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Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

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Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

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For the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), which recently embarked on its third full year of operations, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is as unique a challenge as we have faced in our journey together with Ontario’s condominium communities thus far.

Yet, as chair of the CAO’s Board of Directors, I am proud of the steps our organization is taking in light of the current situation, and I remain optimistic about what lies ahead. Our vision has always been to promote harmonious condo communities across the province and to be of value to condo owners. By empowering the growing number of Ontarian’s who take part in this unique form of homeownership, we remain committed to achieving these goals.

We operate under the Condominium Act, 1998 (the Act), and we have a mandate to support consumer protection by providing services and resources for condo owners, buyers and directors across Ontario. This mandate remains our priority, even as we proceed through the uncertainty created by the current situation, which has had a significant impact on our province.

Suite of resources

I take great pride in announcing that we continue to deliver our full suite of resources and services throughout the pandemic to the more than 1.6 million condo residents in the 11,000-plus condo communities across Ontario. Ever since we were identified as an essential service by the provincial government in March, our dedicated team has not missed a beat, transitioning to a work-from-home business continuity plan, and maintaining the service standards that owners, directors and all our users have come to appreciate.

Our website is updated regularly and is where users can continue to access all our digital resources. Our information services team remains available by email or phone to help users and answer questions and concerns directly. The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), Canada’s first fully online tribunal, has also stayed active throughout the pandemic, accepting cases and resolving disputes.

What’s more, we recognize the unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 situation poses for condo communities, and have responded accordingly with new measures to provide additional support during this difficult time.

In addition to the 25-per-cent assessment fee reduction already implemented for the year, all late fees were suspended until June 30, 2020. We have also been ramping up our efforts to help condo directors meet the six-month deadline to complete director training. We want to keep directors active on their boards, so that they can continue to operate on behalf of owners and provide their corporation with governance and guidance, which are especially needed in this uncertain period.

Unique pressures

Condo owners in particular face a unique set of financial pressures, which may prevent them from making their common expense payments. With this in mind, our staff developed resources to help corporations consider various factors when trying to strike a balance between the collective owners’ interests and an individual unit owner’s circumstance.

Our team is also hard at work developing new resources to help owners navigate the constantly evolving ways that business must be conducted now and in the future. One example is in-person owners’ meetings, which are now a health and safety concern. To lessen the need for face-to-face contact, we created a guide to help condo corporations establish a bylaw for holding owners’ meetings and/or voting by telephonic or electronic means. We also provided an overview of the subsequent temporary changes to the Act, introduced through the Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order, to provide temporary relief for how and when owners’ meetings can be held.

With social distancing becoming our new collective reality, the place that we each call home has never been more important. For us at the CAO, this means doing everything in our power to ensure that Ontario’s condo communities can continue in a manner that respects their collective responsibility for addressing the current situation, while still striving towards harmonious condo living for each and every member.

In our efforts to connect with owners across the province, we encourage you to subscribe to subscriptions@condoauthorityontario.ca for further updates from the CAO, and to share this article with other owners and members of your own condo community.

Heather Zordel is Chair, Board of Directors, of the Condominium Authority of Ontario, Toronto.


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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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Should you refinance your mortgage in the COVID-19 crisis?

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Should you refinance your mortgage in the COVID-19 crisis?

This article has been republished with permission from ratehub.ca.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a world of trouble, affecting both household finances and the global economy. During the crisis, many are considering refinancing their mortgages. But is the coronavirus pandemic a good time for you to refinance your mortgage?

First, a disclaimer. Whether you should refinance during the coronavirus pandemic is a question best answered with a professional who can walk you through all of your options and personal circumstances. Speaking to a mortgage professional such as a mortgage broker is the best thing you can do (and consulting with one is free of charge).

Here’s everything you need to know about refinancing your mortgage during the COVID-19 crisis.

What is refinancing a mortgage?

A mortgage refinance is when you break your current mortgage and start a new one. Your old mortgage is paid off by the new mortgage, which gives you the chance to borrow additional cash or change the conditions of your original contract. While you’ll be charged a prepayment penalty for breaking your mortgage, the benefits of starting a new mortgage may be worth it.

There are three main reasons you might consider refinancing, which are:

  1. Accessing equity
  2. Lowering your rate
  3. Consolidating debt

Another thing to note is that if your mortgage is coming up for renewal (and your financial situation is stable) now could be a good time to refinance. Refinancing is generally less expensive when it is done at renewal time.

How much can a refinance cost?

Refinancing a mortgage means breaking your mortgage early, which will incur at least two costs. First, a lawyer must change the financing on title. This cost is sometimes fully or partly covered by the lender.

The more significant cost is your prepayment penalty, which your current lender charges you for breaking your mortgage contract. This amount is calculated as either three months’ interest or the interest rate differential payment (IRD), whichever is greater. Check the Ratehub.ca mortgage refinance calculator to run your own numbers and learn more.

Example: The penalty for refinancing a mortgage with a remaining balance of $300,000 with BMO, that has two years left on the current term, a fixed rate of 3.00 per cent, and a 25-year amortization could cost about $8,000, according to the ratehub.ca Penalty Calculator.

3 reasons to refinance your mortgage

There are three main reasons you might want to refinance your mortgage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep in mind that during the current crisis, some may not be practical for your situation.

Regardless of your motivation, you shouldn’t refinance if you’re in a shaky financial position due to COVID-19. Refinancing your mortgage means you’ll need to requalify, which is the last thing you want to do if you’ve lost income or can’t make your payments, as you could end up in a worse position. If this applies to you, check the alternatives to refinancing section below.

1. Accessing equity in your home

Equity is the part of your home you actually own, worked out by taking the market value of the property, less the remaining mortgage balance you have on it. If you’ve built up equity in your home, you might be able to get a loan using your equity as collateral.

There are several ways to access your home equity, two important options to consider are:

Option 1: Accessing equity by refinancing

When refinancing your mortgage, you can choose to increase your current mortgage balance to access a lump sum of money from the amount you’ve already previously paid off. You would start a new mortgage with a higher mortgage amount that includes the additional cash amount you want to take out plus your remaining balance. Because it is a new mortgage, you’ll start paying interest on the additional amount immediately, so this option makes sense if you know with certainty that you require that extra cash in the near future.

Option 2: Obtaining a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Another way to tap into your home equity is through a Home Equity Line of Credit, or HELOC. A HELOC works a little like a credit card in how you access the funds – you just draw money from your HELOC. You can then choose to pay a minimum of just the interest on the HELOC loan each month, in addition to your mortgage payment. HELOCs are normally used for big one-off costs like remodelling or university tuition, but they can also be used as a personal line of credit. HELOCs make sense if you are concerned that you may need some extra cash in the future but don’t really need it right now.

Bonus option: Refinance to get a HELOC

You’ll only be able to use a HELOC if you originally opted for a mortgage that included one. If your current mortgage doesn’t include a HELOC, refinancing allows you to get one added to your current mortgage. Moreover, since you are already refinancing to get the HELOC, you can make any necessary adjustments to your mortgage at the same time.

2. Lowering your rate

In Canada, mortgage rates are adjusted regularly. In normal circumstances one of the most common reasons to refinance is to get a lower rate, which can save you money on interest over time. When those savings are more than the prepayment penalties, it makes good financial sense to refinance.

During COVID-19, the situation is a little more complex. Bond yields are extremely low, and the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate target is at a record low of 0.25 per cent. Normally, such conditions would warrant low mortgage rates to be available. However, mortgage lenders are now pricing in a risk premium. This risk premium results in higher mortgage rates so that lenders can somewhat protect themselves from uncertainty in unemployment and the overall economy.

The upshot is rates aren’t as low as you might expect given current market conditions. That means it could be unlikely that you’ll get a low enough mortgage rate that will justify the cost of prepayment penalties. Check ratehub.ca’s mortgage refinance calculator to run the numbers for yourself.

3. Refinancing to consolidate debt

Because mortgages are secured loans, they have lower interest rates than other sources of credit, such as credit cards or personal loans. As such, they’re a great place to consolidate your debts, thus reducing the overall amount of interest you pay.

The way this is done is by accessing your home’s equity. When refinancing, you’ll take out a larger mortgage than you need to pay off your current mortgage, then use that cash to pay off your other debts. This gives you a single payment to make each month, likely at a lower overall rate (versus the various interest rates of your other loans).

Alternatives to mortgage refinancing during COVID-19

If you’ve lost income or can’t make your payments due to the COVID-19 crisis, now is probably not a good time to refinance your mortgage. This is because you’ll need to requalify for your new mortgage. If your financial situation is not as good as it was when you took out your current mortgage, you may not qualify, or could end up with a worse deal.

If you need to free up cash, for whatever reason, there are a few alternatives to consider:

  • Ask family for help: If you have parents or other family members who haven’t been hit as hard by the pandemic, consider asking them for help. This is never easy, but if there’s a time that people will understand, it’s now.
  • Get government assistance: If you haven’t yet done so, make sure to check if you or other members of your family are eligible for government assistance, such as EI or the CERB.
  • Mortgage deferral: Canada’s big banks have offered to defer mortgage payments in an effort to assist those who have lost income. Mortgage deferral isn’t free, but it could help if you’re struggling to pay your monthly bills.

The bottom line: Is the COVID-19 crisis a good time to refinance?

If you’re in need of cash during this pandemic, but aren’t in dire financial straits, then refinancing could be an option for you during this time. Additionally, it might be worth refinancing if mortgage refinance rates are significantly lower than your current rate.

However, you’ll need to consider your own needs and circumstances. The best thing you can do is speak to a mortgage professional such as a mortgage broker, who can give you a free personal assessment – do it sooner rather than later. They’ll be able to help you calculate costs and consider different options available to you during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ratehub.ca compares mortgage rates, credit cards, high-interest savings accounts, chequing accounts and insurance with the goal to empower Canadians to search smarter and save money.

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The Godfather II home for sale

Make an offer they can’t refuse – The Godfather II home for sale

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Make an offer they can’t refuse – The Godfather II home for sale

A home in the Fleur du Lac Estates on Lake Tahoe that was used for a number of scenes in The Godfather Part II, including the Fredo Corleone lake murder, and the Michael and Kay Corleone machine-gun attack in their bedroom, is for sale at US$5.5 million.

Fleur du Lac represented the film version of the Corleone-family and their move to Nevada to sell their interests in their Las Vegas casinos as part of the plan to make the mob family more legitimate. Actually located on the California side of the lake, it is now an exclusive development that was originally built in 1938 by 300 workers in just 29 days for industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. Kaiser, who built the Hoover Dam and many of World War II’s military ships and aircraft.

Now a luxurious private resort, Fleur du Lac spans 15 acres with 22 private townhomes with the yacht club and marina open to all residents. In addition to tennis courts, there is an exercise facility with locker rooms and steam showers, heated pool and jacuzzi and a private beach. The yacht club has a guest apartment named the Kaiser Suite and there is an outdoor terrace for scenic viewing, a bocce ball court and private marina with personal boat slips. On-site concierge management oversees resort services and there is also a property vehicle and driver available.

Originally, the Fleur du Lac property developer’s own home when the townhomes were added in the 1980s, the 4,200-sq.-ft. home with four bedrooms and five full baths is located in a prime position lakeside. Renovated and updated to 21st-century standards, many of its original touches remain such as the interior carved-wood columns, beamed ceilings and walls of glass with lake and mountain views. Large stone fireplaces grace the Great Room, library/media room, two of the four guest suites and master suite that turn chilly evenings into warm gathering places. The chef’s kitchen is a beautiful spot for an intimate meal or breakfast overlooking the lake but is outfitted on a scale large enough to feed a sizable crowd. The stairs off the foyer lead to the second-floor bedroom suites where the hallway is washed in light from the rooftop cupola.

The home is selling completely furnished and priced at US$5.5 million.


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What the coronavirus means for Canadian real estate

What the coronavirus means for Canadian real estate

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What the coronavirus means for Canadian real estate

The Canadian economy and real estate markets might not be able to escape the affects of the global coronavirus outbreak, but strong underlying fundamentals will return prosperity in the longer term.

This is among the findings of a new study from the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), a Canadian real estate education and research firm whose members have transacted more than 39,300 properties worth more than $5.1 billion.

 

TAKE OUR COVID-19 REAL ESTATE SURVEY

 

 

According to the REIN Special Report: The Coronavirus’ Impact on Canadian Real Estate, Canadian real estate will see an immediate cool-down, but a long-term lift, due to:

  • Temporary, small decrease in GDP growth
  • Increased immigration
  • Increased foreign capital
  • Increased demand
  • Leading to increased property values

These factors represent a buying opportunity now, REIN says.

Following is an edited version of the report.

There is some good news

Looking at the numbers, the future may not look especially bright, but there are also signs of hope. Take, for instance, the fact that China recently closed its last temporary coronavirus hospital because there aren’t enough new cases to support its operations. Apple has reopened all of its 42 stores across China, and the number of new cases in South Korea is on a steady decline.

Recession may be unavoidable

Earlier economic forecasts originally saw the impact of coronavirus as “modest and temporary,” at worst. But as more stringent containment measures are placed and oil price shocks take hold, the impact may be greater and may last longer than initially anticipated. Stalled exports to affected countries are set to negatively affect the country’s quarterly growth.

According to experts, the oil price shock, coupled with supply disruptions, could tip the Canadian economy into recession this year.

Nevertheless, the same report suggests that the economy is bound for a sharp recovery once the virus is contained, stimulus kicks in and pent-up market demand boosts the economy upward once again.

In current conditions, the economic implications of COVID-19 will be driven by a decline in land and international travel, along with the unprecedented oil price shock and disruptions to industry supply chains. The implications of policies, changes and impacts are numerous.

Short-term impacts on real estate

This will depend on quickly changing information and resulting policies as they unfold.

Medium-term impacts on real estate

A decline in GDP growth may impair the rental and property markets in 18 to 24 months. However, this is a unique situation and the velocity of the changing situation and responses could compress outcomes and timeframes rapidly.

Longer-term impacts on real estate

Demand for Canadian real estate will likely have a positive lift resulting from increased demand, rental shortages, demographics, immigration policies, and Canada’s position as a relatively safer harbour for capital, including foreign investment.

While there are travel restrictions in place, existing immigration policies have not yet been altered. The Canadian Federal government supports a continued upsurge in immigrant populations in the next few years. Once the outbreak is contained and the dust settles, we can postulate an increase in demand for migration to Canada, particularly from China and other Asian countries. This could then increase demand for both rentals and ownership properties, providing a further lift to real estate markets.

Post-coronavirus Canada can also mean a haven for foreign capital. All things being equal, it’s possible that post-coronavirus foreign capital becomes increasingly directed to international property investments, further boosting rental and property markets in the process.

Historically speaking, real estate tends to be a very stable asset class, even in times of turbulence. While current market conditions may not be the most conducive for purchasing properties at the moment, it is best for real estate investors to use this time to position themselves in a place where they are best suited to weather rougher times ahead.

Canadian real estate investors and property owners can prepare by following trusted sources for updates on the confusing and rapidly evolving scenario, refinancing where possible and staying calm, well-informed and alert.

Your opinion matters

Click here to tell us what you think in our HPG COVID-19 Real Estate Survey.

Related reading

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


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Del Condominium Rentals’ paralegal services make landlords’ life a lot easier

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Del Condominium Rentals’ paralegal services make landlords’ life a lot easier

If being a landlord was easy, everyone would do it. From finding and screening tenants to managing your property to settling disputes… hey, sometimes things just happen.

That’s why it’s so valuable to be connected with a property management company that can help with the unexpected challenges of owning and renting out an investment condo – including one that has an in-house legal department to help settle minor landlord-tenant disputes. That’s worth the price of admission right there!

Indeed, Del Condominium Rentals adds value to your property management by keeping all services in-house, so there are no concerns about delays, miscommunications or confidentiality. The company’s legal department comprises paralegals who are proficient in landlord-tenant and condominium law. And for you, the condo owner-landlord with ready access to such expertise, that’s priceless peace of mind.

What is a paralegal?

In Ontario, paralegals are legal professionals licensed and regulated by the Law Society of Ontario – just like lawyers. They have the required education and experience to represent clients and provide legal services in specific areas of law, such as small claims court, traffic court, tribunal work, and minor criminal matters.

In the context of real estate, for landlords, this is an incredibly valuable asset to have access to when working with a property management company. Because, as we said, sometimes things just happen, and disputes can arise between tenants and landlords.

Reliable legal services, with professionals who know the law and are adept at navigating these often-delicate situations, can help diffuse potential problems and ensure the terms of your lease are being enforced to protect both parties.

Benefits of using a paralegal

Paralegals are just as competent, educated and knowledgeable as any other legal service provider, as they have specific legal training for the areas of law in which they represent their clients. Paralegal education programs are specifically developed to provide both practical and theoretical training to students. These programs are constantly updated and improved to ensure that the curriculum keeps up with industry standards.

Importantly, paralegals are a key access point to the justice system, as they are a relatively more affordable alternative to traditional lawyer representation. Property management companies such as Del Condominium Rentals use paralegals for day-to-day legal services in specific areas, due to their specialized skills and affordability, and as an ultimate benefit to their clientele.

Quicker, more economical yet just as knowledgeable about essential areas of landlord-tenant laws. How’s that for affordable peace of mind?

Paralegal services

The paralegal team at Del Condominium Rentals aims to ensure that the company, its unit owners and tenants all comply with their respective rights and obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the RTA), the Condominium Act, 1998, as well as the respective condominium corporation’s declaration, by-laws and rules.

Keeping track of all of these regulations and how they interact with each other is complicated, if you’re not well-versed in legalese and the justice system as a whole.

Day-to-day paralegal tasks include:

  • Liaising with condominium management teams regarding tenant complaints
  • Sending compliance letters to tenants
  • Rent collections
  • Drafting and sending various legal notices under the RTA
  • Preparing for and attending Landlord and Tenant Board hearings
  • Judgment enforcement
  • Accompanying unit inspections
  • Processing and attending evictions
  • Providing inter-department training regarding landlord-tenant and condominium law

Clients of Del Condominium Rentals’ property management services can also benefit from seminars on landlord-tenant rights and obligations, equipping with the basics of the law governing these relationships.

Are you a condo owner looking to hire a property management company to manage your unit? Contact Del Condominium Rentals at 647.952.3644 or sales@delrentals.com

Related reading

Building or renting out a condo? Call Del Condominium Rentals

In Conversation With… Shanker Narayanan, General Manager, Del Condominium Rentals

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GTA home price growth to hit 10 per cent this year: TRREB

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GTA home price growth to hit 10 per cent this year: TRREB

A strong economy and rising population will combine to cause a surge in home price growth and sales in 2020, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s (TRREB) Market Year in Review and Outlook Report. This may be good news for those who already own a home, but it represents additional challenges for prospective homebuyers.

“Robust regional economic conditions, strong population growth and low borrowing costs will support increased home sales in 2020,” says TRREB President Michael Collins. “Market conditions will become tighter, as transactions will continue to outpace the growth in available listings. The resulting increase in competition between buyers will likely result in an acceleration in price growth across all major market segments.”

TRREB is forecasting at least 10-per-cent price growth this year to $900,000, up from $819,319 in 2019, as well as a 10.5-per-cent jump in sales to 97,000, from 87,825 in 2019.

This forecast rate of growth presupposes that price growth will continue to be driven by the less expensive mid-density, lowrise home types and condominium apartments. If the pace of detached home price growth begins to catch up to that of other major home types, the average selling price for all home types combined could push well past the $900,000 mark over the next year.

“The fact that tens of thousands of new households form each year in the GTA is testament to our region’s competitiveness on the global stage,” says John DiMichele, TRREB CEO. “We attract some of the best talent available into and across a diversity of economic sectors. However, in order to remain competitive, policy makers need to continue their focus on the constrained GTA housing supply and to ensure we have an integrated and efficient transit and transportation network that will effectively allow the movement of people and goods.”

“It’s a situation that’s been unfolding over the last decade,” Jason Mercer, TRREB’s chief market analyst and director of service channels, told HOMES Publishing. “A lot of these people are looking to purchase a home to find a place to live, yet we’ve seen a flatline in terms of both home completions, and that feeds into a flatline, even a downward trend in some cases in terms of listings.”

Jason Mercer, TRREB’s chief market analyst and director of service channels

Persistent shortage

While the GTA did see an improvement in condominium apartment rental supply in 2019, recent consumer polling, coupled with the potential for smaller returns on investment from rental income, suggests there are still forces working against more balanced market conditions in the GTA rental market, TRREB says. Policymakers at all levels of government need to be mindful of rental supply requirements as the GTA population continues to grow on the back of a strong regional economy and strong immigration. The organization expects above-inflation annual growth rates in average one- and two-bedroom condominium rents to be sustained in 2020.

“After more than three years of slower market activity brought on largely by changes in housing-related policies at the provincial and federal levels, home sales will move closer to demographic potential in 2020,” says Mercer. “The key issue, however, will be the persistent shortage of listings. Without relief on the housing supply front, the pace of price growth will continue to ramp up. Policy makers need to understand that demand side initiatives on their own will only have a temporary impact on the market.”

TRREB’s report this year focuses on planning for growth in the Greater Toronto Area and broader Greater Golden Horseshoe, with the subtitle “The Time is Now.” Contributions from several organizations all point to the same conclusion: Immediate government support to address housing supply and infrastructure – otherwise, home prices will continue to rise to prohibitive levels.

“Everyone realizes, if you’re thinking about our region both in terms of housing people and also remaining competitive, because if you’re attracting business, people will want a ready supply of housing, and that’s something that’s been quite constrained,” says Mercer. “So, moving forward, we need all levels of government to focus on bringing on more supply, but also great diversity of supply.”

Hon. Steve Clark

Affordability challenges

“Toronto’s booming economy has brought with it housing affordability challenges that will continue throughout the next decade,” says Frank Clayton, senior research fellow, Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research & Land Development. “Both the provincial and municipal governments must support a massive increase in the supply of all types of housing and tenures as priority number one and quickly transform the land use planning system to make this happen.”

The Centre for Urban Research & Land Development conducted a study that examined the economy and housing market up to 2031, which shows continuing deterioration of affordability.

“We expect a lot of employment growth, more higher paying jobs in the Toronto region… it’s going to be a good time over the next 10 years for employment and income growth. But, unfortunately, incomes on average will not rise as fast as housing prices or rents, so affordability will continue to be a very serious problem, in fact, get worse.”

Adds Paul Smetanin, president and CEO, Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis: “To accommodate the 480,000 new daily commuters that are expected to join the system between now and 2041, transportation infrastructure capacity will have to increase significantly, and especially for public transit. To get there without making congestion worse, it’s going to be very important to evaluate each new investment in transportation infrastructure on the basis of its productivity to make sure pressure is relieved in the right places.”

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Ontario markets among Canada's least affordable: ReMax

Ontario markets among Canada’s least affordable – ReMax

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Ontario markets among Canada’s least affordable – ReMax

Despite a commonly held notion that housing in Canada is unaffordable, a majority of Canada’s largest cities (75 per cent) are currently undervalued, according to the 2020 ReMax Housing Affordability Report.

Unfortunately, seven centres in Ontario rank in the top 10 markets that are least affordable.

“Affordability was a cornerstone narrative during last year’s election, perpetuating the overall banner statement across Canada that real estate is increasingly unaffordable and unattainable, particularly for younger, first-time home buyers,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, told HOMES Publishing. “This perception is largely influenced (and skewed) by the Toronto and Vancouver markets, which represent some of the most expensive housing markets in North America. However, the housing market is more than these two cities and paint quite a different story. More markets are affordable than not, and most are accessible, with 75 per cent of brokers agreeing that their markets are undervalued.

In markets such as Toronto, demand is far outstripping supply, pushing prices up considerably as a result. “We need to continue to push for an increase in housing supply for buyers and renters, but we have yet to see a comprehensive national housing strategy to help facilitate this shift,” says Alexander.

“Given that approximately 110,000 new Canadians are settling in the GTA each year, the lack of available supply is a huge problem. This is concerning for affordability and needs to be addressed by a national housing strategy. Otherwise, we’ll only see the problem continue to grow and the home prices will continue to climb across the GTA.”

Of the regions surveyed, Winnipeg, Regina and Halifax are currently the most affordable markets, with average sales prices of $281,105, $301,473 and $319,071, respectively. Vancouver, Toronto and Mississauga are currently the least affordable regions in Canada, with average sales prices of $1.19 million, $883,520 and $760,005, respectively.

In Toronto, factors such as the OSFI mortgage stress test, listing shortages, rising prices and saving enough for a down payment are cited as preventing buyers from purchasing property. Buyers in this region are primarily looking to purchase condominiums, but as one of Canada’s least affordable housing markets, they continue to be priced out.

Emerging trends such as co-ownership with friends and family have become common in hot markets such as Vancouver and Toronto, in order to overcome the hurdle of high housing prices. In regions such as Brampton, Edmonton and Ottawa, sharing a single-family home between two families, dividing the floors between them or children seeking financial support from parents for down payments are becoming more common practices.

“All levels of government must work together to find a solution to Canada’s inventory issue, as the market will remain elusive for many otherwise,” says Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, ReMax of Western Canada.


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Pharrell Williams helps Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties design untitled in Toronto

Pharrell Williams helps Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties design untitled in Toronto

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Pharrell Williams helps Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties design untitled in Toronto

Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties have unveiled complete design and development plans for untitled, a new collaborative project in midtown Toronto with recording artist Pharrell Williams.

The designs are the result of a multi-stage process that saw Reserve and Westdale working with Williams, alongside architects from IBI Group and designers from U31, to realize a collective vision for the project.

“The decision to work with Pharrell was born out of a desire to do something unique for our future residents, the city and architecture as a whole,” says Sheldon Fenton, chief executive officer, Reserve Properties. “We believed by bringing in a cultural icon with vision and ideation from outside the realm of real estate it would allow us to break the mold in terms of what has traditionally been done in multi-residential development in Toronto.”

Working with Williams, the team developed a set of overarching principles that became integral to the overall design process. These included creating spaces with a conscious understanding of how people will feel within them, focusing on design that is both aesthetically inspiring but also purposeful in its function, and incorporating a feeling of natural elements throughout the spaces.

The two-tower residential development will include 751 condominium suites, ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, as well as 32,000 sq. ft. of amenity space.

Gust of Wind

The seed for untitled’s architecture is rooted in lead architect Mansoor Kazerouni of IBI Group’s cultural background. Kazerouni introduced the concept of a jugalbandi, a performance in Indian classical music featuring an intricate duet between two solo musicians. The term translates to mean entwined twins and for Kazerouni, a jugalbandi informed how his work could entwine with sound waves from one of Pharrell’s songs. Using parametric design, the sculpted, fluid form of the balconies follows the wave pattern of Williams’ hit song Gust of Wind, articulating the building as a visual abstraction of music.

Interior spaces by Kelly Cray of U31 aim to articulate notions of universality throughout the common areas, amenities and suites. Rather than projecting a lifestyle onto the residents, the goal was for each individual space to serve as a backdrop to the user’s own experience. The result is an exploration of the interplay between nature, essentialism and Japanese inspired minimalism using a palette of plants, water, light and form.

In the lobby, a deep charcoal stone used on the floor wraps up along the walls creating a seamless experience. A cascading water feature adds movement to one’s journey, extending through the arrival hall to the concierge. The flow of water that welcomes residents is purposefully intended to evoke feelings of energy and movement when you first step into the building; an experience that is continued as a memory in surrounding spaces.

An extensive amenity program extends throughout the building’s ground floor and onto the upper levels, with a series of indoor and outdoor spaces that include a co-working garden lounge, screening room, active fitness centre, kids club, a rec room, social lounge and private dining with a sake tasting area, that flow out to the rooftop terraces.

Water and space

A wellness centre, featuring a spa and indoor-outdoor swimming pool round-out the offering with expansive floor to ceiling glass screens separating the two sides of the pool. Views through the screens frame a dramatic, 30-ft. water feature that flows into the far end of the pool.

“To me, the key elements were water and space,” says Williams. “With water moving in the building the way it does, there’s this continuous flow of motion that’s recharging to people. Certain places just hit us as humans, reminding us that we’re alive.”

As part of the block master-plan, the development team will also be building a separate 413-unit purpose-built rental building adjacent to untitled, along with a new public park. The rental building will contain 200 affordable housing units, 165 mid-range units and 49 market units, delivering a range of housing options.

untitled will feature suites ranging in type, from studios to three-bedrooms, with prices starting in the low $400,000’s.

Renderings: Norm Li
Press conference photos: Arthur Mola


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How do you protect your retirement nest egg from illness?

How to protect your retirement nest egg in case of illness?

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How to protect your retirement nest egg in case of illness?

As healthcare improves, most Canadians expect to live way past their 80s but if they do, the chance of developing age-related conditions and requiring long-term care increases.

Long-term care is a threat to your retirement nest egg. It costs $100 to $175 a day, or $35,000 to $65,000 each year, to meet the long-term care needs of one senior. It wouldn’t take long before such a bill depletes your retirement nest egg.

If you are counting on government programs, the situation is worse. Presently, the government meets only a small fraction – 18 per cent – of long-term care costs. On the other hand, family members pay up to 75 percent. Worse still, experts predict a crisis in funding the ballooning public long-term care bill.

So, how can you protect your retirement nest egg from illness?

One solution is using private insurance or long-term care insurance.

Assessing your need

You may be pondering, “Do I need an additional insurance plan?” That’s fine and normal. But, if you can afford the premiums, we would rather you ask yourself these questions:

  • How much are you saving for your retirement?
  • How well can your nest egg take an extra annual hit of $35,000 to $65,000 when you are in your 80s?
  • Will you rely on family for support?

How does it work?

Long-term care insurance kicks in when you are unable to perform two of the six aids to daily living: Bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting, continence and feeding.

There are two ways long-term care plans work. You can opt for a regular monthly or weekly income from the insurer and use it at your discretion. Alternatively, the insurer can pay your long-term care bills. Either way, long-term care insurance is generally much cheaper than making out of pocket payments.

The good part is, premiums are usually significantly lower for younger applicants. Also, the payments from the insurer are not subject to taxation. But the best part is, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your retirement nest egg can be protected from the financial effects of illness and you won’t be a burden to your family.

Planning for your retirement?

We have put together a webinar, Learn How to Retire Happy. Its completely free and you can listen in when you have the time. In this retirement training, you will:

  1. Learn the number one technique you need to master your money
  2. Obtain proven strategies used by financially successful individuals
  3. Learn best practices on how to plan now and chill later

Click here to listen to this free retirement training and get awesome tools and resources as well. You can also get advice from our financial coach with no obligation or commitment.

We truly care to help you understand your options so you can make an informed decision based on what is best for you and your loved one.

If you currently don’t have any type of life insurance, please feel free to get an online quote in seconds, so you can have a better idea of what this may cost you. Its cheaper than what you probably think. Plus, you can get a chance to win in our end of the year giveaway! To Learn more about Attingo, visit attingo.ca or call 1.877.302.5425.


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