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Townhomes

Pent-up demand for townhomes building in the GTA

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Pent-up demand for townhomes building in the GTA

Townhomes

Condos may be the choice for many in the increasingly expensive GTA, but not everyone wants to live in a box in the sky. More and more new home buyers are looking for affordable lowrise options such as townhomes. Emphasis on the word affordable.

The problem? The supply just isn’t there – and the pent-up demand is growing.

Appealing especially to young families, townhomes provide more space and flexibility than condos, and generally are far more affordable than single-family homes.

“Both stacked (townhomes) and (row) townhouses form a key component of the Missing Middle – the built forms between high-density condo and low-density single-family housing,” Matthew Boukall, vice-president, product management, Data Solutions at Altus Group, told Homes Publishing.

Altus recently studied the sector for one of its regular housing reports, surmising that townhomes play an increasingly important role in in the new home sector, not just in the GTA but across Canada.

In the GTA, new townhouse sales have plummeted in the past two years – both in absolute terms and as a percentage of total new home sales (to just seven per cent of the total in the first half of 2018), Altus says.

GTA Starts

Affordability and availability remain an issue.

In the GTA, the key challenge to supplying this built form has been finding land with the right entitlements to allow and support this construction, Altus reports. Much of the land along Toronto streets support higher density condo product or is priced at a level which encourages rezoning to support this density.

“What can support more townhouse development is allowing rezoning of the land between the existing single-family communities and the corridors for more mid-density development,” Boukall says.

Although townhouse land (medium density) sales in 2017 were actually up over 2016, they are trending lower in 2018. Part of the problem is a lengthy approval process. “Year to date in Toronto, we have only tracked five approved townhouse projects, representing less than 350 units,” says Boukall. “Obviously, we need more product to meet the market demand. The positive note is that developers are proposing more product, with almost 1,500 new units applied for in 2018.”

GTA Townhouse sales

STACKED TOWNHOMES

Stacked townhouses, in which one row of townhouse units is stacked on top of another, provide a more affordable option to single-family homes, given higher densities. They also offer many of the appealing aspects of condominiums, but without living in a highrise environment.

However, they still play a relatively smaller role than traditional townhouses in the overall townhouse arena, Altus says.

In the Vancouver market, for example, new stacked townhouse units accounted for slightly more than 200 sales on average per year in 2015-17 – about six per cent of all new townhouse sales.

GTA Stacked

In the GTA, where stacked townhouses have made a larger dent, they remain a niche segment, accounting for about one in five new townhouse sales in recent years.

Part of the challenge with stacked townhouses versus rowhomes are those similar to condominium apartments – longer planning and construction timelines, and other residences adjacent on all sides

Both housing types will play an important role throughout the GTA in the future, but stacked townhouses are expected to become more popular given the better affordability provided by the higher density housing type.

“That said,” Boukall adds, “traditional row townhouses are the more common housing type in the GTA and as such, account for more sales compared to the stacked townhouse product. Row townhouse product has been accounting for a growing share of the single-family new homes sales in the GTA, currently accounting for 42 per cent of the total single-family sales activity in the GTA.”

WHERE IN THE GTA?

So, prospective GTA new home buyers, which areas hold the most promise in terms of future townhome availability?

While townhouses are expected to remain a popular housing option throughout the GTA, both Toronto and the York region share the most medium density land activity in the region, and should see increased development activity as a result in 2019 and beyond.

“The Peel region, most notably Brampton, is the most active for stacked and row townhouse sales in 2018 and should continue to see demand supported by an available land supply and comparably affordable prices,” says Boukall.

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Record October 2017 for new condo sales

Record October 2017 for new condo sales

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Record October 2017 for new condo sales

Average price for available new detached homes rises to $1,548,888

New construction home sales soared in the GTA in the month of October, primarily driven by sales of multi-family homes, condo apartments in highrise and midrise buildings and stacked townhomes, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) announced November 24.

There were 5,377 new homes sold in October, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. About 91 per cent of them (4,884 units) were multi-family homes and only 9 per cent (493) were lowrise single-family homes such as detached and semi-detached houses and townhomes. Condo sales for October were 81 per cent above the 10-year average of 2,697, and the highest October yet recorded, while lowrise sales were 64 per cent below the 10-year average of 1,388.

As of the end of October, 39,476 new homes have been sold in the GTA in 2017, 82 per cent of them condo apartments in highrise and midrise buildings and stacked townhomes.

“October data shows that the new homebuyer is left with very little choice when it comes to purchasing a new home,” said BILD president and CEO Bryan Tuckey.

“Provincial intensification policy has our members building more high and midrise dwellings making housing choices a challenge. The cost of a single-family home is out of reach for many consumers pushing them to buy a condo over a house. As a result we are seeing record-breaking condo sales and higher prices this year for new lowrise homes.”

While supply of new housing increased again in October and reached 12,500 units, it is still well below what is considered a healthy level. Supply of new housing is typically measured by the number of new homes available for purchase in builders’ inventories at the end of the month. At the end of October, there were 9,308 multi-family homes and 3,192 single-family homes available in the GTA.

“Demand for newly-built condominium apartments is being fueled by three key buyer groups – small investors who have become the de facto providers of new rental housing supply in the GTA; end user buyers who might prefer a single-family home but are seeking out more affordable options; and the more traditional end users who value the lifestyle and amenities of well-located projects,” said Patricia Arsenault, Altus Group’s executive vice president of research consulting services.

Prices of available new homes in October increased slightly for both single-family lowrise homes and multi-family homes. The average for available new single-family homes was $1,217,428 up from $1,204,829 in September, and 29.8 per cent above last October’s average price of $937,689. The average price for available new detached homes was $1,548,888 and the average for available new townhomes was $995,571.

Meanwhile the average price of available new condo apartments in highrise and midrise buildings and stacked townhomes was $677,456 in October, up from September’s $661,188. The average price per square foot was $791 and the average unit size was 857 square feet.

October 2017

Highrise

Lowrise

Total

Region

2017

2016

2015

2017

2016

2015

2017

2016

2015

Durham

15

97

26

209

329

325

224

426

351

Halton

158

375

199

75

514

246

233

889

445

Peel

89

203

174

62

178

486

151

381

660

Toronto

3,994

1,509

2,307

2

22

66

3,996

1,531

2,373

York

628

687

573

145

625

695

773

1,312

1,268

GTA

4,884

2,871

3,279

493

1,668

1,818

5,377

4,537

5,097

Source: Altus Group



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Industry Expert: Best of Both Worlds

Industry Expert: Best of Both Worlds

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Industry Expert: Best of Both Worlds

by Bryan Tuckey

Cost-effective and a clever use of land, new forms of housing are stacking up in the GTA

The GTA land development and home building industry is constantly innovating and looking for ways to meet housing demands and provide consumers with affordable housing options while still complying with provincially mandated Growth Plan density targets.

One way we have risen to the challenge is by introducing gentle density in the form of stacked and back-to-back townhomes. All this while creating unique and liveable communities that feature great architecture and offer lifestyle amenities.

Stacked towns are becoming more popular around the GTA, especially in tight infill lots that are too small for a mid-rise or high-rise building. By stacking one unit on top of another, residents have the advantage of a two-storey house-style layout with the added convenience of a condo. The lower unit typically has outside access in the form of a patio or terrace, while the upper unit usually boasts a balcony or rooftop terrace.

Photo: bigstock.com
Photo: bigstock.com

Back-to-back towns are different than regular row housing as the backs of each home touches the back of the house behind it.

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), traditional row housing allows for 14 to 18 units per acre, while stacked townhomes can be built at 26 to 27 units per acre. The higher but still gentle density means it costs developers less to build and they can pass the savings on to the homebuyer. With stacked townhomes the industry is meeting the insatiable demand for ground-related housing at an affordable price point.

Stacked and back-to-back townhomes give consumers a larger selection of home styles to choose from. They are also great places for families to grow together, empty nesters to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle and where first-time buyers can afford something other than a unit in a high-rise condo building.

Innovative townhome developments are taking shape across all corners of the GTA. The town of Stouffville is a case in point. Although Stouffville has traditionally been a community of detached housing, townhouses now account for a large proportion of the housing under development. BILD member Geranium, for example, has been building out their master-planned community of Cardinal Point and recently introduced Vista Flats and Towns. The stacked units offer living space up to 1,300 square feet over two floors with a rooftop terrace. The second level one-storey flats have a spacious balcony, and the first-level flats a patio. Prices for these units started in the mid $400,000s.

While back-to-back row housing is common in England, the concept is relatively new to the GTA. With some innovative rethinking of the Victoria-era housing form, several BILD members have brought back-to-back and stacked townhomes to the market with great success.

Menkes’ Dwell City Towns in Etobicoke, for example, offered back-to-back units of 1,000 square feet to over 1,600 square feet with starting prices from $300,000. The 196 open-concept units—boasting patios and rooftop decks— sold out quickly. At Queen’s Landing in East Gwillimbury, Minto is about to launch the second phase of back-to-back townhomes after phase one sold out in three hours.

These are just a few examples of the many ways our industry is offering innovative options to homebuyers as we try and meet the housing needs of the GTA’s ever-growing population in our highly regulated new home market.

Bryan Tuckey is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association and a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments.

Follow him on Twitter @bildgta, facebook.com/bildgta, and bildblogs.ca.


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