Don’t Doubt The Market

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Don’t Doubt The Market

There is no shortage of demand at the launches of new projects

The GTA housing market is as robust as ever and things have been humming along quite nicely for many years now.

And yet there will always be those who believe we are doomed, that the good times cannot continue for the GTA’s hot housing market — that it’s no doubt headed for an inevitable crash.

Well, that’s just not the sentiment we’re seeing at In2ition Realty as we’ve launched a series of successful projects across the region in recent weeks.

There was certainly no shortage of demand at the launch this summer of the first tower at Universal City, a Chestnut Hill Developments master-planned community in Pickering. The project enjoys lake views and is located just minutes from the GO Transit station. It sold out in record time and a second tower of 324 units just launched last month. The interest for tower two was equally as strong.

In Port Credit, on the other side of the GTA, it was the same story with the recent launch of Tanu Condos, a 204-unit tower and townhouse project by Edenshaw Developments. We had a lineup on the first day of launch!

Truth be told, Toronto condo builders can’t launch developments quickly enough to satisfy the insatiable demand.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the GTA housing market in 2018, mind you. The introduction of a new stress test on mortgage applicants certainly had an impact on home sales, sidelining some buyers.

And the GTA housing market faces considerable ongoing challenges, including trade labour shortages, development approval process and timing, project cost escalation, ability to secure financing, profit margins, land availability and cost … there are tons of hurdles for the building industry to contend with.

Although sales figures are down 40 per cent from last year, a portion is from lack of supply. In 2017 we saw 128 launches in highrise condos versus 56 in 2018.

The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) reported a 6 per cent uptick in regional home sales in October 2018, compared to the same month a year earlier. And the average sale price of a detached home in the GTA last month was up 3.5 per cent on a year-overyear basis, to $807,340. The average sale price for a condo in Toronto was $603,153, compared to $461,013 in the 905.

Renovation spending is also at an all-time high: $12.3 billion was spent on home alterations and improvements in Ontario in the first half of 2018, according to Altus Group.

Homebuying intentions are up, as well, despite affordability and qualifying challenges. An Altus Group survey of current homeowners and current renters showed that most GTA households are saying yes, they plan to buy a home in the next year or so.

The evidence doesn’t lie. Households and investors alike see the GTA housing market as a quality long-term investment. And why shouldn’t they? A thriving and diverse regional economy and a steady stream of 100,000-plus new arrivals in the GTA each year — more migration than any other city in Canada — will keep this market strong for years to come.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years.

In2ition.ca

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Easy Living

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Easy Living

Smart home technology and tech-driven features simplify how we interact with our homes

A growing number of new condos are equipped with smart home features that promise to make day-today living more convenient and easier than ever before.

State-of-the-art automated home technology is simplifying the way we enter our homes, operate appliances and lights, manage temperature settings and security and receive delivered packages.

Smart buildings are operated through a central network, integrating multiple systems to enable shared services and the individual features within each suite.

This technology means residents can count on having voice and high-speed data connectivity throughout the condo building, which is essential as more people cut the cord on landlines and cable, and therefore require robust wifi. This is of particular importance to those who work from home, enabling them to work in various areas of a condo building.

Here’s a look at some ways technology is revolutionizing the way we live in condos:

Remote control: Home automation technology gives residents the ability to adjust the temperature and lighting of their units, set the security alarm and receive notifications through an in-suite wall pad, or remotely via a smartphone app. The wall pad lets homeowners see and speak with guests before allowing entry, ensuring the utmost security for the building. Using in-suite cameras, condo owners can keep an eye on their home, making sure their belongings are safe while they’re away.

Keyless entry: Digital door locks require a personalized access code for entry, and additional codes can be programmed for family members, friends, or service providers like a dogwalker or repair person. A personalized smartphone app unlocks common area doors as a resident approaches, and licence plate recognition provides automated entry to the parking garage for residents and registered guests — no fob or door opener is required.

Advanced appliances: Appliances like your dishwasher and washer-dryer can be wifi-enabled, and then controlled (and monitored) from afar through a smartphone. In the future ovens will be wifi-powered so a resident can warm up the appliance for dinner before getting home. Home automation technology can also be used to water your plants via a smartphone, reminding you when to water and analyzing your watering history to create a schedule.

Package drops: With the rising popularity of e-commerce, condo residents need a convenient solution for having their packages received when they’re not home. Technology is helping here, too. Condos are being equipped with automated smart locker systems. When a package arrives, residents are sent a digital message and the package is held until it’s convenient for them to pick it up.

Home electronics: You can use a smartphone app to turn electronic devices on and off. This home automation technology can also tell you how much power or energy you use on your electronics, giving you valuable insight into which electronics and appliances are costing you the most each month.

Fire and carbon monoxide monitoring: These are two of the biggest safety hazards in a home, and automation technology gives homeowners the ability to monitor these from anywhere with an app. Alerts instantly notify you if the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm goes off and the app provides real-time updates about smoke and carbon monoxide levels. It can also notify you when the batteries are low in your alarms.

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. In2ition.ca

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