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Downtown Toronto

Toronto still one of the fastest growing cities in North America – even with the impact of COVID-19

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Toronto still one of the fastest growing cities in North America – even with the impact of COVID-19

Toronto was the fastest growing metropolitan area in Canada and the U.S. last year, overtaking Dallas-Fort Worth Arlington, Tex., according to new data from the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development (CUR) at Ryerson University.

Downtown Toronto
Photo: Wayne Karl

And even though Toronto will take a hit as a result of COVID-19, it is still expected to be one of the top cities in North America.

Toronto was the only Canadian metropolitan area in the top five; Montreal was sixth and Vancouver twelfth.

Metro Toronto grew by 127,575 persons in 2019, outpacing Dallas-Fort Worth Arlington, which grew by 117,380 persons, to become the fastest growing metropolitan area in all of the U.S. and Canada.

Short-term impact

The research for this latest report was conducted prior to COVID, covering the period of July 2018 to July 2019, so the results are likely to change over the next year, CUR says.

“COVID is estimated to drop immigration (to Toronto) by half this year,” Diana Petramala, senior CUR researcher told Condo Life. “Therefore, this will likely push Toronto down the list of fastest growing cities.

“Toronto’s main strength is immigration, whereas places like Dallas are benefiting from millennials leaving more expensive areas like New York. Toronto, however, will continue to do better than New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – areas that are seeing large outflows of millennials in search of more affordable housing and jobs.”

The impact of COVID in Toronto will be short term, Petramala adds. “Immigration is still allowed, so as other countries move out of lockdown and processing offices open up and airlines start flying again, you will like see a snap back in immigration.”

Outpacing New York

Toronto, in fact, had almost three times the population growth from immigration as New York in 2019. Both regions experienced a loss in resident population to other areas (domestic net migration), but the rate was four times faster in New York.

In terms of population growth on a city basis, as opposed to the metropolitan area (GTA), Toronto (45,742 persons) and Montreal (31,565) represented the two fastest growing cities in all of the U.S. and Canada over the study period. Overall, Canadian cities represented 11 of the top 20 central cities in the U.S. and Canada in population growth, with Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton placing fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

While the city of Toronto’s population grew by 45,742, New York City’s decreased by 53,264.


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Broccolini River & Fifth

Broccolini preparing for market return with hiring push, plans for Toronto

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Broccolini preparing for market return with hiring push, plans for Toronto

Canadian industrial, commercial and residential real estate developer Broccolini is ramping up hiring activity in anticipation of when market activity returns.

It also has plans for expansion in the Toronto residential market.

Broccolini River & Fifth
River & Fifth, at 5 Defries St., along the banks of Toronto’s Don River

The Montreal-based company, also with projects in Toronto and Ottawa, is looking to fill several positions in the coming weeks, ranging from planning to construction to property management.

“We are proud to have been able to keep our entire team employed throughout the pandemic, with the exception of the day labourers directly affected by the closure of the construction sites,” says Anthony Broccolini, chief operating officer at Broccolini. “Our exceptional positioning in the real estate market is now affording us the opportunity to further expand our team following these difficult times.”

Positions are available in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Strong growth projected

Once construction activities resume, Broccolini says its expectations for growth are excellent, thanks to a full backlog of contracted projects; a reflection of the quality, scale and prestige of the various industrial, commercial and residential projects the company has delivered over the last few years.

To carry out the projects already underway, and those that will be launching in the coming months, Broccolini is looking to hire a senior project manager, manager of real estate development, site superintendent and more.”

While we expect sales velocity to take some time to return to pre-COVID levels, the fundamental imbalance remains between supply and demand in the residential market in Toronto,” Phil Brennen, associate vice-president, real estate development, told Condo Life.

“The bottleneck that existed before the pandemic, which is essentially a function of approvals processes that have seen cycle times of three years or more, has been closed off completely as already overworked staff at the City have unable to accept new submissions. Add to that the fact that a number of projects that were slated for launch this spring and summer have been pushed back indefinitely, and you potentially have a major issue with supply. So, though demand for new units may initially be slower when activity resumes, the units available for buyers will be significantly diminished. As a result, the expectation is that while velocity will take some time to come back to normal levels, pricing will not soften.

Bullish on Toronto

“At the end of the day – particularly in times of uncertainty – residential real estate in a rapidly growing global city remains a safe and desirable investment,” Brennen says.

Broccolini has two large residential highrise projects underway in Toronto, in downtown east. River & Fifth, at 580 units and 38 storeys, was under construction until the industry-wide pause in activity.

“Once the provincial government gives the okay, excavation and shoring work will continue,” Brennen says.

The second project, at 385 units and 34 storeys, is close to the finish line for approvals, he says. The intent was to launch sales in the summer, though this will be reviewed depending on the timing of the return to the “new normal.”

Broccolini has several sites in the works, and is actively pursuing new acquisitions during the current slowdown, says Brennen.

“We believe strongly in Toronto’s high-density residential market and will continue to invest a significant portion or our resources in new deals in the months and years ahead.”

Broccolini is a single-source provider of planning, construction and property management services for industrial, commercial, institutional and residential buildings. Its real estate management subsidiary manages a portfolio of more than 50 properties, representing a total of more than 6.5 million sq. ft. of assets.

RELATED READING

Homebuyer intentions still high: HPG COVID-19 Real Estate Survey

How buyers can prepare for the busy buying season – post-COVID-19

Why Canadians should think long term in real estate – especially now

 

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St. Lawrence Cruise Lines

A new adventure into an old tradition

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A new adventure into an old tradition

River cruises have continued to grow in popularity over the past few years, but the tradition dates back to the 19th century. In many ways, it is like modern travelers have rediscovered the classic combination of relaxation, comfort, and intimacy that these journeys provide. In North America, St. Lawrence Cruise Lines has the distinction of being the most experienced river cruise operator in the magnificent St. Lawrence River region, and the company is proud to be celebrating its 40th season on the river in 2020. This experience comes with a tremendous knowledge and understanding of the geography of the region that allows St. Lawrence Cruise Lines to deliver cruises that are tremendously detailed and full of value.

A river without end

For many Canadians, the St. Lawrence River is part of our local geography. What makes the St. Lawrence so attractive to travelers?

  1. The St. Lawrence River is enormous. The river proper, at 774 miles in length, runs northeast from Lake Ontario towards the Atlantic, where it forms the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This magnificent river is still fairly young, having formed only about 10,000 years ago. It is at its most striking in September and October, when its shores become a kaleidoscope of fall colours.
  2. Settlers began constructing canals along parts of the river as early as 1783. In 1954, Canada and the United States agreed on the mutual construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power project, connecting Montreal to Lake Erie. The Seaway opened in 1959 and celebrated its 60-year anniversary in 2019.
  3. The 1000 Islands includes 1,865 islands and hundreds of miles of picturesque coastline. This region features both the beauty of nature and historic attractions that include museums, forts, fairy-tale castles, and national parks. The entire region is a giant playground with fantastic boating, swimming, hiking and bird watching.
  4. The St. Lawrence River connects English and French Canada, and traveling the river is a journey between two cultures. The old world charm of the Province of Quebec feature landscapes, ecosystems, architecture, food, and cities that are unlike anywhere in North America.
  5. The Ottawa River is the chief tributary of the St. Lawrence River, with the southeast part of the river acting as the Quebec–Ontario provincial border. Over 790 miles, the river forms innumerable lakes, and it became a chief route of explorers and fur traders, and lumberers in the early 19th century. The economic activity generated by these industries led to Ottawa becoming the national capital. The city is now famous for its numerous museums and galleries, as well as Canada’s parliament buildings.

Make the river your home

The Canadian Empress is a nostalgic replica steamboat with 64-passenger capacity, and a warm and friendly personality. This makes it the perfect way to experience calm-water cruising, and explore the unique beauty and rich history of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. The size and design of the vessel serves to enhance the intimacy and authenticity of the river cruise experience. The interior of the vessel is full of charming brass furnishings and ornate metal ceilings, and this classic steamboat style has been combined with modern engineering and amenities to enhance comfort, security and relaxation.

This ship will carry you through the very heart of Canada’s most beautiful scenery, on routes specifically selected for their stunning gifts of history, natural beauty and modern vitality. This is a chance to see a side of Canada and the United States that can only be viewed from the shared waters of the St. Lawrence River, from the charming bays and inlets of the 1000 Islands, to the locks and canals of the International Seaway and beyond to the old world culture of Quebec.

Cruises run from May to October with departures from Kingston, Ottawa, and Quebec City. For more information about St. Lawrence Cruise Lines, visit stlawrencecruiselines.com or call 1.800.267.7868.


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The housing outlook for 2019

GTA among the most promising new home outlooks for 2019, Altus Group says

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GTA among the most promising new home outlooks for 2019, Altus Group says

The new home sector in Canada had a challenging year in 2018, but markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including the GTA, have among the most promising outlooks for 2019, according to Altus Group.

Increased regulations, higher interest rates, new taxes and higher Development Charges are testing the industry,  Altus Group says in its New Home Outlook for 2019.

Altus Group is a leading provider of software, data solutions and independent advisory services to the global commercial real estate industry, and tracks new home development and sales activity across the country.

At the start of 2018, the supply of available new homes in both the Vancouver and Toronto markets was constrained, particularly in the condominium apartment sector. The lack of available product contributed to the rapid rise in pricing in 2017 and impacted sales volumes at the start of 2018.

In Alberta, the new home sector, along with the rest of the housing market, continued to be impacted by low energy prices and weaker economic activity. The opposite was the case in Montreal, where a sharp increase in demand for new homes led to peak sales levels.

The outlook at the end of 2017 was that the market would continue to see reasonably strong demand in 2018, but sales would be impacted by the new mortgage regulations and other new policies, taxes, and regulations – the degree to which was unknown.

Looking at 2018’s market performance year-to-date, Altus can see that demand was impacted in the major markets, most significantly in the single-family and higher-end townhouse segments. New condominium apartment sales have also moderated in Vancouver and Toronto where the incredibly strong demand seen in 2017 has softened in the current year. Some of the moderation is normalization from the frenzied market pace noted in recent years.

KEY FINDINGS

Greater Toronto Area

The GTA market came off a record new condominium apartment sales year in 2017. However, the impacts of mortgage rule changes and new development charges contributed to a decline in project launches and lower sales to start the year. Sales and project launch activity have increased in the back half of the year, but year-to-date sales remain down by almost 50 per cent compared to 2017.

While sales have been lower, pricing for new condominium apartment product in the downtown area has remained fairly stable with overall average prices trending towards $800,000.

New single-family sales continued to decline in 2018. Although availability of product to purchase has increased, it remains beyond the reach of most buyers.

Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo

Markets outside of the GTA have continued to benefit from their relative affordability compared to Toronto, particularly in Kitchener-Waterloo, where the new supply of condominium apartment product experienced strong demand in 2018. Both markets benefit from markedly better pricing compared to the GTA, where lower average prices for both new condominium apartment and single-family housing makes it a much more buyer-friendly market.

Promised improvements to transit, which will take several years to implement, will enhance commuting options throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe, thus providing greater opportunities to live in markets outside of the GTA.

Montreal

Montreal saw a strong increase in new home sales over the past three years and continues to experience robust demand for new condominium apartment homes. Given the growth in sales, many of the challenges seen in the other large markets have started to impact Montreal – rising costs, elevated inventories of under construction product and increased investment activity. Despite the challenges, year-to-date sales activity remains strong and is trending slightly higher than last year.

Edmonton

The Edmonton market has been facing challenges from elevated inventory levels, a large stock of completed and unsold new homes and the impact that weak energy prices is having on housing demand. Consumers’ mortgage qualification has become a more significant challenge for new home projects, resulting in a year-over-year decline in sales levels by almost 50 per cent for both townhouse and condominium apartment product. The slow pace of sales has also meant that several projects have shifted to purpose-built rental.

While the market has been slow, there are some bright spots with development in the Ice District experiencing reasonably strong demand, along with well-priced townhouse developments in the suburban markets.

Calgary

The Calgary market is performing stronger in 2018, with increased sales of both new condominium apartment and townhouse product on a year-over-year basis. This growth has been exclusively in the suburban markets where new condominium apartment and townhouse sales have exceeded 2017 numbers.

While sales in the suburbs are tracking higher, the inner city and downtown markets are seeing weaker demand and lower sales volumes with higher office vacancy and lower downtown employment impacting housing demand near the core. Conversely, the strongest new home sales in the suburbs have been occurring in regions near employment centres.

Vancouver

Leading into 2018, the Vancouver market was the tightest of the markets examined, in terms of available new homes with only 1.8 months of inventory. This year, new project launches, particularly along transit lines and in the Fraser Valley, have added much needed inventory and boosted the supply to 3.3 months of inventory – although this remains the lowest in the country.

The frenzied pace in the market has softened with the sales rate at launch moderating, while price growth has stopped and even pulled back in certain segments of the market. A key challenge that has become more apparent as of late has been the price sensitivity of consumers, with higher-priced projects, or those priced above the competition, experiencing below average sales rates.

2019 Outlook

The outlook for housing demand in 2019 remains positive across the country with elevated immigration levels, continued demand from first-time homebuyers and tight rental vacancies and elevated rents encouraging homeownership. The key pressures that Altus Group sees continuing to impact the new home market in 2019 are higher interest rates and housing affordability constraints, rising construction costs and development charges impacting developers, and weaker economic growth potential in certain regions constraining demand.

Across the major markets in Canada, Altus Group believes the markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including the GTA, have the most upside potential for an increase in sales activity in 2019 given the depth of the decline in 2018 and building off of the sales recovery noted in the back half of 2018.

Calgary and Edmonton will continue to be impacted by the weaker economy, but are not forecast to experience a material decline in overall sales volumes given the current levels of activity in each market.

The two markets that may see a decline in sales activity in 2019 are Montreal and Vancouver – but for very different reasons. Montreal had a strong sales year in 2018 and 2019 volumes are expected to decline as the market returns to more normal conditions. The Vancouver market, which is currently exhibiting the most potential for downside risk, is expected to see a modest decline in sales volumes as consumers react to higher borrowing costs and developers react to escalating construction costs in the face of lower revenue opportunities. With that said, the sales volumes in 2019 are still anticipated to be at or close to the 10-year sales average for the market.

altusgroup.com


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Montreal Triathlon

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Montreal Triathlon

This weekend Montreal plays host to the eighth of nine events in the ITU World Triatholon Series. There are multiple events starting with some 5K and 10K runs on Friday. The women’s race is Saturday and the men swim (2.2 km), bike (80 km), and run (20 km) on Sunday. While triathletes are incredible athletes, some of us think that the events would be even more interesting if the swimming event was held last! For more information, visit Montreal.Triathlon.org.

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