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Local Focus: Aurora & Newmarket

Aurora & Newmarket: Close to Toronto, but far from the hustle of city life

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Aurora & Newmarket: Close to Toronto, but far from the hustle of city life

With some homebuyers priced out of the downtown Toronto core, not to mention limited availability, many are heading to the suburbs in search of more affordable homes.

Those looking north – to Aurora and Newmarket – may indeed find savings. They may also get more bang for their buck, in the way of larger properties and lots for those prices.

But it isn’t all about paying less in Aurora and Newmarket, where proximity to nature, including the Oak Ridges Moraine, and expanding highway and transit infrastructure, make living here and working in Toronto an appealing option.

Aurora

Located in York Region, Aurora is an increasingly popular and affluent town. According to the 2016 Census, the population here grew 4.2 per cent from 2011 to 55,445 – but is forecast to grow to more than 69,000 by 2020.

With an average household income of more than $155,000, Aurora is one of the wealthiest towns, not just in the province, but in all of Canada.

What’s causing such growth? An increasingly diverse economy and business expansion, which drive housing demand and rising prices.

Through it all, Aurora has been able to maintain a small-town feel. In 2016, it was ranked as one of the Top 25 places to live in Canada.

Still, the October 2018 municipal election brought change to Aurora. Tom Mrakas unseated incumbent Geoff Dawe, running on a platform centred around housing and growth. He had said he wants to ensure better land use planning decisions are made through the Local Appeals Body and by implementing a Design Review Panel. He also intends to uphold the Official Plan and continue to oppose golf course redevelopment and improve municipal infrastructure.

Newmarket

Located just seven kms north of Aurora, with a population of more than 85,000, Newmarket, too, gets lots of love.

In a recent survey conducted by the Town, 95 per cent of residents said they are satisfied with Newmarket as a place to live, and 80 per cent are satisfied with overall service levels.

“The feedback received from the Community Survey results support Newmarket’s reputation as one of the Best Places to Live in Canada, according to MoneySense Magazine,” says Mayor John Taylor.

Like neighbouring Aurora, Newmarket was ranked in the top 25 communities in Canada in 2016 and 14th among best small cities. In 2017, Amazon Canada rated it as number 20 of the top 100 most romantic cities in Canada.

Also, as was the case with Aurora, the elections last year brought change to Newmarket, when then-Mayor Tony Van Bynen decided not to seek re-election. John Taylor took over, making the economy, business growth, community building and expanding new housing developments his top priorities.

Location, location, location

Aurora, population 55,445, 49 kms north of Toronto

Newmarket, population 84,224, 7 kms north of Aurora

Select upcoming housing developments, Aurora

Queen’s Grove by North Star Homes, luxury homes, Yonge Street and Bloomington Sideroad

Shining Hill by Townwood Homes, detached, semis and townhomes

Aurora Townhomes by Andrin Homes, townhomes

Select upcoming housing developments, Newmarket

Glenway on the Green by Lakeview Homes, bungalows

Estate Homes at Copper Hills by Redwood Living, estate homes

Redwood on Yonge by Redwood Properties, adult lifestyle condominiums


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Deen Pantalone web

In conversation with… Deena Pantalone of National Homes

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In conversation with… Deena Pantalone of National Homes

With a mission that You are the blueprint, National Homes is laser focused on what new-home buyers want, the things they love and how they want to live. Having built more than 5,000 homes across the GTA, with increased focus on the highrise market, National doesn’t just strive to build quality new homes. Just as critical is exceptional customer care, and a market-leading embrace of technology every step of the way.

We spoke with Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation Deena Pantalone to get her insights on just how National connects with today’s discerning homebuyers, and what lies ahead in 2019.

Deena Pantalone

HOMES Magazine: As Director of Marketing & Innovation at National Homes, how has what you do changed over your time in the role?

Deena Pantalone: The largest change has been the evolution of our marketing to digital communications, and smart phones in particular. My role has expanded from Managing Partner and Director of Marketing, to Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation over the years, as I am constantly looking for innovative ideas to set National apart from everyone else, whether it be in our designs, technology or our customer service. We want to be at the forefront.

We are focused on keeping up to date with state-of-the-art technology and seeing how it can apply to National Homes. Keeping an open eye and mind approach to any new property technology and be willing to explore and implement if it will benefit the homeowners, potential buyers and us.

HM: Technology is an increasingly important part of home building these days – in everything from construction to sales and marketing to what customers expect in home tech. How prevalent is National involved in keeping up with these trends?

DP: Technology is central to everything we do at National. As homes and families get more and more integrated with the new digital revolution, National Homes is in the thick of it all – bringing ever more bright ideas that help our homebuyers stay on top of their lives. More choices. More options. More devices. At the end of the day, it’s about making our homebuyers’ lives easier, smarter and richer.

We do market research and workshops to determine what our buyers would like to have in their ideal homes and how they would feel if we implemented certain things, because it goes back to our core values – You are the blueprint.

We hold cutting-edge events such as our Blueprint Workshop at the IBM Innovation Space, which brought together 70 participants in discussions, presentations and interviews, learning about innovative products from building and design professionals and sharing their thoughts in a thinktank format. This way, our customers have a direct input into ideas that are reflected in our home designs. Because our philosophy has always been that, as a customer, you are the Blueprint.

We’ve brought virtual reality into our sales offices so buyers can walk around and explore their future homes, and we’re constantly looking for ways to be energy efficient and more sustainable.

 

 

National Homes Focus Group
Pantalone leading a customer focus group discussion

HM: And in the next five to 10 years, what will be the biggest change or opportunity in these areas?

DP: Property Technology is expanding at an exponential rate. That means your home will be smarter tomorrow than it is today. We will be seeing more of smart buildings, cities and communities, driverless vehicles which will affect the way that homes are designed.

Right now, smart home technology is just in its infancy, so in five to 10 years, everything will be connected not only in our homes, but our construction processes and development work.

HM: How important is social media at National Homes, in terms of connecting and communicating with customers – particularly Millennials, who have grown up in the digital age?

DP: Digital communications are key to everything we do today. Prior to a sale, it starts with social media on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz and Facebook. We search out the latest innovations in architecture, design, technology from around the world and share them with our community. And, of course, we also speak to our followers about upcoming neighbourhoods and other news.

HM: National is building in a variety of communities in and around the GTA. Where do you see the next hot market – in terms of either geography or product type?

DP: There’s no question that affordability has become the biggest issue in the GTA housing market, and land prices are right at the heart of the matter. Everything starts with the needs of our customers, and if price is even more of an issue today, then we have a responsibility to find answers.

This is why we are bringing on new communities in Brampton, Courtice and Burlington, where lower land prices can make homes more affordable. And we are expanding our product design mix to include midrise condominiums that give people better prices.

National Homes Forest Phase 2
Forest Phase 2 Model Home

HM: What can your customers expect from a National home?

DP: Our customers can expect a home that is designed with their needs in mind. We put an enormous amount of effort into research, workshops, focus groups and questionnaires.

Our customers can expect exceptional customer service. Our Customer Care program has been designed to make the entire home purchasing experience a positive one. Some of the highlights include a New Home Workshop and seminar to prepare you for the homebuying process, the National Care Kit, a wealth of information on how to care for the finishes inside your home, innovative framing walk-throughs, detailed customer surveys and a homeowners’ portal communication hub where they will find everything they need to know about their home.

HM: Please finish the following statement. For National Homes, 2018 was a year of:

DP: Innovation. From the home designs we have been developing for our new communities, to the products and technology we are incorporating into our homes, this year we have been pushing the boundaries behind the scenes to ready ourselves for the launch of our next communities.

HM: And 2019 will be a year of:

DP: Introduction and implementation. In the new communities we introduce this year, all the research and development we have been working on behind the scenes will start to be available to our new buyers. And that makes this coming year a very exciting time for us.

Portfolio

  • THE FOREST, detached homes, Bradford, Final phase coming soon
  • STATION TOWN, townhomes, Markham, In registration
  • THREE RIVERS CLAIREVILLE, townhomes, Claireville, In registration
  • COURTICE, townhomes, In registration
  • BURLINGTON, townhomes and condos, In registration
  • BRAMPTON, townhomes, In registration

nationalhomes.com

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Canadian interest rates

Fixed mortgage interest rates fall, but future hikes likely

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Fixed mortgage interest rates fall, but future hikes likely

Canadian interest rates

Well, that didn’t take long. We reported on Jan. 9 that mortgage interest rates might actually take a dip in the coming weeks.

“The (Bank of Canada’s) moderated outlook in the last two announcements has caused bond yields in Canada to drop lower than any point in 2018,” James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and President of CanWise Financial mortgage brokerage, told HOMES Publishing. “However, we are yet to see a corresponding decrease in mortgage rates. We would advise consumers to keep a close eye on mortgage rates in coming weeks.”

RBC first to lower rates

And sure enough, a week or so later, RBC has done just that – lowering its posted five-year fixed rate to 3.74 per cent from 3.89 per cent. It was the first time RBC has lowered this rate since October 2017.

“RBC is the largest mortgage lender in Canada, so whenever they move their mortgage rates, we can expect that the other four banks will follow suit. We anticipate that the other big banks will soon have a publicly posted rate of 3.74 per cent as well.”

Experts have expected this move from lenders since bond yields dropped in December 2018, Laird says, after the BoC announcement stating that future rate hikes would be slower and less frequent. The most recent Bank on Jan. 9 announcement highlighted policymakers’ concerns with Canada’s energy and housing markets, which suggested that rates will be stable for a longer period of time than had previously been anticipated.

Deep discounts

The Bank of Canada held its target for the overnight rate at 1.75 per cent on Jan. 9, where it has been since October 2018, and is lowering its growth forecast this year for Canada and around the world.

Canadians who need a mortgage this year should frequently check rates and mortgage providers. As the spring homebuying market approaches, says Laird, many lenders will offer deep discounts and promotions in order to attract new customers.

“Anyone looking for a variable rate should act quickly, because the current stable interest rate environment is causing lenders to reduce the discounts being offered on variable rate mortgages,” he says.

Let’s explore a couple different scenarios.

 

Scenario 1: $400,000 mortgage 

According to Ratehub.ca’s mortgage payment calculator, a homeowner with a $400,000 mortgage and five-year fixed rate of 3.89 per cent will have monthly mortgage payments of $2,080.

Comparatively, a homeowner with a five-year fixed rate of 3.74 per cent would have monthly mortgage payments of $2,048.

A 0.15-per-cent difference in their mortgage rate would lower mortgage payments by $32 per month, or $384 per year.

 

Scenario 2: $800,000 mortgage 

A homeowner with an $800,000 mortgage and five-year fixed rate of 3.89 per cent will have monthly mortgage payments of $4,161.

Comparatively, a homeowner with a five-year fixed rate of 3.74 per cent would have monthly mortgage payments of $4,096.

A 0.15-per-cent difference in their mortgage rate would lower mortgage payments by $65 per month, or $780 per year.

 

Hikes likely to come

Personal finance guru and Homes Publishing columnist Rubina Ahmed-Haq says the Bank remains optimistic about Canada’s economy, noting it has performing well overall. In its statement, the Bank says, “Growth has been running close to potential, employment growth has been strong and unemployment is at a 40-year low.” But still not enough to raise rates at this time.

Still, consumers can expect rates to begin to inch higher in the coming months, she says. Forecasters are predicting two hikes this year, down from earlier predictions of as many as three increases in 2019.

 

RELATED READING

Bank of Canada holds interest rate for now, but hikes still to come

Where are interest rates headed in 2019?

Interest rate hikes may not cost you as much as you think

 

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Bank of Canada

Bank of Canada holds interest rate for now, but hikes still to come

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Bank of Canada holds interest rate for now, but hikes still to come

 

Bank of Canada

The Bank of Canada held its target for the overnight rate at 1.75 per cent on Jan. 9, where it has been since October 2018, and is lowering its growth forecast this year for Canada and around the world.

After raising the rate three times last year, some experts expected the Bank would do so again, either in late 2018 or early this year.

So, what does this latest non-action mean, and what can Canadian consumers expect in the coming months?

“The Bank gave several reasons for its decision to keep rates steady,” says Rubina Ahmed-Haq, personal finance guru and Homes Publishing columnist. “This includes lower oil prices, a weaker outlook for the global economy and Canada’s economy slowing more than expected.

Weaker investment

“It was a surprise that market pessimism did not come up,” she adds. “Despite stock market volatility making headlines for the last two months, there was no mention of the wild swings investors have been experiencing. The Bank did talk about weaker consumer spending and housing investment. This could be because of Canadian investors watching their portfolios and not feeling as confident in their spending.”

Sill, Ahmed-Haq says, the Bank remains very rosy on Canada’s economy, noting it has performing well overall. In its statement, the Bank says, “Growth has been running close to potential, employment growth has been strong and unemployment is at a 40-year low.” But still not enough to raise rates at this time.

Energy sector a concern

“The energy sector has been a concern for the Bank for some time now, but there seems to be a new focus on the housing sector, especially on the impact of mortgage guidelines changes and the five rate increases that have happened in the past 18 months,” James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and President of CanWise Financial mortgage brokerage, told Homes Publishing.

Ahmed-Haq and Laird agree we should still expect higher rates in the coming months.

“The policy interest rate will need to rise over time into a neutral range to achieve the inflation target,” says Ahmed-Haq.

Rate hikes to come

Forecasters are now predicting two rate hikes this year, down from earlier predictions of as many as three rates hikes in 2019.

“The Bank’s moderated outlook in the last two announcements has caused bond yields in Canada to drop lower than any point in 2018,” says Laird. “However, we are yet to see a corresponding decrease in mortgage rates. We would advise consumers to keep a close eye on mortgage rates in coming weeks.”

 

Highlights from the Bank’s announcement

  • Bank of Canada maintains target for overnight rate at 1.75 per cent
  • Canadian economy performing well overall
  • Employment growth strong
  • Unemployment rate at 40-year low
  • Canadian consumption spending and housing investment weaker than expected
  • Housing markets adjusting to municipal and provincial measures, new mortgage guidelines and higher interest rates
  • Household spending to be dampened by slow growth in oil-producing provinces
  • Real GDP growth forecast at 1.7 per cent for 2019
  • Growth of 2.1 per cent forecast for 2020

 

RELATED READING

Where are interest rates headed in 2019?

Homebuyers undeterred by changes in mortgage landscape

Interest rate hikes may not cost you as much as you think

 

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2019 web

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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2018 web

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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Toronto homes web

GTA home prices continue to rise

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GTA home prices continue to rise

Toronto homes web

Greater Toronto Area average home prices continued their upward trajectory in November, rising 3.5 per cent year-over-year to $788,345, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).

GTA realtors report 6,251 residential transactions through TREB’s MLS system in November 2018, down by 14.7 per cent compared to November 2017, when there was a temporary upward shift in demand caused by the looming OSFI-mandated stress test at the end of last year.

“New listings were actually down more than sales on a year-over-year basis in November,” President Garry Bhaura says. “This suggests that, in many neighbourhoods, competition between buyers may have increased. Relatively tight market conditions over the past few months have provided the foundation for renewed price growth.”

On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, sales were down by 3.4 per cent compared to October 2018.  The average selling price after preliminary seasonal adjustment was down by 0.8 per cent, compared to October 2018.

Average home prices, November

Toronto (416)
2018: $842,483
2017: $803,540

Rest of GTA (905)
2018: $750,721
2017: $732,848

GTA
2018: $788, 345
2017: $761,410

“Home types with lower average price points have been associated with stronger rates of price growth over the past few months,” says Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis. “Given the impact of the OSFI-mandated mortgage stress test and higher borrowing costs on affordability, it makes sense that the condo apartment and semi-detached market segments experienced relatively stronger rates of price growth in November, as market conditions in these segments remained tight or tightened respectively over the past year.”

Looking at the housing market from a policy perspective, TREB says it is encouraged with the provincial government’s recent announcement and on-going public consultation regarding a housing supply action plan.

“Housing supply remains a key issue in the GTA market,” says TREB CEO John Di Michele. “More specifically, an adequate supply and appropriate mix of housing types must be part of the conversation, as has been recognized by the provincial government in their consultation documents. Transit supportive and gentle density ‘missing middle’ housing should be a priority.”

 

GTA average prices and percentage gain by home type, November 2018

Detached: $1.01M, 1.3%
Semi-detached: $791,760, 8.3%
Townhome: $647,418, 3.1%
Condo: $556,723, 7.5%

TREB has commissioned research on these subjects and is holding a Market Outlook Economic Summit on Feb. 6, 2019.

“TREB is also encouraged that the provincial government remains committed to public transit expansion,” adds Di Michele. “TREB has long advocated for improvements to the Greater Golden Horseshoe transit and transportation network, and feels the time is right to have a conversation about the level of provincial and municipal responsibility that would be the most efficient arrangement to realize subway expansion sooner in Toronto, and the GTA, as this will impact the housing market.”

 

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EDITOR'S CHOICE: Podium Developments

New home buying opportunities abound in Oshawa and Durham Region

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New home buying opportunities abound in Oshawa and Durham Region

EDITOR'S CHOICE: Podium Developments
Ironwood Towns in North Oshawa by Podium Developments and Urban Capital

Despite the bad news this week that General Motors Canada plans to close assembly operations in Oshawa, there are some good new home buying opportunities in the city and elsewhere in Durham Region.

As various levels of government and the Unifor trade union vow to somehow keep the plant open or otherwise deal with the fallout of the decision, the housing sector in Oshawa is expected to shift into a buyers’ market.

That could mean deals for buyers in a market where home prices have already been under pressure.

 

Also read: What the GM plant closure means for Oshawa economy and housing

Also read: Oshawa housing to move into buyers’ market thanks to GM closure

 

For those looking to buy a new home, know that there are still plenty of good opportunities in Oshawa and surrounding area.

First, let’s look at recent new home buying activity in the area, courtesy of statistics from Altus Group, theofficial source for market intelligence for the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

 

Total new home sales, units

Oshawa Durham Region
Annual
2013          682       2,376
2014       1,108       3,130
2015          971       3,433
2016       1,149       5,344
2017          490       2,385
Jan-Oct
2017          483       2,262
2018            83       1,065
Source:  Altus Group

 

Naturally, the GM news is a sensitive topic to an industry such as home building, where companies dedicate years to planning and construction development projects. So don’t expect a comment any time soon from BILD, the voice of home builders in the GTA, or individual companies.

Might developers at some point offer deals – be they discounts or upgrades – in order to move an unsold inventory in a market not feeling the strongest at the moment?

It never hurts to ask.

 

A selection of new home and condo inventory

Ironwood in North Oshawa, Building Capital and Podium Developments, contemporary freehold townhomes

Harmony Creek, Conservatory Group, townhomes and detached homes

Daniels FirstHome Oshawa, townhomes

Brook Phase 2, Delpark Homes, detached homes

Fields of Harmony Phase IV, Greycrest Homes, detached homes

Harmony Gate, Sundance Homes, townhomes

Kingsview Ridge, Treasure Hill, 30-, 36- and 40-ft. singles

Park Ridge, Tribute Communities, detached homes from the low $900’s

U.C. Towns 2, Tribute Communities, townhomes form the low $600’s

Top of Townline, Woodland Homes, detached homes

For more new home buying opportunities, visit MyHomePage.ca

With files from Natalie Sicilia, New Home Research Manager & Map Editor

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House web

Oshawa housing to move into buyers’ market thanks to GM closure

Latest News


Oshawa housing to move into buyers’ market thanks to GM closure

House web

In one fell swoop, General Motors Canada’s announcement on Nov. 25 that it plans to close all assembly operations in Oshawa, Ont. effectively has pushed housing there into a buyers’ market.

“The announced General Motors plant closure will certainly impact Oshawa, and the trickle-down effect will be felt across the province,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax Integra of Ontario-Atlantic Region, told Homes Publishing.

“However, it’s important to remember that GM isn’t the economic driver that it used to be in Durham Region. The area boasts a growing education sector and a new casino is slated to open in 2019, which will boost new condo development and housing demand. With the rise of remote work and no relief expected for Toronto house prices in 2019, Oshawa will continue to be a popular choice with first-time and move-up buyers who have been priced out of the 416.”

There you have it, prospective home buyers.

Opportunity knocks

While such a major employment hit is hardly an occasion to celebrate, these developments could mean opportunity for those looking to buy a home.

“The fact is that more than 2,500 GM workers will be left in the lurch come 2020, and the looming loss of income will likely prompt a softening of the market at a local level, as existing residents and prospective homebuyers digest the news and what it might mean for them,” says Alexander. “This coming closure, coupled with further interest rate increases in 2019, is likely to trigger a market shift from the current balanced territory, as homebuyers delay purchases, scale down lower-priced properties or move away in search of employment.”

Also read: What the GM plant closure means for Oshawa economy and housing

Also read: Focus on Whitby and Oshawa

Also read: 5 affordable neighbourhoods for detached homes in 416 and 905

Another real estate expert, Don R. Campbell, says the impact of the closure could take 18 to 24 months to play out fully in the region.

Diversified economy

Thankfully, there is more going for Oshawa and the Durham Region than just General Motors. Though it was once described as the “Automotive Capital of Canada,” in recent years the economy has diversified into education and health sciences. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Durham College and Trent University Durham and all have campuses in the city, among other economy-boosting facilities.

Indeed, in its latest Metropolitan Outlook, the Conference Board of Canada pegged Oshawa to be one of the strongest economies in the province for 2018. The Board forecast real GDP growth of 2.6 per cent this year, following 3.2 per cent in the last two years, citing strength in the non-residential construction, education, health care, finance and insurance sectors.

In addition, Statistics Canada figures show that Oshawa was one of the fastest growing cities in Ontario from 2011 to 2016, with 6.6 per cent population growth, second only to Guelph at 7.7 per cent. This, after growing 7.7 per cent from 2006 to 2011.

Importantly, for prospective home buyers, transportation improvements such as expanded GO Transit and the Hwy. 407 extension make it easier for people to live in Oshawa – at cheaper home prices – and commute to work in other areas such as Toronto. Another extension of the 407 eastward to neighbouring Clarington is due for 2020, further easing transportation options.

New home opportunities

Tomorrow, we’ll explore some of the opportunities to buy new homes in the Durham Region.

 

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Oshawa

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

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

Oshawa

General Motors Canada has confirmed that it plans to close all assembly operations in Oshawa, Ont. after next year, leaving the community reeling with concern for the local economy and housing market.

And with good reason.

Auto manufacturing in the city of about 170,000 dates back as far as 1907, and the plant is still a major employer. It employs about 2,500 hourly and 400 salaried workers, with many more engineers working at GM’s adjacent Regional Engineering Centre.

Oshawa Mayor John Henry has said the closure would have ripple effects well beyond the city, hurting businesses and families throughout the Durham Region.

“From a personal finance perspective, this news is devastating for the people of Oshawa,” says Rubina Ahmed-Haq, personal finance expert. “Not only the ones whose jobs will be affected and have the obvious financial impact of losing a steady income. But, also those who depend on those workers to run their businesses – everything from restaurants to dry cleaners to places of interest around the area will be impacted. As well as property values, which are already much lower in Oshawa compared to other parts of the GTA, will take a further hit.”

Durham Region home prices

Illustrating Ahmed-Haq’s point, home prices in the Durham Region have already been feeling the pinch.

 

Historical average home prices, Durham Region
2018: $591,739 (as of October)
2017: 624,225
2016: $528,475
2015: $439,842
2014: $388,610
2013: $354,548

Source: Canadian Real Estate Association

 

Values continued to decrease during the third quarter of 2018, according to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey. Over the three-month period, the aggregate home price in Oshawa and Ajax decreased 2.8 per cent and six per cent year-over-year to $538,757 and $664,640, respectively. Home values in Pickering also depreciated when compared to the same time last year by 4.4 per cent to $709,260, and the aggregate price in Whitby decreased 3.5 per cent to $677,243.

Oshawa median home prices

Standard two-storey homes
Q3 2018 $557,071
Q3 2017 $576,922
Q/Q % change 0.8
Yr/yr % change -3.4

Detached bungalows
Q3 2018 $512,001
Q3 2017 $517,237
Q/Q % change 2.3
Yr/yr % change -1.2

Standard condos
Q3 2018 $278,224
Q3 2017 $281,864
Q/Q % change 0.3
Yr/yr % change -1.3

Aggregate
Q3 2018 $538,757
Q3 2017 $554,070
Q/Q % change 1.2
Yr/yr % change -2.8

Source: Royal LePage National House Price Composite, October 2018

 

What we can expect in the housing market

“After an announcement such as this, we often witness an immediate softening of purchase demand in the city and its surrounds, while the shock and reality of the situation settles in,” Don R. Campbell, real estate expert and author told HOMES Publishing. “This slowdown doesn’t hit the stats immediately, as there are a lot of deals that are already in the process of closing in the next couple of months. However, come February, the numbers begin to reflect the new reality. That is phase one.

“Phase two is when average sale prices begin to fall, as confidence in the market begins to slip further. In other scenarios, it is just a sign of a move ‘down-market’ or to lower priced properties. However, in today’s world, the existing ‘stress-test’ will be combined with this lack of confidence to exacerbate the normal situation.”

A third phase may follow eight months to a year after the actual closure, when EI benefits begin to run to the end of their course, confidence in the potential return of the GM jobs begins to fade and families have to start making big decisions of relocation to find new appropriate jobs.

“In other words,” Campbell says, “the announcement of and the subsequent closing of the plant kicks off a predictable but sad ripple effect that will last for years.”

If there is one potential saving grace in this news, it’s that Oshawa and the surrounding area has a more diverse economy than in the past, which will help slightly buffer the pain, says Campbell.

“However, the pain is coming and it is real and far reaching.”

The Oshawa plant is not the only facility to be affected by GM’s decision to “accelerate its transformation for the future.” Two locations in the Detroit area are also scheduled to be shut down, which could have spillover affects in related industries across the border in the Windsor, Ont. area.

RELATED READING

Oshawa housing to move into buyers’ market thanks to GM closure

New home buying opportunities abound in Oshawa and Durham Region

Focus on Whitby and Oshawa

6 Ontario municipal elections to watch regarding housing

 

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