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Local Focus - Toronto

Toronto – in demand and on the rise

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Toronto – in demand and on the rise

Largely considered the pinnacle of the condo boom we’re seeing these days, Toronto still does boast some good lowrise home options. Supply and pricing of those homes, however, is another matter.

That’s what happens when you combine a strong economy and rising population with limited new and resale home supply.

Indeed, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) is forecasting at least 10-per-cent price growth in the GTA this year to $900,000, up from $819,319 in 2019. And on the new home side, 2020 began on a strong note, with 2,106 total new home sales in January, up 65 per cent from January 2019 and 14 per cent above the 10-year average, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). The benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1.09 million.

Booming economy

“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.”

Long considered one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto boasts a collection of distinct communities, including East York, North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke.

Some of these areas, in fact, now represent areas of growth for new lowrise housing, given that larger master-planned communities of single-detached homes are fewer and farther between. Much of the focus now is on the socalled missing middle, those smaller developments such as townhomes that represent a real opportunity for new ground-oriented homes in the city.

Culture and entertainment

Find a way to buy and live in Toronto, however, and you likely will love it.

Toronto offers a vast array of culture and entertainment options, from the National Ballet of Canada, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum and more.

For the sporting sort, Toronto has a handful of pro sports teams – the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto FC and Toronto Argonauts – and is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is an annual event celebrating the film industry and attracts many movie stars and a-list players. And the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, formerly known as Caribana, attracts more than one million people every summer.

Other points of interest include the Toronto Zoo, the Ontario Science Centre, Harbourfront, Fort York, the Distillery District, Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower and the Canadian National Exhibition.

And of course, as a large metropolitan city, great shopping areas include the St. Lawrence Market, Kensington Market, the Toronto Eaton Centre, Sherway Gardens and Yorkdale Mall.

Though a subject of some debate due to the challenges with keeping up with all the growth, transit and highway infrastructure is undergoing major expansion all over the city. The TTC moves almost two million people throughout the city every day on subway, buses, streetcars and LRT lines, while GO Transit links Toronto with the surrounding regions of the GTA. Highways include the 400 series (401, 403, 404, 407 and 427), the Don Valley Parkway and the Queen Elizabeth Highway.

Location, location, location

This provincial capital of Ontario and the most populated city in Canada is located on the shores of Lake Ontario; Population 2,954,024

Key landmarks

  • CN Tower
  • High Park
  • Ontario Science Centre
  • Ripley’s Aquarium
  • Toronto Eaton Centre

Select housing developments

East Station by Mattamy Homes

Fairfield Towns by Plaza

Lake & Town by Menkes

Origins of Don Mills by Mattamy Homes

Terraces at Eglinton by Nascent Developments

The Belmont Residences by Caliber Homes

The New Lawrence Heights by Context Dev. Inc.

The New Lawrence Heights by Metropia

Twelve on the Ravine by Geranium


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Humber Bay, Etobicoke

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

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

Humber Bay, Etobicoke

Unprecedented doesn’t even begin to describe it. A few weeks ago, we awaited an exceptionally active spring real estate market in the GTA, buoyed by the recent easing of mortgage regulations and interest rates.

Now, however, instead of seeing a spike in buying activity, we’re hunkering down, battening down the hatches and riding out the COVID-19 crisis, all in an attempt to flatten the curve.

Historic, surreal and unbelievable might be more suitable adjectives to describe these times.

And under such circumstances, with normal life routine displaced by the daunting and unknown, people naturally tend to worry.

In real estate, if location, location, location is the No. 1 rule of thumb, thinking long term is right there along with it, as 1A.

We’ve been through similar challenging times: The 1989 recession, Y2K, 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008-09 and SARS. Now we face COVID-19.

At times of economic uncertainty and extreme stress in the marketplace, people always revert to their number one emotional and financial investment – their home. People trust real estate. Buying that first condo, a new home for their growing family, downsizing once the kids move out or renovating the place you already love.

And, so it will be again.

Long-term lift

But don’t take our word for it. Consider, for example this report from the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), a national group of investors which bases everything it does on independent research.

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. We may see a temporary decrease in GDP growth, but key drivers of real estate such as population growth and increased foreign capital, demand and property values will eventually rise.

“It’s still premature to predict how the coronavirus outbreak will be resolved, but data suggests that panic will only worsen the country’s economic situation,” says Jennifer Hunt, REIN’s vice-president of research. “There is reason to be alert, but there’s absolutely no reason to further raise alarm and cause more public fear. In fact, as a Canadian real estate investor, this may represent a buying opportunity for investors, with a likely future positive lift in rental and housing markets.”

Open for business

It might be a stretch to say it’s “business as usual,” but life does have to go on, as soon and as safely as possible. New home builders and developers are open for business, are accepting presentation centre visits to by appointment only, and as much as possible are moving communications to digital.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada recently lowered its influential overnight rate target twice in less than two weeks – from 1.75 to 1.25 per cent on March 4, then again to 0.75 per cent on March 16. Canada’s Big Five banks are following suit by lowering mortgage rates, and they, too, are increasingly going digital to facilitate business.

Buyer-friendly

All of this means the opportunities to buy are still there (though with a modified process), with less short-term competition and a more buyer-friendly mortgage and borrowing landscape.

Indeed, as challenging as these times may be, it’s even more important to focus on the long term. And on that front, new-home ownership in the GTA is still a solid investment.

RELATED READING

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

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year

Get ready for a hot market in the GTA this spring

 

 

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Midtown Toronto

Midtown Toronto – Where exactly is that?

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Midtown Toronto – Where exactly is that?

Mention Midtown Toronto to people, and they generally react in one of two ways. “Where exactly is that?? – the inference being that in a growing city of this size, pinpointing where the centre is difficult, to say the least.

And once realizing “Midtown” is roughly defined by Bloor Street to the south, Eglinton Avenue to the north, Bayview to the east and around Dufferin Street to the west, people often think “Old Toronto.”

And in the context of real estate, that means high-priced.

Increasingly accessible

Indeed, with neighbourhoods such as Rosedale, Forest Hill, Deer Park, Summerhill and Yonge & Eglinton, Midtown is generally affluent and exclusive. Signature detached homes in any of these areas can easily run into the multi-million-dollar range.

However, new developments coming on the scene, particularly some landmark highrise condominiums, are making the area increasingly accessible to a variety of residents.

Once commonly known as “Yonge & Eligible,” due to its popularity among young single professionals, Yonge and Eglinton is quickly becoming one of Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods, appealing to a variety of lifestyles.

Boasting five-star restaurants, boutiques, diverse retail services, schools and corporate head offices, residents have plenty of options for work and play right out their front door.

Crosstown traffic

If a great midtown location isn’t enough, proximity to transit is also a significant appeal of this area, being right on the Yonge Street subway line. And come 2021, moving about the city will get even easier, with the expected opening of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

Slightly off the beaten trail, wander over to nearby Davisville Village, Mount Pleasant Village and Forest Hill Village for a taste of what that Old Toronto was like, still with small, independent shops and nice little parkettes.

Location, location, location

Bloor Street to the south, Eglinton Avenue to the north, Bayview Avenue to the east and around Dufferin Street to the west.

Key landmarks

  • Yonge Eglinton Centre
  • Casa Loma
  • Spadina Park
  • Forest Hill Village
  • Davisville Village
  • Mount Pleasant Village

Select condo projects

44 Broadway by Collecdev

609 Avenue Road Condos by Madison Group

609 Avenue Road Condos by State Building Group

Avenue & Park by Stafford Homes

Keewatin by Freed Developments

Sixty Five Broadway by Times Group Corp.

The Millwood by Times Group Corp.

Untitled. Toronto by Reserve Properties, Westdale Properties and Pharrell Williams


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Local Focus - Oakville & Burlington

Oakville & Burlington are on the leading edges of the GTA

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Oakville & Burlington are on the leading edges of the GTA

Long gone are the days when Oakville and Burlington, neighbouring locations off the northwestern shores of Lake Ontario, were sleepy suburbs on the outskirts of the GTA. Expansion in highway and transit infrastructure, economic and employment growth and new housing development are all contributing to what today are booming, self-sustaining, destinations.

Such growth and development also mean rising home prices, as these two markets are forecast to be among the hottest in Ontario this year.

Blessed locations

Blessed with strong natural locations close to the lake, the QEW, Dundas Street West and Hwys. 403 and 401, getting to and around Oakville and Burlington has never been a challenge. But recent improvements to transit service and highways have afforded even easier movement for businesses and residents.

Such growth has contributed to increasingly diverse local economies, strong in automotive and manufacturing, but not overly reliant on any one sector.

Besides being close to Lake Ontario to the south, and the Niagara Escarpment to the north, Burlington is also home to the Royal Botanical Gardens. It boasts more than 2,700 acres of gardens and nature sanctuaries, the world’s largest lilac collection and three on-site restaurants.

Down by the lake, the recently renovated Spencer Smith Park hosts an array of annual free festivals, including Canada’s largest Ribfest, the Sound of Music Festival, Children’s Festival and Lakeside Festival of Lights.

Similarly, Oakville boasts 3,500 acres of parkland, more than 300 kilometres of trails and more than 200 parks, gardens, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, skateboard parks, splash pads, sports fields, tennis courts, two harbours and 31 waterfront parks.

For cultural pursuits, Oakville has the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, and the Downtown Oakville Jazz Festival is an annual summer event that features a number of stages along Lakeshore Road East. The Waterfront Festival takes place in Coronation Park, including amusement rides, arts and crafts, food and drinks, concerts and nightly fireworks displays.

With so much development underway, it’s no surprise that more people are moving west – particularly those looking for more affordable homes than in Toronto. Residence here, however, has its price: Oakville is now one of the GTA’s priciest housing markets. Burlington is seeing its own home price growth spurt, though it is notably more affordable.

Burlington, in particular, is undergoing a change of sorts. In the 2018 municipal elections, residents voted in Marianne Meed Ward as new mayor, notably on her promise to address their concerns about over-intensification and development.

Location, location, location

  • Oakville population 192,832; Burlington 185,000, located in Halton Region at the northwestern end of Lake Ontario
  • Oakville distance from Toronto, 38 kms; Burlington, 60 km

Select housing developments

OAKVILLE

5North by Mattamy Homes

Bronte Meadows by Flato Group

Glen Ashton Estates by Menkes

Ivy Rouge by Rosehaven Homes

Ivy Rouge by Starlane Home Corporation

The Preserve by Mattamy Homes

Upper Joshua Creek by Mattamy Homes

White Oaks Ravine by Dunpar Homes

BURLINGTON

Mountainview Heights by Greenpark Group

Mountainview Heights by Starlane Home Corporation

The Towns at Valera by Adi Developments

Tyandaga Heights by National Homes

StationWest Towns by Adi Developments


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In Conversation With… Rob and Ed Lucchetta, Lucchetta Homes

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In Conversation With… Rob and Ed Lucchetta, Lucchetta Homes

It’s no secret more and more homebuyers are heading out of the GTA to points west, including the Niagara Region, set to become one of the hottest markets in Ontario this year. For Lucchetta Homes in Welland, Ont., the appeal of this area is nothing new. In fact, the homebuilder has focused on delivering top-quality construction, design, value and exceptional customer service for more than 60 years. Second generation principals Rob and Ed Lucchetta discuss proudly carrying on the tradition of their father, Ugo.

HOMES Magazine: How’s business at Lucchetta Homes these days? How are you building differently now than you were, say, 10 or 20 years ago?

Rob Lucchetta: As a boutique builder in Niagara, we have always tried to stay true to our roots by giving our customers a white glove experience when putting together the endless combinations available in a home. Building a home can be very stressful, and our team of designers and concierges work hard to make the experience an exceptional one.

We have become more environmentally conscious. Leaving a smaller carbon footprint is important. We are doing our part through building science. We have always tried to stay ahead of the building code and home science technology. All our homes are built and certified to Energy Star levels and higher. We offer Net Zero and Net Zero-ready performance for those who want tomorrow’s technology today. We waste less material through a program to consciously use all materials wisely.

We also have systems in place to streamline the process. We are in the process of implementing a customer portal that will allow for almost endless choices when we build their home. It provides a point of communication with the customer and the staff, so everyone is on the same page.

Making our customers’ experience exceptional doesn’t end once they purchase. It continues when they move into their home, from educating them on the systems and addressing any issues in a timely manner. We focus on excellent customer service as part of our success story, since there’s no better referral than a satisfied customer.

HOMES: Lucchetta Homes has been building in the Niagara Region for more than 60 years… an area which is seeing increasing interest, as buyers move westward out of the GTA in search of affordability and value. ReMax, in fact, projects Niagara will be one of the top markets in Ontario in terms of home price growth this year…

Ed Lucchetta: Our father, Ugo Lucchetta, was trained by European craftsmen as a furniture maker. In the late 1950s, dad emigrated from northern Italy to the Niagara Region to join in a small homebuilding company of a relative. Over the years, after going on his own, he gained a reputation as a builder of quality homes, building one home at a time. My brother and I joined the firm in the late 1980s following dad’s retirement. We began investing in unique and special enclaves to build our own sites. Working with a great team of consultants and staff, we’ve had some very successful projects. We have also teamed up with reputable developers for larger communities.

Our key focus has always been the empty nester. We began building bungalows principally since the early 2000s, focusing on the empty nesters here, and then the trickle from the GTA began and has become a larger segment of the market.

HOMES: And how you do foresee this market performing over the next few years?

Ed Lucchetta: The influx of homebuyers from the GTA has meant a big change to the region. The area has a lot to offer – wineries, casinos, excellent shopping close to the border – it’s all here, minus the traffic and congestion. For empty nesters, Niagara offers great value. Our Hunters Pointe site, for example, has 1,400-sq.-ft. townhomes starting in the low $500,000s, and singles in the low $600,000s. This is excellent value. We see strong sales continuing, as long as the price gap between the GTA and Niagara continues.

HOMES: What about the Niagara Region and Lucchetta Homes would you want prospective new-home buyers to know?

Ed Lucchetta: Niagara is the perfect place to call home. We have easy access to great shopping, fun events, it’s close to Toronto and has easy access to Buffalo. We have more than 130 wineries and more than 30 golf courses in the area. There’s less traffic, so as you come here, you feel the stress just slip away.

Lucchetta Homes is the premier award-winning boutique builder of the Niagara Region. We offer a quality and experience like no other. Our team of sales specialists, architectural designers, interior design specialists and purchasers all work together to help buyers customize their home just the way they want it.

We offer great locations with different lifestyles. Hunter’s Pointe, our active adult lifestyle community, offers a full community centre complete with an indoor swimming pool and library, banquet facilities and a fitness centre. All this with singles and towns, all bungalow style. It has won a number of provincial and local awards and has been named Canada’s Community of the Year by Canadian Home Builders’ Association.

Our flagship site, national and provincial award-winning Davis Heights in Fonthill, features opulent finishes with soaring 10-ft. ceilings, metal and copper roofs and stone stucco fronts, linear fireplaces, engineered hardwood floors and spa-like ensuites with a large tiled shower. The quality and standards are exceptional.

HOMES: New home supply and affordability, due to land availability and approval processes, have been a hot topic over the last few years in the GTA. How are things on that front in the Niagara Region?

Rob Lucchetta: The Niagara region is open for business. The influx of GTA homebuyers who were driven out of the GTA by rising or unreachable home prices have flocked here and found better value and quality of life. With expanding GO train service and a new hospital planned for southern Niagara Falls, this area will have even more to offer.

As a unique and environmentally sensitive area, with large Greenbelt areas and fruit lands, Niagara’s regional government and local municipalities have a lot to contend with. We also have a two-tiered system in Niagara, so developers have to deal with both the regional government and the local municipality. However, there truly is a cultural change occurring here. The region wants to see growth and intensification, and some municipalities have opened their doors to help streamline the process. Land is available, and it’s less expensive than the GTA.

HOMES: You’ve had some success in home science, in terms of building Net Zero homes. How readily available, on a production basis, is such new home technology… without adding too much to the purchase price of these homes?

Rob Lucchetta: Lucchetta Homes is one of the leaders of advanced technology for the Canadian homebuilding industry. We are a certified builder of Net Zero, R2000 and Energy Star homes.

We built the first Net Zero-ready home for the Canadian Home Builders’ Association pilot program in 2017. To get there, we teamed with Enbridge Utilities and its “savings by design” program to help create and implement a higher standard for all of our homes – while adding only a few thousand dollars to the cost and achieving 20-per-cent increase in energy efficiency.

We build Net Zero housing on a made-to-order basis. In many cases, customers will opt out of the full certification but get the better triple-pane windows or air source heat pumps to boost their home’s efficiency. As our energy costs continue to rise and better methods and products come to the market, Net Zero-ready homes will become the norm.

lucchettahomes.com

AND ON A PERSONAL NOTE…

Our greatest inspiration in this business is: Our father came to Canada in the late 1950s with a borrowed suitcase, and worked hard for many years to create the foundation of our company. He was an avid sportsman, but his family was always his first priority and brought him the most joy.

When we’re not at the office or on a job site, we: Spending time with family and friends. We enjoy golfing and cycling and a little hockey and curling during the winter months.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is an important cause to you because: We love how it unites so many touched by this terrible disease. We do it for our father, since cancer cut his life short a few years ago.

Portfolio

  • Davis Heights – Fonthill – Now open
  • Lusso Urban Towns – St. Catharines – Register now
  • Riverside at Hunters Pointe – Niagara – Now open
  • Ryan’s Grove – Fonthill – Now open

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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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The Entertainment District

The Entertainment District – prestigious destination on the rise

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The Entertainment District – prestigious destination on the rise

Long a hot spot filled with some of the city’s best theatres and restaurants, Toronto’s Entertainment District is in full-on transition mode – into also becoming one of the most prestigious condo destinations.

Indeed, if you haven’t been to the Entertainment District lately, you’re in for quite the surprise. You might not even recognize this booming neighbourhood.

Play, eat and live

Yes, the same Entertainment District punctuated by landmarks such as Roy Thompson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre, and Canada’s Walk of Fame, known as a place to play and eat, is now becoming known as a place to live.

With big name developers such as Great Gulf, Empire Communities and Plaza building signature projects in the area, the neighbourhood is alive with redevelopment. Population growth is on the rise, not just from new residents, but also from new businesses and an expanding bar and restaurant scene.

Born in the 1990s essentially as an entertainment and tourist hub, with a burgeoning nightclub scene elbowing its away among the existing theatres and restaurants, the early 2000s brought the first wave of a condo boom.

More recently, SoHo Metropolitan Hotel & Residences, Festival Tower, and Bisha Hotel and Residences are among some of the notable condo projects that are up and running.

Abuzz with excitement

One key cultural attraction, TIFF Bell Lightbox, opened in 2010 on the northwest corner of King Street and John Street. The first five floors of this 42-storey tower serve as headquarters for the Toronto International Film Festival, while the Festival Tower residences sit atop. With TIFF Bell Lightbox serving as host to countless international stars and pre-screenings during the annual festival, the area is often abuzz with excitement.

Add to this, more recent landmark developments such as Nobu Residences, being built by Madison Group, and you have an expanding array of notable residential opportunities.

Then there’s Wahlburgers (of the Wahlburgers restaurant chain and famed brothers Donny and Mark Wahlburg), and the popular Loose Moose and other hot spots… all of it a stone’s throw from the Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena, Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower and Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Transition to excellence

And more is on the way. Great Gulf is proposing Mirvish+Gehry, a two-tower condo project atop two six-storey stepped podiums with 85,000 sq. ft. of multi-level retail space. And CentreCourt is building No. 55 Mercer at the corner of Mercer Street and Blue Jays Way, the site of Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant.

All of it adds up to an area in transition indeed – to excitement and excellence.

Location, location, location

Bordered by Spadina Avenue, King Street West, University Avenue and Front Street.

Key landmarks

  • Roy Thompson Hall
  • Princess of Wales Theatre
  • TIFF Bell Lightbox
  • Rogers Centre
  • Wahlburgers

Select housing developments

101 Spadina by Great Gulf

101 Spadina by Devron Developments

Bungalow on Mercer by Kalovida

Central • 38 Widmer by Concord Adex

Empire Maverick by Empire Communities

Encore at Theatre District by Plaza

Four Eleven King Condominiums by Great Gulf

Four Eleven King Condominiums by Terracap

No 55 Mercer by CentreCourt


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The Power Seat – building industry CEOs call for government change

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The Power Seat – building industry CEOs call for government change

The Power Seat is a new feature series in which we put one pointed question to a select, specific audience.

We asked CEO level executives among the homebuilding community:

“You have been invited to a meeting with representatives of municipal, provincial and federal governments, and it’s your turn to speak. What do you say to them?”

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This year is one of continual growth, which presents the opportunity to respond to the current and future challenges Ontarians face. All levels of government project an increase in Ontario’s population of 2.6 million #homebelievers by 2031. Change is where need meets opportunity.
We need more housing supply and choice across Ontario, and that means housing can be a cornerstone solution to climate change, the employment skills gap and the economy. Instead of viewing growth as a problem, let’s view it as the change opportunity for the type of future, communities and neighbourhoods that Ontarians want to call home.

Joe Vaccaro
CEO, Ontario Home Builders’ Association

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All three levels of government need to work collaboratively, rather than in silos, and with one agenda, rather than competing ones. With a housing affordability and supply problem impacting the GTA, we need solutions-oriented collaboration.
We need to make it simpler to bring new homes to market by streamlining the process, faster to build new homes by reducing approval times, and fairer by making sure fees and taxes are equitable

Dave Wilkes
President and CEO, BILD

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Help us do our job to create new housing. We have a shortage of housing because of the lack of supply. Don’t look at new housing as a golden goose that you can keep laying on more and more municipal charges. Right now, about 24 per cent of the cost of all new housing is going to some level of government in the form of taxes, levies, charges and fees.

Gary Switzer
Chief Executive Officer MOD Developments, Toronto

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The three levels of government, as well as builders and developers, may all have different constituencies, but our objectives are remarkably similar.

Affordable housing works for all of us. Good planning works for all of us. Good design works for all of us. Building Green buildings works for all of us. Governments working together with developers works for all of us and can help facilitate all of this.

At The Rose Corporation, we accomplished exactly this, working with York Region, the Town of Newmarket and the federal government (CMHC). Together, we are now building a sustainable, complete and better overall community for having worked in close consultation with each other.

Daniel Berholz
President, The Rose Corporation

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The largest issue surrounds climate change, GHG emissions and resilience in new housing. Over the next decade, these may be some of the biggest changes our industry will face. Our building code is about to be changed to begin steering the industry towards net-zero homes.

Government needs to support the R&D side of the construction industry so that new and better products can be developed. Net-zero homes are achievable. There are a number of builders that have already constructed a discovery home and are looking at the ability to market this in a production capacity. Although from a technical perspective this is achievable, it will come at a significant cost. Net-zero homes will not be cheap.

The bigger question, then, is, will such initiatives be affordable? This is what governments will have to balance. When they regulate such a high minimum standard, our industry will be forced to meet the requirements. This is where R&D pays back. We need materials and products that are approved and available at the best price points possible to adopt into our building program.

Government should keep a close eye on the timing for mandating high standards of construction, and be mindful that affordability must be a top priority in the implementation.

Johnathan Schickedanz
General Manager, FarSight Homes, President, Durham Region Home Builders’ Association

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Housing affordability is one of the most important issues facing Canadians today. TREB remains diligent, along with other real estate boards and associations across Canada, in urging all levels of government to remove barriers and reduce the cost of homeownership.

With all levels of government in Canada, plus reputable international bodies acknowledging that we have a housing supply problem, and specifically the affordability pressures facing the GTA, it’s imperative for the growth of our city and region that we have flexible housing market policies that will help sustain balanced market conditions over the long term.

The time is now and policymakers need to translate their acknowledgment of supply issues into concrete solutions in 2020 to bring a greater array of ownership and rental housing online. As always, TREB will be there to help policymakers have the right impact on the market and Canadians.

John DiMichele
CEO, Toronto Real Estate Board

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The bottom line is this: Unless we can shorten the time it takes to bring developments through the approval process and to market faster, demand is going to continue to outstrip supply.

There have been some very positive enhancements the provincial government has put through to try and reduce these timeframes, by reducing red tape and other changes, and we’re grateful for that.

But in many cases the Province and the municipalities do not see eye to eye on how policies should be applied, and this constant fighting continuously thwarts the positive efforts and mires the process.

We have to work together – the politicians, building industry and public – to accept growth, have growth pay for growth, and not for unrelated municipal spending as well. We need to plan to have adequate supply of all types of housing, but especially what is missing in our urban areas today – the two- and three-bedroom midrise condos – the “missing middle.”

 cl_feb2020_the_power_seat_bob_finniganBob Finnigan
Principal and COO of Acquisition & Housing, Herity, Toronto

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It’s vital that all three levels of government work together to address the housing affordability issue by increasing the supply of housing to meet demands of growth in the GTA for decades to come.

Sustained infrastructure growth requires multi-level government support partnering with private enterprise to foster innovation in procurement and delivery and that the planning approval process is streamlined to avoid increased costs which impact housing affordability.

The cities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe need to actually adopt and implement provincial policies on development densities near transport nodes. Ultimately, the homeowners carry the burden of the increased costs from a lack of land supply, approval delays and development charge increases.

Niall Collins
President, Great Gulf Residential, Toronto

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Canadian economists and politicians have spent the better part of the last decade sighing with relief and sharing kudos for having skirted the U.S. housing crisis. Meanwhile, north of the border, Canadians are on a rollercoaster ride, as a result of government intervention and other factors. We’ve experienced record-high housing prices, record-low interest rates, economic downturns, and domestic speculators and foreign investors pushing people out of their homes because they can’t afford to live there anymore. We’ve seen housing inventory drop, and new development hindered by red tape and mounting development fees.

We need to keep up with housing demand to maintain sustainable housing values. It’s a complex issue with many moving parts.

To Mayor John Tory: Eliminate the municipal Land Transfer Tax, or at the very least, cap it. With Toronto’s ever-increasing property values, this tax is prohibitive in an already unaffordable market. The prospect of having to pay double LTT is deterring some move-up buyers from listing their homes, further straining the already low housing supply. How do you intend to stimulate housing market activity?

To Premier Doug Ford: Domestic and foreign immigration to Ontario is critical to a healthy economy, but as you work to continue attracting the biggest and best businesses to the province, where will you house the employees and their families? Housing supply is critically low, with developers stuck behind red tape and buried under development fees, preventing them from building the homes Ontarians so desperately need.

To Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Canada needs a National Housing Strategy that addresses inventory and affordability in our cities. Many Canadians, especially Millennials, new immigrants and those employed in the so-called “gig economy” feel homeownership is becoming less tangible by the day. While politicians of all stripes acknowledge the mounting urgency of affordable housing, few are offering any timely or compelling solutions. Focus on creating supply and affordability in a sustainable way, instead of continuing to support corrective measures that have constrained Canadians from participating in the economically beneficial practice of homeownership.

Christopher Alexander
Executive Vice-President and Regional Director, ReMax of Ontario- Atlantic Canada

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Local Focus - Newmarket & Aurora

Newmarket & Aurora are close to the city, but far from the hustle and bustle

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Newmarket & Aurora are close to the city, but far from the hustle and bustle

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 Newmarket and Aurora – 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 Newmarket and Aurora, where proximity to nature, including the Oak Ridges Moraine, and expanding highway and transit infrastructure, make living here and working in Toronto or elsewhere in the GTA an appealing option.

Newmarket

Located just seven kms north of Aurora, with a population of about 85,000, Newmarket 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.

Indeed, 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 is the case with Aurora, the elections in 2018 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.

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 the end of 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.

Location, location, location

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

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

Select housing developments

NEWMARKET

Glenway Urban Towns by Andrin Homes

Shining Hill by CountryWide Homes

Shining Hill by Regal Crest Homes

Shining Hill by Townwood Homes

AURORA

Allegro by Geranium Homes

Paradise Aurora by Paradise Developments

Queen’s Grove Collection by North Star Homes

Aurora Townhomes by Andrin Homes


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