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TCS Marketing Systems

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TCS Marketing Systems

With decades of experience, the people behind this company provide keen insights

In the fast-changing Toronto area real estate market, the team at TCS Marketing Systems always has their fingers on the pulse. The people behind this innovative sales and marketing consulting agency excel at anticipating coming trends, due to their three decades of experience, keen insight and extensive market data.

TCS Marketing Systems has been involved in numerous projects across the GTA and Ontario, including mid- and high-rise condos, townhomes, single-detached homes and master-planned communities. The company has a single guiding principle – integrity – and has set itself apart by being the first consultants in and last out on every project.

Mark Cohen (centre back row) and his TCS Marketing Systems management team.

Wealth of experience

Managing partner of TCSMS is Mark Cohen, a highly respected and well known expert in the industry. His wealth of experience includes key roles with powerhouse developers, including Bramalea Ltd., Menkes Developments, Concord Adex and Tribute Communities. Throughout his career, Cohen has pioneered many of the sales and marketing strategies that are now common in today’s marketplace and is always on the lookout for the next breakthrough.

“When Mark is in the room with the architects, he thinks about what people do after they come home and throw their keys on the table,” says Onkar Dhillon, vice-president of operations and one of The Condo Store’s founding members. “He thinks about how they live. We are designing with consumers in mind. For example, Amazon delivery is the way people get parcels, so we’re adding automated parcel delivery rooms. That’s the kind of thoughtfulness required in design.”

Dhillon has been working with Cohen for 20 years, since they met when Cohen was vice-president of sales and marketing for Concord Adex’s Cityplace, the largest residential highrise development in Toronto history.

Better projects, better designs

Condos used to be subordinate to lowrise homes, Dhillon says, but condos are a lifestyle choice and the challenge is to create better projects and design better spaces to serve consumers.

“Our philosophy is there is a condo for every person, and there’s a purchaser for every condo,” says Glen Buttigieg, vice-president of sales. “We make a case for every condo, whether it’s to take in the morning sun, to see the lake, or the advantage of being near the rooftop terrace. We painstakingly comb over every suite, trying to find the advantage and tailor it for each buyer. Our agents are listening to buyers and determining what suite would serve them best.”

For TCSMS’s developer clients, Cohen and company get in early, sitting in on all of a project’s marketing and design meetings and then create a rationale. They continue working with the same care and commitment until the last unit is sold, understanding the importance of making the projects profitable for their clients.

“What I influence is the design, marketing, sales and customer relationships for different projects,” says Cohen. “Instead of working on 12 projects for one person like I used to, I work on 12 for 12 different builders.”

Bungalow on Mercer Street in downtown Toronto.

TCSMS is equally well-versed in selling and marketing high-, mid-, and lowrise developments. Buyers’ expectations are changing. Due to constraints on land available for building and affordability, people are realizing they don’t have to aspire to 4,500-sq.-ft. houses in rural settings and can live well in smaller homes.

“The market doesn’t want space for space’s sake,” adds Serena Quaglia, vice-president of marketing. “People want common space, a study nook… that’s the challenge for the lowrise market. It’s not going anywhere, but the designs are not what they used to be.”

Quaglia brings more than a decade’s experience in the design, marketing and sales of master-planned communities and believes today’s buyers are more sophisticated and knowledgeable when it comes to evaluating properties. “The most important role we play when working with developers is our ability to accurately represent the needs and desires of each and every buyer. And that starts with being great listeners.”

Altered approach

For example, Bungalow is an ultraluxury condo project by Kalovida Canada Inc. in the heart of the Entertainment and Financial Districts, with just 13 units, just one per floor. Cohen recognized that buyers spending $2.5 million for a suite – hedge fund managers, athletes, entertainment industry types – would likely not be using them as primary residences, but as places to entertain and relax when they were in town. This type of clientele wants a certain type of wine cellar, concierge and modest, rather than overthe- top luxury.

In another example, construction is starting soon at 293 The Kingsway, a luxury condominium by the Benvenuto Group. The Kingsway is a classic Toronto neighbourhood with lush, green streets and good schools, and 293 reflects the prestigious area, with large units, a park-like setting and stylish contemporary design.

And for Wycliffe Homes’ Promenade luxury townhouse development in Thornhill, TCSMS largely focused marketing around the developer, wellknown for its white-glove treatment, first-class finishes, exceptional locations and the opportunity it gives buyers to customize. Staying true to the prestigious Thornhill neighbourhood, Promenade’s townhomes are classy and tasteful, with top-notch features and finishes.

Whether it’s dealing with super luxury projects or condos geared to first-time buyers or investors, TCS Marketing Systems brings the same level of dedication to each one and works until the last unit is sold.

“Real estate is one service that hasn’t been greatly altered by technology,” says Cohen. “Homes are still sold by people, not machines. The quality of renderings is better, the ways to communicate more extensive, but at the end of the day, whether you are selling something to a client or to a customer or pushing a consultant to do something, most of it involves eye-to-eye contact. People move people to move mountains, and that hasn’t changed.”

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Tarion names winners of 2019 Homeowners’ Choice Awards

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Tarion names winners of 2019 Homeowners’ Choice Awards

Tarion web

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

The recipients of the 2019 Homeowners’ Choice Awards are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATED READING

Consumer Protection: The Homeowners’ Choice Awards

 

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Yes, you do need a home inspection

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Yes, you do need a home inspection

With the surge in home prices in Ontario over the last few years, buyers have often opted to forego the inspection part of the process in order to make their offer more appealing to the seller. Once all the papers are squared away, though, the home will be yours to take care of – including all the good and bad.

Having an inspection will ensure that there are no unseen damages that will end up costing you in repairs in the future. When buying an older home, it’s easy for a standard renovation to turn into a costly one when you find out what’s behind your walls is no longer up to code. This will also make sure your family is living in a safe home that is up to current standards right when you move in.

An inspection will also include checking the roof and the foundation for any leaks or repairs that need to be made. This includes the attic and any exterior damage that you may not notice for years. Electrical, heating and cooling will be checked for efficiency as well, so you know what you might need to change in order to lower annual costs.

You can then make an informed decision on your purchase, and whether you decide to go with it. This knowledge could then allow you to lower the offer and save money for future renovations, if needed.

Vahid Azari is the founder of All Season Inspection, a full-service property inspection and energy auditing service organization.

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Resale Market: Homes sales fall in 2018

Resale home sales fall in 2018

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Resale home sales fall in 2018

Highlights:

  • National home sales fell 2.5 per cent from November to December.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down by 19 per cent from one year ago.
  • The number of newly listed homes was little changed from November to December.
  • The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) was up 1.6 per cent year-over-year in December.
  • The national average sale price fell by 4.9 per cent year-over-year in December.

Home sales via Canadian MLS Systems fell by 2.5 per cent in December 2018 compared to November, capping the weakest annual sales since 2012. Monthly declines in activity since September have fully retrenched its summer rally and returned it near the lowest level since early 2013.

Transactions declined in about 60 per cent of all local markets in December, led by lower activity in Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Ottawa, London-St. Thomas and Halifax-Dartmouth, together with a regionally diverse mix of other large and medium sized urban centres.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 19 per cent year-over-year in December 2018 and stood almost 12 per cent below the 10-year average for the month of December. Sales were down from year-ago levels in three-quarters of all local markets, led overwhelmingly by the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, the Okanagan Region, Calgary, Edmonton, the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton-Burlington. This decline, in part, is due to elevated activity posted in December 2017 as homebuyers rushed to purchase in advance of the new federal mortgage stress test that came into effect on January 1, 2018.

“What a difference a year makes,” says CREA president Barb Sukkau. “Sales trends were pushed higher in December 2017 by homebuyers rushing to purchase before the new federal mortgage stress test took effect at the beginning of 2018. Since then, the stress test has weighed on sales to varying degrees in all Canadian housing markets and it will continue to do so this year.”

“The Bank of Canada recently said that it expects housing activity will stay ‘soft’ as households ‘adjust to the mortgage stress test and increases in mortgage rates,’ even as jobs and incomes continue growing,” says Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist. “Indeed, the bank’s economic forecast shows it expects housing will undermine economic growth this year as the mortgage stress test has pushed homeownership affordability out of reach for some home buyers,” he added.

The number of newly listed homes remained little changed (up 0.2 per cent) from November to December, with declines in close to half of all local markets offset by gains in the remainder.

With sales down and new listings steady in December, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 53.3 per cent compared to 54.8 per cent in November. This measure of market balance has remained close to its long-term average of 53.5 per cent since the beginning of 2018.

Considering the degree and duration to which market balance readings are above or below their long-term averages is the best way of gauging whether local housing market conditions favour buyers or sellers. Market balance measures that are within one standard deviation of their long-term average are generally consistent with balanced market conditions.

Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with the long-term average, about two-thirds of all local markets were in balanced market territory in December 2018.

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

There were 5.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of December 2018. While this remains close to its long-term average of 5.3 months, the number of months of inventory has swollen far above its long-term average in Prairie provinces as well as in Newfoundland and Labrador. By contrast, the measure remains well below its long-term average in Ontario and Prince Edward Island. In other provinces, sales and inventory are more balanced.

The Aggregate Composite MLS Home Price Index (MLS HPI) was up 1.6 per cent year-over-year in December 2018. The increase is smaller but still broadly in line with year-over-year gains posted since July.

Apartment units posted the largest year-over-year price gains in December (4.9 per cent), followed by townhouse/row units (3.1 per cent). By comparison, two-storey single-family homes posted a small increase (0.4 per cent) while one-storey single-family home prices eased slightly (-0.3 per cent).

Trends continue to vary widely among the 17 housing markets tracked by the MLS HPI. Results were mixed in B.C. Prices are now down on a year-over-year basis in Greater Vancouver (-2.7 per cent) but remain above year-ago levels in the Fraser Valley (+2.5 per cent). Meanwhile, prices posted a year-over-year increase of 6.4 per cent in Victoria and rose 11 per cent elsewhere on Vancouver Island.

Among housing markets tracked by the index in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area, MLS HPI benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in Guelph (6.8 per cent), the Niagara Region (6.8 per cent), Hamilton-Burlington (6.4 per cent ), Oakville-Milton (3.3 per cent) and the GTA (3 per cent ). Home prices in Barrie and District remain slightly below year-ago levels (-1.1 per cent).

Across the Prairies, where supply is historically elevated relative to sales, benchmark home prices remained below year-ago levels in Calgary (-3.2 per cent), Edmonton (-2 per cent), Regina (-5.2 per cent) and Saskatoon (-1.2 per cent). The home pricing environment is likely to remain weak in these housing markets until elevated supply is reduced and becomes more balanced in relation to demand.

Home prices rose 6.9 per cent year-over-year in Ottawa (led by an 8.3-per-cent increase in townhouse/row unit prices), 6 per cent in Greater Montreal (led by a 9.1-per-cent increase in townhouse/row unit prices) and 2.5 per cent in Greater Moncton (led by a 12.2-per-cent increase in townhouse/row unit prices).

The MLS HPI provides the best way to gauge price trends because average price trends are strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in December 2018 was just over $472,000, down 4.9 per cent from the same month in 2017. The year-over-year decline reflects how the jump in sales in December 2017 in advance of the stress test was more pronounced in more expensive markets. The national average price is heavily skewed by sales in Greater Vancouver and the GTA, two of Canada’s most active and expensive markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations cuts almost $100,000 from the national average price, trimming it to just under $375,000.

For more information, visit crea.ca/housing-market-stats/


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Forecast 2019 – where are Canada’s hottest housing markets?

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Forecast 2019 – where are Canada’s hottest housing markets?

2019 web

Wondering where Canada’s hottest housing markets are, as 2018 comes to a close and 2019 is just around the corner? Well, that all depends on who you ask.

Two of Canada’s large realty firms – Royal LePage and ReMax – both issued their 2019 housing market outlooks on Dec. 11.

Yes, the very same day.

Rather than produce two stories on the exact same topic, just from different sources, we thought it would be interesting to compare them. And while there are some commonalities in their forecasts, there are also some interesting discrepancies.

There is no ‘Canadian’ market

Let’s begin with the headline of ReMax’s 2019 Housing Market Outlook: “Canadian home prices expected to increase by 1.7 per cent in 2019.”

Yeah, about that. Forget that headline. As we recently wrote, those national numbers are pretty meaningless. It’s like trying to summarize the weather, temperature or traffic as “Canadian.”

But, just for comparison purposes, ReMax estimates Canadian home prices will grow 1.7 per cent in 2019; Royal LePage, 1.2 per cent.

National numbers that do matter are interest rates, GDP growth and employment. Then there’s immigration, which affects some markets more than others, mortgage regulations and housing supply. All of these factors are the key drivers of real estate. But more on that later.

Now let’s take a look at some of the regional highlights.

GTA

ReMax says:

  • Toronto average prices down 4% in 2018 to $789,181
  • Toronto average prices forecast to rise 2% in 2019 to $804,964

In Toronto, rising interest rates and the mortgage stress test were the two major factors affecting market activity in 2018, with average sale prices dropping by four per cent from $822,572 in 2017 to $789,181 in 2018, and unit sales down by 16 per cent. Lack of affordability in the single-detached segment will make it difficult for buyers wanting to enter this market. Resale condos, on the other hand, now represent almost 37 per cent of total sales, fueled by affordability.

ReMax Housing Market Outlook, select major markets

Region 2018

 Average Home Price

 

2019

Average Home Price

(Forecast)

Year-over-Year

(%)

Vancouver $1.05M $1.01M -3.0%
Edmonton $379,539 $360,562 -5.0%
Calgary $487,399 $487,399 0.0%
Saskatoon $333,187 $343,182 0.6%
Regina $322,500 $322,500 0.0%
Winnipeg $323,001 $335,921 4.0%
Windsor $299,750 $329,725 10.0%
London $379,654 $398,636 5.0%
Kitchener-Waterloo $473,275 $487,473 3.0%
Hamilton-Burlington $707,949 $849,538 2.0%
Barrie $477,839 $492,174 3.0%
Oakville $1.08M $1.13M 5.0%
Mississauga $705,406 $733,622 4.0%
Brampton $577,846 $600,959 4.0%
Durham $594,585 $612,422 3.0%
Toronto $789,181 $804,964 2.0%
Ottawa $678,670 $705,816 4.0%
Halifax $299,982 $308,981 3.0%
St. John’s $265,523 $265,523 0.0%

 

Elsewhere in Ontario

Rising interest rates and the stress test continue to make it difficult for prospective buyers in Barrie, Oakville and Durham regions.

“This is particularly true for first-time buyers and single Millennials, as evident in cities like Brampton, Kingston and Durham,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

Hottest in the province

The hottest market in Ontario? Windsor, which showed price growth of 13 per cent in 2018, to $299,750, with another 10 per cent increase forecast for 2019. London is also expected to be strong, with prices to increase another five per cent next year, after rising 17 per cent this year to reach $379,654.

 

Royal LePage says:

  • GTA average price in 2018 $844,000
  • GTA average price forecast to rise 1.3% to $854,552

“Compared to the record pace of home appreciation seen in 2016 and 2017, the GTA housing market is now positioned for much healthier and sustainable growth in future years,” says Chris Slightham, broker and owner, Royal LePage Signature Realty.

Many regions outside of Toronto’s core saw price declines in 2018, a result of overshooting in previous years. The continued population growth should cause the suburbs to stabilize and reignite price growth. In addition, the potential subway expansion into the suburbs should stabilize and increase home prices in close proximity to new transit infrastructure.

Elsewhere in Ontario

The median price in Ottawa is expected to increase 2.5 per cent in 2019 to $487,910, benefitting from the city’s healthy economy and high income per household, driven by the public and technology sectors.

Interestingly, Royal LePage also notes that neither the new mortgage rules nor recent interest rate hikes have notably affected Ottawa’s housing market.

 

Highlights from other Canadian markets

The star performer of all major Canadian markets in 2019? Montreal, according to Royal LePage.

“Quebec will out-perform the nation in 2019,” says President and CEO Phil Soper. “Like other regions of the country, the economy is strong and people are working. What is different is affordability. We have to remember that Montreal sat out the rapid home price inflation we saw in Vancouver and Toronto this decade, and in Calgary the decade before.”

As for the ReMax outlook for Montreal, Quebec did not participate in this year’s forecast.

 

 

Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast

Region  

2018 Aggregate Home Price
(Year End Estimate)


2019 
Aggregate
Home Price 
(Forecast)
Year-over-Year (%)
Canada $631,000 $638,257 1.2%
Greater Toronto Area $844,000 $854,552 1.3%
Greater Montreal Area $409,000 $421,306 3.0%
Greater Vancouver $1.28M $1.29M 0.6%
Ottawa $476,000 $487,910 2.5%
Calgary $484,000 $473,104 -2.3%
Edmonton $386,000 $378,691 -1.9%
Winnipeg $306,000 $309,829 1.3%
Halifax $321,000 $326,096 1.6%
Regina $327,000 $311,505 -4.7%

 

Influential factors

Now for more on those national factors that do influence real estate.

“I would call attention to two factors influencing our forecast that deserve special consideration,” says Soper. “Firstly, home prices are appreciating, albeit at a snail’s pace. Secondly, the Canadian market is supported by strong economic fundamentals, including a robust rate of new household formation and excellent employment growth.

“The future for Canadian housing remains bright, perhaps too bright. With an increasing number of gainfully employed people looking to put a roof over their heads, and the scarce availability of rental accommodation, policy makers in our major markets will once again be struggling with housing shortages. More than an affordable housing problem, we will once again be facing an overall housing supply crisis.”

As for interest rates, the Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate of 1.75 per cent on Dec. 5, citing a weaker than expected energy sector. Further rate increases are expected in 2019, making it more difficult for Canadians to buy a home in 2019.

The Bank forecasts GDP will increase 2.1 per cent in 2019, a modest increase over 2018, while Canada’s unemployment rate fell to 5.6 per cent in November, the lowest on record since 1976.

RELATED READING

5 things we can learn from real estate in 2018

7 factors that will affect GTA housing in 2019 – and 5 reasons to consider buying NOW

GTA moving into balanced market for 2019

GTA new home market gains further momentum in October

Delays in approval process contributing to housing affordability issue in GTA

What the GM plant closure means for Oshawa economy and housing market

 

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5 things we can learn from real estate in 2018

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5 things we can learn from real estate in 2018

2018 web

With much of 2018 in the rear-view mirror, It’s been quite the year for the housing market in the GTA and elsewhere in Ontario. From sales and price fluctuations to supply concerns to rising housing costs. As 2019 approaches, here are five things we can learn from real estate in 2018.

 

1 Get used to the affordability issue

Get used to affordability challenges, especially in the GTA. This oft-cited issue is not going away any time soon, despite lobbying from the likes of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).

Key economic fundamentals such as population and employment growth will continue to drive housing market demand. Over the next decade, almost 700,000 first-time buyers will target the GTA or Hamilton markets, according to a report from the Ontario Real Estate Association. Meanwhile, the supply of new homes is not yet being addressed, which contributes to rising prices.

With recent interest rate hikes and other changes, sales and prices in the GTA saw some moderation in 2018. But this will be short-lived, and a return to price growth is expected.

 

2 Increased government involvement – finally

Government lobbying by BILD and TREB seems to be paying off, in the sense that the Province is increasingly aware of the issues facing the industry – and buyers.

Buyers, you may not realize it, but you should thank BILD, TREB and other associations for that.

In late November, Ontario announced it was committing to a housing action plan “to help create more housing faster, give people more choice and bring down housing costs.”

Like anything involving government, though, this process will likely be slow moving – meaning, some of the challenges, namely increasing housing supply – will take time to be resolved.

But at least the issues are on the agenda.

One real example of this improved awareness is Ontario’s recent plan to change the 40-year-old apprenticeship system in the province – a move the home building industry says is a “game changer.”

It’s a game changer because the new one-to-one ratio, a significant change from the existing 3-to-1 ratio, will enable home builders and renovators to more easily hire and train new apprentices. Besides creating more job opportunities for trades workers, the move also helps builders and renovators operate their businesses

 

3 Fixing on interest rates

The Bank of Canada raised its overnight rate three times in 2018 – January, July and October – to where it sits now, 1.75 per cent.

Canada’s major banks, as is usually the case, responded by immediately raising their own rates.

Naturally, all of this has Canadians feeling a little uneasy.

The Conference Board of Canada’s latest Index of Consumer Confidence confirms that rising interest rates and weaker wage growth have started to take their toll on confidence. With interest charges squeezing Canadian wallets and weakening wage growth offering little reprieve, consumers have become hesitant to make major purchases and are less positive about the state of their finances.

In its latest rate announcement on Dec. 5, the Bank of Canada noted that global economic expansion is slowing, and the effects of the “oil price shock” are being monitored.

“We expect that the Bank will not move the overnight rate until the effects of the declining energy sector are known,”according to interest rate comparison website ratehub.ca. “However, the Bank makes it clear that they still plan on raising the key interest rate in 2019, likely more than once.”

This moderated stance might put downward pressure on fixed rate mortgages, however, so Canadians may see better fixed rates in the coming weeks, ratehub.ca says.

 

4 Real estate is more local than ever

It’s a simple point that escapes some consumers: Real estate is local, and in 2018, it became more local than ever.

What do we mean?

Well, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) and other major real estate bodies are mandated to oversee the national market.

So, when CREA issues a release that says Canadian home sales are down by X per cent, or when CMHC reports the national vacancy rate is down for the second consecutive year – and major media report such headlines – people tend to worry.

It’s essential to remember, however, that when you buy a home, you don’t buy the national market. You buy one house, on one street, in one neighbourhood, in one city and region.

If you live in Ontario, why do you care that Alberta’s ongoing oil industry struggles are pulling sales and prices down in markets in that province? Or that prices in Vancouver are even less affordable than in Toronto?

Forget the national headlines. Drill down into what’s happening in your market.

And why is real estate more local then ever? Because…

 

5 Lessons from Oshawa

General Motors Canada’s November announcement that it was closing its Oshawa assembly plant sent shockwaves not just through the province but all of Canada. To be sure, the loss of at least 2,500 jobs – not to mention untold positions in related suppliers – in a community of 170,000, is going to hurt. Hurt whom, and how badly, are the only questions.

This development should serve as a stark reminder to us all – of how important it is for cities to develop diversified, modern economies. Overdependence on any one ge, singular industries leads to overexposure in the case of downturns or, in GM’s case, outright shutdowns. It hurts the local economy, which impacts employment and wage growth, which impacts the housing market.

Oshawa, thankfully in recent years, has been diversifying its economy and expanding in technology, education and other industries. It will help, but the impact of the GM closure will likely play out over many months, if not years.

These developments could push housing in Oshawa into a buyers’ market, and prospective buyers could benefit from more options and softening prices.

In new homes, builders remain undeterred, encouraged by the longer-term growth and development throughout the Durham Region. Still, some may offer incentives such as discounts or inclusions to entice qualified buyers.

 

RELATED READING

GTA moving into balanced market for 2019

GTA new home market gains further momentum in October

What the GM plant closure means for Oshawa’s economy and housing market

New home buying opportunities abound in Oshawa and Durham Region

Where are interest rates headed in 2019?

 

 

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Ontario government commits to housing action plan

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Ontario government commits to housing action plan

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Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

The Ontario government says it is committed to a housing plan that makes more good quality places to live available for “the hardworking people of the province.”

“In communities all across Ontario, people are struggling to find housing they can afford,” says Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We’re taking action to help create more housing faster, give people more choice and bring down housing costs.”

Ontario is knocking down barriers to people getting housing they can afford that meets their needs, through:

 

  • Legislation that would make new rental units exempt from rent control, effective Nov. 15, 2018, while preserving rent increase limits for existing tenants
  • Ending the previous government’s expensive and ineffective Development Charges Rebate Program
  • Seeking public input on ways the government can remove barriers to building the right kind of housing in the right places. This input will inform a broader housing supply action plan. The consultation includes a downloadable toolkit so community groups can host local roundtables and share their thoughts with the province.

 

The demand for housing in Ontario has risen rapidly in recent years, driven by strong population growth and low interest rates. However, the supply of housing has not kept pace, leading to higher prices and rents.

Building more housing will also help make Ontario more attractive to businesses and investors, restoring the province to its rightful place as the economic engine of Canada.

“High housing costs are a barrier to job creators, large and small, because employees need affordable places to live,” says Todd Smith, minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Making housing more affordable will encourage people to start and grow businesses, right here at home.”

BILD reaction

“The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) of the GTA is very supportive of the development of a Housing Supply Action Plan for Ontario,” says David Wilkes, president and CEO. “Shortfall in supply is a key factor undermining housing affordability, increasing rents and creating barriers to home ownership. We applaud the Ford government’s commitment  to address key issues affecting the housing supply and ultimately the affordability of housing in the GTA.”

TREB approves

The Toronto Real Estate Board, for its part, applauds the Province’s announcement.

“The Toronto Real Estate Board applauds the provincial government for taking action to ensure that our city, region and province have an adequate supply and appropriate mix of housing,” TREB said in a release.

Nowhere are housing supply and mix issues more of a priority than in the GTA, where TREB’s 53,000 members operate, the association says. “TREB realtors work with home buyers and sellers every day and they see the challenges caused by inadequate supply and mix of housing.

“We look forward to participating in the provincial government’s consultation process on this issue and helping our region and province to remain one of the best places to live in the world.”

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Approval web

Delays in approval process contributing to housing affordability issue in GTA

Latest News


Delays in approval process contributing to housing affordability issue in GTA

Approval web

The former Ontario government’s growth policies have had the unintended consequences of lengthening the land development and approval process in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), negatively impacting housing supply and affordability.

This is among the key findings in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Land Supply Analysis from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and Malone Given Parsons Ltd. (MGP).

“Growth policies implemented by the former provincial government from 2006 and 2017 have reduced the amount of available land for new housing communities, increased land prices and have caused home prices to skyrocket,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO, BILD, referring to the 2006 and 2017 Growth Plans.

Read more: 5 steps to solving the housing affordability issue in Ontario

Read more: Pent-up demand for townhomes building in the GTA

Read more: GTA new home market shows some improvement in September

“Land use in the province of Ontario is highly regulated  and the 2006 and 2017 Growth Plan changes have slowed down the approval process to bring new land on stream for new communities,” adds Matthew Corey, principal, MGP. “Increasing the supply of new land for housing is subject to a process that can take as long as a decade or more.”

The analysis is intended to provide an accurate accounting of greenfield land supply in the GTHA and Simcoe, to determine if the 2031 population and job forecasts of the Growth Plan will be achieved.

Key observations

  • The percentage of available land that has been approved for new housing communities in the GTHA is 4.5 per cent and decreasing.
  • Some municipalities in the GTHA have yet to conform to the 2006 Growth Plan requirements, missing the 2009 target by nearly a decade, resulting in less housing being built across GTA municipalities versus Growth Plan forecasts.
  • As land supply dwindles and as municipal delays increase, the value of serviced land has increased by more than 300 per cent since 2006.
  • Existing low density neighbourhoods in the GTHA are resistant to intensification, pushing density to urban cores and to new communities near the fringes of the GTHA. The latter are far away from transit and infrastructure, putting a greater reliance on cars and increasing traffic congestion.
  • More gentle density homes (stacked-townhouses and lowrise apartments) should be built within walking distance of transit in built-up areas of the GTHA. This will maximize investment in infrastructure and transit. However, community resistance to increased density makes building in this area time-consuming, expensive and subject to intervention at the municipal level.

Recommendations

BILD and Malone Given Parsons offer six recommendations to help solve the issues:

  1. Make more vacant land available for new communities
  2. Cut bureaucratic red tape and reduce duplication in the planning and approval process
  3. Avoid pushing too much density to fringe areas and away from transit and existing infrastructure
  4. Encourage moderate or gentle intensification across the region by clarifying and amending Growth Plan policies to encourage intensification across the GTHA
  5. Maximize investment in transit and infrastructure
  6. Provide greater certainty for future development by identifying the agricultural and rural lands in the inner-ring (Whitebelt) as future urban areas in the Growth Plan.

 

 

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Construction

Ontario’s new apprenticeship ratio a boon to home building industry

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Ontario’s new apprenticeship ratio a boon to home building industry

 

Construction

The Ontario government’s plans to change the 40-year-old apprenticeship system is welcome news to the home building industry.

“This is a game changer,” says Rick Martins, president of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA). “This means our industry will finally have a system in place to close the trades skills gap across Ontario. This means employers can finally bring apprentices into their small businesses and train the next generation of skilled trades workers. This opens thousands of new opportunities for youth, and people looking for new employment opportunities.”

COMPETITIVE BOOST

The new one-to-one ratio, a significant change from the current ratio of 3-to-1, will enable home builders and renovators to more easily hire and train new apprentices.

“The existing apprenticeship system in Ontario includes ratios that are among the most restrictive in Canada – this is why it hampers builders,” OHBA CEO Joe Vaccaro told Homes Publishing. “Most other provinces have had a 1-to-1 ratio for years, and as a result Ontario ranks last in Canada in the number of tradespeople with certification. The high ratio limits Ontario’s ability to compete and remain competitive.”

OHBA says it has been recommending lower apprenticeship ratios for about 10 years, to help make Ontario a competitive training and business jurisdiction and removing a major barrier for young people to enter the skilled trades.

“Ontario will grow by more than 4.3 million people in the next 25 years, and with that there will be an overwhelming need for skilled labour in the building and renovation sector,” says Vaccaro. “With this new apprenticeship plan, our members are now going to be able to hire and train the skilled workers they need to build the new housing choice and supply for future #homebelievers.”

For home builders and renovators employing carpenter apprentices, the current ratio of 3-to-1 means a company must have three licensed journeypersons on staff before they can hire an apprentice.

“This ratio may not be a reality that makes sense how builders and renovators operate their businesses,” says Vaccaro. “For example, they may not have the exact mix of employers to apprentices, or they may want to take on more than one apprentice but not have the proportionate number of staff to support additional apprentices.”

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Toronto

6 Ontario municipal elections to watch regarding housing

Latest News


6 Ontario municipal elections to watch regarding housing

Toronto

By Wayne Karl

The countdown is on – just days to go to the 2018 Ontario municipal elections. In Toronto, in what’s shaping up to be a two-horse race between Mayor John Tory and challenger Jennifer Keesmaat, housing is one of the key issues.

But it’s not the only city or town in and around the GTA where real estate development is a hot topic.

Here’s a select list of a few more municipal elections to watch, and we might as well start with the biggest and highest profile municipality:

TORONTO

Incumbent: John Tory
Challenger: Jennifer Keesmaat
What’s at stake: Housing affordability, or the lack thereof. Both Tory and Keesmaat have announced plans to address the growing affordability issue in the city – what some describe as a crisis. Keesmaat wants to build 100,000 units of “truly affordable, high-quality housing in the next 10 years.” This is a plan some sources in the industry have already declared as doomed to fail.

Tory proposes to build 40,000 affordable rental units over 12 years, or roughly 3,300 annually.

The challenge for both? Defining what affordable housing even is, in a city with median home prices of $883,892, andthe most expensive average one-bedroom rent in the country, $1,900 per month.

Home builders have been lobbying the City and the Province to address land supply and other policies which complicate this already complex issue.

 

MARKHAM

Markham

Incumbent: Frank Scarpitti
Challenger(s): Steven Chen, Shan Hua Lu, Abdul Rahman Malik, Jawed Syed
What’s at stake: As the fourth most populous community in the GTA after Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton, Markham has been a hotbed for economic growth and development for years. It has also become one the most expensive housing markets, with median home prices of almost $1 million for the third quarter of 2018, according to Royal LePageAnd Scarpitti, first elected in 2006 and known as developer- and builder- friendly, has been there through much of it.

 

BRAMPTON

Brampton

Incumbent: Linda Jeffrey
Challenger(s): Mansoor Ameersulthan, former Ontario PC Party leader Patrick Brown, Baljit Gosal, Wesley Jackson, Vinod Kumar Mahesan, John Sprovieri
What’s at stake: Brampton is booming, and Jeffrey is seeking a second term after winning the 2014 election with almost 50 per cent of the vote.

Vision 2040 is an ambitious long-term plan to reinvent Brampton, and includes transformations such as model new neighbourhoods connected by an expanding transit network, new core loop, walking and cycling networks, communities designed to promote walking, and a new eco-park and sustainability built into everything.

There’s also a significant education infrastructure project that will bring a new Ryerson University campus, with Sheridan College as an academic partner, to downtown Brampton for 2022. Oh, along with thousands of students.

 

ORANGEVILLE

Orangeville

Incumbent: Jeremy Williams
Challenger(s): Sandy Brown, Darrin Davidson
What’s at stake: Been to Orangeville lately? It’s no longer a sleepy little pit-stop town as you drive north to Collingwood or Georgian Bay.

With new home and community development taking place, particularly in the west part of town, the biggest challenge Orangeville faces is urbanization. Williams wants to preserve the small town feel and welcome development, while avoiding becoming a discount housing destination for people moving north out of the Toronto area.

Brown, a local realtor, likely understands the issues, and wants to “arrest out of control spending.”  He says Orangeville residents pay the highest property taxes in the GTA.

 

OSHAWA

Oshawa

Incumbent: Current mayor of Oshawa John Henry has given up his seat to run as Durham’s regional chair
Challenger(s): Kenneth Carruthers, Dan Carter, Joe Ingino, Adam Kunz, Sara Lear, Rosaldo Russo, Bob Rutherford
What’s at stake: In short, continued growth in population and economic diversity, which drive housing demand. Oshawa’s population grew to 379,848 in 2016, according to the 2016 Census, up 6.6 per cent from 2011. This is second in the entire province only to Guelph – and even ahead of Toronto at 6.2 per cent.

Oshawa is expected to boast one of the fastest growing economies in the province this year, with growth of 2.6 per cent, according to the Conference Board of Canada. And this is down from 3.2 per cent in each of the last two years.

In terms of housing development, several builders are active in the area with lowrise homes. Homebuyers are liking the comparative bargains and the proximity to Toronto.

 

BARRIE

Barrie

Incumbent: Jeff Lehman
Challenger: Ram Faerber
What’s at stake: Lehman is seeking his third term, while local businessman Faerber is looking to unseat him.

Barrie ceased being a weekend destination years ago, and has become a favourite among real estate investors for its population growth and the job opportunities that come with a growing and increasingly diverse local economy.

However, as a smaller centre (population of 197,059,up 5.4 per cent from 2011), Barrie is sometimes subject to market swings. Median home prices slipped five per cent for the third quarter of 2018, from the same period last year, to $505,136. Some shorter-term good news, however, is that prices are up 0.4 per cent from the second quarter of this year.

Wayne Karl is Senior Digital Editor at Homes Publishing. wayne.karl@homesmag.com 

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