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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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In Conversation With… David McComb, President & CEO Edenshaw Developments Ltd.

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In Conversation With… David McComb, President & CEO Edenshaw Developments Ltd.

Edenshaw Developments prides itself on being a different kind of developer, applying philosophical statements such as “Artistic, Mindful, Natural” across everything it does.

And it shows, once you learn a little about the company’s latest signature project – Tanu, in the Port Credit area of Mississauga, Ont.

We spoke with President and CEO David McComb for further insights into Tanu and Edenshaw.

Condo Life: You must be pretty excited about your Tanu project, in the beautiful and improving Port Credit. How are things coming along there?

David McComb: Yes, we’re very excited to be delivering Tanu to Port Credit. Sales began in late winter of 2018, construction commenced in July of 2019, and occupancy is slated for spring of 2021 – things are moving along very well.

CL: Where does the name Tanu come from?

DM: From the island, Tanu, located in Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands), BC. It’s a beautiful, wildlife-rich place, with a temperate rainforest, and a collection of stunning totem poles carved by the Haida people. Having lived in BC for many years, I developed a deep fondness for Haida art and culture, and I knew the next condo I developed would bear the name Tanu, as a nod to this very special place and the people who inhabit it.

CL: What design features or amenities at Tanu speak to the area, neighbourhood or surrounding history?

DM: Our lead architect, Mansoor Kazerouni, from IBI Group, incorporated building materials and colours that complement the natural attributes of Port Credit, such as the abundant, tree-lined trails, the Credit River and Lake Ontario. For example, walnut-toned longboards on the exterior facade provide a sense of warmth and character that fit in well with the surrounding landscape. Our interior finishes, such as hardwood floors and natural stone countertops, were similarly inspired by these elements. On a historical note, during the late 1880s and early 1900s, Port Credit supplied much of shale stone for the construction of buildings in downtown Toronto.

CL: Port Credit is such a prized location, given its proximity to Lake Ontario, Credit River and highways. What else drew you to build Tanu here?

DM: I’ve been a resident of Port Credit for more than 20 years now, and one of the many things I really love about it is the sense of community. There’s a charming, village-like quality to Port Credit – it’s the sort of place where people greet each other on the street as they walk their dogs; and shop and restaurant owners know you by name. It’s also a wonderful place to raise a family. There are a lot of great schools here… parks, trails and year-round community festivals. You’re also just 20 minutes to downtown Toronto via the GO train.

CL: How did the project change as a result of community feedback during the planning process?

DM: There really weren’t many changes at all – we actively engaged the community and local stakeholders throughout our design and planning process, with the goal of delivering a building that would be strongly supported not only by the city’s planning staff, but also by the residents of Port Credit. An interesting note, however, was the comment by some residents that our suite areas we too large, but our sales performance has proved our assumptions correct.

CL: What is Edenshaw doing to address the challenges facing homebuyers – namely affordability?

DM: Edenshaw has proactively engaged the City of Mississauga to identify opportunities to deliver affordable units within our new developments. In Tanu, for example, we designated two units that meet the criteria for affordable housing guidelines, which we sold to a local school teacher and young man who grew up in the area, but never thought he’d ever be able to afford to move back.

CL: How is Edenshaw changing its approach – for example, to location selection, housing type, size and pricing – as a result of the ongoing issues and challenges in the homebuilding industry?

DM: The industry has been facing numerous obstacles in supplying affordable housing, as rising construction costs and development taxes make it very challenging to bring new projects to market. The GTA, especially, is in desperate need of purpose-built rental buildings, however, extremely high land and construction costs, coupled with rent control policies, have made it more feasible for developers to build condominiums instead of apartment buildings. Edenshaw changed its approach of building only condominiums in 2012, when we developed a strategic partnership with Sunlife to design and build purpose-built rental housing in Toronto. At the time, Edenshaw was one of the few developers in the GTA building purpose-built rental product. The result was Alto, a six-storey, LEED Silver Certified apartment building located on Dundas Street in Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood. The project was a tremendous success and winner of the FRPO’s Rental Development of the Year, in 2016. Notably, Alto was also Toronto’s first 100 per cent smoke-free building.

We also make a point of selecting sites that are located within vibrant communities and in proximity to high-order public transit. Many of our current and upcoming developments are along the forthcoming Mississauga Light Rail Transit Hub and the Port Credit GO station, which is a real draw to people who are getting priced out of Toronto – you’re just a 20-minute GO train ride downtown, yet the price per square foot for a condo in Port Credit is hovering around where downtown Toronto pricing was almost a decade ago!

CL: What’s next for Edenshaw, after Tanu?

DM: We have several new and exciting projects in the pipeline. This year, we’ll be launching two projects adjacent to the Port Credit Mobility Hub and GO station, and a further development about a 10-minute walk to the Cooksville GO station and a couple of LRT stops to Square One Shopping Mall and Mississauga City Centre.

PORTFOLIO

Tanu
21 Park St. E, Port Credit, Ont.
Under construction

625 Yonge St.
625 Yonge St., Toronto
Coming soon

Gordon Woods
2130 Hurontario St., Mississauga, Ont.
Coming soon

enshaw.com

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Neighbourhood Watch - Markham

Markham is a hotbed of economic development and growth

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Markham is a hotbed of economic development and growth

As the fourth most populous community in the GTA – after Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton – Markham has been a hotbed for economic growth and development for years.

It’s long been known as a centre for growing sectors such as technology and life sciences – and therefore employment growth – one of the key drivers of housing demand.

Today, Markham is home to more than 1,000 such companies, with IBM, Huawei, Honeywell, Advanced Micro Devices, Motorola and Oracle all having their Canadian headquarters located in the city.

Residence has its price

Buying a home in Markham will cost you, however, as it has also become one of the GTA’s most expensive housing markets.

According to the Royal LePage Home Price Index for the fourth quarter of 2019, aggregate home prices grew two per cent year-over-year to $951,228, condos grew 4.9 per cent to $486,898.

Still, new-home development is a priority for Markham City Hall and Mayor Frank Scarpitti, who was first elected in 2006 and is known as developer- and builder-friendly. The city has a number of new home developments underway, including some high-profile condo projects.

The revitalization of Downtown Markham has been spearheaded by The Remington Group’s multi-use development along Main Street, which includes expansive retail shops, a Marriott Hotel, a Cineplex, as well as a variety of condo buildings and townhomes.

Cultural diversity

Culture is also an important attraction in Markham, with The Flato Markham Theatre offering more than 300 live performances each year, showcasing the diversity of the city. In addition, Varley Art Gallery encompasses the historic Kathleen McKay House, which was the home of Group of the Seven’s Frederick Horsman Varley for the last 12 years of his life. Measuring 15,000 sq. ft., the gallery is the second most popular tourist attraction in York Region.

Markham also has dozens of parks with baseball diamonds, soccer pitches and children’s play areas and splash pads. The city also boasts more than 22 kms of scenic pathways with 12 bridges that provide recreational activity for joggers and cyclists.

The largest park in the city is the Milne Dam Conservation Park. Measuring 305 acres, it is bordered by thick forest on the south and east and the Rouge River runs through the middle.

Toogood Pond is an 82-acre park that features a partially naturalized pond and marsh, and it recently underwent revitalization to remove sediment, restore the shoreline and plant native foliage.

Getting around Markham is facilitated by easy access to Hwys. 404 and 407 and the DVP, and for public transit, York Region Transit/Viva connects with all nine York Region municipalities, and GO Transit provides regular train and bus service.

Location, location, location

Population of 328,940, located in the Regional Municipality of York in the GTA.

Distance from downtown Toronto, 30 km

Key landmarks

  • Flato Markham Theatre
  • Varley Art Gallery
  • Milne Dam Conservation Park
  • Angus Glen Golf Club

Select housing developments

9999 Markham Road by OnePiece Holding

Canvas on the Rouge by Flato Developments

Gallery Towers by Remington Group

Langstaff Gateway by Kylemore Communities

Panda Markham Condos by Lifetime Developments

Riverview by Times Group


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

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

cl_jan20_2020_prediction_fi

Outlook 2020 – it’s a new year and a new decade, and with that come new challenges and opportunities. When it pertains to the housing industry and homebuying, we’ve boiled it down to a handful of items to keep your eye on. Here are five things you really need to understand about real estate – specifically the GTA market.

1 REAL ESTATE IS LOCAL

This is a good place to start, because it’s a simple but important fact that escapes many consumers: Real estate is local. There is no such thing as a Canadian housing market, just as there’s no Canadian traffic or Canadian weather.

Sure, organizations such as the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) are mandated to analyze what goes on across the country. But what’s most important to you is what’s happening in your market. When you buy a home, you don’t buy a national market. You buy one property, 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 affecting sales and prices in markets in that province? Or that Vancouver’s affordability challenges are even more serious than those in Toronto?

Forget the national headlines. Examine what’s happening in your market. The same applies to the economy.

Why does this matter? Read on.

2 THE ECONOMY

Globally, geopolitical uncertainty and softening economic growth will mean Canada faces some challenges with export and investment, leaving the heavy lifting to the consumer, according to Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist at RBC.

RBC forecasts the economy to grow about 1.6 per cent in 2020. The unemployment rate remains at fourdecade lows, though may rise to 5.9 per cent in 2020 from 5.7 per cent in 2019. Companies are having difficulty finding skilled workers, leading to stronger wage growth.

Ontario’s real GDP growth is forecast to slow to 1.6 per cent for 2019 and 1.5 per cent in 2020, according to the Conference Board of Canada. Job creation remains strong, with the province adding more than 200,000 new jobs over the first 10 months of 2019, much of them in full-time work.

Ontarians are among the most positive about the economic outlook, according to a recent public opinion survey from the nonprofit Angus Reid Institute, with 22 per cent of respondents indicating they believe the economy will improve. Only residents in Quebec, at 30 per cent, and BC at 23 per cent, are more optimistic. In Alberta, by contrast, 79 per cent of residents expect their economy to deteriorate over the next year.

Keeping in mind what we wrote about real estate – and even the economy – being local, Ontario is looking strong on both counts for 2020.

Craig Wright, RBC
Craig Wright, RBC

“We continue to see strong employment gains, Ontario is leading Canada in terms of employment growth on a year-over-year basis, and strong population growth,” Wright told Homes Publishing. “So, strong fundamentals supporting it, in a low rate environment.”

The GTA’s robust population growth will continue to drive demand for both ownership and rental housing, Wright says.

Housing markets in Southern Ontario, in fact, led in home price growth last year, and are expected to continue to do so in 2020, according to a new report from ReMax.

ALSO READ: OUR TOP 7 REAL ESTATE STORIES OF 2019 

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

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

In Conversation With Deena Pantalone of National Homes

In Conversation With Niall Collins, President of Great Gulf Residential

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

Behind the numbers, Breaking down the market in March 2019

HPG golf tournament cracks $300K in funds for Raising The Roof

“Southern Ontario is witnessing some incredibly strong price appreciation, with many regions still seeing double-digit gains,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Thanks to the region’s resilient economy, staggering population growth and relentless development, the 2020 market looks very optimistic.”

Toronto is set to experience a strong housing market this year, thanks to lower unemployment rates, economic growth and improved overall affordability in the GTA. ReMax is forecasting average sale price growth of six per cent, two points higher than the increase from 2018 ($835,422) and 2019 ($880,841).

The Niagara region is also showing strong growth, with average residential sale price increasing almost 13 per cent, from $378,517 in 2018 to $427,487 in 2019. Value-conscious consumers from the GTA are buying in droves, with many choosing to live in the region and commute to Toronto.

3 INTEREST RATES

In its most recent interest rate announcement, the Bank of Canada maintained its target for the influential overnight rate at 1.75 per cent, where it has been since October 2018. Though there is some global uncertainty, the Bank says, the Canadian economy is resilient, citing moderately expanding consumer spending, stronger wage growth and housing investment, increasing population and continuing low mortgage rates.

Many experts foresee mortgage rates holding where they are throughout 2020 – if not declining.

Indeed, James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and president of CanWise Financial mortgage brokerage, predicts BoC will cut the overnight rate by a quarter point in the second half of 2020.

In 2019, central banks around the world cut their rates, but Canada was not among them. Facing somewhat slowing economic growth driven by decreased exports and a slightly higher unemployment rate, Canada will follow this trend and cut the overnight rate by 0.25 per cent in the latter half of 2020, Laird says.

“These savings will be passed along to variable rate mortgage holders in the form of a lower prime rate,” Laird says. “Therefore, Canadians who are in a variable rate will see their interest rate drop in the second half of the year.”

The Bank’s rate policy will cause fixed mortgage rates to remain low throughout the year, he adds. This should provide peace of mind to Canadians who have a mortgage up for renewal or those who have plans to purchase a new home in 2020.

4 GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association, Ontario Home Builders’ Association, Building Industry and Land Development Association, Toronto Real Estate Board – and other relevant industry bodies – are all lobbying hard for the various levels of government to address the issues facing housing. Ranging from the First-Time Home Buyers’ Incentive Program, the mortgage stress test or land-use policies that affect the level of homebuilding – and therefore buying – one thing is clear: Federal, provincial and municipal levels of government are listening.

(Many of the executives in our Outlook 2020 Q&As in the following pages touch on these issues, and we’ll have another related special feature in our February issue.)

At least one major source says governments have little choice but to take action. The Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), a real estate investment education, analysis and research firm, cites increasing immigration as the catalyst for change.

“An increase in the influx of migrants amounting to over one million people in three years is tantamount to increasing rental demand,” says Jennifer Hunt, vice-president of research at REIN. “This is good news for rental housing providers, as migrants have higher tendencies to rent property rather than to purchase their own homes, especially within the first four years of settling in Canada.”

Once settled and secure in employment, however, many of these new Canadians want to become homeowners, which leads to higher demand for housing, including new homes and condos.

5 FTHBI & THE STRESS TEST

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is a shared equity mortgage through CMHC. The program is intended to reduce monthly mortgage payments for first-time homebuyers, without increasing the amount they need to save for a down payment.

Though some recent adjustments to the program, including raised purchase limits for high-priced markets such as Toronto and Vancouver, have helped, some are calling for further improvements to the plan.

REIN, for one, suggests watching for a potential increase of the FTHBI’s purchase price limit to nearly $800,000 in high-priced markets.

Ratehub is not convinced, expecting that the FTHBI will not be enhanced, and the existing program will see minimal traction.

“Less than five per cent of Canadians who are eligible for the FTBHI program will elect to use it,” says Laird. “Most Canadians do not want the government to own part of their home.”

REIN and Laird agree the mortgage stress test, which many in the industry have been calling to be changed, will likely remain unchanged.

Special Report: Outlook 2020:

Jordan DeBrincat, Director of Operations, Altree Developments

Fan Yang, Deputy General Manager (Eastern Canada), Aoyuan Property Holdings (Canada) Ltd.

Nick Carnicelli, President, Carriage Gate Homes

Jared Menkes, Executive Vice-President, Menkes High Rise

Anson Kwok, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, Pinnacle International

Angela Marotta, Director of Sales & Marketing, Solmar Development Corp

Samson Fung, Vice-President Marketing, Tridel

Jim Andrews, Director of Sales & Marketing Fieldgate Homes

Shakir Rehmatullah, President Flato Development Inc.

Mike Parker, Vice-President Sales & Marketing Georgian International Build Corp.

Brad Carr, CEO Mattamy Homes Canada

Deena Pantalone, Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation National Homes

Art Rubino, Contracts Manager & Marketing Manager Regal Crest Homes

 

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