The Bank also gave a significant update on its plans for future rate announcements

The Bank of Canada has announced a quarter-point hike to its benchmark policy rate, a move that marks its eighth consecutive rate increase and the first of 2023 – although it also indicated that it could be its last for some time.

The decision, announced on Wednesday morning, means that the central bank’s trendsetting rate now sits at 4.5%, having risen sharply in 2022 as the Bank fought to curb inflation that surged to its highest level in nearly 40 years in June.

The Bank said in its statement accompanying the decision that it expected to hold the policy rate at its current level as long as economic developments continue to evolve in line with its forecast.

The 25-basis-point hike comes as little surprise, with stronger-than-expected economic data and a resilient labour market dampening speculation that it could be set to hold fire on a rate jump in January.

In its last statement of 2022 the Bank had hinted that it could be ready for a pause on rate hikes in the coming months, indicating that it would “be considering whether the policy interest rate needs to rise further” to continue dialling down inflation.

That was a notable departure from its aggressive tone of previous statements, in which the Bank confirmed that further increases to the policy rate were effectively a foregone conclusion.

However, the economy saw a December employment surge, adding 104,000 jobs that month, and while inflation also ticked down, it’s still hovering at 6.3% – well above the central bank’s target rate of 2%.

The news will see borrowing costs rise once more for thousands of Canadian mortgage holders and would-be buyers, with monthly mortgage payments for borrowers on a variable rate having already spiked dramatically last year.

Leah Zlatkin, a mortgage broker and expert, told Canadian Mortgage Professional in advance of the central bank announcement that the way forward for borrowers depends largely on their individual circumstances and whether variable-rate holders can absorb the impact of a high-rate environment or would prefer to switch to a more stable fixed option.

Much attention will now be focused on how the economic outlook evolves before the Bank of Canada’s next decision, set to arrive on March 8.

Canadians faced an average annual rent increase of 10.9 per cent in 2022, with another five per cent increase forecast for 2023, according to year end data from Urbanation and

Average monthly rent for December was up 12.2 per cent at $2,005 on a year-over-year basis, according to the groups’ monthly rental report. That marked a slight decline from November.

Out of the 35 cities surveyed, Vancouver had the highest monthly rent for December, with a year-over-year increase of 16.8 per cent for one-bedroom units and 17.9 per cent for two bedrooms, with average rents of $2,596 a month and $3,562 a month, respectively.

Toronto claimed second place as the most expensive monthly rent with a year-over-year increase of 21.3 per cent ($2,457) for a one-bedroom unit and 18.1 per cent ($3,215) for a two-bedroom unit.

Calgary finished third with an average year-over-year increase of 22.6 per cent to $1,816 per month for purpose-built and condominium apartments.

As for apartment and condo rentals in December, Ottawa and Edmonton ranked fourth and fifth, with annual increases of 14.5 per cent and 11.7 per cent, respectively, while Montreal’s average rent increased by only 6.6 per cent.

Higher borrowing costs have kept rental demand strong in the face of falling supply, Shaun Hildebrand, president of Urbanation said in the report.

“The Canadian rental market had one of its strongest years ever in 2022, more than reversing any weakness experienced during the pandemic,” Hildebrand said. “Rental demand is primarily being driven by a quickly growing population that is finding it increasingly more difficult to afford homeownership or find suitable rental housing. Looking ahead for 2023, rents are expected to continue rising, but less heated growth can be expected as the economy slows and new rental supply rises to multi-decade highs.”

According to the report, It is expected that rents will increase at a more moderate five per cent in 2023, as economic and employment conditions begin to soften after the rapid rise in interest rates and record breaking rents.

The annual rent increase figure of 10.9 per cent was determined by taking the weighted average for rents across all 12 months of 2022 and dividing over the weighted average rents across all 12 months of 2021, said.

Source: financial post

Just under 32,000 new condo units are slated for completion in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in 2023, according to real estate consulting firm Urbanation.

Urbanation President Shaun Hildebrand tells STOREYS the figure may more realistically be in the ballpark of 25,000 to 30,000 units — he says the industry typically falls short of its projected deliveries — but even so, completions are poised to climb to a new high.

In addition, he says 2023 is shaping up to be “the biggest year for purpose-built rental deliveries in three decades,” with around 7,740 purpose-built rental units scheduled for completion in 2023.

“And that’s happening at the same time as condos reaching a record level as well in terms of completions,” says Hildebrand. “The industry is still facing some supply chain issues, but projects that are scheduled this year have been under construction a long time, and they’ve made considerable progress.”

It’s important to note, however, that Toronto is coming off of two slow years for condo completions. Less than 14,000 units were completed in 2021, and although Urbanation has yet to compile the number of completions for 2022, Hildebrand estimates that less than 16,000 units were realized last year. The ten-year average is just over 17,000 units.

“In that sense, the completions that are happening this year are making up for some lost ground and bringing things back on trend in terms of deliveries,” he says. “But it will be a high level, a record level, and obviously coming at the same time as demand being challenged by quickly rising interest rates. I think, in that sense, it’s going to be one of the more challenging years we’ve seen for the condo market in 2023.”

Hildebrand adds that, in contrast to previous years, condo completions will deviate from the downtown core in a meaningful way, with less than a third slated for downtown Toronto. The rest are in the 905 region of the GTA, indicative of a shift in presale condo activity to suburban markets.

“In many cases, these projects that are coming to completion in the 905 region do have higher end-user components, so there’s not going to be as much turnover for units for rent or units for sale as you would in a downtown core investor-heavy project,” he says, adding that, with rents being so strong, those who bought units pre-sale will see a sizeable return on investment. “So I think a lot of investors will be inclined to hold on to their units this year, rather than flip them for sale. And that will limit supply pressures on the market and any sort of negative downward forces on prices.”

Recent news stories have highlighted the dangers of real-estate title fraud, which take place when fraudsters or scam artists steal ownership of a home in order to benefit from its value.

Yesterday, CBC News reported on a Toronto family that was able to thwart an attempted scam where someone used fake identification to pose as the 95-year-old homeowner and convinced real estate agents to list the home for sale without the family’s knowledge or permission.

The case resembles an ongoing Toronto police investigation, in which police say two homeowners left Canada for work in January 2022 only to learn months later that their property had been sold without their knowledge by people using fake identification.

So, what is title fraud and how can you prevent it from happening?

What is title fraud?

Title fraud takes place when a person uses fake identification or forged documents to steal the identity of a homeowner and take away their “title,” or legal ownership of a property.

Once fraudsters have their hands on a property’s title, they can re-mortgage it, sell it to an unsuspecting buyer, or extract value from it in some other way and make away with the proceeds.

Homeowners often don’t learn about what’s happened until they receive notice of missed payments or they try to sell, title insurance company First Canadian Title (FCT) says on its website.

“It can take considerable time, money and effort to deal with having to restore your title and/or remove any fraudulently registered mortgages.”
– First Canadian Title insurance company

Victims of title fraud lose the right to mortgage their home, can no longer leverage the equity and can’t sell the property until they re-establish their title rights through the courts, according to FCT.

“It can take considerable time, money and effort to deal with having to restore your title and/or remove any fraudulently registered mortgages,” FCT writes on its website.

Morris Cooper, a civil litigation lawyer in Toronto who successfully argued a landmark case in 2006 that shifted the responsibility for title fraud from victims to lending institutions, said seniors and people who rent out their homes to tenants can be at a high risk of title fraud.

But homeowners can take steps to protect themselves.

Take steps to protect your identity
Stealing a person’s identity is often the first step in title fraud.

Government-issued identity documents, including driver’s licences, passports, birth certificates, social insurance number (SIN) cards and citizenship cards, can all be used to apply for mortgages or to take steps to buy or sell a home.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers the following tips for preventing identity theft:

  • Be wary of who you share personal information with.
  • Regularly check credit card reports, bank and credit card statements and report anything irregular.
  • Shred documents containing personal information before placing them in the garbage.
  • Limit mail theft by regularly retrieving mail.
  • Notify the post office, financial institutions and other service providers of your new address when you move.

Get title insurance

Title insurance is an insurance policy that protects property owners and their lenders against losses related to the property’s title or ownership, including from title fraud, according to the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRAO).

While it can’t prevent you from becoming a victim of fraud, it is the single most important thing to mitigate its consequences.

“Title insurance will step in and save you in a situation like this,” said Varun Sriskana, a realtor, property manager and housing advocate based in Toronto. “It protects you in case someone defrauds you.”

Title insurance can cover legal expenses incurred by homeowners seeking to restore their right to their property’s title, according to FCT.

It protects homeowners from fraudulent claims on their property and pays for legal expenses to re-establish the homeowner’s title rights.

WATCH | Mortgage and title fraud ‘nothing new,’ Toronto real estate agent says:


If a buyer unwittingly buys a home that’s been fraudulently listed, the insurance should also protect them. In cases like that, the true owner will likely get their home back and the unwitting buyer will get their money back.

Know who you’re dealing with

People on both sides of a real-estate transaction should make sure they’re comfortable with the identity of the person on the other side of the deal, said Stephen Moranis, past president of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board.

That means potential tenants should ensure the landlord actually owns the property, while landlords should check references and request documents like credit scores to verify potential tenants, Moranis said.

“Either side should be very, very careful to verify and ensure that the other party they’re dealing with is actually in a position, a legal position, to either lease or or sell the property that they’re considering,” said Moranis.

Murtaza Haider, a professor of data science and real estate management at Toronto Metropolitan University, said he spoke to neighbours the last time he was looking to purchase a home, asking them about the property and the current owners in a search for potential red flags.

Simply Googling a person’s name and cross-checking social media photos can also help turn up any irregularities, Haider said.

Preventing title fraud by renters

Homeowners who rent their homes to tenants could be at a higher risk of fraud because the tenants have physical access to the home.

Landlords should take steps to make sure that documents containing personal information like driver’s licence renewal applications or tax returns don’t fall into the wrong hands, Haider said.

“Make sure that your mail stays with you. Make sure that you have a forwarding address,” said Haider. “Make sure that they don’t end up in the hands of people that you don’t want other than yourself.”

Haider said homeowners can also search for their property online from time to time to see if it’s being inappropriately listed for sale or on a rental website like AirBnB.

“It’s always good to be checking the address, checking it at various locations on the internet to see your property is being used for for the intended use,” Haider said.

Landlords should also rely on banking information, rather than cash payments, as that adds another layer of due diligence, Haider said.

The Ontario government also provides a free, online tool that allows any member of the public to check the validity and current status of a driver’s licence. Driver’s licence numbers that come up as invalid could be a red flag.

After hovering just above and then just below the $2,000-a-month mark in September and October, the national average rent for all property types bounced back over the threshold in November, rising 2.5 per cent to $2,024, according to the latest report by and Urbanation Inc.

While month-over-month rents increased only slightly, year-over-year rents were up 12.4 per cent, meaning new renters are paying roughly $224 more than last year.

“Rents in Canada are rising at an exceptionally high speed, which is having a profound effect on housing affordability as interest rates continue to rise,” Shaun Hildebrand, president of Urbanation, said in the report. “With the most expensive cities experiencing very low supply and the fastest rates of rent increase, regions with high population growth are seeing demand shift into more affordable areas.”

National home sales increased by 1.3% in December over the previous month, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), although homebuying activity was down by more than 39% compared with the same time last year.

The association’s latest statistics also showed that the MLS Home Price Index fell by 1.6% on a monthly basis, with the non-seasonally-adjusted national average sale price plummeting by 12% from December 2021.

The number of newly listed properties in the Canadian housing market continued to tick downwards, falling by 6.4% from November, with British Columbia and Quebec seeing the most significant declines. Ottawa and Edmonton, meanwhile, contributed most strongly to the home sales gains posted in December.

The end of the year saw 4.2 months of inventory available nationally – close to pre-pandemic levels, CREA said, although still almost one month below the long-term average.

In remarks accompanying the news release, CREA’s chair Jill Oudil sounded a note of optimism on the rising-rate environment that gripped the housing market throughout last year.

“The market’s adjustment to higher rates may be mostly in the rear-view mirror at this point,” she said. “That could start to bring buyers back off the sidelines this spring.”

2023 outlook

Looking ahead to the 2023 market, CREA’s senior economist Shaun Cathcart said its trajectory will depend largely on the extent that high inflation and rising interest rates return to a more normal level.

“Demand for housing continues to grow and supply remains the biggest issue across the entire spectrum,” he added. “Whether that plays out in the rental market in 2023 or shifts back over into the ownership space is a matter of how quickly the Bank of Canada can get inflation under control and starts turning the dial back down on borrowing costs.”

Home sales over the course of 2023 are likely to be 0.5% lower than last year, CREA said, with the average price expected to decrease by 5.9% annually to $662,103.

That should be followed by a rebound in 2024, when national home sales should increase by 10.2% with the national average home price projected to increase by 3.5%.

A record number of new condo units will be completed in Toronto in 2023, just as skyrocketing mortgage rates make it harder for investors to close on their properties.

Nearly 32,000 condos will hit the city and surrounding suburbs, according to data from condo research firm Urbanation Inc. That surpasses the previous high in 2020, when 22,473 units were completed.

The raft of units are coming on the market after jumps in interest rates have ramped up borrowing costs and led to a drop in real estate sales and home prices.

Now, many buyers are having problems qualifying for a mortgage, with five-year interest rates topping 5 per cent. As well, lenders are appraising units at lower prices, meaning that the buyer has to come up with extra funds to make up the difference between the smaller mortgage for a unit, based on the lower appraised price, and what the buyer agreed to pay.

Preconstruction condos, which have not yet been built, are mostly bought by investors who plan to rent their units and/or profit from a resale. To secure a preconstruction condo, a 20-per-cent down payment is required. After the condo has been built, the buyer is required to pay the remaining 80 per cent.

“Investors could be looking to exit before they have to close on the unit and they may face difficulties qualifying for a mortgage given what’s happening with interest rates,” Urbanation president Shaun Hildebrand said.

This has led to an uptick in buyers trying to get out of their newly built condos by selling the right to buy their new unit, also known as an assignment sale.

“A lot of people are assigning because they can’t qualify for a mortgage nowadays,” said Brigitte Obregon, a broker with Re/Max Ultimate Realty who has sold preconstruction condos since 2009.

Higher mortgage payments have also made it less profitable for investors to own condos.

The average condo ownership cost in Toronto was $3,506 a month as of the third quarter of 2022, according to Urbanation. In comparison, the average monthly rent in the region was $2,733, which left the condo owner paying an average of $773 out of pocket every month. That is up from an average shortfall of $235 a month in the third quarter of 2021, $196 in 2020 and $17 in 2019, according to Urbanation.

Preconstruction condo sales in Toronto had been on the rise for years, driven by demand from investors and developers. But since home prices started to fall in 2022, it has become somewhat cheaper to buy an already built condo on the resale market.

The average rate for a preconstruction condo was $1,427 a square foot as of the third quarter of 2022, according to Urbanation. In comparison, the average price for a condo on the resale market was $891 a square foot.

“People are saying ‘Okay, now it seems like I can get the better deals on the resale market, or the preconstruction assignment market,’” said Vicky Huang, chief executive of Bay Street Group, a real estate brokerage that works with Chinese buyers in the resale and preconstruction housing market.

The typical price of a home across Canada is down 10 per cent from peak prices in February, 2022. In the preconstruction market, investors are not seeing the value of their properties grow as quickly as it has in the past. That is expected to further contribute to the slowdown in preconstruction sales in 2023.

Activity had already dropped significantly, and by the third quarter of 2022, preconstruction sales hit their lowest level since the 2008-09 global financial crisis. Dozens of projects had no sales during the quarter, according to Urbanation.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Toronto’s regional transit network could have looked much different in an alternate timeline, and one high school student from Hamilton has visualized how the GO Transit system may have looked in a reality where every single proposal played out as first envisioned.

William (who prefers to be identified by first name only), a 16-year-old student with a passion for transit and graphic design, created a map that depicts what the GO Transit network could have looked like if all projects proposed since 1965 had been realized.

His detailed creation — gradually crafted over a period of nine months — showcases an almost unrecognizable regional transit network with new lines, stations, and extensions.

William tells us that the “what if” map was a labour-intensive process of finding proposals and rearranging the design several times to make everything fit to scale.

“Some of the proposals and projects I discovered were very obscure projects I had never heard of before,” he explains.

“This includes a line going to the planned 2008 Toronto Olympic Village grounds from Union Station, a line following a hydro corridor along Finch Avenue in Toronto connecting northern Toronto with the never built Pickering International Airport, and lines connecting popular attractions such as Casino Rama, Ontario Place, and a more direct line to Table Rock in Niagara Falls.”

This could be the first modern regional transit map showing an international connection, with William saying that “one proposal was an extension beyond Ontario into Niagara Falls, NY, which would have been the first international commuter rail line in North America.”

The map includes lines that would have radically altered the look of transit in Toronto. William discusses projects like a dead proposal for an Ontario Place Line, “planned to be built with new experimental technology under a project called GO Urban.”

“Others were planned to be electrified with GO ALRT technology, which resembled the soon-to-be-closed TTC Scarborough RT, however, most lines were going to be built with conventional rail technology.”

In a rather unconventional graphic design move, he explains that he used an app on iOS called YouDoodle+ instead of the industry standard Adobe Illustrator. He used these tools to create a similar project several months ago, mapping out what the TTC rapid transit network could look like in 2035.

William was inspired to create this project with the hope of shining a light on some of GO Transit’s little-known history.

He says that “using the official GO Transit map with all the old and dead projects added onto it really shows off how much the GTHA could’ve had, but doesn’t due to funding cuts and public opposition to transit projects in the late 20th century.”


The Bank of Canada raised the target for its overnight rate by 50bps to 3.75% in its October 2022 meeting, below broad expectations that pointed to a more aggressive 75bps increase. Still, it marked the sixth consecutive rate hike, adding to the 350bps in interest rate increases in the current tightening path and pushing borrowing costs to their highest since 2008. Policymakers also signaled that interest rates will need to rise further to curb inflation, as the bank’s preferred measure of core inflation has not shown meaningful evidence of easing. The updated CPI projections point to inflation to be at 3% by 2023 before returning to the target level of 2% by 2024. Regarding growth, the BoC expects the Canadian economy to expand a slower 3.25% this year and less than 1% in 2023. The central bank also said it will continue its policy of quantitative tightening.

source: Bank of Canada

The city hopes to coax affordable secondary units into Hamilton’s housing market through a forgivable loan pilot program.

The $250,000 initiative offers applicants of low to moderate income up to $30,000 to build or renovate suites in single-family homes.

Those secondary units — whether basement apartments or garden suites — must rent for no more than average market rent.

“It both provides an opportunity for income for that family,” said Michelle Baird, the city’s housing director. “It also helps us with respect to providing affordable rental units within the private market,”

Average market rent, as measured by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), translates into $914 for a Hamilton bachelor unit and $1,095 for a one-bedroom, Baird noted.

That CMHC metric is lower than what landlords ask for vacant units. An average local one-bedroom is going for $1,683 a month, according to’s latest report.

During the term of 15-year forgivable loan, the maximum rent can’t exceed the average market rent.

To be eligible for the provincially funded pilot, applicants must have an annual household income of less than $92,600, while prospective tenants must have a maximum income of $62,500.

Baird said the pilot must strike a balance on the maximum rent cap to ensure the program is viable for homeowners.

“At the end of the day, it also has to be profitable for the individual who gets this forgivable loan — that we do want to see this both as an affordable unit, but also as an opportunity for a low-income family to generate some income through this.”

The maximum loan amount is $25,000 with an additional $5,000 if projects involve accessible apartments. A city report on secondary units noted a “modest” basement-to-suite conversion runs $60,000 to $80,000 or more.

Baird recognizes the pilot is limited in scope — with loans for about 10 units — but notes staff will monitor its uptake and explore funding sources for a potential expansion.

“In Hamilton, we continue to experience a housing crisis, so we’re looking for every opportunity — be it small or big — to have an impact there, so this is an opportunity for us.”

The city has aimed to increase Hamilton’s rental stock and increase residential density by encouraging secondary units.

In 2021, council backed a bylaw to regulate secondary units and allow for two units per single-family residence: one internal, like a basement apartment, and another external, such as a laneway suite.

This week, the city said 28 building permits have been issued for secondary units since 2017. Among those, 16 were issued since last year’s bylaw changes.

Texas-based 3D technology company ICON, has broken ground on what will become the world’s largest 3D-printed community. The neighborhood located North of Austin in Georgetown, Texas will consist of 100 3D-printed homes codesigned by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and implemented by Lennar, a large construction company based out of Florida, was first announced in 2021. The project site is within Wolf Ranch, a master planned community owned by Hillwood Communities, a subsidiary of Perot Investments.

“We are excited to welcome Lennar and ICON’s cutting-edge home construction technology to Georgetown,” Georgetown Mayor Josh Schroeder said in a press release. “The Georgetown community prides itself on honoring our past and innovating for our future, and we are eager to see the future being built right here.”

Eight unique floor plans ranging from 1,500 to 2,100 square feet of living space, with three to four bedrooms and two to three bathrooms with prices starting at $400,000 will be available. The homes will feature rooftop solar panels, Ring video doorbells, and wifi-enabled locks and thermostats.

To automate the manufacturing of homes ICON is using its Vulcan robotic construction system, a large, transportable printer that can be used in tandem with Magma, a cement mixing machine. The homes are being constructed out of Lavacrete, a durable-concrete polymer added in layers to form the structure’s facade and foundation by Vulcan. Their design blends Texas ranch vernacular with sustainable technology, providing a model for the future of large-scale 3D construction. The residences will adhere to a common design, featuring metal roofs, concrete floors, and distinct curvilinear and rib-textured concrete walls, which are the product of 3D printing.

“For the first time in the history of the world, what we’re witnessing is a fleet of robots building an entire community of homes. And not just any homes, homes that are better in every way… better design, higher strength, higher energy performance and comfort, and increased resiliency,” said Jason Ballard, cofounder and CEO of ICON. “In the future, I believe robots and drones will build entire neighborhoods, towns, and cities, and we’ll look back at Lennar’s Wolf Ranch community as the place where robotic construction at scale began. We still have a long way to go, but I believe this marks a very exciting and hopeful turn in the way we address housing issues in the world.”

While ICON has worked on a number of 3D-printed houses across Texas and North America, it has also built on barracks at the Camp Swift Training Center in Bastrop, Texas and Fort Bliss and in 2021 partnered with BIG on design for a 3D-printed Martian habitat prototype for NASA’s Johnson space center.

California engineer Curtis Wong is applying tech innovation to the affordable housing crisis and hoping his ideas will take hold across the U.S.

The former employee of Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the founder of startup Cloud Apartments, which has a patented design for contemporary, cool-looking apartment modules and snap-together construction. The young company, based in San Francisco’s Bay Area, has received state approvals and they are working on a San Jose, Calif., site to erect a six-storey, 205-unit apartment building over a concrete podium, made up of “tech’d out” studios and one- and two-bedroom units. He has four other deals underway with developers, totalling 1,000 units in the Bay Area. Because off-site, factory-built modular construction is generally much faster than conventional on-site construction, he says the units will be more affordable due to savings of around 30 per cent.

Mr. Wong says it’s going to take a more creative approach that defies the norm if North Americans are going to solve the affordable housing problem. He had worked as a structural engineer for several years but grew tired of the lack of innovation, so he joined space exploration company SpaceX and worked on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The work pace was thrilling but too exhausting, so he went back to school and obtained a masters of business administration degree from Harvard University. He quickly discovered he could apply his tech know-how to housing, by standardizing the process.

“There are reasons that innovation is so hard within construction compared to SpaceX, if you want to compare those two worlds,” Mr. Wong says. “With SpaceX, there are no regulatory government agencies watching you the whole time, making sure you are following building codes. You cowboy it, do what you want and a lot of cool stuff happens. Within construction there are lenders, developers, government agencies permitting all that stuff, and it slows you down from innovating. … What I know about innovation, and bringing that back to the construction industry was pretty tempting.”

The goal is to wipe out the negative image of modular construction, the way that the electric car went from being an outlandish idea to today’s Tesla. The unique angle on construction is that the high-tech units are shipped to site 95-per-cent complete, a “plug and play” approach to building. Cloud’s studio apartment has built-in moveable furniture, such as bed that lifts up to make way for a couch, a projector for TV watching and an integrated battery that can power the unit off the grid for 24 hours. Such features are useful in the face of climate change.

But the key to his concept is not just designing cool interiors, but standardization of the units. He says they can reduce construction time by 50 per cent, and with their team of collaborators, they have the capacity to build about 10,000 units a year.

A standardized building design would also expedite permitting times because developers wouldn’t have to start all over again as they do with a one-off design.

“If you want to talk about how to use modular to save on costs, you have to think about it like how you think about automotives,” Mr. Wong says. “Henry Ford reduced the cost to build a car based on the assembly line that he pushed. The way he did that, he had the assembly line, mass efficiency through the factory, and standardization of what the automobile is – you paint them all black, you churn them out make them accessible to mainstream America and the world.

“What we are doing with Cloud Apartments is using the same mindset with modular, because currently modular is not standardized. Every building is still a one off, and totally different.

“We are completely standardizing the units by thinking of them like products.”

The hotel industry has already cottoned on, with major hotel brands such as Marriott now building modular construction. The chain just built the world’s tallest modular hotel in New York with pre-fabricated and pre-furnished guest rooms, a 26-storey building topped off with a modular rooftop bar.

“Building in a factory is how luxury cars are made, so the potential is much higher to make a nicer quality [home]. There are a ton of efficiencies, not just the improved quality, but also driving down the cost of housing.”

His company works with local factories and furniture designers. The units are state-approved, although they would still have to be approved at the local level.

“Out here, we have state of California permits for factory built housing. We did that whole process so that the Cloud-S unit can be built anywhere in California now. It’s one little advantage of modular construction, at least in state of California, that you have a better approval process.”

Part of the reason that the industry is starting to look to off-site construction is for the same reasons that European countries and Japan embraced the method: to reduce energy costs. The labour shortage is another.

According to BuildForce Canada, the residential construction sector will need 107,000 new workers over the next decade. And that number doesn’t even factor in federal initiatives to double the number of new homes built over the next decade, to address record-setting immigration.

“The idea of importing highly skilled tech workers is great, but where are they all going to live?” asks Rocky Sethi, chief operating officer for Adera Developments.

Adera is one of several Vancouver area developers that have embraced the use of off-site construction. This year the company launched two projects built with its patented mass timber sound absorbing panel system, Pura in Surrey, B.C., and SoL in West Coquitlam, B.C. Mr. Sethi says prefabricated off-site methods used for their Crest condo development in North Vancouver, B.C., resulted in a labour reduction of about 50 per cent. The building was framed 30-per-cent faster than usual, says Mr. Sethi. That’s helpful, because the number of tradespeople is in rapid decline, due to the fact that they’re aging out and the younger generation isn’t going into the trades.

“I’ve been in construction for over 20 years and the funny thing is we always talk about a shortage of labour. Skilled labour has always been a challenge but now it’s a challenge getting labour of any kind. And it’s not just through peak periods,” he adds. “We don’t have enough people to sustain us through a somewhat slower market over the next six to 12 months.”

But the challenge to using modular is the many municipal regulations that get in the way and don’t necessarily add anything to the project, Mr. Sethi says.

“What the industry needs to focus on is delivery of housing. Otherwise, it just makes my development more expensive and takes more time for approval. [For example], re-orientating a building, how does that make one bit of difference to somebody who needs a home to live in? It doesn’t.

“I think that modular does have a place, but we have a long way to go until that’s widely adopted for a number of reasons way outside the control of modular home builders. We are talking provincial and municipal rules and regulations, and we have 22 municipalities in Metro Vancouver that all have their own requirements.”

The innovative construction business is not without its risks. Mr. Wong worked on Starcity Minna, a 16-storey, 270-unit residential modular high-rise targeting middle-income residents that was also started by a tech entrepreneur. Plans for the project fell apart during the pandemic. But despite pushback, it had reached the approval stage. Mr. Wong sees that experience as a learning opportunity.

“That was somewhat of a bomb when the planning commission in San Francisco saw we wanted to do modular. It’s probably the same in Vancouver and everywhere, ‘oh it’s low-quality housing, we don’t want it.’ But one thing that is starting to change is that reaction is disappearing from other cities that have done modular.”

Craig Mitchell, principal of Vancouver-based BlackBox Offsite Solutions and modular construction expert, says he’s been tracking U.S. companies such as Cloud Apartments because they are moving into market-rate rental. In Canada, the modular industry has seen growth because of government-funded social housing.

Mr. Mitchell said there is considerable interest among private U.S. developers to use off-site construction.

“It’s the private developers and owners that have now adopted modular as they are seeing great case studies, which his attracting considerable investment,” he says of the U.S. market.

“The development costs with conventional construction are astronomical, so they are beginning to accept alternate forms of construction more readily, which are bringing new players into the market.”

It helps that the U.S. has denser markets than Canada, he added.

Toronto’s development industry has been sent into a frenzy with Pinnacle International’s submission of revised plans for its Pinnacle One Yonge development that would increase the height to 92 and 105 storeys. Designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects, the latest revisions see additional height and density requested for the phase 2 and 3 towers of the project, increasing the height by enough to position the development, if approved, as the tallest building in the country, a title that is also being sought by Mizrahi Developments at The One.

The proposed changes are outlined in an application for Zoning By-law Amendment that seeks to permit the approval of height increases of 10 and 12 storeys for the approved 95- and 80-storey towers, respectively. As a result, the phase 2 tower would reach a staggering 105 storeys with a total height of 345m, and the phase 3 tower would be boosted to 92 storeys, reaching a height of 306m. Instead of just one ‘supertall,’ a building over 300 metres, there would be two at this site.

These height increases are being applied to the most recent designs for phases 2 and 3, which came forward in 2021. The designs offered an update to a previous design iteration which dated back to 2017, and made some notable alterations to the exterior massing, specifically on phase 2. Looking at the 2017 design below, phase 2’s exterior was visually characterized by non-load-bearing diagonal frames that appeared on curtainwall sections, while in terms of massing, the inward tapering of both the base and the top of the tower, and the rounding of the corners worked towards creating a less orthogonal volume that was a distinct form in the skyline.

The 2021 design, below, reimagined the appearance of phase 2 in favour of a simpler design that allowed for a notable increase in balcony area. The diagonal framing was replaced by fewer but more sinuous lines that rise from the podium and climb the towering elevations, adding some visual articulation to the corners of the building. The tapering still occurs at the top of the tower, but rather than getting narrower at the base, the tower emerges more gradually from the podium, receding on a smooth curve.

The proposed 2022 additions to the heights of the phase 2 and 3 buildings would bring 958 and 859 units respectively, or a total of 1,817 units to the site.

For several years now, both Pinnacle One Yonge and its fellow prospective supertall, The One, have generated an alternating flurry of headlines. Skyscraper fans of Toronto and beyond have followed closely as both projects rise, captivated by the promise of being witness to the completion of Canada’s first supertall building. With both projects delivering world class designs that bear the marks of globally renowned architects, the only thing more media-friendly than the towers themselves has been theatrics of a perceived competition between the two.

Whether intentionally or not, the projects have been viewed as rivals not only in a race to be built first, but also in a contest of height, and as this most recent revelation demonstrates, there has been no shortage of surprises along the way. For those keeping score, in the wake of Pinnacle’s latest move, The One still has a head start in terms of construction progress, but as far as being the tallest building in Canada is concerned, the scales have been tipped.

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you’d like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.


Count economist Benjamin Tal among those who do not see a housing crash in Canada in the near future.

Tal, the deputy chief economist at CIBC, also suggested during a recent speech to engineers that the world’s producers are showing signs of coming to grips with the global supply chain problem, praised the Bank of Canada for showing restraint on its latest interest rate hike and gave a thumbs-up to a recent housing expansion plan introduced by Ontario’s Doug Ford government.

The economist was the morning keynote speaker on the second day of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies — Canada national leadership conference held Nov. 1 to 3 in Ottawa. His session, moderated by Jeff Lutzak, partner at RSM Canada, was billed as Canada’s Economy: Where We Are Today and Where We Will Be.

Tal offered his analysis of the last two years of Canada’s extraordinary housing market.

“The housing market was on fire. We are talking about what, a 46-per-cent increase in two years? That’s madness,” he said of late 2020 into early 2022.

What happened was that early in the pandemic, most of those who lost their jobs were low wage earners.

“But homebuyers, traditional homebuyers, their job was there, their position was there, their income was there, and interest rates were in the basement,” Tal said.

“If you think about it for a second, homebuyers during COVID got the benefit of a recession, with a significant decline in interest rates, without the cost of a recession.”

He has never seen anything like it, Tal said, the sense of urgency to get into the housing market during that period.

Seen in retrospect, those purchases can be considered front-loaded activity.

“We borrowed activity from the future,” Tal said, and now, amidst spiking interest rates, housing prices in the GTA have gone down 19 per cent since their February 2022 peak and further drops are projected into next spring.

Said Tal, “The future has arrived. This is not a crash. This is not a meltdown. This is basically reallocation of activity over time.”

Tal noted he was speaking just about the same time as Canada’s Minister of Immigration Sean Fraser was announcing an expansion of immigration quotas for the next three years, reaching 500,000 in 2025. Negotiations will ensue to determine how many from the enhanced economic-immigrants category will be skilled construction workers.

The need for more skilled workers in that stream is desperate, Tal said, noting 400,000 immigrants were welcomed to Canada last year.

“How many construction workers did we get out of those 400,000? Zero,” he said.

But “overall it’s a very positive story,” said Tal, “We got six times more immigrants than the U.S. and that’s one of the reasons why our labour market is better supplied than others.”

Rising costs in the construction sector are having a major impact on project investments, Tal said, with numerous reports of delays and outright cancellations.

“There are three sources of inflation: supply-chain-driven inflation, demand-driven inflation, and we-don’t-know inflation,” Tal said. “Supply chain is 50 per cent of inflation. You remove supply chain from the story, we remove 50 per cent of inflation.”

And that appears to be happening, Tal said — logistics are improving, freight is booming, and even the number of truck drivers in the U.S. has escalated 20 per cent since before the pandemic.

Assessing recent actions of the Bank of Canada, Tal said the move to raise interest rates only 50 basis points in late October signalled that in future Governor Tiff Macklem would move moderately in attempting to tame inflation, cognizant of the need not to sabotage the economy.

The bank is saying, “We don’t want to overshoot,” said Tal.

“You can pray that the Bank of Canada will stop at 4, 4.5 per cent. That’s our forecast. Then keep interest rates relatively stable for a year and then start cutting.”

Federal fiscal policy must be aligned with the Bank of Canada, Tal said.

Otherwise, “It’s like putting a humidifier and a dehumidifier in the same room and seeing who wins.”

Tal also had positive words for Ford’s new housing plan, contained in the More Homes Built Faster Act unveiled Oct. 25. The act would streamline approvals, relax zoning regulations and cut development fees among other reforms.

“It’s the most significant housing policy change in many, many years,” said Tal.

The news that Canada’s most populous provinces are likely to fall well short of affordable housing targets for 2030 came as little surprise to anyone who’s been following the country’s supply crisis in recent years – but finding a solution to that shortfall appears to be no easy task.

That’s partly because of the problems faced in attracting new construction workers to the industry, according to one of the authors of the national housing agency’s recent report revealing the likely failure of Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec to hit their 2030 affordable housing goals.

Dana Senagama (pictured top), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC’s) senior specialist, market insights, told Canadian Mortgage Professional that attracting more young people within the existing labour force into construction remained a significant long-term hurdle to the prospect of higher inventory levels hitting the market.

“We already saw in the census that the construction industry is really having trouble attracting younger people between the ages of 15 and 24 to work in construction,” she explained, “and that’s concerning because we’re going to see more and more baby boomers retiring in the coming years.”

How might that be addressed? Greater youth participation in residential construction could be achieved by financial support for education in skilled trades and further vocational training facilities across the country, the report indicated, while more targeted immigration programs for foreign skilled workers could be introduced.

It also recommended that workers be paid a fair wage “with good benefits for working full-time, part-time, casually, or seasonally in the construction industry.” That would ensure greater retention of employees as well as keeping work running smoothly with fewer disruptions, the authors argued.

While CMHC’s report found that labour capacity appeared to be higher when building condominium apartments or high-rise construction, an important caveat is that many of the units in those buildings are unsuitable for families, or more than one resident, because they’re often too small, Senagama said.

Meanwhile, with construction often a long-winded and drawn-out process, she said converting existing commercial buildings into residential properties could potentially provide a more immediate solution to current supply deficiencies.

“One of the gifts of the pandemic is [that] working remotely became the acceptable norm,” she said. “So we are seeing across Canada a lot of these buildings being vacant. Is there a potential to convert that into residential buildings, where already the services are established?”

Of course, such an approach would require those buildings to have their suitability for conversion closely assessed, Senagama added, before that process began.

Ontario and British Columbia are traditionally viewed as the two provinces in Canada with the tightest market conditions and housing supply, with prices having boomed in recent years partly due to the lack of inventory on the market.

Quebec shouldn’t be overlooked as a market that’s also experiencing a scarcity of much-needed supply, according to Senagama, although she also noted that the price measures in that province differed from those elsewhere.

“They don’t have the same price measures of affordability as do Ontario and BC, and that’s really where you’re looking at an average house price over $1 million – that’s not an entry point for many people,” she said. “So affordability is far more of a concern, particularly in the urban centres of Ontario and BC – less so in Quebec.

“But that’s not to negate the challenge there as well. You still need to build more to accommodate the increasing population.”

The implications of not addressing those challenges could be stark, with the possibility that affordability in the housing market – already out of reach for many Canadians – will continue to decline steadily.

Real estate giant RE/MAX Canada has already sounded the alarm in recent weeks on the prospect of an impending “crisis point” if housing supply continues to dwindle without being replenished.

The conclusion of the report, Senagama said, is that “this is a way bigger problem that really cannot be solved at the macro level, at the highest level in terms of the federal government.

“This needs to trickle down to every level – and the industry has to get on board. It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach. I think we all need to put our heads together and find a solution, because no one entity will be able to solve it.”

As per Altus Group their recently completed study for BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association).

They have looked at various factors that might be contributing to housing affordability and supply issues.

Here in the Greater Toronto Area. One area that they looked at was development approval timelines, which I thought developers must be aware of:

This demonstrate that the approval timelines don’t seem to really vary based on project size.

Doesn’t matter if you’re rezoning for 3-50 homes or 400-500 homes, it’s probably going to take you a similar amount of time.

This in turn creates a strong incentivize to want to develop bigger projects.

Among other things, it brings down the “number of days per unit” metric shown in this second chart.

Size does matter!

Yes , it does, what is too small or too large size for each developer would be varies depends on their risk prospective , if capital is not a constraint, there’s a tendency to want to do bigger projects .

It unfortunate!

We should incentivize smaller infill projects. Our cities need development at all scales.

High Borrowing Cost Impacting GTA Real Estate Market, Bank of Canada Increases Policy Interest Rates By 0.75%, Rent Soar By Double Digits Annual Increase

It is noted that the August home sales is about 34% less compared to August 2021 but the average selling price still has a slight increase of 0.9% compared last year. The sales-to-new-listings ratio in August 2022 is 53% which is comparatively higher than the consecutive previous 4 months and is similar to the ratio of 55% in March 2022. 50%+ represents a more balanced market.

On 7 September 2022, the Bank of Canada announced to raise further the interest rate by 0.75% to help flight inflation. The decline of sales transactions has reflected the effect of higher borrowing cost to temporarily preclude the home buying of some households and investors.

“275,000 new permanent residents have arrived in Canada till July 2022” said Sean Fraser, Minister for Immigration, Canada In addition, 349,000 new work permits were issued during the same period of time. Further 360,000 study permit applications have been finalized so far in 2022.

In the detached house segment, the sold price over 2M is the third highest number of sales in August similar to the range of $900,000 – $999,999. It may indicate that some serious home buyers prefer paying the temporary high borrowing cost to get the reasonable purchase deals rather than high selling prices with strong competitions later.

In the condo apartment segment, the lower sold price ranges between $500,000 to $699,999 are the highest number of sales. These buyers who are most likely the first time buyers or investors can reduce the impact on high borrowing costs and can mitigate the risk in the future.

“Now, buyers are experiencing more negotiating power and motivated sellers are adapting to the more recent market conditions” said CEO and Broker of Record at Zoocasa. The property prices still depend on the local dynamic and neighbourhood.

Toronto condominium apartment rental market keeps to heat up during the summer vacation, resulting in extremely strong upward pressure on average rents. A shortage of rental supply becomes very undesirable situation caused by the rapid population growth of new immigrants and international students back in Toronto.

As per TRREB Q2 2022 Condo Apartment rental market report, the vacancy rate is less than 1% in most major municipal cities and the average rent for 1 bedroom reached $2,269 as at June 2022.

According to August report, the average rent in Toronto is increased to $2,694, up by 24.2% :

– 1 Bedroom $2,329; 2 Bedroom $3,266

During this critical situation, the investors in particular of holding the brand new units are benefited from this upward rental to cover the extra interest payments

Housing starts decline almost 3% in August, amid concerns about supply

A recent report from the CMHC concluded that the country would need to build 3.5 million new homes by 2030 to reduce its shortfall and improve affordability. Canada is averaging only 200,000 to 300,000 new units per year. In addition, the Federal Government continues to welcome 1.2M+ new immigrants between 2021 to 2023. Housing crisis is a long term major problem!

For most post-secondary students, just getting by financially while passing classes is more than enough to occupy their time, however, everyone’s circumstances are different. There may be a time when you find yourself enrolled as a student and interested in buying a home.

Maybe you are a mature student who chose to go back to school at an older age after saving some money, or you received a significant amount of money through a gift or inheritance, or maybe you just worked really hard (and got incredibly lucky) with a job or investment.

On the other hand, many people have graduated but still have the dreaded student loan debts to contend with. This too will make buying a home a bit more complicated, but not impossible.

Being a student can be a demanding occupation, and it will make the home buying and home-owning process a bit more complicated. However, it can be done!

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about buying a home as a student, or with student debt.

Students can get mortgages in Canada
The first thing to know is that in Canada there is no hard law that would prevent a university or college student from buying a home or getting a mortgage. But, just because you can doesn’t mean it will be easy. Getting a mortgage will depend a lot on if lenders are willing to provide you with funds, and this will be your biggest barrier as a student.

Can international students buy houses?
In general international students can get a mortgage in Canada. In fact, even with the new foreign buyers ban coming into effect soon, an exemption is made for international students. The only difficulty may be in working with your bank in your home country to verify income and international credit history.

How being a student can affect your mortgage approval
There are many ways that being a student can affect your mortgage approval.

The first is the fact that most students tend not to have a lot of money, so having enough for a down payment will be tough. Assuming you do have enough for a down payment, there are still other factors that will affect your qualification.

For example, students tend to be younger, and may not have had the time yet to develop a strong credit history. This will be a big factor in your bank’s approval process, so make sure you have a strong credit score if you want your best shot.

Another factor is income. You may have a down payment amount through a gift or inheritance, but you will also need to keep up with regular payments.

This naturally means you will need a pretty high income. The issue is that it can be hard to maintain a job that pays enough to cover your mortgage while also keeping up with your studies. While owning a home would be nice, you should not buy a home at the expense of your academic performance if that is something you also value.

Finally, a lot of students take loans to cover their tuition and other education costs. This will affect your ability to buy a home, but we will cover this more in-depth in a bit.

How being a student can affect homeownership
Assuming you are able to buy a house as a student, you may still face some challenges as a homeowner.

As we mentioned before, homes can be costly, and keeping up with not just your mortgage but also any necessary maintenance and other home costs can be difficult if you can’t commit to your job full time.

Another factor is that home improvements and maintenance can take a lot of time, which can be in conflict with your education. What will you do when you need to make an urgent home repair in the middle of your stressful exam season?

You may also choose to rent out the home you live in, and this can necessitate even more work through finding tenants and keeping up with their needs.

Benefits to owning a home as a student
On the other hand, there are many benefits to owning a home as a student.

If you choose to live in the home you purchase, you won’t need to worry about tracking down a student rental property. And you won’t need to deal with the sometimes questionable quality found at such rentals. Also, you won’t have to worry about a landlord or roommate affecting your living situation.

Also, you will have the benefit of simply owning a home! That means you have a reliable place to stay, study, and get a head start on your life outside of school.

On the other hand, if you choose to rent out your property, this can help to offset the costs of owning it as a student. Getting extra pocket money through rental income will depend a lot on your ability to cash flow a property, which is not viable in every market. However, you can offset a lot of the cost of the mortgage, which can help you build equity to grow a larger rental portfolio, or just to have a lot of your home paid off if you choose to stop renting after you’d graduate.

Can I get a mortgage with student loan debt?
Even once you’ve moved on from school, you may still have some student loans remaining by the time you are interested in buying a house. This is concerning because a mortgage is debt just like student loans, and your lenders will not let you take on more debt than you can afford. This can affect how much of a mortgage loan you are able to borrow.

The conventional approach is to pay off as much existing debt as possible before buying a home. After all, if you can save enough for a down payment, you could easily save enough to pay off student debts. This will also help you to get the best mortgage possible and alleviate some financial stress.

Not everyone’s priorities are the same though, and some people will prefer to buy a home before paying off student debts. If you choose to go that way, here’s what you need to know.

Understanding your debt to income ratio
Your lender will look at two key debt ratios when approving you for a mortgage. One is your Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS), which represents the ratio of your income to the cost of your housing. This generally won’t be affected by student loans.

The other ratio is your Total Debt Service Ratio (TDS), which represents the ratio of your income to all of your debt service requirements, such as housing, credit card debt, student debt, and more. This is where your student debt will come into play.

Most lenders will not let you get a mortgage with a TDS greater than 44%. If your loan payments are too high, or your income is too low, you will not be able to qualify.

On the other hand, making your monthly student loan payments regularly can help to improve your credit score and establish a credit history which will actually help in getting approved for a mortgage.

Figuring out if you are qualified
If you are in doubt, there are some ways you can figure out if your mortgage plans are viable. For one, you can try for pre-approval with a lender and learn the hard way whether or not you are ready to buy. You may also choose to talk to a mortgage broker, who can help to tell you if you will be able to get a mortgage and help you to find mortgage lenders that will be best for you.


When it comes to borrowing a mortgage with higher than average debt, it may be a good option to work with an alternative mortgage lender. These lenders often have looser terms than the big banks and may be more willing to find a solution for a borrower with high debt. Again, your mortgage broker can help you negotiate a good deal in this situation.

Investment real estate with student loan debt
While it is generally advised to pay off your debts before you buy a home, this may not necessarily be the case if you are buying for investment purposes. For example, if you have enough money to either pay off your debts or purchase a rental property, depending on your cash flow potential it may actually be a better financial move to go for the rental. The reason is that if you are able to make more money from rental income than you would incur on interest from your debt, you will ultimately be earning money.

There is nothing that would strictly prevent a student or someone with student loan debt from getting a mortgage in Canada. Ultimately, the primary concern of any mortgage lender is how financially capable you are of keeping up with mortgage payments.

If you have a high income, a good credit score, a decent down payment, and not too many other debts, you should be able to qualify for a mortgage. If you are lacking in some of these areas, you may be able to qualify with an alternative lender. Otherwise, it may be best to wait until you are more financially stable, or consider other options like a rent-to-own home or a co-signer.