TORONTO — Home prices in the Toronto area continued to climb in March while sales were almost double that of the same month a year earlier, when the rapid spread of COVID-19 led to widespread economic shutdowns, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board reported Tuesday.
Sales in the area reached a record 15,652 last month, up 97 per cent from 7,945 during the same time last year.
The sales growth was so dramatic because it compares with March 2020, when the first economic effects of the pandemic took hold and both buyers and sellers were wary of the market.
Those fears have long since dissipated. Realtors and housing agencies have reported a flurry of sales – surpassing many of their most optimistic predictions – since the start of the year.
They say the number of people willing to purchase now will likely more than make up for last year’s low periods.
“Confidence in economic recovery coupled with low borrowing costs supported a record pace of home sales last month,” TRREB president Lisa Patel said in a release.
In the first 14 days of March, there were 6,504 sales this year, up 41 per cent from how many were sold during that time period last year.
There were 9,148 sales reported between March 15 and March 31, 2021, an increase of 174 per cent compared to the COVID period of March 2020.
Splitting the month in two is significant: the first half of March 2020 looked relatively average, but restrictions enacted after the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11 rapidly sent home sales plummeting.
A year on, available inventory hasn’t caught up to the number of people seeking new homes, putting pressure on prices.
“While the robust market activity is indicative of widespread consumer optimism, it is also shedding light on the sustained lack of inventory in the GTA housing market, with implications for affordability,” she said.
The average price of a home in the region jumped 21.6 per cent to $1,097,565 from $902,787 last year, while listings shot up by about 57 per cent to reach 22,709 from 14,434.
The most dramatic price increases were seen in detached housing, where the average price was up by 26.6 per cent to hit $1,402,849.
The average semi-detached home was sold for $1,045,519, a 17.5 per cent hike, while townhouses spiked by 20.7 per cent at $870,553.
Condos saw the smallest growth in prices. The average condo price climbed by 2.6 per cent to $676,052.
“With sales growth outstripping listings growth by a large margin, including in the condo market segment, competition between buyers in some market segments and the potential for double-digit price growth could continue without a meaningful increase in the supply of homes available for sale,” said TRREB chief market analyst Jason Mercer in a release.
While Toronto’s low-rise housing segment has been performing on all cylinders amid the pandemic, the condo space has renewed strength following months of declines, with investors being an integral part of this.
To put it simply, as the price of detached homes continues to skyrocket, condos are now being viewed as the more affordable option in Canada’s largest city.
To get a better understanding of this market, CIBC Economics and Urbanation teamed up to provide a closer look at condo investors in the GTA through the lens of quantitative research, using thousands of recent transactions as an input.
According to the findings, while demand for homes in the GTA remains strong, purpose-built rental developments have been rising in recent years from depressed levels, with condominiums representing just under 90% of the net gain in rental apartment units in the GTA over the last decade.
Last year, investors closed on a record of nearly 9,000 condo rentals in the GTA — which doesn’t include owner-occupiers converting their units to rental. What’s more, roughly one-third of all newly registered condos bought by pre-sale purchasers were rented last year through MLS, in addition to approximately 10% of resale purchasers who bought units as rental investments.
With the bulk of condo rental supply growth coming from new developments, the report revealed that investors who purchased presale condos that were ready for possession in 2020 have already experienced more than 40% market appreciation in their units.
What’s more, relatively low presale prices secured several years ago and record low-interest rates have resulted in the average investor of a newly completed condo last year being cash flow positive by $63 per month.
At 63%, the share of investors that were cash flow positive in 2020 was higher than the 56% share calculated three years ago for 2017 newly registered investment units.
Urbanation says investors of presale units were in a much better cash flow position than investors who bought resale units and subsequently rented them out last year, finding that a majority share (80%) of these resale investors were cash-flow negative.
Among investors with positive cash flow, the average monthly net income was nearly $400, which was higher than in 2017 when positive cash flow investors averaged just over $360. As for the cash flow negative investors, the approximately $5,900 annual net loss (not factoring in principal repayment) in year one can be offset by just a 1% increase in market prices.
The report said investing in condos is often used as a retirement funding strategy (the average age of an investor is 47), with most investors concerned with long-term equity accumulation as opposed to cash flow.
So what exactly does all of this mean for the market and investors moving forward? Urbanation says the divergent paths for condo prices and rents that have been arising lately will mean the share of cash flow negative investors will likely rise in the future. Though, this could change if they are prepared to invest a much higher down payment through savings.
“Condo investors are an integral component of the rental supply equation in the GTA, but the condo market shouldn’t be the rental market,” reads the report.
While purpose-built rental housing developments must be part of the solution and it is beginning to expand, Urbanation says we are still a long way from closing the supply gap.
With the real estate market experiencing surging prices, scant inventories, and a backlog of new home construction, many consumers are wondering if what’s gone up must come back down — in other words, are we headed for another housing market crash? Let’s take a closer look.
Memories of the Great Recession Are Still Fresh
Few people foresaw the housing market crash 15 years ago that ignited a worldwide recession. Fueled by low interest rates, loose mortgage lending standards, and the nation’s unshakeable faith in homeownership, home values rose at record rates year after year. When the housing bubble burst, some nine million families lost their homes to foreclosure or short sale between 2006 and 2014. Housing values plunged 30% or more, homeowners lost a collective $7 trillion, and it took nearly a decade for most markets to recover. Even today, several local real estate markets have not fully recovered.
With the robust market activity we’ve seen lately, are we in for a repeat housing market crash? The short answer is “not likely.” Today’s mini-boom cannot be sustained, but a crash as serious as the last one is highly unlikely because of a few determining factors:
Factor #1: Higher Lending Standards
Loose mortgage lending practices ultimately brought down some of the nation’s largest banks and mortgage companies. The fallout forced Congress and federal regulators to make significant adjustments that have since fundamentally changed how mortgage lending is regulated.
Since then, standards have been raised and the process of obtaining a mortgage is now more transparent. “Anyone can get one” types of loans are illegal, while borrowers must undergo rigorous income and asset checks. An entirely new regulatory agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was created to enforce this new regulatory framework. Lenders who do not comply with these standards risk severe penalties.
As a result, the housing finance marketplace is now more robust and safe than it was 15 years ago. Any dip in the housing market will be cushioned by these stricter regulations.
Factor #2: Pandemic Mortgage Forbearance
When the housing market crashed in 2007, the influx of foreclosures pumped housing supply into areas with falling prices and weak labor markets, while also preventing recently-foreclosed borrowers from re-entering the market as buyers. According to the Federal Reserve, foreclosures during a time of high unemployment could depress prices, plunging homeowners across the country deeper into negative equity.
However, in the pandemic era, the effects of mass unemployment bear little resemblance to the Great Recession, thanks in large part to forbearance programs that have allowed homeowners to postpone their monthly mortgage payments without suffering penalties.
As of early March 2021, 2.6 million homeowners’ mortgages were in such forbearance plans. As the pandemic economy has slowly recovered, many homeowners have since resumed their employment, and thus their home payments. According to CoreLogic, by the end of 2020, overall mortgage delinquencies declined 5.8% due to the forbearance program. The share of mortgages 60 to 89 days past due declined to 0.5%, lower than 0.6% in December 2019.
It’s worth noting, however, that serious delinquencies — defined as 90 days or more past due, including loans in foreclosure — increased when owners who owed large amounts left forbearance. By year end 2020, the serious delinquency rate was 3.9%, up from 1.2% in December 2019.
Inevitably, some owners in forbearance will fail to secure a loan modification or a lengthy repayment period from their lenders. Unless the government provides a bailout for these beleaguered owners, they will lose their homes when forbearances end. ATTOM Data Solutions expects at least 200,000 defaults in 2021 and a 70% increase in foreclosures over the subsequent two years ─ a significant increase from current levels, but a far cry from the 6 million foreclosures following the 2007 crash.
Factor #3: The Cushion of Homeowners’ Equity
Equity is the difference between the current market value of your home and the amount you owe on it. In other words, it’s the portion of your home’s value that you actually own. Equity can be an incentive to stay in your home longer; if prices rise — something we’ve seen almost universally across the country in recent months — your equity increases, too.
Why does this matter? Simply put, higher levels of equity cushion homeowners from default when home values fall.
Over the past decade, American homeowners have enjoyed housing stability and growth, building up large home equity reserves. In the third quarter of 2020, the average family with a mortgage had $194,000 in home equity, and the average homeowner gained approximately $26,300 in equity over the course of the year. In contrast, 2009 saw nearly a quarter of the nation’s mortgaged homes valued for less than the amount their owners actually owed on those mortgages.
Factor #4: Price Growth Will Slow, But Not Stop
The sales boom following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020 surprised many real estate economists; like most other business sectors, real estate was expected (if not required in many locations) to lock down. But by mid-April, sales were soaring as buyers, many of them millennials, took advantage of record-low mortgage interest rates. Through the remainder of 2020, rates remained below 3%, and existing home sales reached their highest level in 14 years.
The combination of solid sales and depleted supplies drove the nation’s median existing-home price for all housing types to $309,800, up 12.9% from December 2019 and marking 106 straight months of year-over-year gains.
The multi-year run of significant price increases will end, at least temporarily, but inflationary pressure on entry-level homes will continue in most markets until new home construction will relieve it. Economists at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Realtors forecast median prices will rise between 3 to 8% in 2021, a significant drop from 2020 but nothing like the crash in prices seen in the last housing crash.
A Moving Target
While no one can say for sure what will happen with the real estate sector, most experts are confident that we’ll experience a market dip, but certainly not a crash. Still, it’s important to stay informed of market trends, consumer sentiments, and expert insights. Check back with Homes.com for all the latest!
Real estate investors are piling into the condo market and taking advantage of low interest rates – even if it means withstanding short-term losses, according to a prominent Bay Street economist.
“It’s really about the supply-demand mismatch and people are looking at interest rates, they know… interest rates will rise,” Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC Capital Markets Inc., said in an interview. “So basically, they’re stealing activity from the future in order to be part of this low interest rate environment and take advantage of it.”
Tal, who developed the report in conjunction with real estate analyst group Urbanation to be released later this week, explained that investors are piling into the condo segment as it provides a more affordable entry into the real estate market than single, detached housing.
He said that the investors interviewed for the report are absorbing monthly losses, sometimes worth hundreds of dollars, for the longer-term value proposition. Data from CIBC found that about 40 per cent of condo investors had a negative cashflow. The investors said having a portion of their mortgage paid by someone else in the short-term will lead to profit as prices in hot markets like Toronto continue to climb.
And Tal believes they will continue to climb.
“If you think that Toronto is unaffordable now, you wait,” Tal said. “Toronto is becoming like Berlin, like London, like Manhattan. It’s becoming more and more unaffordable, and therefore we know that our kids will struggle.”
Condo sales have been taking off according to data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), up 85.5 per cent in January on a year-over-year basis. During that same time, prices had softened by 4.7 per cent. However, TRREB warns that the growth in condo sales outstripping the new listings growth may prompt a surge in prices, according to its market watch report.
Despite rent prices plummeting in the city during the pandemic, new competition for value in Toronto’s rental market is driving prices up for certain listings.
Strata real estate agent Francisco Hiebert told Narcity “strong competition for desirable units” has caused bidding wars among tenants who are “waiting out the current buying frenzy” by renting.
“Tenants are taking advantage of the lower prices,” and are even submitting offers over the asking price, said Hiebert, particularly for spacious units with balconies and nature nearby.
“I would never ask a client to do that, but many are volunteering,” Hiebert said. “Seeing multiple offers on rentals is becoming more common, thanks to increased demand and a decline in inventory.”
For example, an Upper Beaches one-bedroom with a den is now being rented for $300 more than it was originally listed at. The same goes for this two-bedroom unit in Markham.
Condo sales are on a sustained upswing across Toronto after spending much of 2020 in the red.
Citywide condo sales rose over 63 percent annually last month with 2,167 units changing hands. While most areas tracked by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) saw substantial increases in sales, a handful recorded transaction totals that significantly outperformed the citywide growth figure.
Of the areas that saw a high volume of condo sales, five recorded annual growth that was healthily above 75 percent.
TRREB’s C08 and C10 posted condo sales totals that were more than double what they recorded during the same period last year, with gains hitting 138.6 percent and 111 percent, respectively. C08 covers the Distillery District, the eastern Waterfront Communities, Regent Park and the downtown core east of Yonge Street. C10 includes the eastern section of Yonge and Eglinton, Davisville Village and Sherwood Park. Both are home to areas with significant condo density.
C01 — encompassing Cityplace, Liberty Village and a large swath of the Financial District west of Yonge Street — posted an 85 percent sales boost over February 2020.
The area covered by W04, which includes Yorkdale-Glen Park, Mount Dennis and Briar Hill – Belgravia, recorded an 82 percent rise in condo sales over the previous year. In the city’s east, E09 — consisting of the Bendale, Woburn and Morningside neighbourhoods — posted a 77.4 percent annual sales gain.
Despite February being a shorter month, all areas with the exception of E09 also recorded monthly accelerations in condo sales compared to their January totals.
Taken together, just over 50 percent of all condo transactions that took place in Toronto in February happened in these five areas. There are 36 distinct areas in the City of Toronto tracked by TRREB.
An argument can be made that Toronto’s downtown east is the most connected part of the entire megacity, and it stands to reason that owning a piece of real estate there will yield above-average returns.
As it turns out, Bauhaus Condos is located within a juncture that, in addition to slick connectivity to the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway, will have a subway station seconds away. The 32-storey, 218-unit tower from Lamb Development Corp. will be located at King St. E. and Berkeley St., where the new Ontario Line subway route will have a station.
“There’s nothing better than living in central Toronto and having a subway nearby,” said Brad Lamb, owner and CEO of Lamb Development Corp. “King St. E. goes through the original 10 blocks, which are Spadina to Parliament, known as the historic city, and it’s better connected than the west side of downtown approaching Bathurst.
“King St. is also a high street, and it’s more important to commerce in Toronto than even Yonge St. It’s the most prestigious street in central Toronto, and around Bauhaus an office building and a high-rise condo are being constructed.”
That’s not all. Dream Office REIT is developing two new office towers and a residential building within a block of Bauhaus, and Lamb Development Corp. is building three other high-rises in the neighbourhood. Also, perhaps fittingly, the SAS Institute has its Canadian headquarters nearby.
Lamb believes the neighbourhood is Toronto’s most liveable because of its proximity to Corktown, the Distillery and Canary Districts, River City, St. Lawrence Market, the downtown highway network, and Union Station. It’s also near Ryerson University and George Brown College.
It’s for that very reason that Lamb, who used to sell condos for Peter Freed of the eponymous Freed Developments when units were 100 per sq ft, says owning a piece of real estate in the neighbourhood will yield returns far and above the majority of Toronto’s other neighbourhoods. There is no more untouched land in Toronto, and that means new builds will only ever be found in established locales. Lamb questions whether there’s a better neighbourhood than King St. E.
“For our financial models for three Bauhaus units, which were 434, 460 and 516 sq ft, we use pre-COVID rents, but Bauhaus won’t be completed for another three and a half years, and by then rents will get back to where they were. They will probably get back there this year or early next year—and that’s just recapturing what was lost because of COVID,” said Lamb.
“They showed a positive return on equity with 30% down, meaning that you’re making 6-6.5% on rent alone. These rents were achievable before COVID and in three and a half years, they’ll be easily achievable. The compounded returns, according to TRREB, will be a 6.6% average return over 30 years.”
Factoring in inflation, Lamb says that in 25 years a studio condo in downtown Toronto will cost substantially over $1 million.
“Inflation is not going away. It’s absurd to think in 25 years you will pay $2.5 million for a studio in downtown Toronto, but you will,” he said. “When you factor in leverage, which you don’t get with a stock but you get with real estate, you’re buying a house or investment property for 25% and your actual return, in terms of price appreciation, is 30% compounded annually plus whatever you make from rent.”
While Lamb concedes that another recession or viral outbreak could be in the cards, he noted that COVID-19 hardly made a dent in Canada’s real estate market, and that it is, therefore, unlikely anything else calamitous enough will occur.
“The six-month negative growth rate was worse than the Great Depression at minus-15%, and since then we’ve clawed back to minus-4-5% on an annual basis. What happened to real estate? Nothing. Condo prices dropped about 10% but, already in March, we’ve recovered from that and prices are already higher than they were last March.”
Housing prices all over the GTA have been skyrocketing throughout the past year, but it’s Oshawa that has come out as the frontrunner in the GTA’s condo market.
A new report from Strata has found that property values in Oshawa have increased 48% over the past year. This is staggeringly higher than the increases seen in other GTA cities like Mississauga, Brampton, and Vaughan, which have gone up 6%, 11%, and 5%, respectively.
The average Oshawa condo is now priced at $483,000, or about $540 per sq ft.
According to the report, Oshawa real estate is attractive because it typically has more spacious layouts compared to Toronto, and low-rise condo townhomes — an alternative to the typical Toronto high-rise — are abundant.
“Given today’s migrational trends, it’s not surprising to see Oshawa, and Durham Region as a whole, outpace the rest of the GTA. Whitby, for example, may not be as hot as Oshawa. But it, too, is seeing an increase of 20% in property values over the past year,”
For years, Oshawa, known as Ontario’s “motor city” thanks to the General Motors headquarters located there, has been in “an auto industry slump,” the report says. But the city is now becoming more attractive to families and young professionals.
“Oshawa is no longer that sleepy bedroom community you once knew. I used to hear a lot of Toronto homebuyers swear they’d never go past Pickering,” said Van Rhijn. “But with today’s remote working options, I’m seeing more clients push their geographic boundaries and wonder what’s further east.”
And with Toronto’s condo market continuing to be much to expensive for many buyers, it’s pushing more people to further out GTA cities.
“The average selling price for a condo in Toronto is well over $700,000,” said Strata agent Jessie Pereira. “That’s why Oshawa has become an attractive option. Not only can you buy property here for much cheaper, but you’re also getting in on a market with long-term possibilities for profit.”
So any buyers looking to get in on a growing market would be smart to turn their attention to Oshawa.
Real estate brokerage firm Redfin recently did an analysis of “mortgage-rate lock data” taken from the analytics firm Optimal Blue. A mortgage-rate lock is an agreement between a lender and a borrower guaranteeing a particular interest rate for a particular period of time.
What’s potentially interesting about this data is that (1) approximately 80% of mortgage-rate locks apparently result in an actual home purchase and (2) buyers must specify whether they’re applying to secure a rate for a primary home, a second home, or an investment property. So there’s a high degree of intent that goes along with these applications.
What Redfin found when they looked at the data is that the growth in demand for second homes is exceeding that of primary homes by quite a wide margin. They argue that this is largely a result of people now working remotely.
But this rise in demand — at least according to the above data — appears to have started in the second half of 2019. So I think a few more data points would be helpful in understanding what’s really going on. Is what we’re seeing more about acceleration than about causation? And what does this look like a year from now?
Congratulations to everyone living along the downtown portion of Toronto’s waterfront, all 65,000 of you who, for decades, have been clumped together on the city’s official map of neighbourhoods as one ill-defined, enormous blob called “Waterfront Communities — The Island.”
Big ups also to Liberty Village, Fort York, West Queen West, and all of Ontario Place, which together will no longer be classified by the city as one sprawling super-hood called “Niagara.”
Toronto is finally redrawing its seemingly-ancient map of neighbourhoods to better reflect how more than a dozen monolithic regions across the city are actually divided in terms of population and use.
Freshly unveiled by the municipal government, these new boundaries present a Toronto with 158 different neighbourhoods — up from the current total of 140, which has been in place since the late 1990s.
“In recent years population growth has made each neighbourhood’s population unbalanced in relation to the others,” reads the city’s website under a headline that states “Neighbourhoods Are Changing.”
“To balance population growth, the Social Research & Information Management unit (SRIM), together with partners in other City divisions and public agencies, developed neighbourhood splits that resulted in 34 new neighbourhood areas with more balanced populations.”
Are you used to saying that the City of Toronto has 140 neighbourhoods? Well, that number is about to be updated to 158 (h/t @Diane_Dyson).
And, since the old numbers are being retired, we’ll now have 158 neighbourhoods numbered 1-174.https://t.co/NMl0nurIdv pic.twitter.com/9EWcpLrfqz
— Shauna Brail (@shaunabrail) March 15, 2021
It’s not yet clear when the new boundaries will be formally recognized, but the city has released a map showing how large areas such as Rouge, Dovercourt-Wallace Emerson-Junction and Islington-City Centre West are being divvied up.
The latter neighbourhood, for instance, will be split in half horizontally, creating two new hoods called Islington and Etobicoke City Centre.
With more than 43,000 residents as of the last Canadian census, this makes sense.
The area currently known as Willowdale East (population 50,434 as of the last census) will be split into three new neighbourhoods called Empress, Avondale and Dunforest-Hollywood, which I’m certain people will eventually call “Hollywood North (of Bloor.)”
Downtown, the neighbourhood currently known as Niagara will be split into West Queen West and Fort York-Liberty Village.
Waterfront Communities—The Island will become three new hoods called Wellington Place, Harbourfront CityPlace, and St. Lawrence-East Bayview-The Islands.
Here’s the new downtown neighbourhoods that’ll come into effect later this year. Quibbles: Is “Wellington Place” actually a thing? And, uh, are we totally sure we want to name more things after Ryerson? pic.twitter.com/QzQHFQS5cN
— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) March 15, 2021
In total, 16 old neighbourhoods are being replaced with 34 new ones. The rest will stay the same, as will the outer boundaries of all old neighbourhoods.
“Only internal lines are made for new neighbourhoods. This allows old neighbourhoods to be compared to new neighbourhoods,” explains the city. “Neighbourhood splits follow Statistics Canada’s census tract geography for maximum compatibility with existing datasets.”
Confused? This map from the city shows the locations, names, numbers and split lines of both new and old neighbourhoods.
In terms of the city’s old neighbourhood numbering system, all areas being split up will effectively see their numbers retired.
New neighbourhoods have been given numbers starting at 141 and going up to 174. Minus the old neighbourhoods, Toronto has 158 different areas that residents can call home on the new map.
Frivilous as it may seem to do all of this work just to rename a bunch of blocks, Toronto’s neighbourhood profiles are more than a vanity project — they exist to help government and community agencies with local planning by providing socio-economic data on a meaningful geographic scale.
Home buying activity hit a record high in the Toronto region last month as 10,970 properties changed hands.
February’s sales total represented a 52.5 percent increase over the same period last year, according to data published today by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
While buyer interest in suburban single-family homes has dominated headlines for months, the city’s condo market is climbing its way back into the spotlight. Continuing a trend established in December, condo sales jumped 64 percent last month with strong increases recorded in both the suburban 905 area and the urban 416.
The region’s condo market — especially units in Toronto’s downtown core — have been a notable weak spot in an otherwise robust housing picture. Despite the significant sales growth, condo prices continued their streak of annual declines in February, down 3.7 percent on the regional level and 6.4 percent in the city-proper. That said, TRREB’s Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer sees potential for condo prices to begin posting gains again this year.
“[I]f we continue to see growth in condo sales outstrip growth in new condo listings in Toronto, renewed price growth in this market segment is a distinct possibility in the second half of the year,” said Mercer.
The balance between new listings and sales that Mercer is referring to was strongly tilted toward listings for much of 2020’s second half as many condo investors sought to offload their units while other condo owners took advantage of record-low interest rates to move-up to a larger property.
The balance has been shifting in recent months and, in February, condo sales were up 64 percent, outpacing new condo listings which grew by 42.6 percent annually. This trend will need to continue for condo prices to start increasing again, but things are moving in the right direction.
For the region’s housing market as a whole, TRREB President Lisa Patel is anticipating more supply-driven challenges this year as demand is already exceptionally strong moving into the typically busy spring homebuying season. Patel says that population growth is expected to pick up again as Canada’s vaccination campaign ramps up, so this could exacerbate the problem further.
TRREB’s Home Price Index rose nearly 15 percent annually in February while the average selling price of a Toronto region home was up a similar amount to $1,045,488. Buyer confidence and low borrowing costs have led to fierce competition in the single-family home market, where price growth has been concentrated.
“In the absence of a marked uptick in inventory, the current relationship between demand and supply supports continued double-digit average home price growth this year,” said Mercer.
It’s also worth noting that February 2020 was the last month of that year in which homebuying activity remained mostly unaffected by the looming pandemic. By the second half of March 2020, home sales began to collapse as the market froze in the face of accelerating virus transmission and widespread lockdowns. Expect some huge annual spikes in TRREB’s sales activity data during the months ahead when 2021’s booming market is compared to 2020’s lockdown-curtailed market.
When it comes to purchasing a condo as a first-time home buyer or investor, there is a wide range of opportunities and benefits. However, when it comes to choosing whether or not to buy a pre-construction condo or a resale condo, things can get a little tricky. Either way, the condo market is thriving in Canada and you can get in the market with a good purchase price if you know where to look.
In real estate markets like Toronto, the average price for a stand-alone family home was just under $930,000 as of December 2020 whereas the average price for a condo in Toronto was just over $660,000. For someone looking for a first-time home or an investment property, they could save almost $300,000.
“The pros of it for most first-time buyers it’s more affordable,” said Our Expert’s said. “The reality is, if that’s what your budget allows for, then you’re going to do [better with] a condo. And with that being said, depending on your lifestyle there’s a lot of advantages to living in a condo.”
Purchasing a condo unit comes with its pros and cons, like occupancy fees, carrying costs and living in a dense high-occupancy housing community. You’ll also need to pay the amount of land transfer taxes on a condo that you would on a single-family home.
Investing in condos is a great way to break into the real estate market, but once you choose to go with condos instead of homes, you have to look at the benefits and disadvantages of choosing a pre-construction or resale unit.
The benefits of pre-construction
One of the main benefits of buying a condo during its construction phase is that it’s cheaper than a resale model. When you buy pre-construction, you’re taking the risk of your new condo not being built on time due to delays.
Another benefit to this is that you’re getting on the on-sale price before the condo is built, so you’re the price you’re paying will be less than that of people who are buying a new condo after the construction phase. So the market value of your condo is already increasing and working for you!
“You know if you’re buying today you’re buying an asset. You’re buying something in 2025 [but at a] 2021 price,” Our Expert’s said.
Another huge benefit to buying a pre-construction condo is that you get to choose a floor plan and your own specific finishings since your condo hasn’t been built yet. Typically, developers let buyers choose their own flooring and fixtures to give their new condo a personalized touch. However, certain finishes may be pricier than you anticipated so keep your eye out for any product that looks great, but can also save you money (like laminate flooring that looks like real wood for example).
“It’s a very passive investment,” Our Expert’s said. “You don’t have to deal with tenants and there’s nothing that you need to do until the condo is ready.”
The benefits of buying resale condos
Obviously, everyone wants brand new condos they can be the first to live in, but resale properties offer the opportunity to move into your condo much sooner than a pre-con. For resale condos, you’ll probably need a mortgage since purchasing these units isn’t the same as buying a condo during the building phase. However, interest rates are at an all-time low in Canada, which means it’s never been a better time to look into real estate investments.
Resale condos also offer the opportunity for great liquidity, meaning you can do whatever you please with your condo as long as you follow building guidelines. This is specifically appealing to investors who want to invest in a rental property as you can immediately move in yourself, or rent it out and start seeing an immediate profit.
“In most areas like in Toronto, if you pay a million and a half dollars for a home on the rental market you will not be cashflow positive,” Our Expert’s said. “Whereas on the condo market, in a normal rental market, you have that opportunity.”
Pre-construction real estate investment properties
When it comes to paying for pre-construction condos, it works a little differently than buying a single-family house or resale condo. The pre-construction market in Ontario only requires a 20% down payment compared to other markets in Canada where you have to pay from 50-100% of the cost of the property upfront.
Unlike a mortgage, you don’t even have to pay the whole down payment right away. Buying a pre-construction condo gives you the freedom to pay your down payment over the course of the first year of ownership, which means you have more time to come up with the down payment before they start building your brand new condo. This is especially appealing for first-time buyers who are looking to break into the real estate game or are just looking to upgrade from their current unit.
Selling a pre-construction condo
As the owner of a pre-construction condo, you technically can’t sell your pre-construction condo because it hasn’t been built yet. Sometimes it can take years to build condos and your plans change, or you’re looking to put money into a different investment opportunity. An option to get around selling your investment condo is to actually sell the contract for your pre-construction condo.
This means that as the owner, you can sell off your condo unit but the buyer has to agree to the same terms and purchase price that you already agreed to. Basically, they have to be alright with what you’ve already agreed to in terms of condo developments, tax implications, closing costs, occupancy, maintenance fees and any other things you may have agreed to when buying pre-construction units.
Using equity for a resale real estate purchase
Using equity to buy any condo is a great option for anyone looking to use their existing home equity for investment opportunities. Pre-construction and resale condos are both great options for those looking to use equity instead of taking out another mortgage, but in order to see a return on your investment immediately, resale is where it’s at.
“The price of real estate has gone up so much and people have a lot of equity, which is borrowing power in their real estate,” Our Expert’s said. “If you bought something for half a million dollars, and it’s now worth a million dollars you have half a million dollars in equity that you can really access.”
Using equity instead of a mortgage to purchase resale units works because your resale property can become a rental property and you can make money immediately from your investment. Waiting for developers to build pre-construction condos hinders your opportunity to see a return on your investment and that’s the one thing you don’t want to see as an investor.
Increasing resale value
Resale condos are also one way to flip your investment for a higher profit. Since they’re already built, the value of your resale property will skyrocket because the need for housing in Toronto is soaring. This will ultimately lead to your resale property being worth more money if you flip it instead of renting it out and lets you pay off the balance on your mortgage thanks to the increasing market in Canada.
“I think right now the markets on fire and especially like once there’s a major reopening, everyone’s comfortable, the global confidence is returned and the disease is more contained we’re going to see massive appreciation,” Our Expert’s said. “There’s more money than has ever been on the sidelines waiting to come in right now.”
Pre-construction vs resale: what makes sense for you?
When looking at pre-construction vs resale condos, it’s important to note the benefits of pre-construction condos. Typically, pre-construction condos give you the freedom to break into the real estate market at a slower pace than resale condos where you have to be ready with a large percent of the purchase price upfront. Construction and resale investment opportunities are abundant in Ontario and new buildings are springing up daily in the GTA and across the country.
Property developments in general are a safe investment. The question that remains is if condos are right for you, and if they are, what are the pros and cons of a pre-construction unit vs resale? One of the main things to keep in mind is when you’re looking to occupy the unit. Obviously, pre-construction condos take time to build whereas a resale condo can be moved into the week after you buy it.
A resale is a safer investment if you’re looking to get into the property rental business as its main advantage is the option to move in tenants in right away. To purchase resale condos as real estate investments is purchasing the option to rent immediately, or flip the condo in a few years’ time once the value has appreciated. The bottom line is when considering the pros and cons of pre-construction property vs resale, the market isn’t going to let you down.
One of the safest investments
“I think what’s really important that people remember is that real estate is an asset,” Our Expert’s said. “Specifically Toronto real estate has done incredibly well over the last, you know, three, two decades. It’s a really safe place to put your money where you can get really solid returns. And as long as you’re investing with, with a long time vision. You know, historically you’re going to do incredibly well.”
The main advantages of both pre-con and resale investments are that the value of your condo will continue to grow and continue building until you choose to resell. When you purchase a property, there are countless opportunities in terms of how to get your unit to give you the most bang for your buck.
Post-pandemic rising markets
“We’re seeing the market come back to life,” Our Expert’s said. “Now that people know that there’s a cure and there’s that certainty because rates are at all-time lows, people really are confident on where the market is going. And as soon as we see the borders open up. We’re going to see a real, real increase in rental demand as well.”
This means that now is a great time to purchase a condo as an investment. A by-product of this pandemic is how quickly every city is building in terms of growth. Using a condo to get in on the floor level of real estate is a real advantage in 2021 because new condos are popping up in every major city in Canada. The market value of condos is increasing at exponential rates and guarantees a great return profit on your investment unit.
Is the condo lifestyle for you?
“Depending on your lifestyle there’s like a lot of advantages of living in a condo,” Our Expert’s said. “If you’re someone who goes away on the weekend, who doesn’t want to bother with landscaping, or it’s important you don’t want to own a car and you want to live close to work. I mean these are all great reasons why you would own a condo.”
Living in a high-rise building comes with benefits like not having to worry about maintenance or knowing there are certain rules every tenant in the building must follow. These benefits ring true for 0wners of pre-construction and resale condos. Your unit is just a small part of a community that works together to live in harmony. Buying pre-construction just means you may have to wait a little longer before you get that sense of community belonging that comes with living in a condo.
Ready to find make an investment?
At the end of the day, choosing a pre-construction vs resale condo is up to you, but there are pros and cons to each option. Real estate investments are a great opportunity to get your money to work for you and to take part in a growing market that will only increase in value as the years go on.
Whether you choose a resale condo or one that’s in its construction phase, you know that your real estate purchase will bring you a profit. Why? Because the demand for condos continues to rise (no pun intended). Either way, you can rest assured knowing that looking into new or existing condo developments for sale is the right move when it comes to investing your hard-earned money into something profitable.
It’s no secret that the Toronto housing market is one of the most competitive real estate markets in Canada. In January 2021, statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), showed that home sales have set another all-time record, but statistics are also showing a lack of new listings. Since we’re just coming out of the second COVID-19 lockdown in Ontario, trepidation among sellers is understandable. But as we emerge from a winter spent in lockdown, sellers may start feeling better about listing their homes as the GTA real estate market continues to boom and soar to new heights.
What the Canadian Real Estate Association is saying
According to the MLS graph, in 2019, the benchmark price of a home in the Greater Toronto Area was just over $763,000 compared to January last year, where the average price was just over $927,000. This means the price has increased by 21% in 12 months. Because of the rapid price rise, people are able to take advantage of the market and sell their homes at a reasonable price.
According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the same graph shows Toronto home prices have risen by 128% in the last ten years. The price for property in the GTA was only $405,000 in 2011 on the MLS graph. The City of Toronto has seen major growth in the last decade, but the price range of houses has made it more unattainable for residents to put a down-payment on a stand-alone single-family home.
However, members of CREA and many real estate professionals are predicting the demand for housing in Toronto will rise post-pandemic and post-vaccination. Currently, interest rates are at an all-time low and property value is increasing at a rapid rate. But the lack of listings is causing bidding wars and that’s just driving the price increase much higher. In contrast, the housing market is less competitive with the border remaining closed as buyers don’t have to fight with people coming to Canada from out of the country and buying property.
What’s more interesting is looking at the average home price across Canada. Members of CREA say the year over year (Y-O-Y) increase in Canada is affected by areas like Vancouver, British Columbia and the GTA. The national sale price in January 2021 was just over $628,000. But if you take away areas like Vancouver, British Columbia and the GTA, the average goes down by $129,000. The Y-O-Y increase was calculated using CREA’s trademark MLS multiple listing service graph to assess and graph housing trends across the Greater Toronto Area and Canada.
Toronto housing market options
Maybe you’re not ready to commit to a million-dollar stand-alone house in the GTA, and that’s totally understandable. Population growth has drastically impacted price increases in the past few years. However, there are a number of other options for someone looking to break into the Toronto real estate game.
Since house prices are so steep, considering the condo market is a great opportunity for many first-time buyers. In the Greater Toronto Area, condos are being built in the blink of an eye, plus, the price tag for condos is more appealing than houses. One of the hottest real estate trends in 2021 is pre-construction condos. They can take up to three years to build but are a safe long-term investment. The condo market in Toronto is booming and with house prices rising, investing in the condo market is more appealing than ever for people looking to find affordable housing.
Another interesting alternative to stand-alone homes is townhouses. In the city of Toronto, townhouse prices are lower than stand-alones, but not by much. However, with the demand for rental housing increasing, snatching up these listings could help you see a profit if you’re choosing to convert your townhome into a rental unit. With housing prices going up, rental demand is increasing and investing in this property type can help you in the long run.
Consult with home sales professionals
Working with a realtor can help you navigate multiple listings, mortgages and interest rates, along with real estate prices in Toronto, Canada. For first-time homebuyers searching through new listings and viewing Toronto house prices can be daunting but guidance from professionals who are members of the Canadian Real Estate Association can give you an edge in the Toronto housing market and help you pass your stress test as it’s important to keep your stress test expectations realistic.
Real estate professionals include mortgage brokers, not just realtors. This also means you’ll have to complete an Ontario mortgage stress test to ensure you can keep up with mortgage rates and interest rates while still being able to provide a sizeable down payment. Real estate professionals can help you keep up with mortgage rates outlined by The Bank Of Canada and vice versa. They can also help you navigate your much-dreaded mortgage stress test.
Real estate professionals can help you determine your qualifying rate and help you find a property listing at prices that are more reasonable. However, the property market in the GTA is one of the highest in Canada and population growth is only contributing to the price growth even more. Professionals who are members of CREA can help you find housing markets that may be more in your price range if you’re willing to change your city.
Post-pandemic real estate demand
Once people get more comfortable in post-pandemic life, the price trend is going to continue. The demand for property is going to increase further and, therefore, so will the prices. The average price of new listings in Canada is often less than the selling price of properties because of intense bidding wars that are become harder for first-time buyers to win.
The house price listed on real estate websites is often less than what the buyer actually pays. Sellers can list their house for one price and sell their house for $50,000 over-asking. And since bidding wars are so prevalent in today’s real estate landscape, sellers are also listing their homes for cheaper than the amount they’re expecting to receive. Sales of new homes in the GTA have temporarily halted because of lockdown restrictions and border closures, but as soon as we see that change in our society, price growth is going to contribute to an even higher Toronto housing landscape.
Listings waiting for recovery
A number of listings are on the sidelines waiting for the market to open up even further and wait for demand to increase so their property can make the most for them. A realtor may even suggest waiting to list your property now because the GTA real estate market is being slated to expand and grow within the next year. Depending on property type, housing prices and the sales of houses will continue to rise in 2021.
Increasing sales activity
Last year, Canada saw a huge dip in the number of homes sold during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although demand remained high, listings dwindled as homeowners were more worried about strangers coming into their property. The Bank of Canada quickly cut interest rates to cushion the blow and regardless, the real estate landscape in Toronto, and across Canada, thrived. The Bank of Canada also put in motion a couple of programs to help lenders during the pandemic, which increased overall sale activity in the housing market.
As Canada and Toronto put economic recovery strategies to work in the coming year, home prices will continue to rise to help the economy. The Ontario Fair Housing Plan (OFHP) was created to help cool the red-hot real estate market, but the impact of the pandemic will inevitably contribute to home price growth and economic recovery nationwide. But again, working with a realtor can help mitigate some of the stress and help you in your sale and real estate endeavours so you can reach your goals.
Hot Toronto neighbourhoods
The red-hot Toronto housing landscape can be intimidating, but looking at some trending neighbourhoods can help you get excited about the opportunity of homeownership even if house prices aren’t extremely desirable.
The Beaches is a transit-friendly neighbourhood in Toronto with house prices hitting over a million dollars. However, the condo market in The Beaches is much more affordable and offers residents access to scenic Toronto landscapes and fantastic bicycling infrastructure. Most family homes have 2-3 bedrooms in this quiet neighbourhood for young families. Naturally, the proximity to Lake Ontario is one of The Beaches’ main attractions when looking for homes in the GTA.
Bloor Village West/ Roncesvalles/ High Park
These three villages in Toronto’s downtown core have a higher house price point with most townhomes sitting just over a million dollars. It’s the close proximity to subway transit and the downtown core that makes these areas so popular. By subway, these neighbourhoods lie 30 minutes from Toronto’s commercial and business districts. Sales activity in the area has been rising recently and townhouse prices are steadily increasing in these areas, so getting in on these properties is a good idea for anyone looking to see market value increasing in their home.
On the outskirts of Toronto lies Scarborough. Once thought of as a “rough part of town”, Scarborough has become a multicultural hub of opportunity much like the rest of the Greater Toronto Area. Long-term housing in Scarborough is more affordable since it’s on the outskirts of the downtown hub and house prices are slightly more affordable. For those who work in Toronto, downtown is a short subway ride away, making Scarborough a desirable market with better prices than downtown neighbourhoods.
Toronto’s changing housing market
The average house price has increased exponentially in the last two decades. Since Toronto is an epicentre for business and entertainment in Canada, it’s no surprise that the demand for homes in the area has seen a change with the times. Real estate trends and prices change all the time, but one thing that is constant is the real estate market in these areas. As homes become more scarce and the average home price rises, we’ll see a change in the way the City of Toronto appeals to residents across Canada.
Since the housing landscape in the GTA is so highly-priced, many smaller communities surrounding larger cities are seeing an increase in home prices. A market like Hamilton, for example, has seen the average price of a house increase by 174 percent from roughly $285,000 to $784,000 in the last ten years because of a steady influx of new residents coming from the GTA.
The housing market in surrounding cities
Sales and home prices in cities surrounding the GTA have increased due to residents moving out of the big city and to a smaller city still within a commutable distance (mainly due to being able to work from home orders during COVID lockdowns). Areas in the Halton and Peele region have seen the average price of new listings in their once-affordable cities being raised to new heights. The market for housing in Toronto isn’t the only one rapidly expanding and seeing price increases.
A number of Toronto escapees chose Oakville for its family-friendly neighbourhoods, transit infrastructure and greenspace. With direct GO Transit trains to Union Station in Toronto, Canadians are flicking to Oakville as a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city with more affordable houses for sale due to ongoing housing development construction.
Vaughan isn’t just the home to Canada’s Wonderland. This smaller city outside of Toronto is seeing an increase in property demand. Much like Oakville, Vaughan is a transit hub that makes it easy for people to commute to work in Toronto, and live in a smaller city like Vaughan. Vaughan also is host to the shops at Vaughan Mills and a booming condo market for people looking for more affordable unique listings
It wouldn’t be right to mention cities seeing price growth and increased sales activity if Hamilton wasn’t mentioned. The steel-city of Canada is one of the fastest-growing real estate landscapes and is seeing major revitalization due to residents from Toronto looking for more fair house prices. The city is home to a booming food industry and is close enough to Toronto that the commute is worth it for the lower home prices.
Mississauga is where you want to be if you’re looking for affordable trendy condos. In Mississauga, the condo market is running rampant and is becoming more and more appealing for residents of Toronto who are looking to escape the grind of Ontario’s capital city. House prices in Mississauga aren’t too far from Toronto, but the price of condos is improving and the condo market in Mississauga is thriving and competing with that of Toronto.
Appealing new listings
When it comes to house-hunting in Toronto or any larger market in Canada, finding new listings is the key. Working with a realtor can help you access listings before they’re made public and can give you an edge on competing for homes in the area. Having a down payment ready to go during your search for affordable long-term real estate investments is an important part of winning any bidding war and staying within your price range.
Property demand is running wild in Canada and it sometimes can seem like there are too many listings compared to people, or vice versa. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by appealing new listings and 3-bedroom homes with newly renovated kitchens. Having a set number that you won’t go over when purchasing a home can help you down the line in three years when you’re looking to buy a second car or start a family. House sales happen daily, so don’t get discouraged if someone else scoops up the house you wanted – something better will come along.
Take advantage of lower interest rates
The main takeaway from looking at the average house price increase in Toronto over the last few years is that taking advantage of lower interest rates and a less competitive market is a solid idea. Many Canadians may be waiting for the real estate bubble to pop – but if the pandemic couldn’t bring housing prices down it’s unlikely anything will. Taking advantage of the Bank of Canada lowering interest rates during a pandemic is a great way to hack the housing market and make the most out of your investment while getting a decent house price before everything explodes.
Home prices in Toronto are climbing and once the pandemic is over and the majority of the population has received their vaccines, more Canadians are going to be looking into purchasing real estate and more people are going to up the selling price of their property. Sales happen daily, and that means keeping your ears to the ground looking for hot real estate opportunities in the Toronto Area is more important than before.
When it comes to real estate, look at new listings, come up with a budget based on your mortgage stress test, and pay attention to price trends. Having a strategy is everything when it comes to finding a reasonably priced listing and purchasing the home of your dreams in Toronto.
Are you house hunting in Toronto?
Whether you’re using a realtor, or choose to not use a real estate agent, finding quality homes to purchase anywhere in Canada is an endeavour that must be planned and properly executed. The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reported 551,392 were sold in Canada in 2020 and that projection is slated to increase in the coming years.
Housing prices in the Toronto housing market have reached new highs and it’s looking like it’s just going to keep rising. It seems the faster one jumps on a real estate opportunity, the better the long-term outcome. Whether you’re looking in the housing market or condo market, you can be sure that your investment in Canadian real estate will make you money – even with the seemingly astronomical housing prices we’re seeing.
As a whole, Canadian real estate has done relatively well handling the COVID-19 pandemic. With residents looking to spend more time inside and working from their houses, it makes sense that the demand for housing has substantially increased and will continue to post-pandemic. While getting in on real estate in Ontario is sometimes tricky, it’s a safe bet and a safe place to put your assets. Whether you’re looking for your first home, or you’re looking for an investment opportunity or a rental space, you can sure that real estate in the GTA is going to be worth it.
The housing truth
The Ontario Fair Housing Plan has tried to mitigate some of the unrealistic aspects of Canadian housing, but for greater Toronto residents, high price growth has become a reality associated with living in the capital of Ontario. The province has the highest number of residents, and most small-towns are slated to grow into bigger, small cities. It’s easy to blame the Toronto market for these circumstances, but when it comes to homeownership, everyone just wants their own slice and everyone who works hard deserves it.
Toronto home prices aren’t getting lower any time soon, but we can embrace the good things that come along with high real estate prices – like knowing the house you currently own is building equity that may help you in the future. Or you can just enjoy that Canada, and in particular Toronto, is a place where people want to be and we should view ourselves as lucky to be in one of the greatest countries in the world.
It won’t happen overnight, but with Toronto condo sales clearly on the rebound, struggling condo prices could soon be following them upward before the end of the year.
That’s the message from RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue who, earlier this month, wrote that the Toronto condo market’s “relative affordability” may be boosting its appeal to homebuyers. This edge in affordability over single-family homes likely contributed to condo sales across the region rising over 85 percent in January.
“[T]he growing affordability advantage over single-family homes and the start of vaccination distribution (interpreted by some investors as a sign downtown condos will soon regain popularity) have rekindled buyers’ interest in condos over the past couple of months,” he wrote.
Hogue added that the ample condo inventory currently on the market is keeping prices stagnant for now, but sales activity picked up in December and continued to climb in January, suggesting condo prices could begin to “heat up” later this year.
While the ongoing surge in condo sales bodes well for prices seeing a lift before 2021 ends, the recovery has some headwinds to contend with before it can really take off.
First, condo listings are still hitting the market at a rapid pace. Hogue acknowledged that active condo listings in Toronto rose by 85 percent in January, keeping “upward price pressure at bay for now.” That said, this is down from the staggering 177 percent annual increase in active condo listings recorded in November.
The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) forecast last month that the rate at which new condo listings are hitting the market would continue to decelerate into 2021’s second half, leaving room for strong buyer demand to push prices up.
But this begs an important question on condo demand: can it stay strong as Toronto’s rental market continues to see elevated supply and declining prices? Realosophy Realty President John Pasalis believes the outlook for the condo market hinges on how the rental market fares in the coming months.
Investors were partly responsible for the surge in condo buying seen in December and January, motivated by lower prices and a belief that rebounds in both the rental and resale condo markets were on the horizon in 2021.
This is by no means a sure bet.
“[I]f the rental market continues to soften, I suspect this may push investors back to the sidelines,” Pasalis said.
One of the big stories from fall 2020 that buoyed hopes for the Toronto condo market’s fortunes this year was the federal government initiative to boost immigration rates between 2021 and 2023. The plan is to welcome an additional 50,000 newcomers each year on top of existing immigration targets to make up for the massive disruption that played out in 2020.
New research from RBC Senior Economist Andrew Agopsowicz indicates the federal government is likely to fall short of this target, with an estimated 275,000 new permanent residents forecast to be welcomed to the country by the end of the year, far behind the 401,000 target.
With immigration being a key driver of population growth for the Toronto region, another shortfall in 2021 certainly won’t benefit the condo and rental markets.
As we creep closer to the one-year anniversary of Canada’s first COVID-19 lockdowns, the country’s major rental markets continue to see prices fall as rental supply climbs and empowered renters negotiate with landlords.
New figures released this week by rental site Padmapper suggest that February has been no exception, with rent prices for one-bedroom units in Toronto and Vancouver hitting a four-year low.
Prices for one-bedroom units in Vancouver declined by 0.5 percent monthly to $1,940, the lowest recorded price point since April 2017. Meanwhile, the city’s two-bedroom listings dipped by 0.8 percent on a monthly basis, down to $2,630. Year-to-year, rents for one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments have dropped by 9.8 percent and 12 percent in Vancouver. Despite the declines, Vancouver continued to hold its first-place position as the most expensive city to lease an apartment in Canada this month.
Following closely behind, Toronto one-bedroom prices fell by 3.3 percent on a monthly basis to $1,770. Prices for one-bedroom listings have not been this low in the city since February 2017, when the average price was $1,700, the report explains. This price drop was slightly less pronounced than Toronto’s two-bedroom listings, which saw price declines of 5.3 percent monthly to $2,340. On a year-to-year basis, one-bedroom rents in the city are down 23 percent while two-bedrooms declined by 21.5 percent, the report noted.
In its findings, Padmapper attributed renter migration from Toronto and Vancouver as one of the driving forces of the continued price declines that have been commonplace in those two cities since the pandemic began.
“It seems the continuous rent price declines from renter migration out of Canada’s two most expensive rental markets have not stopped, even as COVID-19 vaccines have begun to roll out,” said the report.
In a sign that rental activity was slowing across much of the country, double-digit price increases were less frequently observed among smaller, less expensive cities too. Only four cities tracked by Padmapper recorded price increases in that range this month. Throughout 2020, renter migration away from large urban centres like Toronto and Vancouver drove prices higher in smaller, nearby cities where renters were relocating to.
Padmapper said that these dialled back rent price increases in those smaller markets were likely a result of a winter season lull in rental activity.
It’s still early in the year, but January 2021 is looking awfully similar to basically every month in the second half of 2020, at least as far as the country’s high-flying housing market is concerned.
While we started sounding like a broken record a long time ago, Canadian homebuyers did it again last month, turning out in record numbers to scoop up more properties than any previous January.
According to the latest Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) data published this week, home sales last month were up more than 35 percent compared to a year ago and even came in two percent above the unusually busy December 2020 total.
Well over 60,000 home sales were recorded across the country last month, putting 2021 on pace for an annual sales total north of 736,000. For comparison, CREA’s 2021 forecast was for 583,635 homes to change hands across Canada. Market analysts at CREA don’t expect January’s fiery pace to continue, but it was, nevertheless, a remarkable start to the year.
“2021 started off just like 2020 ended, with a number of key housing market indicators continuing to set records,” said CREA Chair Costa Poulopoulos.
“The two big challenges facing housing markets this year are the same ones we were facing last year – COVID and a lack of supply. It’s looking like our collective efforts to bring those COVID cases down over the last month and a half are working. With luck, some potential sellers who balked at wading into the market last year will feel more comfortable listing this year.”
On the housing supply front, CREA noted that many Ontario markets saw sales decline on a monthly basis, indicating that the impact of record-low inventory levels is weighing down sales activity. The vast majority of markets across the country experienced annual home sales increases, but nine markets in Ontario with “extremely limited” supply even recorded annual sales declines.
CREA Senior Economist Shaun Cathcart said many buyers and sellers are “still waiting in the wings” for better weather and more clarity around whether recent improvements in the COVID situation can be maintained.
“It’s the dead of winter and we’re only just starting to get the second wave of COVID under control. We’re unlikely to see a rush of listings until the weather and public health situations improve, and we won’t see buyers until those homes come up for sale,” Cathcart said in a media release.
“The best case scenario would be if we see a lot of sellers who were gun-shy to engage in the market last year making a move this year. A big surge in supply is what so many markets really need this year to get people into the homes they want, and to keep prices from accelerating any more than they already are,” he added.
Canadian home prices also continued to surge in January, with the national average sale price rising nearly 23 percent annually and the MLS Home Price Index increasing 13.5 percent over January 2020.
Price gains aren’t expected to slow down anytime soon. CREA said the national sales-to-new-listings ratio — an indicator of whether the market is favouring buyers or sellers — rose to 90.7 percent, a record for the metric which was already deep into seller’s market territory. The long-term average for the ratio is 54.3 percent, according to CREA.
A Canadian home price tracker known to be one of the most reliable measures of appreciation just recorded its highest annual increase since October 2017.
The Teranet-National Bank Home Price Index rose 9.6 percent over the previous year in January, led by double-digit price increases in local markets including Ottawa-Gatineau, Halifax and Hamilton.
Montreal and Toronto also posted 12-month price gains above the national average, while five other major markets experienced increases between 0.8 percent and 9.1 percent. Of the 11 markets included in the index, only Calgary recorded an annual decline in its home price reading.
While the annual gains were robust, the January data, published today, pointed to an overall slowdown in Canadian home price appreciation. January marked the third straight month that the index recorded a lower price gain than the previous month.
After gaining momentum last August, the price index accelerated for several consecutive months before slowing down in November when it recorded a monthly gain of 0.9 percent compared to October’s 1.3 percent. The index slowed again in December with a 0.6 percent monthly increase. According to the latest reading, the index climbed only 0.3 percent in January compared to the previous month.
In commentary published today in response to the Teranet-National Bank data, Capital Economics’ Stephen Brown acknowledged the price appreciation slowdown may seem surprising, especially considering the national housing market is exceptionally undersupplied relative to strong homebuyer demand.
“With home sales at a record high in January, it is hard to make the case that the latest coronavirus restrictions are behind slower price growth,” Brown wrote.
“The explanation may simply be that, with house price inflation at double-digit rates in many cities, house prices already reflect the sharp fall in borrowing costs in the past year and so there is now much less scope for prospective buyers to bid up prices,” he continued.
Despite the apparent deceleration in price gains, Brown maintains that the limited supply of homes on the market will keep prices increasing “at a decent clip by pre-pandemic standards.”
Looking further ahead, he forecasts the Teranet-National Bank index will continue rising in the 10 percent range at the national level in the coming months before slowing to five percent later in the year. Brown writes that deteriorating housing affordability and rising mortgage rates will contribute to the slowdown.
Rock-bottom mortgage rates have been a major driver of red-hot home buying activity across Canada since the country emerged from the widespread lockdowns of spring 2020.
Those rates are likely to stay near all-time lows for the first half of 2021 but an economist with Capital Economics predicts they will begin climbing later in the year.
The firm’s Senior Canada Economist Stephen Brown wrote this week that mortgage rates could rise even though the Bank of Canada is expected to keep its influential policy rate at a record-low 0.25 percent until 2023.
Brown believes rates will increase before the Bank of Canada makes a move because Canadian bond yields are now forecast to rise this year and in 2022. A bond yield refers to the return that investors earn from holding bonds. In the world of finance, fixed-rate mortgages and bond yields are closely connected — when the latter moves in either direction, it typically has a parallel influence on the former.
According to Capital Economics’ updated yield forecasts, the five-year fixed mortgage rate could rise from its current level of 1.8 percent to anywhere from 2.3 percent to 2.8 percent, depending on how bank funding costs and lending spreads shift in the coming months. Simply put, a bank’s lending spread refers to the difference in the interest rate its borrowers are subject to and the rate that depositors are paid.
While that may seem like a lot of finance jargon to take in, as mortgage rates rise it could amount to a slowdown in home buyer demand, especially in hot, affordability-challenged markets like Toronto and Vancouver where single-family home prices have soared since mid-2020.
It’s unlikely, Brown writes, that home prices will be thrust into reverse if mortgage rates rise this year. Instead, expect national home price inflation to slow down from the 10 percent appreciation forecast for 2021’s first quarter to five percent by the end of the year.
By comparison, new listings dropped nationally by 2.9% y-o-y, with just 52,342 properties being added to the market last month. As such, the overall housing market was highly competitive for home buyers in January, as indicated by the sales-to-new-listings ratio (SNLR) of 70%. The SNLR is a measure of marketing competition during a defined period of time, and is calculated by dividing sales by the total number of new listings added to the market during that time. A number over 60% depicts a seller’s market: where demand outpaces supply and competition conditions favour home sellers over buyers.
According to CREA, as the spring market approaches, the current pace of home sales growth might be inhibited by an evident lack of supply, particularly in Ontario markets, to meet growing home buyer demand. However, CREA notes that new supply “could materialize as current COVID-19 restrictions are increasingly eased and the weather starts to improve.”
Prevalent market conditions in January also put upward pressure on home prices: the national average home price rose 23% annually in January to $621,525. To better understand where home buyers may find pockets of affordability, we took a closer look at the average home price in each of the 25 regional housing markets covered in CREA’s monthly report, and ranked every market based on the annual rate of growth of the average home price. We also identified where the average home price fell below and above the national average home price, and curated a list of example homes in each market that sold within a $20,000 range of the average home price.
Of the 25 regional housing markets included in CREA’s monthly report, 24 markets posted a y-o-y increase in the average home price, ranging from 5% to 41%, and just one market – Regina – saw the average home price decrease by 3% to $273,885. Further, 12 housing markets, or almost half of the areas included in the report, posted a growth in the average home price of at least 20%.
Average Home Price Below National Average in 18 of 25 Regional Markets Across Canada
Despite strong annual growth in the average home price in nearly every market, the average home price remained below the national average of $621,525 in 18 markets.
Saint John took the title of Canada’s most affordable housing market in January, despite an 8% increase in the average home price y-o-y to 199,853. On the other hand, Greater Vancouver recorded the highest average home price in January at $1,089,096 – an 11% increase y-o-y.
Despite tying for the highest increase in the annual average home price at 41%, the average home price in London and St. Thomas remained below the national average at $608,049. There was also a 41% increases y-o-y in the Niagara Region, however, the average home price clocked in at $651,138, nearly $30,000 higher than the national average.
Check out our infographic below highlighting the average home price in 25 regional housing markets across Canada, and where the average home price is above or below the national average. Further below find a sampling of home listings available in each region where the average home price is below the national average.
Sample Listings in Canada’s 18 Most Affordable Regions
1. London and St. Thomas
- Average Home Price: $608,049
Annual Price Growth: +41%
What you could buy: 362 Ridout Street South
List Price: $599,900
3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 5 parking
- Average Home Price: $356,633
Annual Price Growth: +38%
What you could buy: 4436 Hector
List Price: $349,700
5 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 parking
- Average Home Price: $492,480
Annual Price Growth: 31%
What you could buy: 686 Dynasty
List Price: $488,888
3+1 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 parking
- Average Home Price: $433,000
Annual Price Growth: +31%
What you could buy: 3145 Veith Street
List Price: $424,900
4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 0 parking
- Average Home Price: $591,413
Annual Price Growth: +26%
What you could buy: 83 Armagh Way
List Price: $598,800
4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 3 parking
6. Trois Rivières, CMA
- Average Home Price: $225,694
Annual Price Growth: +24%
What you could buy:450-452 Rue Lacerte
List Price: $219,900
2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 0 parking
7. Gatineau CMA
- Average Home Price: $338,679
Annual Price Growth: +21%
What you could buy: 26 Rue Beauséjour
List Price: $325,000
Single Family House
5 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 0 parking
- Average Home Price: $516,350
Annual Price Growth: +20%
What you could buy: 85 Rue De Castelnau O. #413
List Price: $519,000
2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 0 parking
9. Sherbrooke CMA
- Average Home Price: $317,545
Annual Price Growth: +19%
What you could buy: 1786 Rue des Pois-de-Senteur
3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 0 parking
10. Thunder Bay
- Average Home Price: $258,738
Annual Price Growth: +16%
What you could buy: 1405 Arthur St. West
List Price: $269,900
2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 0 parking
- Average Home Price: $518,237
Annual Price Growth: +15%
What you could buy: 201 560 6 Ave
List Price: $525,000
2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 parking
12. Quebec CMA
- Average Home Price: $313,811
Annual Price Growth: +14%
What you could buy: 1571 Rue Camus
List Price: $309,000
3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 0 parking
- Average Home Price: $320,814
Annual Price Growth: +10%
What you could buy: 250 Queen Street
LIst Price: $309,900
3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 0 parking
14. Saguenay CMA
- Average Home Price: $206,242
Annual Price Growth: +10%
What you could buy: 4685 Ch St. Paul
LIst Price: $209,000
3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 0 parking
15. Saint John
- Average Home Price: $199,853
Annual Price Growth: +8%
What you could buy: 251 City Line
List Price: $195,000
3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 0 parking
- Average Home Price: $331,555
Annual Price Growth: +7%
What you could buy: 213 X Ave N
List Price: $329,900
Single-Family Home – Bungalow
4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 0 parking
- Average Home Price: $375,874
Annual Price Growth: +5%
What you could buy: 605 – 9741 110 St Nw
List Price: $365,000
2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 0 parking
- Average Home Price: $273,885
Annual Price Growth: -3%
What you could buy: 853 Connaught Street
List Price: $279,900
3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 0 parking
The COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on the housing market with pent-up demand pushing Canadian home prices higher. Bindu Suri has details on Royal LePage’s new market survey forecast.
The suburbs surrounding Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver’s are fueling an uptick in homes beginning construction and properties ready for occupancy, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
In two reports released Monday, the federal housing agency said that the number of homes in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver ready for tenants owners has begun soaring the farther one is from those city’s centres, while the number of urban properties starting construction is also edging up.
The availability of lots to build on and affordable prices are pushing up housing completions in a roughly 30-kilometre radius outside these city centres, according to CMHC.
The number of housing completions has peaked in areas between 20 and 30 kilometres from Toronto and Vancouver’s city centres, while Montreal’s peak is even further, at above 30 km, the agency said.
“Montreal has seen the strongest pattern for suburbanization, with the level of housing supply increasing with distance from the city centre and decreasing with population density,” said CMHC’s report.
Scores of Canadians have ditched the city. Will the office claim them back?
“Like Montreal, Toronto has experienced urban sprawl with a high level of housing development in remote suburbs. However, Toronto has also seen a boom in housing construction in its active core.”
Urban sprawl is more limited in Vancouver because the area has a relatively stable level of construction in its urban areas, said CMHC.
Its study found that construction activity was the lowest between 5 and 10 kilometres outside the city centres it studied.
Condos were responsible for the bulk of completions close to the city centre, in comparison to single-family, semi-detached, row houses and rental units, which dominated elsewhere.
As one moves further away from the city centre, the condominium supply mainly decreases in Toronto and Montreal, CMHC said.
Pandemic housing boom means affordability is no longer just a big-city problem
The trends it found are leading to two challenges.
“First, the increasing trend toward suburbanization may accelerate housing external costs (infrastructure investments, roadway congestion and greenhouse gas emissions),” said the report.
“Second, the relatively low level of housing development in low-income areas in Montreal (and to a lesser degree in Toronto) may indicate affordability challenges in those neighbourhoods.”
The average family income in the Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal areas were respectively $98,635, $89,300 and $78,400, said CMHC.
When income rises in a city, so does the desire to relocate, CMHC found.
Since housing per square foot is cheaper at greater distances, consumers have an incentive to move to less central locations in order to buy a bigger dwelling, it said.
This leads to the richest families living in the suburbs, despite longer travel times.
CMHC’s insights into housing completions came as it announced that the annual pace of housing starts rose 23.1 per cent in January, as single-family homes in Montreal started to reach their highest level since February 2008.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts rose to 282,428 units in January.
Urban starts were up 27.7 per cent to 266,877 units, as starts of multi-unit buildings in cities rose 24.1 per cent to 193,328 units, and starts of single-family homes in cities rose 38.1 per cent to 73,549 units.
Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,551 units.
The month’s figure included housing starts from Kelowna, after the region wasn’t surveyed in December due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual pace of housing starts excluding Kelowna was 281,389 units in January, up 22.7 per cent from 229,350 units in December.
The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts was 244,963 units in January, up from up from 238,747 units in December.
Canadian households saw net-worth make big gains over the past few decades. Using Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data from the recently released Survey of Financial Security (SFS), we can see how net-worth evolved for each age group from 1999 to 2019. Generally speaking, net-worth soared for most demographics. However, there are some notable exceptions, like people under 35 in Toronto. Those people have seen their median net-worth drop compared to their peers 20 years ago.
Canadians Have Seen The Median Net-Worth Double Over 20 Years
Canadian households have seen a huge increase in median net-worth over the past 20 years. The median net-worth for all households reached $329,900 in 2019, up 115.48% from 1999. The fastest growing age group was those 45 to 54, with a median net-worth of $521,100 – up 91.02% over that period. Those between 35 and 44 experienced the slowest growth, with a median net-worth of $234,400, up 68.03% over the period. Most of Canada saw gains from the rise in wealth, but those under 35 have some notable exceptions.
Toronto Sees Median Net-Worth Decline For People Under 35
Canadians under the age of 35 made big gains in their median net-worth, except in Canada’s biggest city. Across Canada, the median net-worth for this age group jumped to $48,800 in 2019, up 87.69% from 1999. Vancouver’s youth saw the median net-worth rise to $78,900, up 319.3% over the same period – over 3x the national rate. On the flip side of that stat is Toronto, which saw the median net-worth fall to $48,000, down 10.11% over the two decades prior. Yes, fall. Toronto is one of two cities in the data set to show a decline over the past two decades, with Calgary being the other.
Canadian Median Net-Worth Change Under 35
The percent change in estimated median net-worth of Canadian households led by someone aged 35 and under from 1999 to 2019, for selected regions. Adjusted for inflation.
Canadians Between 45 And 54 See Biggest Median Net-Worth Gains
Canadian households led by people between 45 and 54 saw the fastest growth at the national level. As stated above, this age group now has a median net-worth of $521,100 in 2019, up 91.02% since 1999. Toronto’s median net-worth for this age group reached $840,300, up 207.91% over the same period. Households in Vancouver saw more modest gains at $757,000, up 82.06% over the two decades. Toronto is greatly overrepresented in terms of growth for this demographic. Vancouver is underrepresented in this area.
Canadian Median Net-Worth Change By Age
The percent change in estimated median net-worth of Canadian households by age of household head from 1999 to 2019, for selected regions. Adjusted for inflation.
One important factor to consider for these demographics is their age in 1999. Most middle class net-worth has been produced by a rise in real estate values, not investments. This helps provide some context for the fastest growing demographic. Those between 45 and 54 would have been 24 and 35 at the first measurement. In a city like Toronto, they would have been buying real estate at the inflation adjusted trough.
Buying at this time would have accelerated their net-worth, with ideal market timing. It would have been near perfect generational timing in a city like Toronto. By 2019, the average home buyer across Canada is now 36. This means on average they would have lacked any real estate gains.
TREB) is unveiling its must-read Market Year in Review & Outlook 2021 Report and eagerly awaited digital digest containing TRREB’s annual market outlook, up-to-date Ipsos consumer polling results, the most recent Altus new home and commercial statistics, rental market trends, research on innovative approaches to bring on more housing supply and mortgage market trends. “The pandemic certainly resulted in an unprecedented year for real estate in 2020, but it hasn’t put a damper on the overall demand,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB Chief Market Analyst. “Looking ahead, a strengthening economy and renewed GTA population growth following widespread vaccinations will support the continued demand for both ownership and rental housing. But over the long run, the supply of listings will remain an issue, particularly in low-rise segments.”
2021 Market Outlook
Combined home sales reported through TRREB’s MLS® System for the GTA, South Simcoe County and Orangeville are expected to reach 105,000. • Strong sales growth will be supported by continued economic recovery, including jobs and record or near-record lows for borrowing costs. • The pace of new condominium apartment listings will start to ebb, especially in the second half of the year. With low-rise listings remaining constrained, expect total new listings to come in at the 160,000 marks. • Market conditions for low-rise homes, including detached houses, will remain very tight, with sales rising at a faster pace than listings. • The overall average selling price for all home types and areas combined will eclipse the $1,000,000 mark for the first time, reaching $1,025,000 and representing a year-over-year increase of 10 % • While mortgage deferrals were initially a concern early on in the pandemic, Mortgage Professionals Canada does not anticipate any pronounced uptick in mortgage delinquencies that would create systemic concerns as we move through 2021. Most property owners who took advantage of mortgage deferrals did so out of an abundance of caution rather than financial necessity and therefore have resumed their regular payments.
Back in 2015, Toronto’s biggest issue was traffic congestion. Or, at least, that was how it seemed at City Hall, when city council approved a $919-million project to reconstruct one section of the Gardiner Expressway.
Much has changed since then. Toronto is bigger, richer and more unequal. Housing affordability is the biggest issue in local politics. And, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the city’s social fabric and its fiscal health.
Now Toronto can address all those issues with one move: combining the eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway with Lake Shore Boulevard. This would open up more than five acres of land for a new neighbourhood, which could generate $500-million in land sales and development charges. It’s enough to build hundreds of units of affordable housing.
The city’s 2021 budget process is under way right now, and the contracts for the last leg of the Gardiner Expressway reconstruction at the intersection of the Don Valley Parkway will likely be awarded this year. This is the moment to change lanes.
Why? Because bringing this piece of the expressway down to the ground, merging it with the Lake Shore Boulevard underneath for just 800 metres, would have huge financial implications.
The city almost took that route back in 2015. City staff implied it would be better to pursue this “boulevard” option, which was significantly cheaper to construct and maintain. The difference was estimated at $458-million over the life of the roadway. Yet in a 24-21 vote, council chose to rebuild this piece of the Gardiner in a so-called “hybrid” option.
Impact of Gardiner Expressway realignment alternatives
Between 2015 and 2018, the city of Toronto approved a plan to rebuild a portion of the Gardiner Expressway. The approved scheme would develop approximately 7.5 acres of land in the area. The previously considered boulevard scheme, to merge this section of the expressway with Lakeshore boulevard, creates 12.9 acres in total; shifting to that plan now could generate an extra $500-million in city revenues.
It was a murky debate. Opponents of the boulevard overstated its effects on traffic. Highway drivers would briefly share an eight-lane road, punctuated by three stoplights, before merging back onto an expressway. City studies estimated three-minute delays in rush hour, affecting a small number of people. Only about 3 per cent of commuters into downtown Toronto use the Gardiner East. Effects on freight were also exaggerated, and these could be solved with a truck-only lane during rush hour.
On the other hand: There’s a downtown neighbourhood at stake. The Gardiner East zone will soon be prime land, surrounded by parks and the renaturalized Don River.
The hybrid plan was altered and approved in 2018. Part of it is now under construction. And some land that could have been developed is now off the table. But east of Cherry Street there is still some possibility for change. The current version, a city spokesperson confirmed this week, opens up 7.5 acres near the Don River, versus 12.9 acres in the boulevard option.
That extra acreage is now worth roughly $450-million, according to Jeremiah Shamess, a vice-president at Colliers Canada who specializes in development land. He analyzed its value this week at my request. He estimates the whole 12.9 acres, in 11 blocks, could be worth $1.229-billion over the next dozen years, if sold gradually.
The larger figure is five times as much as the city estimated in 2015, thanks to a combination of land values – which have doubled – and higher densities.
There’s more. If developed privately, this new neighbourhood would generate development charges and fees: at least $75-million for the additional 5.4 acres alone. Plus, of course, property tax revenues in the tens of millions annually.
Mr. Shamess’s analysis is based on a new design by architecture firm Smart Density. It imagines 6.5 million square feet of buildings in this area, with 8,000 homes housing 15,000 people and a mix of other uses. “We looked at the potential of the area from the perspective of creating great urban design while working within Toronto’s planning policies,” said Naama Blonder, an architect and partner at Smart Density.
Their scheme lines the waterfront with a public promenade and mid-rise buildings. There’s a generous public park and a 115,000-square-foot public building that would house a school, library and community centre. The new Lake Shore Boulevard would be lined with broad sidewalks.
Even with all that, there is room to add 15 towers ranging from 32 to 53 storeys. That’s comparable to private development in the area.
This proposal is speculative, and there are question marks. The highway design would need to be re-examined. And the city might choose not to build so much.
But it should. Toronto’s official plan now calls for more than 200,000 people to move into the downtown core by 2041. The Gardiner East is about three kilometres from King and Bay. It’s next door to a new office district, East Harbour, proposed with 50,000 jobs. It is close to the Quayside site that Sidewalk Labs wanted to develop. A new LRT is planned for the area; so is the proposed Ontario Line subway.
Just to the southeast, a $1.2-billion project to remake the Don River is well under way. A new set of excellent parks spanning 200 acres – half as large as High Park – will begin opening in 2024.
So this is a fine place to plan a postpandemic urban neighbourhood. Green but dense. Served by transit and light on cars. Home to 15,000 and, if the city chooses, thousands of them in permanently affordable housing. These are the things you can build in a rich and growing city, the sort of things on which leaders hang their legacy.
Or we could put that expressway back up, and spin our wheels.
Ever since the housing market rally began in 2020’s second half, the number of Toronto region communities recording 20 percent-plus annual price gains in their detached home markets has been climbing each month.
Of the 30 suburban cities and towns tracked by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), 20 experienced detached home price increases of over 20 percent in December. That number shot up again to 30 cities and towns in January, meaning every single suburban community in the Toronto region — from large cities like Brampton to small towns like Caledon — recorded at least a 20 percent increase in detached home prices last month.
It’s another sign that buyers’ huge appetite for detached homes has yet to be satisfied. The supply that’s available on the market continues to be outmatched by demand and this misalignment is driving prices up significantly across the entire region.
The average home pricing data for January was released earlier this week by TRREB.
Aurora and King posted the highest detached home price increases in the region last month, with the former rising nearly 58 percent to an average price of $1,718,745, while the latter posted a 54.4 percent gain to $2,290,966. Detached homes in King were, on average, the most expensive in the Toronto region in January, even outperforming the City of Toronto’s central region which is tracked separately by TRREB.
Adjala-Tosorontio in Simcoe County and Pickering and Ajax in Durham Region rounded out the top five, each posting detached home price gains in the low 40 percent range.
Only nine of the suburban cities and towns tracked in TRREB’s January report had average sale prices below $1 million for their detached home markets. That’s down from 18 in January 2020.
“The GTA real estate market surpassed even the most optimistic forecasts in 2020 — a trend that accelerated in January 2021,” wrote Diana Petramala and Daniel Bailey, researchers with Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research.
“Mortgage interest rates hit rock bottom in January, which likely explains the eye-popping performance across the GTA,” they added.
The appetite for homeownership in Canada has been strong to start the year thanks in large part to low interest rates, according to nesto, an online mortgage brokerage.
A report from the firm showed that 60% of the brokerage’s users intended to purchase a new home last month, increasing from 48% in January 2020, but it’s come at the expense of refinances, which had declined by 5% since November.
“Just like every year, the first week of January was full of refinance applications resulting from many Canadians reviewing their household budgets,” said nesto’s report. “We expected refinance volumes to increase throughout the month, but to our surprise it was overshadowed by new purchase requests.
“As for overall demand, we recognized a large volume increase through Q4 that is snowballing into Q1. The demand has resulted in nesto adjusting staffing priorities in order to facilitate what we predict to be another very active and busy year in the real estate and mortgage space.”
Mortgage rates are steadily declining below what they were in 2020, which nesto, noting that its best insurable variable rate declined by 1.6% to 1.3%, attributed to robust home purchase demand. In Canada’s two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, 65-70% of nesto’s application requests for new properties are from homebuyers who have just begun their searches, rather than from buyers who have already found their desired properties.
Moreover, the median amount for projected property value declined from $449,000 in October to $440,000 a month later, and down payments decreased from $62,000 to $50,000. The median down payment declined to around 10% last month from 13% in January 2020.
In Ontario, the median purchase price dropped by $50,000 to $540,000 in January from two months prior, while the median down payment fell by $30,000, and the down payment percentage hovered around 20%. In Quebec, the down payment percentage remained at 10%.
The report also says that Canadian parents are playing pivotal roles helping their adult children enter the housing market.
“A trend we recognize through our user engagement that is more prominent in Ontario vs. Quebec, is that many young home buyers in Ontario are starting off with a substantial gift from the bank of mom and dad,” said the report.
Homebuyers were out in full force again in January, snapping up 6,928 homes across the Toronto region. And, according to a new forecast, this momentum out of the gate is expected to persist throughout the entire year.
The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) released its 2021 Market Outlook this week, predicting that low interest rates, incremental economic improvements and widespread vaccine distribution will keep the housing market hot.
If the Toronto region meets or surpasses TRREB’s home sales forecast of 105,000 transactions for 2021, it will be the second-highest sales total ever recorded for a single year, coming in behind only 2016, when 113,133 homes changed hands.
The tremendous run-up in home sales and price growth over 2015 and 2016 eventually led the provincial government to roll out its Fair Housing Plan in an effort to tamp down what it deemed to be runaway activity in the real estate market.
After the policy-induced slowdown in sales and price growth from 2017 to 2019, market commentators believed the Toronto region’s housing market was ready to take off again in 2020. Of course, this prediction ended up being true, but didn’t play out in a way that anyone could have predicted. Home sales fell off a cliff through the first spring lockdown and then skyrocketed to record levels in the second half of the year.
While 2021 is sure to be another unusual year, with the pandemic’s effects still very much impacting the housing market, it has at least become a bit more predictable.
Beyond home sales continuing at a robust pace, the average home price for the Toronto region is expected to surpass $1 million. TRREB says this will mark the first time the selling price for all property types and areas combined will exceed this level on a calendar year basis. The average price is forecast to hit $1,025,000, for an annual increase of 10 percent in 2021.
The board also believes the rate at which new condo listings are hitting the market will decelerate by the second half of the year, while single-family home listings will continue to be low relative to demand.
“The key challenges to the housing market over the next year and beyond will be a familiar one: lack of supply,” wrote TRREB in the report.
“Policymakers at all levels of government have acknowledged the need for a greater supply of housing and a greater diversity of housing types.”
After a busier-than-usual December home buying season, purchasers across the Toronto region spent the first month of 2021 continuing their buying spree.
January home sales were up over 50 percent compared to the same month last year. Robust buyer activity and tight supply in the low-rise market sent the overall average price of a Toronto region home up 15.5 percent over January 2020. The average sale price last month was $967,885, up from $838,087 a year ago.
Many of the other trends that market observers had grown accustomed to seeing in the second half of 2020 were present in the first month of housing market data for the new year, published today by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
For one, sales across all low-rise property types — detached, semi-detached and townhomes — saw healthy double-digit sales growth. Detached homes in the suburban 905 area remained the single most sought-after property type. There were 2,244 suburban detached homes sold in January, out of a total of 6,928 transactions recorded across the region.
The City of Toronto’s struggling condo market continued to post price declines last month, with the average selling price falling eight percent annually to $624,886.
But, as was the case in December, condo sales surged again, providing more hope that the high volume of listings currently on the market may be steadily whittled down by bargain-hunting buyers.
Condo sales recorded the sharpest increase of any property type on an annual basis, up across the region by over 85 percent for a total of 2,471 transactions. Condo sales growth also outpaced new listings growth in the City of Toronto in January, with TRREB noting that this could signal “renewed growth in condo prices later this year” if this trend continues.
Here are 8 things you should be working on this year 2021,it’s that important!
1 Decide how you want to feel every morning! It’s up to you.
2 Work on your mind and body daily! Your life is in your hands.
3 Set goals that are specific and change your approach along the year. Be quick and agile with your business.
4 Make the decision that you will work on bettering yourself daily.
5 Be mentally ready to work hard and smart EVERY DAY! Work on your actions that break down your big goals!
6 Organize a list of people you need to talk to that are important for your business. Don’t leave it to chance. The right relationships can change your life and business.
7 Set time to work on your money making activities at least 2 hours a day!
8 Followup is a must. Don’t skip the followup!
GTA Real Estate Market Update by Toronto Real Estate Board
• January 2021 home sales amounted to 6,928 – up by more than 50 per cent compared to January 2020. This strong start to 2021 included sales growth across all major segments including condominium apartments, both in the City of Toronto and surrounding GTA regions.
• New listings were also up on a year-over-year basis in January, but not by the same annual rate as sales. This means market conditions tightened compared to January 2020, resulting in the continuation of double-digit growth in the MLS® Home Price Index and the average selling price.
• The average selling price for January 2021 was up by 15.5 per cent to $967,885 year-over-year. The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark was up by 11.9 per cent over the same period
• Price growth was driven by the low-rise market segments, while the average condo apartment price was down in Toronto. However, if we continue to see condo sales growth outstrip condo listings growth, we could start to see renewed growth in condo prices later this year.
If you’ve been following the housing market (in most cities) over the last year, this chart likely won’t surprise you. It is from a recent City Observatory article by Joe Cortright talking about the “k-shaped housing market” that we have seen emerge over the last year. The above is for the US, but I would imagine that the chart would look similar for Canada, as well as for other countries. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
There’s an obvious explanation for the different trajectories of house prices and rents: Low income workers rent; high income workers own and buy homes. High income households have been barely grazed by the Covid-19 recession. In fact, the combination of low interest rates and enforced savings (because many kinds of consumption spending, including dining, entertainment, travel and even much retail have been constrained by lockdowns), mean higher income households may find housing a much more attractive spending item. If you can’t go out to dinner, or take a vacation, you have more money to spend on a new home. Low wage workers are in the opposite situation. Low wage workers have borne the brunt of the recession; they are also much more likely to be renters than higher income households.
It is perhaps worth reiterating that our fixation on homeownership is not universal. If you live in Switzerland — a very wealthy country — you’re more likely to rent than own. And if you live in Germany, you’re more likely to live in an apartment than in a low-rise house. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that the impacts of COVID-19, and our lockdowns, have been felt unequally. This chart is an example of that.
The winning proposal of the multi-million dollar renovation to Hamilton’s downtown entertainment facilities proposes massive changes to FirstOntario Centre, FirstOntario Concert Hall and the Hamilton Convention Centre, as well as a series of high-rises.
The bidder, Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) — which includes Carmen’s Group, LiUNA, dpai architects, Fengate Capital, Meridian Credit Union, Paletta International and Jetport Inc. — offered a $500-million pitch.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger made the highly anticipated announcement during Friday’s city council meeting, saying that the group had come out “on top.”
“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for transformational upgrades to our facilities” he said, calling the investment “historic.”
More details will come when the master agreement is finalized, which the city says will be in late 2020. The media release says this means arena renovations would start in fall 2021.
PJ Mercanti, the group’s president and Carmen’s Group CEO, said that should this process be successful, they look forward to delivering Hamilton’s “next generation of entertainment and cultural assets.”
“We are delighted that council and staff have put their confidence in our group and we certainly look forward to making Hamilton proud,” he said. “We recognize that this is a tremendous opportunity to redevelop the city’s prime cultural and entertainment assets. And so we are eager to get to work.”
Here are some of the plans suggested so far.
Planned FirstOntario Centre renovations include a new building exterior, a “transformation” of the lower bowl, expanded concourse level, and new curtaining system for the upper bowl balcony. The group proposes a microbrewery, suites and hospitality clubs.
They’re also looking at developing the York Boulevard side to make the building accessible at street level so that people can experience services — like food or retail — outside of when the centre is hosting an event.
HUPEG originally suggested keeping FirstOntario’s seating capacity, and relocating the convention centre to a part of Hamilton City Centre.
Three high-rises downtown would include the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the convention centre, condos and commercial space. Two more towers are possible at the corner of Bay Street and King Street East.
The media release said more than $16 million in upgrades are planned to the convention centre, concert hall, and art gallery.
Around $340.5 million in “auxiliary mixed-use development, including affordable housing” will be a part of any residential developments that come out of this.
Arena renovations ‘a long time coming’
The group will take on all capital costs to renew the facilities, as well as operation and maintenance of FirstOntario Centre and FirstOntario Concert Hall for 99 years. They would also take over the convention centre “indefinitely” without any monetary contribution from the city.
The city said this would create $155 million in savings over the next 30 years.
Coun. Sam Merulla (Ward 4), who pushed for the city to leave the entertainment businesses, said the downtown “renaissance” made it a good time to get out. He also re-iterated that it would result in “hundreds of millions of dollars of savings.”
“This is one issue that I’m very, very proud of,” Merulla said. “It wasn’t easy, I had a lot of resistance. But I guess anything worth fighting for is worth going through those type of initiatives.”
Jasper Kujavsky, who is with the winning proposal, says he always believed the arena could be revitalized prior to Merulla’s motion in 2017 that prompted staff to investigate opportunities for private sector-led redevelopment.
Kujavsky recalled walking into the then-Copps Coliseum 30 years ago for the first time. The changes, he said, have been a “long time coming.”
“I’m interested in every aspect of this project, but I have a special place in my heart for the arena renovations. And it’s the one that I perhaps have the most direct oversight of and it’s the one that’s the most immediate priority from the city’s perspective,” he said.
The other option considered was a $200-million plan by Vrancor Group, a prolific Hamilton development company owned by Darko Vranich. Among its changes, the project proposed limiting the arena’s capacity to around 15,400 seats, with the possibility to expand to 17,000 if needed.
“The numbers showed that the precinct group was the better proposal, better bid and that’s the direction we’re moving forward on,” Eisenberger said, and added that he think the announcement will get a positive reaction from Hamilton Bulldogs owner, Michael Andlauer.
The Oshawa Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) is leading the country in population growth.
That’s according to a new ranking from Statistics Canada, which reports the Oshawa CMA had a population growth rate of 2.1 per cent in 2020.
According to the agency, the Oshawa CMA beat out Halifax and Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge for the top spot. Both of those cities reported a growth rate of two per cent in the last year.
The only other Ontario CMAs to make the top ten were Barrie, at 1.8 per cent, and Belleville, at 1.6 per cent.
A CMA is an area consisting of one or more neighbouring municipalities with a combined 100,000 people or more, situated around a core of at least 50,000 people.
The Oshawa CMA also includes Whitby and Clarington.
Overall, Canada’s population growth rate is 1.1 per cent, according to the agency.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic did not impact the GTA housing market quite as profoundly as some thought it might, the province’s lockdown measures made cities a little less desirable than rural and suburban areas with larger homes and yards, and condo-heavy municipalities such as Toronto suffered a bit more as a result.
In Mississauga, a city comprised of both sprawling subdivisions and modern condo towers, the condo market saw significantly fewer sales than the more in-demand low-rise market.
condo apartment sales declined the most sharply in Peel Region (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon). Sales across the region fell 20 per cent year-over-year between April and December 2020.
The report says that condo sales declined 22 per cent in Brampton and 20 per cent in Mississauga.
That said, condo units are still pricy.
the average price for condo apartments grew 9 per cent to $515,801 in Peel, something the report says could be driven by buyers seeking larger units with more square footage due to pandemic-driven lifestyle shifts. Prices rose 13 per cent in Brampton and 8 per cent in Mississauga.
But how did home sales fare overall in Mississauga and other GTA cities? looked at home sales and the average sold price data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) for the period between April 2020 and December 2020 to examine how cities were impacted by people opting to abandon urban areas for municipalities with larger homes and more outdoor space.
In Mississauga, low-rise sales climbed 6 per cent and the average sold price hit $1,151,549.
Not unexpectedly, the report found that there was a higher rate of sales and price growth for low-rise homes versus condo apartments in nearly every region. For the GTA as a whole, this translated to an 11 per cent increase in detached and semi-detached house sales and a 10 per cent decrease in condo apartment sales compared to 2019.
The average house price in the GTA rose 13 per cent (or $132,736 to $1,123,618 year-over-year) during this period, and the average condo apartment price rose just 4 per cent (or $26,056, to $621,637).
The report says that “urban flight” did indeed become a factor last year, with municipalities furthest from Toronto seeing the largest jumps in the growth rate of house sales.
According to the report, Simcoe County had the highest increase in house sales among GTA regions, as detached and semi-detached house sales grew 21 per cent year-over-year and 2,393 houses changed hands. The average sold price grew 17 per cent annually to $766,083.
Following Simcoe County was Durham Region, where there were 1,143 more detached and semi-detached house sales between April and December 2020—a 17 per cent increase. The
Other municipalities that saw a big uptick in sales include King (75 per cent increase in house sales and a 20 per cent annual increase in the average home price to $1,798,590), Georgina (36 per cent spike in sales and 24 per cent increase in the average house price to $710,758), and Caledon (29 per cent uptick in sales and 21 per cent climb in price to $1,224,675).
Interestingly enough, condo apartment sales grew in some parts of the GTA. Simcoe County saw a 108 per cent increase in condo apartment sales and a 14 per cent increase in the average sold price for condo apartments. That said, the report found that the total volume of condo apartment sales in the region was relatively low, with just 106 condos being sold.
Municipalities with the highest per cent increase in detached and semi-detached house sales, April to Dec 2020, compared to April to Dec 2019
1. King (York Region)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 379 (+75%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $1,798,590 (+75%)
2. Innisfil (Simcoe County)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 829 (+36%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $703,386 (+16%)
3. Georgina (York Region)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 824 (+36%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $710,758 (+24%)
Municipalities with the smallest increase in detached and semi-detached house sales, April to Dec 2020 compared to April to Dec 2019
1. Orangeville (Dufferin County)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 365 (-6%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $691,983 (+15%)
2. Adjala-Tosorontio (Simcoe County)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 124 (-4%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $899,252 (+32%)
3. Toronto (West)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 3,340 (-3%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $1,226,987 (+12%)
Municipalities with the biggest decrease in condo apartment sales, April to Dec 2020, compared to April to Dec 2019
1. Orangeville (Dufferin County)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 17 (-35%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $394,618 (+17%)
2. Halton Hills (Halton Region)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 15 (-35%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $459,320 (0%)
3. Newmarket (York Region)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 40 (-23%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $488,725 (+10%)
Municipalities with the biggest increase in condo apartment sales, April to Dec 2020, compared to April to Dec 2019
1. Innisfil (Simcoe County)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 73 (+265%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $443,990 (+17%)
2. Whitchurch-Stoufville (York Region)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 31 (+107%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $636,584 (+30%)
3. Aurora (York Region)
April to Dec 2020 sales: 64 (+56%)
April to Dec 2020 average price: $552,480 (+12%)
Over half of the new condos sold in 2020 in the GTA were located in suburban “905” areas of the region — a first in the several decades that market data has been collected.
There were 9,288 new condo units sold by home builders last year in the 905, enough to narrowly beat out the 8,959 units sold in the City of Toronto. The 2020 sales total for the 905 was the third-highest ever recorded behind only 2019 and 2017, according to new data published today by Urbanation.
Meantime, new condo sales in the City of Toronto were down 38 percent compared to 2019’s total, a 15-year low for the market.
The strength in the suburbs was far from enough to make up for the weakness in the core as overall new condo sales for the Toronto region were down by 28 percent. It was the lowest annual total for the region since 2013, Urbanation said in a media release.
From a quarterly perspective, it was a volatile year for new condo sales. Activity in the typically busy second quarter was decimated by pandemic-induced lockdowns and economic uncertainty. New condo sales bounced back for a record-setting third quarter before simmering down for a lacklustre final stretch, with fourth quarter sales down 43 percent from the same period in 2019.
Urbanation said the full-year sales total was in line with the number of new condo launches recorded in 2020. There were 18,004 units brought to market last year, significantly lower than 2019’s 25,296 unit total.
“The GTA new condominium market recorded a respectable number of sales in 2020 as the industry pivoted to a virtual sales environment amid lockdowns caused by COVID-19,” said Urbanation President Shaun Hildebrand.
“The shift in activity to the 905 region accelerated last year as demand for relatively affordable suburban sites intensified alongside the broader real estate market,” he added.
Home builders may have been more hesitant than usual to launch new condo projects last year, but when it came to construction activity, they were firing on all cylinders. There were 26,662 units that began construction in the Toronto region in 2020, the second-highest result of record and up nine percent from a year earlier.
According to Urbanation data, there were 81,029 condo units under construction in the region by the end of 2020, another record-breaking figure.
Smaller apartments with big appeal for investors helped the 905 areas outside the city dominate the Toronto region’s 2020 condo market in a trend that is expected to continue in 2021, said Shaun Hildebrand, president of market research firm Urbanation.
Last year was the first time that 905-area condos eclipsed pre-construction sales in the City of Toronto with a 51 per cent share of the 18,247 units sold. But the overall number of new launch sales was 28 per cent below 2019 sales, according to a year-end report released on Monday.
Sixty per cent of the condos launched last year were one-bedroom and studio apartments, compared to 53 per cent in 2019.
In the City of Toronto, developers were selling bigger condos — 706 sq. ft. on average compared to 676 sq. ft. the year before. But in the 905 markets, condos shrank down to 688 sq. ft. compared to 715sq . ft. the previous year.
That’s partly an indication of the GTA’s affordability challenges, said Hildebrand.
“I’m sure developers would love to sell larger units but the market for larger units is smaller because of higher price points,” he said.
Investor-focused projects tend to be smaller, he said. Eleven of the top 20 selling launches last year were in the 905 with one near the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre subway selling units less than 600 sq. ft. on average.
“With interest rates at rock bottom lows and stock markets looking pretty frothy, I think people are looking for a place to invest and the 905 condo market has been a safe place,” said Hildebrand
He cited less dramatic rent declines in the suburbs and increased resale prices. Investing in a new condo in Toronto was more challenging with resale units selling for 10 per cent less than they did pre-pandemic and rents declining 17 per cent.
The 905 has traditionally been an end-user market and the popularity of condos there reflects the outflow of population to secondary GTA markets, said Hildebrand.
Vaughan, Oakville, Mississauga and Thornhill all saw substantial sales from both investors and buyers who plan to occupy their units. Those submarkets offer “a significant discount relative to downtown Toronto,” he said. Transit such as the Vaughan subway and the coming Hurontario LRT are adding to the appeal.
There is less condo activity in the outer areas of the 416 area code, such as North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough.
“Prices are expensive relative to rents and resale prices. The price difference between a new condo and a resale condo is over $400 per sq. ft. That’s increased since the pandemic by $130 per sq. ft. because new condo prices have remained at historic highs whereas we saw some decline in the resale market,” he said.
TORONTO – If you were on the lookout for a Greater Toronto Area condo or apartment to rent or own late last year, new data from the region’s real estate board shows you might have had an edge in negotiations.
The number of condos listed for sale or rent in the area in the fourth quarter of 2020 were up by double and sometimes triple digits from the year before, while prices were down, according to two reports released by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board on Wednesday.
“The increase in supply…resulted in much more choice and bargaining power for buyers and a moderate decline in average selling prices,” TRREB president Lisa Patel said in a statement.
Patel also noticed the market tipped in favour of renters, who had plenty of properties that sat on the market for weeks or months to choose from.
Her observations encompass the last few months of 2020 – a period when the Greater Toronto Area was staring down tougher COVID-19 lockdowns, the looming possibility of a tax on vacant units and a softening of the short-term rental market triggered by travel bans and work from home orders.
TRREB said condo and apartment sales in the quarter reached 6,469, up 20.7 per cent compared to 5,358 in 2019. New listings climbed by almost 92 per cent to hit 12,298, up from 6,407 in the year prior, while active listings doubled to reach 4,294.
The average selling price fell 1.1 per cent to reach $610,044 in the quarter, down from $616,771 a year earlier. Average selling prices in the city of Toronto decreased 2.4 per cent to $644,516.
Davelle Morrison, a Toronto broker with Bosley Real Estate Ltd., noticed the period was a reversal from the usually sleepy December holiday season.
“Towards the end of December people just decided to start snapping up what they could,” she said.
“One of the reasons why December is usually so dead is because everybody’s at Christmas parties and shopping for Christmas gifts, but now, because of COVID, you’re not doing any of those things, so all they were doing is looking at real estate.”
Meanwhile, demand for condo rental was reaching record highs, Patel said.
TRREB’s new data showed 12,584 condos were rented in the quarter, up by about 86 per cent from the 6,756 rentals in the same period last year. The number listed for rent soared by 131.6 per cent, rising from 33,280 and 14,371.
“Growth in the number of available units far outstripped growth in rental transactions, as many investors chose to make their units available due to the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and the short-term rental market,” said Patel.
Those who offered places for rent ended up charging less for rent than they would have a year ago. The average one-bedroom condo rent unit was down by 16.5 per cent year over year to $1,845 compared to $2,209. The average two-bedroom condo rent was down by 14.5 per cent over the same time period to $2,453 compared to $2,868.
That pattern seems to be continuing in 2021, Morrison said,
“I have a few clients right now where their properties are vacant because we just can’t even get tenants in them,” she said.
“It’s on my to do list to try to get to take another price cut.”
But her clients on the market for houses are having a harder time.
Prices are soaring and people are scrambling to make offers.
Morrison has heard of houses in Mississauga getting 70 offers, ones in Durham Region getting 30 offers, and places in Toronto getting 18 offers.
Bully offers are becoming common too, she said.
She believes the time to buy houses was when the pandemic first hit and sellers were feeling skittish about the uncertain times, but condo buyers still have a window of opportunity.
“If you want to buy a condo you should have bought it in December, but really now is the absolute time to get in there and buy something because I think the second that the borders open up and people get vaccinated, the condo market is going to take off again.”
New single-family home sales across the Toronto region skyrocketed in 2020, mirroring the shift in buyer preferences that played out in the resale market last year.
Data for the full year published today by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) showed buyers scooped up 16,973 new single-family homes in 2020. That’s 81 percent higher than the total achieved in 2019 and 25 percent above the 10-year average for the region.
The single-family homes category includes new detached, linked and semi-detached homes and townhouses, according to BILD’s data partner Altus Group.
The relative sluggishness in the high-rise market meant overall new home sales rose a more modest five percent last year compared to 2019. The total number of new homes sold across the Toronto region was 37,669, with condo sales making up 20,696 of the total. Condo sales, which include units in new low-, mid- and high-rise buildings were down 22 percent from a year ago and came in 11 percent below the 10-year average.
While it was clear that single-family home demand kept new home sales from plummeting in 2020, Altus Group said the annual total showed the Toronto market’s resilience.
“Looking back at 2020, the resilience of the GTA new home market was very evident, highlighting the underlying demand for housing in the face of economic uncertainty,” said Altus Group’s Ryan Wyse in a media release.
“Given the significant changes brought on by the pandemic, the industry and consumers were able to adapt quickly, and the result was an overall increase in sales compared to 2019, with a particular focus on single-family options,” he added.
Looking back at December data, BILD President David Wilkes noted that new home inventory was relatively low by the year’s end. Available new home inventory in the Toronto region sat at 13,171 units in December, the lowest level recorded since March 2018.
“A healthy new home market should have nine to 12 months’ worth of inventory but due to the disruptions brought about by the pandemic, we currently have only about four months’ worth, based on the pace of sales in the last year,” said Wilkes.
- Yonge and Sheppard may be situated toward Toronto’s outskirts, but the location is an excellent spot to invest in Condo.
- King West can be referred to as a hip and trendy area.
- CityPlace is situated West of Bathurst Street and accommodates a home landing park.
Investing in Toronto real estate industry is one of the lucrative investments to watch out for in 2021. Being the largest city in Canada, Toronto’s real estate market has proven to be profitable for investors due to its competitive friendliness, technological advancement, high-security level, a booming economy, among other factors.
Toronto Condosoffers varying features and pricing for different people, and its availability across districts and towns gives investors multiple options of most-sought-after places to invest in. CondoMapper International allows real estate investors to purchase houses in Toronto at relatively affordable prices.
Hence, this article entails a list of seven Toronto locations for you to choose from when considering condominiums to invest in. For instance, you can invest incondo apartments in areas like Grand Trunk Cres, John St, Bloor St W, Rathburn Rd, Webb Dr-Unit, Kingston Road, and Abell St.
Best Places to Invest
1. Downtown Toronto
Over an extended period, Downtown Toronto has been a superb place for people to invest in the Condo. Real estate in Toronto has high appreciating value and great demand in the rental world. That is why a large number of condo investors in Toronto can rent out their spaces remarkably quickly.
The condos in Downtown Toronto go through a 10% appreciation in value per year compared to average Toronto apartments that do not appreciate much in value.
2. Yonge and Sheppard
Yonge and Sheppard may be situated toward Toronto’s outskirts, but the location is an excellent spot to invest in Condo. It is one of the Prime addresses in North York for rentals (condos and houses) and among the areas witnessing rapid condo development, with the slightest possibility of slowing down.
Because it is located far north, you will find competitive prices, increasing condo owners, and heightened property demand.
3. King West
King West can be referred to as a hip and trendy area. This neighborhood was a district stuffed with unused warehouses just years ago. It is known to young professionals who would like to live an urban lifestyle as this location comprises some of the well-frequented bar scenes and nightclubs in Toronto.
This area provides a vast array of property options to invest in, with its condos quickly becoming a fascinating residential type. King West has also introduced new streetcars for commuters and residents, thereby making transportation much easier.
Yorkville is situated Northside of Bloor Street, with Yonge Street located at its West. It features one of the unique shopping districts in Canada and high-end restaurants and premier hotels. The area is known to harbor International Companies’ offices such as Twentieth Century Fox and IBM and has high-end boutiques like Bulgari and Burberry. So you may find some condos in Yorkvillebeing a little priceyfor their exclusive amenities. Besides, investing here gives hope of high returns on investment.
5. Liberty Village
This is an inclined art district situated South of King Street W. One of the reasons for it being a remarkable area to invest, is its location, as it is not far from the Fashion and Entertainment Gallery of King St. West.
Additionally, its financial institutions are a few minutes away,where you commute via streetcars. It’s a comfortable place to live and work.
In the last few years, the district has also become prominent with renters searching for affordable residential options, mainly because it features an active community and a host of public amenities.
CityPlace is situated West of Bathurst Street and accommodates a home landing park. Not far away from Toronto’s financial district, CityPlace has turned out to be an evolving and quick growing district known for its increasing populace and a spur of services and merchants. It is likely to be set up as a top residential area in Toronto upon completion.
The district is nestled between the Gardiner Expressway and Union Station, thereby making it very reachable. It is also in proximity to Liberty Village and King Street W.
7. Leslieville and the Beaches
Both communities are located along Queen Street’s eastern region. At first, Leesville was inhabited by the working class, but it has since matured to occupy people with different income levels and includes restaurant buildings, coffee houses, and art galleries.
CondoMapper International offers prospective real estate investors a convenient means to invest in/purchase condo of choice online that can be sold and rent out later for profit maximization after experiencing a considerable increase in market value. These condos range from as low as $1800 to an average of $200000 – $599999 and as high as $3.1 million.
Therefore, when considering condo investment, have in mind that many factors can contribute to increasing your property’s value when you intend to put it up for sale in the future. Some of these factors include the job prospect and booming economic activities of the town/district, nearness to the road, market/store and banking, security, and social lifestyle.
Millennial-aged Canadians’ frenetic pursuit of ground-related housing played an outsized role in the country’s aggregate home price spiking by 9.7% last quarter over the corresponding period a year earlier, according to Royal LePage.
“Millennials are starting to have their first or even second child—they’re over 35—and our previous research showed they preferred city cores and condominiums, and now they’re looking for homes in the suburbs, like their parents did, with yards,” Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage, told CREW, adding that the trend began before the COVID-19 pandemic, but work-from-home policies and technology “super accelerated” the trend.
“Low financing costs, a healthy industry overall, and lower house prices definitely help when you move away from the city centre. Even though prices rise faster in places like Oshawa or Burlington, they’re much cheaper than legacy Toronto neighbourhoods.”
Sixty-four percent of the 62 regions in Royal LePage’s House Price Survey and Market Forecast reported annual median price gains of more than 10% for homes with at least two storeys. Canada-wide, the aggregate price of a home was $708,842 last quarter, with the price of two-storey homes increasing by 11.2% year-over-year to $840,628, and bungalows rising 10% to $592,899. Condo prices, meanwhile, only grew by 3.9% to $509,239.
In the GTA, Canada’s largest metropolitan region, the aggregate price of home jumped by 10.4% year-over-year in Q4-2020 to $936,510, with ground-related homes rising by 11.9% to $1,102,155, bungalows increasing 12.8% to $923,047, and condos increasing 3.6% to $593,811.
“Throughout the second half of 2020, buyers were looking for as much space as they could afford. While many buyers shifted their target neighbourhood away from the city centre, so few properties for sale meant that most detached listings saw multiple-offer scenarios,” Debra Harris, vice president of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd, said in the report. “2020 did bring some balance to the region’s condominium market but larger units, often in the greater region, are still in high competition.”
In the Montreal metropolitan area, the aggregate price of homes rose by 12.4% year-over-year last quarter to $487,380, with two-storey homes increasing 13.6% to $619,099. Bungalows surged by 15.3% to $391,493, and condos shot up 8.1% to $367,113.
“We could have seen a price correction if buyers had left the market,” said Dominic St-Pierre, vice-president and general manager of Royal LePage for the Quebec region. “But low interest rates, combined with increased household savings from remote work and new buyer incentives, played a key role in a market that was already highly competitive before the pandemic. In the suburbs and on the Island of Montreal, activity in the single-family segment resulted in double-digit price increases in most neighbourhoods of the Greater Montreal Area.”
The aggregate home price in Greater Vancouver spiked 7.2% during the same period to $1,155,346. Two-storey homes in the region rose by 8.8% to $1,507,279, bungalows increased 6.8% to $1,265,285, and condos saw a 3.3% boost to $662,120.
“Multiple offers were common throughout the fourth quarter and almost every detached home was attracting competitive bids. Buyer confidence is strong and current low interest rates make purchasing even more attractive,” said Randy Ryalls, general manager of Royal LePage Sterling Realty. “Buyers are worried they will be priced out of the market and with our low inventory of homes for sale in the region, prices are expected to go up in the spring.”
Hong Kong has stated that residents are not entitled to consular protection unless they declare a change of nationality. Then they are no longer regarded as Chinese citizens
Ottawa is growing increasingly concerned about the rights of 300,000 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong, after the territory’s government declared that dual citizens must choose the nationality they wish to maintain.
“Canada is aware of the Hong Kong government’s decision to require dual nationals to declare the nationality they wish to legally maintain while in Hong Kong,” said spokesperson John Babcock. “At this moment, we understand that this policy predominantly affects dual nationals serving prison sentences in Hong Kong. Canada has expressed its concern to the Hong Kong government about the possible loss of consular access that this change implies.”
China doesn’t recognize dual nationals under its Nationality Law and Hong Kong residents of Chinese descent are regarded as Chinese citizens. The Hong Kong government has stated that residents, around 300,000 of whom hold Canadian passports, are not entitled to consular protection unless they make a declaration of change of nationality. If that process is successful, they are no longer regarded as Chinese citizens – but it may affect their right of abode in Hong Kong, which allows people to live and work in the territory without restrictions. Foreign nationals can only acquire right of abode after a seven years residency requirement, which gives them the right to vote but not hold a territorial passport or stand for office.
“This is another important development potentially because it looks as if China is now applying its citizenship law to Hong Kong and forcing people to declare who they are,” said Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador in Beijing. “It is something that will have to be watched.”
He pointed out that the Vienna Convention on consular relations stipulates that if you enter a country using one nation’s travel documents, you cannot claim citizenship of another country. If dual citizens entered the territory using a Hong Kong or Chinese passport, it may affect their claim on Canadian citizenship, Saint-Jacques said.
The ramifications of loss of Canadian citizenship are huge for those on the wrong side of the law, said Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, senior fellow at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. Ultimately, aside from the possible loss of consular access, dual citizens might be prevented from leaving Hong Kong, she said.
The experience of dual citizens in mainland China offers an indication of what may be in store for Hong Kongers. Three Chinese-born Canadian citizens have been sentenced to death in the past two years for drug offences and their names are rarely raised by Canada. “It’s very likely that the Chinese government has instructed the families and embassy not to name them publicly, as Canadian citizenship is not recognized and the prisoners themselves may have renounced it under duress,” said McCuaig-Johnston.
That happened in the case of Sun Qian, a Canadian citizen who was given eight years in prison for being a Falun Gong practitioner. News reports said she renounced her citizenship in the process. Former justice minister Irwin Cotler said she should still be regarded as a Canadian and accused the Chinese of securing a false confession.
Global Affairs spokesperson Babock said Canada’s consular general in Hong Kong is seeking additional information from local authorities about the potential impact of this latest change.
The suspicion is that it is designed to weaken links between dual citizens and their adopted countries.
Britain will start accepting applications from people with British National (Overseas) status this week. BN(O) passport holders include 5.4 million Hong Kongers, who will soon be eligible to move to the U.K. and apply for citizenship after six years.
Such moves have led to calls of retaliation by a growing chorus of Chinese academics and politicians. Calls for curbs on dual citizenship, include the demand that those who obtain foreign nationality should be stripped of right of abode.
Regina Ip, a former security chief for the territory, said earlier this month that Beijing should end its special treatment of Hong Kongers and impose its own nationality laws.
This followed just days after 50 of the territory’s most prominent democracy activists were arrested and accused of trying to overthrow the government, in the biggest crackdown since China imposed its security law last summer.
The sheer size of the diaspora in the territory has put Canada at the centre of the citizenship debate.
Tens of thousands of Hong Kong-born immigrants landed in Vancouver after the 1997 handover from Britain and while many returned home, they retained Canadian citizenship.
Canada should have an evacuation plan, just in case
Since the crackdown started, Canada has accepted a number of asylum-seekers fleeing arrest, prompting the Chinese ambassador in Ottawa, Cong Peiwu, to warn that receiving “violent criminals” could jeopardize the “health and safety” of the 300,000 Canadian passport holders in the Hong Kong.
For now, those people are free to leave. In an interview with the National Post last summer, Cong re-affirmed the right of exit, saying it is up to Canadian passport holders whether they stay or go.
But Avvy Go, director of Toronto’s Chinese and South-east Asian legal clinic, said there has been a pattern of China not recognizing foreign citizens, “particularly when it suits their purpose”.
“Canada should have an evacuation plan, just in case” China introduces exit controls, she said.
Momentum was building in Toronto’s condo market toward the end of 2020 after months of sluggish sales and soaring inventory.
While it’s still early days, preliminary condo sales data shared by Toronto broker John Pasalis shows this momentum, and then some, has carried into 2021.
According to a screenshot of aggregate Toronto MLS data Pasalis shared on Twitter earlier this week, condo sales recorded between January 1st and the 14th were up 90 percent when compared to the same period a year ago. In the first 14 days of the month, 1,177 condo units changed hands, up from 620 in 2020.
In a series of tweets, Pasalis wrote that condo sales are “strong” but pointed out that new condo listings are also very high, up 66 percent from the same period in 2020.
“I haven’t looked at the data closely but I do wonder if some investors are rushing in as others are taking some money off of the table,” he tweeted.
Pasalis, who is the president and founder of the Toronto brokerage Realosophy, also noted that a surge in investor demand in the condo market would be interesting to see considering the current state of the rental market. Recently released data from Urbanation shows rental vacancies in the city are at a 50-year high as of 2020’s fourth quarter.
Still, the surge in condo sales activity seen in the first half of January has clear roots in a sales rebound observed in the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s (TRREB) December data.
Condo sales in two of the most condo-dense areas of the city, known in the industry as C01 and C08, were up 86 percent and 143 percent, respectively, over December 2020.
C01 includes Cityplace, Liberty Village and a large swath of the Financial District west of Yonge Street, while C08 covers the Distillery District, the eastern Waterfront Communities, Regent Park and the downtown core east of Yonge Street.
At the city-wide level, condo sales were up 76 percent annually in December, according to the latest TRREB data.
RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue wrote that it appeared condo buyers were “out in full force looking for bargains” as soaring listings and months of sluggish demand caused Toronto condo prices to fall.
Hogue predicted that the condo market’s affordability advantage over single-family homes would draw more buyers in this year.
At the end of last week, the RBA released a previously confidential report from November that showed the consequences of reducing the cash rate by 100 basis points. The document pointed to a potential 30% increase in property prices over the next three years should borrowers see the low rate as being permanent, and a price increase of 10% should they see it as temporary. While this would help drive the economy through increased wealth and household spending, it could also induce borrowers to bite off more than they can comfortably chew in credit. MPA spoke with Mortgage Choice CEO Susan Mitchell, as well as author of Positively Geared and buyer’s agent Lloyd Edge to examine what a 30% price increase could mean for the property market and the lending industry as it heads towards a credit model of “borrower responsibility.”
Property price versus employment
According to the internal RBA communication, an increase in asset prices is likely on the cards as lower financing costs work to support the supply of credit and contribute to a lower exchange rate. The report said rising asset prices, including those of property, would create an increase in wealth which would invariably lead to an increase in household spending – while an increase in collateral would boost the borrowing capacity of households and businesses.
But according to Edge, this could come at the detriment of first-home buyers.
“I don’t believe that either scenario can point to precisely what increase we will get in house prices but there will be a sustained increase as a result of a permanent rate cut,” he said. “It will continue to push housing prices higher and out of reach for first home buyers, so we will be revisiting the same issues.”
Mitchell agreed that property prices would likely increase as a result of sustained low interest rates, but referenced a recent increase in loan commitments within the first home buyer segment.
“Lower rates are going to mean that property prices will probably increase,” she said. “I guess the question is, what’s the most important thing? Is it allowing some of those property prices to increase but actually stimulating the economy and getting more people employed? I think they’ve (the RBA) decided that employment’s more important.”
On the question of how this would affect housing affordability, Mitchell pointed to record high loan commitments from November, adding that moderation would be key when it came to balancing rising asset prices.
“If it doesn’t get out of control that’s great, and if first home buyers are now able to come into the market when they haven’t really had that opportunity in the past that’s great too,” she said. “It’s really all in moderation that we can let some of the asset prices go up a bit.”
The risk of taking on too much debt
One of the risks attached to rising asset prices in the RBA report was that “borrowers might be induced to take on too much credit if accompanied by looser lending standards and/or optimistic assessments of risk.” When coupled with the treasurer’s proposed relaxation of responsible lending obligations, and an increase in new LVR lending above 85%, Edge believes price increases are likely.
“However, we do run the risk of households getting into more debt and financial trouble due to the looser lending requirements,” he added. “I see banks tightening their own internal systems and checks to avoid having borrowers who cannot afford the loans they want.”
“It’s important to understand that when the treasurer says he wants to pull back on some of the parts of responsible lending, he’s not trying to get rid of oversight of the lending process,” said Mitchell. “APRA still has oversight of the lending process and more than that they’ll also bring the non-banks into that same oversight.
“I still believe that APRA will have a tight rein on the different institutions and I also believe that the banks themselves will look very, very much at their credit and what may happen with some of these asset values, and they will take that into consideration because they want a safe portfolio as well.”
She said that while we won’t know exactly what the reimagined responsible lending obligations will look like until March, one thing is clear.
“It’s getting more and more complicated,” she said. “It’s unprecedented times and I just want our brokers to think very carefully and make sure that they are focusing on all the change happening out there.”
She said it is important for borrowers to reach out for guidance given the complexity of the lending environment – making it all the more crucial that brokers understand each change that happens while understanding how the changes will affect each individual client that comes to them.
Edge said that rising house prices would lead to more work for brokers, adding that “compliance will be more important than ever.”
The GTA’s condominium market is heating up again, with sales surging 90% year-over-year on the MLS through the first two weeks of January.
“We’re seeing a huge rebound in interest and demand. Condo listings are up 66% over last year, but it’s interesting to see such strong demand for condos downtown,” said John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty. “For the second half of 2020, the condo market was pretty sluggish and prices in the downtown core dipped about 10%, but a lot of investors saw that as a good opportunity to jump into the market and potentially get some value by taking advantage of a surge in listings.
“[Investors are] optimistic and believe prices will go higher in the near term, and this is largely what’s driving investor behaviour.”
The optimism began manifesting late last year with condo sales in December increasing by 75.9% year-over-year in the City of Toronto, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s latest data. The impetus for renewed confidence in the condo market was likely news that COVID-19 vaccines are available for distribution.
“I do think the vaccine was a big issue and perhaps led a lot of investors to jump back in during Q4,” said Pasalis. “A combination of softening prices, the vaccine and recovery caused optimism to kick in and I think that helped swing the market a fair bit, for sure. A bit of optimism led people to jump into the market. We heard news about the vaccine and that a good number of Canadians would be vaccinated by September, and that led investor sentiment.”
Although it doesn’t look like inoculation targets will be realized by the end of Q3, prolonged distribution delays aren’t expected.
Frances Hinojosa, mortgage broker and managing partner at Tribe Financial, confirmed that the downtown Toronto condo submarket in January has picked up from where December left off, with young professionals taking advantage of low interest rates and soft condo prices to become homeowners. Hinojosa also says another cohort of buyers with an eye to the future are active as well.
“Investors understand we’re going to come out of this, and back in October the government announced it’s going to substantially increase the number of newcomers to Canada to 1.2 million in the next three years, and 60% of them will be economic class,” she said. “It might not seem like there are investment opportunities right now, but Toronto’s downtown core has retained the companies that need those workers. They will be renters, so immigration will fill that gap.”
Although consumer confidence has resuscitated the city’s condo market, Pasalis warns that it could be tenuous and that Q1-2021 may determine what happens for the rest of the year.
“Q1 will tell us a lot. If rents start falling even more, then it will basically discourage investors from jumping in,” he said, but noted that the market will remain buoyant “if news continues being positive about vaccines and people are optimistic about immigration picking up.”
Purpose-built rental apartment buildings in the City of Toronto reported a record-high 5.7 percent vacancy rate in the final months of 2020, up significantly from the 1.1 percent rate recorded in the same period the previous year.
Housing market data firm Urbanation released the vacancy rate figure this week as part of its fourth quarter rental market report.
According to the report, the 5.7 percent vacancy rate represents a 50-year high when looking at historical rental market survey data available back to 1971.
As the vacancy rate rose, rent prices for purpose-built units declined 10 percent in the fourth quarter to an average monthly price of $2,337. On a per square foot (psf) basis, rent in the City of Toronto declined 6.2 percent to $3.49 psf.
There was a dearth of new purpose-built rental units under construction for the better part of the 21st century in Toronto, which resulted in investor-owned condos only partly filling the rental supply gap. This trend shifted dramatically in recent years when the pipeline of purpose-built rental projects began significantly expanding. By early 2020, the number of units under construction across the Toronto region hit 13,764, a multi-decade high, according to Urbanation.
But a confluence of factors brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has meant much more of this new rental supply is sitting unoccupied compared to past years. In its report, Urbanation said 3,563 rental units were completed in 2019, with 70 percent occupied by the end of that year. In 2020, there were 1,699 units completed, with only 44 percent occupied by the year’s end.
“The GTA rental market faced its toughest challenges to date in 2020 due to COVID-19,” said Urbanation President Shaun Hildebrand.
“While rents have a long way to go before returning to their peak and supply will continue to be a headwind in the near-term, some improvement can be expected in 2021 as vaccinations eventually lead to higher immigration and at least a partial return to the office for downtown workers and in-class learning for post-secondary students,” he added.
Home prices will continue rising rapidly across broad swaths of Canada in 2021 as low housing supply forces buyers into fierce bidding wars.
That’s the message RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue is sharing in the bank’s 2021 housing market outlook, published today.
Titled “Canada’s housing market headed for another record year in 2021,” the report identifies robust pre-pandemic housing demand that was carried forward to 2020’s second half as the primary reason why supply is so diminished across many provinces and major regional markets.
Hogue wrote that active home listings in late 2020 were significantly lower than the 10-year average in Ontario, Quebec, most of Atlantic Canada and BC.
“And that’s despite a surge in downtown condo listings since spring in Canada’s largest cities. With so few options to choose from (outside downtown condos), buyers will continue to compete fiercely,” he wrote.
Stiff buyer competition means prices will continue their swift upward march in these provinces, with Hogue predicting a 9.6 percent rise in Ontario for 2021. Quebec is forecast to record a nine percent jump, while BC is pegged for an 8.6 percent increase in property values.
Rather than fixating on the large urban markets in these provinces, the economist was quick to point out that rising prices isn’t just a “big-market story.”
“The pandemic has heated up prices in smaller markets too. In fact, we could see stronger gains in smaller markets than in core urban areas because downtown condo prices are likely to stay flat through much of 2021,” Hogue wrote.
Voracious demand for detached houses returned to Canada’s housing market last year, and just as in years past, unlucky buyers settled for townhouses.
“The reason the townhouse has become more popular than ever in the new construction world is, whether they’re traditional, stacked or back-to-back, they’re less expensive than detached homes, which average more than $1 million in the GTA,” said Mark Cohen, managing partner of The Condo Store in Toronto. “As a result of prohibitive pricing for detached houses, which hiccupped a couple of years ago but bounced back, and because there’s a general shortage of housing, townhouses have come into greater focus as an alternative.”
Townhouses came back into focus in 2020 because the COVID-19 pandemic trapped people, many of whom lived in condos, inside their homes for months, and when the Bank of Canada dropped interest rates, they saw their opportunity to buy a larger home. Unfortunately, the chance to borrow cheap money attracted homebuyers previously priced out of the detached market, and those unable to buy them alternatively sought townhouses.
The average price of a detached house in the GTA was $1,150,529 last year, which increased by 13.2% from 2019, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). Conversely, townhouses averaged $734,921, rising by 11.4% year-over-year. Condominiums, which are significantly smaller than townhouses, averaged $629,491 last year.
“Townhomes always offered, on a price per square foot basis, much better value than condos, which are designed with the highest amount of efficiency and lack of wasted space,” said Cohen. ”But part of that is driven by the fact that they’re expensive—for example, the costs of concrete and underground parking are expensive, and because you spend $900-1,500 psf on a condo, certain things you might find in a house, like storage, become expensive.
“Townhouses often give you more anti-space and transitional space, and that’s closer to living in a detached home than an apartment. As a result, space is less expensive and you effectively get more for less. From a spatial perspective, townhomes offer more for less, and from a maintenance fee perspective they could be zero or negligible. There are no real expenses associated with amenities.”
Investors have also turned their attention to townhomes because they noticed the pandemic sparked desire in people for more space, and just as there are only so many detached houses for sale, there are even fewer townhouses—there were 46,359 detached sales in the GTA last year, but only 16,444 involving townhouses.
“With more people working from home, two-storey living makes sense for a variety of reasons,” said Cohen. “Investors are keen on trends and realize townhouses make sense because they allow people to functionally live and work at home at the same time.”
A report from the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA) a few year ago shone a light on the dearth of so-called missing middle housing—defined as multiplexes, semi-detached, rowhomes and townhouses—in the GTA, and according to Michael DiPasquale, a CPA and COO of Dunpar Homes, the pandemic inadvertently renewed interest in these housing types.
In fact, added DiPasquale, many developers recently nixed planned high-rise developments in favour of mid-rise boutique or stacked townhouse projects, indicating that the shortage of crucial forms of housing CANCEA warned about might finally be addressed.
“Missing middle housing is more affordable for the average person and you don’t have to deal with elevators or be downtown, which is still accessible with transit or by driving a short distance,” he said. “I would say that the missing middle question has been answered because people see the need for it and the need for more space.”
Dunpar Homes has developed many infill townhouse projects just outside Toronto’s core over the years, changing the complexion of neighbourhoods in the process, and 2020 was no different. Parts of the GTA, like south Etobicoke and Streetsville in Mississauga, are prime locations for missing middle housing because Toronto’s downtown core is nearby.
“Townhouses, stacked townhouses or semis—products for people who don’t want to be in condos and can’t afford detached—fill the gap, and it’s been an issue for years,” said DiPasquale. “COVID has ramped up focus on solving the missing middle because it’s nice to have two or three bedrooms and 1,500-2,000 sq ft as opposed to 500-600 sq ft in a condo.”
The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board released its 2020 housing figures this week. And I suspect that the numbers are probably directionally similar for many city regions around the world.
2020 saw more home sales than 2019 with 95,151 homes changing hands. This represents an 8.4% increase compared to last year. December was also a record month with 7,180 sales — a 65% year-over-year increase!
The average selling price in the Greater Toronto Area also reached a new record of $929,699. This represents a 13.5% increase compared to last year. Once again, December was a record setting month with an average selling price of $932,222.
When you look at sales and average prices by home type, the biggest drivers were low-rise homes outside of the city. No surprises here.
But consider the price spread that now exists between condos and detached homes. In the City of Toronto (“416”), we’re talking about an average price delta of nearly $850k. That would be an expensive home in many other markets.
Of course, condos tend to be smaller than detached homes. And so different prices per pound. But total price matters a great deal and historically a widening spread has moved many buyers over to the condo market.
Condo sales soared across the Toronto region in December, and as one economist wrote, it looked like buyers were out “in full force looking for bargains.”
While roaring detached home sales and skyrocketing prices have stolen the lion’s share of the headlines in recent months, it now appears that condos are mounting a comeback, at least when it comes to sales activity.
After the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) released its December sales and pricing data earlier this week, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue wrote that condo sales caught his attention.
He acknowledged that the challenging rental market is still pushing investors to offload their units, causing condo supply to surge and prices to continue to post only modest gains in suburban communities and fall by nearly five percent in Toronto-proper.
That said, Hogue observed that sales spiked 75 percent across the Toronto region, with similar strength seen in both city and suburban markets as “softer condo prices are now drawing more buyers in.”
In 2021, the economist is predicting that condos’ affordability advantage over detached homes will allow demand to pick up even more steam.
Of the four distinct property types tracked by TRREB, only townhouse sales in the region’s 905 area posted higher annual percentage gains than condos.
In terms of overall sales volume, detached homes still significantly outsold condos across the region, but the gap between the two property types narrowed. In November, detached homes outsold condos by 2,190 units at the regional level. By December, the gap had narrowed to 845 units separating detached homes and condos.
It’s also worth noting that Toronto region condos were the only property type to post a monthly sales increase in December. Detached, semi-detached and townhouses all saw activity decline from November to December.
After years of a booming Greater Toronto Area (GTA) housing market, 2020 marked the first real obstacle for the real estate business since the late 2000s recession. COVID-19 brought on unprecedented challenges that saw staggering declines in market activity starting in the second quarter of the year. Despite all of the hurdles encountered last year, a new report from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reveals that 2020 ended up being the third-best year on record for the GTA market, with a total of over 95,000 home sales and a new record average selling price of $930K.
“The Greater Toronto Area housing market followed an unfamiliar path in 2020. Following the steep COVID-induced drop-off in demand during the spring, home sales roared back to record levels throughout the summer and fall. A strong economic rebound in many sectors of the economy, ultra-low borrowing costs, and the enhanced use of technology for virtual open houses and showings, fuelled and sustained the housing market recovery,” reads a statement issued by Lisa Patel, TRREB President.
Even with the pandemic’s hit to the economy, job losses, and other associated challenges, the 95,151 sales recorded last year actually marked an 8.4% increase over 2019’s sales figures. After the initial wave of public health restrictions was rolled back, the housing market saw an unprecedented bounce-back that included multiple record-breaking months. Most recently, the month of December broke records with 7,180 sales marking a year-over-year increase of 64.5% While sales growth was pronounced overall, it was strongest in the 905 regions, most notably in the single-family home submarket.
“While the housing market as a whole recovered strongly in 2020, there was a dichotomy between the single-family market segments and the condominium apartment segment. The supply of single-family homes remained constrained resulting in strong competition between buyers and double-digit price increases. In contrast, growth in condo listings far-outstripped growth in sales. Increased choice for condo buyers ultimately led to more bargaining power and a year-over-year dip in average condo selling prices during the last few months of the year,” stated Jason Mercer, TRREB Chief Market Analyst.
2020 average home prices climbed to an all-time high of $929,699, a 13.5% jump over 2019. In December, the average was up to $932,222, marking an 11.2% year-over-year climb. As with sales, the average home price increase was most pronounced in the 905 single-family home submarket.
“The next 12 months will be critical as we chart our path through recovery. In particular, the impact of resumption in immigration and the re-opening of the economy will be key. TRREB will once again be releasing its January results, Market Year in Review and 2021 Outlook report on February 8th. This will include a forecast for home sales and selling prices, the latest Ipsos consumer polling on the GTA housing market and new research related to innovative ways to bring on more housing supply,” stated John DiMichele, TRREB CEO.
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing us to spend more time indoors, the desire for bigger homes among luxury buyers across the Greater Toronto Area has pushed sales in some expensive price categories to new highs.
GTA luxury home sales priced between $3 million and $4 million broke a record in 2020, according to new data published this week by RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada.
One thousand and sixty-two freehold and condo properties over the $3 million mark changed hands last year, about one percent higher than the previous all-time high achieved in 2017, when 1,047 homes in the same pricing category sold. Sales over $3 million in 2020 were also up over 55 percent from 2019, when 682 transactions were recorded.
Sales at even higher price points — the $4 million and $5 million categories — also rose from their 2019 totals, but did not exceed the highs achieved in 2017.
“A combination of both economic and psychological drivers contributed to a robust upswing in demand, influencing one of the greatest pivots in the GTA’s housing market history,” said Christopher Alexander, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President of RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, in the report.
While economic stimulus, like rock bottom mortgage rates, played a role in the market’s surge in homebuying activity, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada explains that COVID-19 lockdowns were the true catalyst for the uptick.
The desire for home offices and more personal space were attributed as the driving forces behind luxury buyers seeking larger homes in 2020, often in less densely populated areas that sometimes fell outside of suburbs immediately surrounding the city. For instance, freehold sales over $3 million in Halton region increased by 188.8 percent annually, jumping from 45 to 130 sales.
“This same pattern played out in major urban centres in the US such as New York City and San Francisco where the pandemic has tipped the scales in favour of a more suburban lifestyle,” explained Alexander.
“And while demand is still strong in the 416, where luxury freehold sales represent 59 percent of total sales, performance in suburban areas, especially those north and west of the city, is particularly noteworthy,” he added.
If you think activity in Toronto’s condo market has decelerated, think again.
“The information that’s not being reported, but that I see because I have to approve these and sign off on each one of them, is there are a lot of assignment sales right now,” said Sam Crignano, president of Cityzen Development Group. “This is information that isn’t reported on the MLS. The market is not as quiet as people think. It’s active, and I would say in a good way.”
Indeed, according to Toronto Regional Real Estate Board data for November, condo sales in the City of Toronto rose by 0.8% year-over-year. And while investors flip assignments all the time, being a landlord in today’s condo market, which has been infused with a glut of supply courtesy of a heavily regulated, and shrunken, short-term rental pool, has lost its lustre. That doesn’t mean the condo units aren’t still worth a lot of money, though.
“What we’ve seen recently, because the rental market is somewhat soft, is people are choosing to sell their assignments rather than hold onto them long-term,” said Crignano. “In buildings we’ve finished in the last six months where investors are selling assignments, they’re selling at a decent profit that’s still a discount to today’s market value. If they bought at $800 per sq ft a few years back, the market appreciated. New condos today are at $1,200-1,300 per sq ft, but a lot of investors are selling at a price that’s closer to $1,000 a sq ft. End users are taking advantage of lower prices and historically low-interest rates, which has created relatively cheap money.
“As much as people think the condo market is dead, it really isn’t.”
In fact, as Howard Cohen explains, end users are often unwilling to wait three to five years to occupy their new home, but investors rarely flinch when they put a 20% deposit down on a preconstruction unit. With Toronto condo prices declining by 3% year-over-year in November, end users are likely circling.
“If a condo costs $600,000, you need $120,000 cash deposit, and not a lot of people have that, but investors do and they’ll buy the unit,” said Cohen, president of Context Development. “Three years later when they decide to sell it, somebody can buy it using a 5% down payment with CMHC’s help. So the $600,000 unit might now be worth $800,000, but the buyer only needs $40,000 to buy it. Investors get a bad rap but they really do fuel the housing market for a lot of people.”
Assignment flips can net hefty returns, particularly for units on higher floors, but the developer must first sign off on them—which they aren’t likely to do if their building still has units for sale. Crignano says that isn’t usually a problem in Toronto.
“If I have a building completely sold out, they’re not competing with units I have for sale, and on that basis I’d grant permission for them to sell the assignment,” he said. “However, if I have plenty of units left for sale, I’d obviously want to sell my units first before I allow assignments, but the market has been so strong the last two years that most developers are sold out and grant assignment sales to purchasers.”
A partnership is about values, what you want to achieve and why. Simply put, Mizrahi Developments came about with a vision of several goals to change expectations in the industry.
Firstly, it was a desire to enhance the changing streetscapes of Toronto with carefully articulated, mid-to-high-rise buildings that give those who work and live in them as much pleasures as those who pass by their exteriors.
But just as important as what we build is the notion of how we build.
And by that we mean our values as professionals. It may be buildings we’re constructing, for residential, commerce and retail, but we’re aware that they have impact on people’s lives. They become a permanent part of physical identity with an influence on how people feel, live and experiences the city. It is with that understanding of our business as one that’s about far more than merely bricks and mortar that we have put an emphasis on relationships with customers, architects, designers, local residents, city counselors and suppliers as the foundation of our work. We believe that development of the physical landscape of a city can be a good thing, not something accepted out of resignation to change, but welcomed and celebrated for the delight and improvements it brings.
With our customers, our priority is to give peace of mind with the industry’s top certifications. But our commitment to service doesn’t stop when the building is completed. The uniformed, trained concierge, who works 24/7 in our residential buildings, as well as other staff, is under our employ to deliver the best and meet our customers’ needs. We leave nothing to changes. Similarly our relationships with suppliers result in loyalty and a commitment to build on time and one budget.
Canadian landlords have endured a difficult 2020, but there is one metropolis that, according to a Rentals.ca report, is brimming with investment opportunity.
“Montreal is expected to be the top major market in Canada next year with rent growth of 6%, rising from $1,665 per month forecast for December 2020 to $1,760 per month,” the report said. “There is clearly no urban exodus in Montreal despite the strong rent growth in 2019, and the above-inflation increase in 2020, average rents are still relatively affordable in comparison to Vancouver and Toronto.”
In the Montreal region, which Rentals.ca called “a bright spot for landlords in Canada,” rents rose by 9% year-over-year to $1,454 for one-bedrooms in November, although rents were down 1.4% from October. Two-bedroom units in the City of Montreal increased by 5.1% year-over-year to reach $1,889 last month, and also rose by 0.4% from October.
However, if 2020 has been any indication, landlords in the Greater Toronto Area aren’t likely to see rents increase in 2021, at least to start the year.
According to the report, the city’s rents declined for 12 straight months in November, as the infusion of supply into Toronto’s long-term rental pool and a scarcity of renters have softened the market.
A one-bedroom unit in the GTA averaged $1,877 last month, plunging by 19% year-over-year and 2.3% month-over-month, but it’s still the highest in Canada. A two-bedroom unit in the region averaged $2,468, falling by 17.2% from November 2019 and by 2.6% from October.
“The average property for rent in Toronto is now $520 cheaper per month in November of this year compared to November of last year,” said the report. “The average rent dropped by a whopping 20% annually to $2,081 per month, lower than Mississauga. On a per-square-foot basis, the average rent declined from $3.60 PSF to $3.12 PSF, a decline of 13%.”
Short-term rental regulations and a dearth of international students, most of whom fled Canada when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and catalyzed lockdowns, has resulted in a proliferation of condo units in the City of Toronto that has rendered condo rentals the weakest segment of the regional real estate market.
“We’ve monitored the market and, pre-COVID, we had 4,500 rental condos units available in Toronto, and in August the number grew to above 10,000 units,” said Alex Balikoev, senior vice president of sales at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “The reasons for that were job losses and a drop in immigration.”
The average rent in Canada, according to Rentals.ca listings, was $1,743 in November, which declined by 9.1% year-over-year and by 2.2% month-over-month.
The average rental price of a one-bedroom unit in Vancouver was $1,865 in November, falling by 5.2% from the same month in 2019, and by 1.9% from a month earlier, while a two-bedroom unit averaged $2,636 last month, which is a 13.8% year-over-year decline and a 2.8% month-over-month drop.
“In November of last year, the average rent in Vancouver for all property types on Rentals.ca increased by 7% annually to $2,507 per month,” said the report. “A year later, the average rent is down 12% year-over-year to $2,216 per month.”
The term “foreign buyer” is often used pejoratively in Canada—it’s become synonymous with speculators who have nary a vested interest in the country apart from using empty homes as appreciation vehicles, to the detriment of the domestic population—and it couldn’t be more misguided.
Turns out, many of these new Canadians bolster the national economy in ways few people can, and it is not without personal risks, either. Richard Leuce, an immigration consultant and owner of Richard’s Business Immigration Corp., specializes in high-net-worth individuals from South Africa, most of whom yearn to replicate their success in a safer environment.
“South Africa is a beautiful, beautiful country—I fell in love with it the minute I landed there—but it’s not very safe, and a lot of times South Africans, who are ready to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, are looking for safety,” Leuce told CREW. “My clients’ intents are to become Canadian citizens. Their first language is either English or Afrikaans, and if that’s the case then English is their second language. They seek to become permanent residents as soon as possible; they’re not just coming to buy properties and leave them vacant.”
Leuce primarily works through the Ontario Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), which requires his clients to create business plans, pass interviews with Canadian immigration officials, and take an exploratory trip to the region of the province where they want to set up shop. But Leuce says it isn’t as simple as it sounds.
“After all of the relevant information is submitted, the province scores the applicants and, if successful, follows up with a performance agreement, which stipulates that the nominee has up to two years to meet all requirements, including investing at least $600,000 and creating high-paying jobs,” he said. “They’re not hiring family members; they have to hire Canadian citizens. They invest money and boost the economy here. They did it in South Africa and they want to do the same thing in Canada. They’re active contributors to the economy.”
Among the many innovative ideas from abroad that Leuce has helped turn into Canadian companies is a plastic recycling firm that hopes to assist Canada achieve its zero plastic waste by 2030 goal. Not all ideas have to be bankrolled by the applicant.
“In a lot of developing economies, you have people with these great, innovative ideas, but who may not have the money,” said Leuce. “For these individuals, the Start-Up Visa program is an excellent avenue. The entrepreneur with the idea enters into a partnership with a Canadian angel investor or venture capital firm already in Canada to bring the idea to fruition using the latter’s money.”
The Canadian government announced in November that it would welcome 1.2 million new immigrants into the country through 2023, 60% of whom Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) described as belonging to the “economic class,” which includes skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs. But the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may prove a spanner in the works, warns Leuce, because processing times have already ballooned and the country’s ambitious goal to settle record numbers of immigrants in each of the next three years might not be attainable.
“The second wave will slow everything down. The door is not closed, but there will be a slowdown and it will take a while until the backlog is cleared. I’m curious to see if, in the spring budget, [IRCC] gets additional funding to hire more officers, or gets the money to pay existing officers overtime, because if the agency doesn’t get an increase in its budget, there’s no way things will move along. The spring budget will be the biggest indicator.”
Yesterday, Altus Group released its seventeenth annual Canadian Property Tax Rate Benchmark Report, a study of the commercial and residential property tax rates in eleven of Canada’s major population centres. The report found that for the third year in a row, eight of the eleven cities studied have commercial tax rates that are at least double that applied to residential properties.
For 2020, the five cities with the highest estimated commercial property taxes per $1,000 of assessed property value are:
- Montreal – $36.99 per $1,000
- Quebec City – $35.03 per $1,000
- Halifax – $34.41 per $1,000
- Ottawa – $26.64 per $1,000
- Winnipeg – $23.17 per $1,000
The cities with the three lowest commercial tax rates per $1,000 of assessment were Vancouver ($6.73), Saskatoon ($15.65), and Regina ($17.31).
Vancouver’s rate was the most dynamic compared to 2019, shrinking 27.9 percent year-over-year. According to Terry Bishop, Altus Group’s president of property tax in Canada, the change in the commercial tax rate in Vancouver reflects a key realization on the part of city managers.
“I think they probably knew that they were leaning a little too much on the commercial sector,” Bishop says. “With the economic fallout of COVID coming along, I think they saw an opportunity to provide some relief to businesses. They’re the only city across the country that did anything significant on the property tax abatement side.”
While not on the same scale as Vancouver, Calgary lowered its commercial tax rate by 11.9 percent in 2020. But in Cow Town’s case, the decrease was more the result of the desperate situation faced by many of the city’s businesses, who had been asked to pay higher property taxes in each of the previous three years.
“It was getting to the point where businesses couldn’t afford the taxes that they were paying,” Bishop says. “The city had to bite the bullet and increase residential rates and reduce commercial rates.”
Of the other four markets that saw their commercial tax rates fall, only two, Toronto and Winnipeg, experienced declines of greater than four percent. The biggest year-over-year rise in commercial rate occurred in Saskatoon, where it grew a modest 2.6 percent.
Residential tax rates were largely unchanged, with the national average of residential property taxes per $1,000 of assessment for 2020 coming in at $8.98, a penny less than a year before.
The highest residential property taxes this year can be found in Halifax, where they are $11.96 per $1,000 of assessment, Winnipeg ($11.94), and Ottawa ($10.85). They are lowest in Vancouver ($2.92), Toronto ($5.99) and Calgary ($7.52).
As with commercial properties, Vancouver and Calgary also saw significant movement in their residential rates. Vancouver’s increased 14.2 percent year-over-year, while Calgary’s rose by 13 percent.
Taking the commercial and residential data one step further, Altus Group calculated a commercial-residential tax ratio for each city. Bishop says the ratios may be the most important data point the study has to offer, as they speak to the disproportionate share of the property tax burden commercial owners are asked to carry.
“I think it’s more important to watch the trend in the ratios from a fairness and equity point of view than the actual tax rate,” he says.
Because property taxes account for a large portion of the rent paid by most businesses, and because they represent one of the most onerous operating costs for business owners that own their own properties, Altus Group fears that small businesses required to pay an outsized proportion of a community’s property taxes will face serious competitive challenges. If they can’t survive in their current marketplace, they may be enticed to move to a new location where the tax burden is significantly lower.
“It’s important that municipalities are aware of that and don’t lean on them too hard,” Bishop says.
This year, the highest ratios were found in Montreal (4.1), Toronto (3.6), and Quebec City (3.5). The cities with the lowest ratios were Saskatoon (1.7), Regina (1.7), and Winnipeg (1.9).
For the first time, Altus Group also studied the separate impacts municipal and provincial governments play in determining each market’s commercial-residential ratio. In Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax, it was found that the higher-than-average ratios are being driven by municipal taxes, while the high ratios in Toronto and Ottawa are largely the result of provincial education levies.
Bishop admits that reducing property taxes is a tough sell for provinces and municipalities scrambling to make up the tax revenue lost as a result of COVID-19-triggered business closures. But asking businesses to keep paying their current tax rates when so many are on the verge of collapse isn’t the rosiest of alternatives.
“To expect to recover the same amount of taxes from those businesses when their revenues are down significantly,” he says, “is a tall order.”
The right time to buy things is usually when other’s aren’t, which is why I’ve felt that this year was a great time to buy a centrally located condo. Cities aren’t going anywhere. This isn’t their first pandemic. Downtown demand will return as soon as urban life returns and the majority of people are back in their offices next year.
I’ve also been predicting that the run-up in single-family home prices that we have seen this past year here in Toronto will eventually lead to a surge in demand for condos (and perhaps even for larger suites). It’s a question of relative affordability. And so it was interesting to see Shaun Hildebrand of Urbanation predicting the same thing for 2021 in this recent Toronto Star article.
Hildebrand thinks the soaring prices of single-family homes will also push more buyers back to the condo market.
As of November, the average price gap between condos and detached houses was $596,000. The gap between a condo and a semi-detached or townhome was about $217,000. Both of those were at their second-highest levels since the market peaked in late 2016-early 2017, he said.
“This could really start to swing demand towards condos in the second half of the year,” said Hildebrand.
Realosophy data shows condo sales were already up year over year prior to the holidays —
23 per cent the first week of December,
31 per cent the second week and
72 per cent the week of Dec. 14.
That means 727 condos sold that week, compared to 418 in the same week last year.
Urbanation just released its Q3-2020 market update for the Greater Toronto Area and the data is very encouraging for the new condo market. Here are some of the highlights:
- There were 6,730 new condominium unit sales in Q3. This represents a 30% year-over-year increase.
- More of this growth happened in the suburbs (905) with 3,834 units sales vs. 2,536 unit sales in the City of Toronto (416).
- Of the 6,694 units that launched for sale in Q3, about 3/4 of them sold. This is the highest absorption rate since Q4-2017.
- The average selling price for a new condo launched in Q3 was $1,044 psf (GTA average). This is up 3.5% compared to last year.
- New launches in the suburbs sold for an average of $915 psf. New launches in the City of Toronto sold for an average of $1,275 psf.
I reckon that many of the people purchasing right now are looking through and to the other side of this current macro environment. They recognize that things will get better and that the Toronto region will continue to thrive. That’s certainly how I’m thinking about it.
in finance – investing, we need to think *exponentially*, not *linearly*.
Money compounds. Growth doesn’t happen at a constant pace; it *accelerates* over time.
Most of us are not programmed to intuitively “get” compounding — over the long run.
It’s about the importance of thinking exponentially, as opposed to linearly, when it comes to finance and investing.
In it, the author provides a quick rule of thumb to help reframe our mind when it comes to compounding. It’s called the “rule of 72” and it works like this.
To calculate the approximate number of years to double your money, simply take 72 and divide it by the annualized rate of return (%).
For example, if you had an annualized rate of return of 10%, this rule of thumb would tell you that you’re going to need 7.2 years to double your money.
If the annualized rate of return were to increase to 18%, it would now only take you 4 years to double your money. Of course, this rule of thumb is an approximation. It only really works within a certain band of returns.
If the annualized rate of return were 100%, this formula would spit out 0.72 years, whereas an annualized rate of return of 100% actually means that you’re doubling your money in the span of one year.
It’s a rule of thumb. The reality is that compound returns are incredibly powerful over the long-run, not only for finance and investing, but for life in general. Worthwhile things take time. If you’ve got the patience and discipline, the long-run curve ends up looking pretty sweet.
It goes without saying that 2020 was an unprecedented year, and that the ripple effect on the housing market was swift and notable. Across the country, home buyers, sellers, and renters re-evaluated their housing priorities as they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, and many local housing markets saw several months of record-breaking sales following a spring of record-breaking declines.
As we look forward to 2021, here are 5 housing market trends that everyone has their eye on going into the new year.
1. 18-Hour Cities Across Canada Will Continue to Drive Housing Demand
A common mantra you hear in real estate is: location is everything. One of the major implications of the pandemic was that it pushed home buyers to reconsider the scope of how location factored into their home purchase.
With remote-working options becoming commonplace across the country – and some companies making them permanent – a growing group of home buyers in dense, major cities like Toronto began prioritizing square footage and green space, where they may have previously put a premium on workplace proximity.
Not only did this result in skyrocketing demand for single-family homes in general, it also spurred many buyers to expand the boundaries of their home search far beyond city-limits. Many looked to 18-hour cities, often defined as “mid-size cities with attractive amenities, higher-than-average population growth, and a lower cost of living and cost of doing business than the biggest urban areas” to find better value.
For example, in Ottawa, home prices rose 19% year-over-year in November, and competition remained fierce among prospective buyers. “With huge buying demand being fueled by out-of-town buyers transitioning to the Ottawa market, we can expect prices to be driven up in the new year,” said Jonathan Amodeo, Broker in Ottawa.
Generally speaking, with increased flexibility to live and work anywhere, we can expect home buyers to continue to look further for affordable, spacious, single-family housing, which in turn is expected to drive demand within these cities and consequently put upward pressure on home prices as has been the trend in 2020.
2. ‘Typical’ Seasonal Real Estate Cycles Will Return And Buyers WIll Face Strong Competition
As most of the country came to a stand-still in March following stay-at-home orders, the economic and healthcare repercussions of the pandemic also brought the spring housing market to a halt; with record-breaking declines in prices and sales.
In response, the real estate sector as a whole pivoted to a virtual-first model, and as conditions improved, real estate boards and associations across the country implemented stringent safety protocols to prioritize the safety of the community at-large. As healthcare conditions eased over the summertime, pent-up demand, and limited inventory resulted in what many described as a “delayed spring market” effect, which in turn led to the record breaking sales experienced throughout the rest of the year.
Based on today’s expectations of an approved COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out in the coming weeks and months, plus an entire real estate industry that now has experience safely working within the framework of COVID-19 as we know it, buyers and sellers can expect for more traditional real estate cycles to reemerge in 2021 – with the market being at its busiest in the spring and the fall.
In fact, a recent report found that housing competition strongly favoured sellers in every single one of 25 major Canadian housing markets; with some of the most competitive conditions existing outside of Canada’s largest housing markets of Toronto and Vancouver – in Canada’s mid-sized cities. We can expect this trend to continue, as more Canadians who are seeking out more square footage and green space are willing to look further for housing.
3. Condo-Dense Markets Could See An Uptick in Rental Demand
Widespread closures across workplaces, universities, and the Canadian border to tourism and immigration alike resulted in rental vacancies rising to 2.8% in condo-dense markets like Toronto this past October (from just 0.7% the year prior), and at the highest levels for the first time in over a decade. Low demand spurred an increase in new listings and a consequent drop in rental prices, particularly across the city centre, and in areas popular for short-term rentals.
If the border opens up, and life begins to trend closer to what it was like pre-pandemic as a result of the vaccine, we can expect demand for rentals to grow again in city centres, particularly in the latter half of the year. For now, “if a renter is looking to get into a beautiful, trendy downtown condo at a prime location, now is a great time to lock it in,” said Andrew Kim, an agent in Toronto.
4. Mortgage Rates Will Remain Affordable
In response to the pandemic, the Bank of Canada kept the overnight lending rate at it’s “effective lower bound” of 0.25% for much of the year, with plans to maintain this rate until “economic slack” from the pandemic is absorbed, which is likely to be until at least 2023. Mortgage rates in turn, remain at an all-time low, with fixed mortgage rates hovering near the 1% mark.
Based on the Bank’s guidance, we can expect the overnight lending rate to remain steady for much of 2021 as the economy reacts to short term spikes in COVID-19 cases, and recovers over the long term as the vaccine is rolled out.
As far as mortgage rates go, there is potential for a slight increase in fixed rates as the bond market recovers in response to vaccine news and rollout. This in turn could impact the rate at which real estate prices rise toward the latter half of the year.
5. The Housing Market in the Prairies Could Get A Boost
The Prairies have been hard-hit by the coupling effect of the pandemic plus the ongoing impact of fluctuations in the energy market on jobs and consumer debt and spending. That being said, housing competition remains fierce in the region, with all major areas in the region experiencing strong seller’s market conditions this fall, e.g. Winnipeg (SNLR of 88%), Saskatoon (SNLR of 82%), Calgary (SNLR of 87%) and Edmonton (SNLR of 76%). Generally speaking, when the SNLR or sales-to-new-listings ratio is over 60%, competition conditions favour sellers over buyers because demand outpaces available supply.
With average home prices under the $500,000 mark across the Prairie region’s largest cities, if the world starts turning again and the economy and immigration into the region begins to recover in response to the vaccine, we can expect that the housing market in the Prairies may start to bounce back later in the year.
Last week, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) released its latest resale housing market forecast, which revealed that — despite turbulent spring months — homebuyers are on track to set a record for activity in 2020, with some 544,413 homes projected to change hands by December 31, an 11.1% increase from 2019 levels.
Subsequently, the national average price in 2020 is on track to rise by 13.1% on an annual basis to just over $568,000 — reflecting the current balance of supply and demand, which heavily favours sellers in many local markets.
In Ontario, CREA forecasts that 228,665 homes will change hands by the end of the year, up 9.2% from 2019 levels,. While the average price should rise 17% to $708,377, up from $604,883 in 2019.
CREA’s forecast noted that mortgage interest rates have declined to record lows in 2020, including the Bank of Canada’s benchmark five-year rate, which is used by major banks to qualify applicants under the federal mortgage stress test, which has lead to more buyers being able to qualify for mortgages this year.
With the Bank of Canada committing to keep interest rates low into 2023 and with mortgage interest rates expected to remain near current levels through the new year, CREA forecasts 2021 will still be a strong year for sales.
“On a monthly basis, sales are forecast to ease back to more typical levels throughout 2021,” CREA wrote in the report. However, presuming there’s a more normal spring market in 2021, the year as a whole is expected to see more home sales than 2020.”
On a national level, CREA is predicting 584,000 home sales for 2021, up 7.25% year-over-year. All provinces except Ontario are forecast to see increased sales activity in 2021, as low-interest rates and improving economic fundamentals allow people to get into the markets where homes are available for sale.
For 2021, CREA has predicted that there will be 221,220 home transactions in Ontario, a decline of 3.3% from 2020 levels. However, average home prices are expected to climb 16.3% to land at $823,656.
“Ontario has seen strong demand for several years, particularly outside of Toronto, which has eroded active supply in the province,” CREA said in its report.
“The strength of demand, particularly for larger single-family properties, will drive the average price higher as potential buyers compete for the most desirable properties.”
This forecast comes as Ontario’s housing market was down on a year-over-year basis in November, however, this reflected a supply issue rather than a demand issue — particularly in the ground-home segment. This has led to the average home price in the province remaining up year-over-year.
The largest year-over-year gains in November — between 25- 30% — were recorded in Quinte & District, Tillsonburg District, Woodstock-Ingersoll and a number of Ontario cottage country areas.
Year-over-year price increases in the 20-25% range were seen in Barrie, Bancroft and Area, Brantford, Huron Perth, London & St. Thomas, North Bay, Simcoe & District, Southern Georgian Bay, and Ottawa. This was followed by year-over-year price gains in the range of 15-20% in Hamilton, Niagara, Guelph, Cambridge, Grey-Bruce Owen Sound, Kitchener-Waterloo, Northumberland Hills, and Peterborough and the Kawarthas.
Moreover, prices were up in the 10-15% range compared to last November in Oakville-Milton and Mississauga. Across the GTA, the average selling price for all home types was up by 13.3% to $955,615.
With just ten days left in 2020, CREA is far from alone with its predictions around average home prices increasing in the new year. James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub.ca, expects detached home prices will increase between 4 to 7% in 2021, with the strongest growth in the suburbs around major urban centres.
“With Canadians working from home, the demand will continue to be strong for more space. Larger homes outside of the city centre will see the strongest demand,” said Laird.
What’s more, Royal LePage, predicts that the median price of a standard two-storey home in the GTA will rise 7.5% next year, reaching an average price point of $1,185,800. In a significantly less dramatic increase, the median price of a condominium is forecast to increase 0.5% to $600,800.
Meanwhile, the aggregate price of a GTA home (all home types) is expected to increase by 5.75% year-over-year, ultimately reaching $990,300.
Looking ahead, only time will tell how the housing market will truly perform, but for now, let’s hope 2021 holds as much good news as suggested by the forecasted increase in home prices in the region.
While there’s no doubt that downtown condos were left in the dust when suburban single-family home sales and prices took off during Canada’s economic recovery, the chances that urban high-rises will see a significant price drop over the next year is unlikely.
In his response to November housing market data published this month by the Canadian Real Estate Association, BMO Senior Economist Robert Kavcic acknowledged that urban markets “are highly out of favour right now” with homebuyers.
But even as the price gap between condos and single-detached homes is likely to widen in the new year, condo markets in major cities, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, should eventually find their footing, Kavcic wrote in a research note published last week.
“Will we see a deep correction? Probably not. The ‘death of the city’ thesis is probably excessive,” he wrote.
That said, the economist believes there will be some condo “overhang” — in other words, excess supply — to work through before the hard hit downtown markets in Canada’s largest cities can regain their strength. Strong rent price appreciation and a robust short-term rental market that fed investor enthusiasm for urban condo in these cities is also unlikely to return any time soon, despite the positive developments on the vaccine front.
After a barn-burning year for rural and vacation property demand, Kavcic sees these markets remaining “extremely tight” into early 2021, meaning price growth will continue for the time being.
What remains to be seen is how demand will change 2021’s second half on the realistic assumption that vaccine distribution will permit many aspects of city life to resume. Kavcic said that activity may plateau in those farther flung markets that have seen their appeal rise during the pandemic.
Price declines are also in the cards later in the year and into 2022, though the economist believes these markets will retain some of the pandemic-driven boost in property values.
December 15, 2020 – The national average price is forecast to rise by 9.1% in 2021 to $620,400. Average price trends across Canada in 2021 are generally expected to resemble those in 2020. Shortages of supply, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, are expected to result in strong price growth, while Alberta and Saskatchewan are anticipated to see average prices pick up following several years of depreciation.
Ottawa, ON December 15, 2020 – The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate boards and associations.
Current trends and the outlook for housing market fundamentals suggest activity will remain relatively healthy through 2021, with prices either continuing to climb or remaining steady in all regions.
Economic activity continues to improve slowly following the initial stages of the pandemic. Over the past several years, record levels of international immigration, low interest rates and an increasing share of millennials entering their home buying years have helped make the housing market a significant source of strength for the Canadian economy. The recent government support programs for individuals and businesses have also helped the overall economy through the most severe parts of the pandemic to date.
Mortgage interest rates have declined to record lows in 2020, including the Bank of Canada’s benchmark five-year rate used by Canada’s largest banks to qualify applicants under the B-20 mortgage stress test. With the Bank of Canada committing to keep interest rates low into 2023, mortgage interest rates are expected to remain near current levels through 2021.
Recent national sales trends have improved more than anticipated over the second half of 2020. New listings in most of the country have also recovered. However, while sales activity rebounded to record-high levels, new listings only recovered to about their five-year average in most markets. The relative strength of demand for homes compared with supply has meant sales activity has been eroding active inventory, which was already scarce in many markets pre-pandemic. That said, this has been a trend since 2015.
The increase in demand has impacted every part of the country, including the Prairies and Newfoundland and Labrador. While these regions aren’t experiencing the same intensity of upward price pressures as the rest of the country, compared with previous years, demand is strengthening and prices have indeed started to increase.
Despite the historic setback to the spring market caused by the pandemic, CREA projects national sales to hit a record of 544,413 units in 2020, representing an 11.1% increase from 2019 levels. The strength of the Canadian housing market was broad-based, with every province except Alberta registering a year-over-year increase in sales. British Columbia and Quebec stand out as large contributors to the overall gain.
The national average price in 2020 is on track to rise by 13.1% on an annual basis to just over $568,000. This reflects the current balance of supply and demand, which heavily favours sellers in many local markets.
On a monthly basis, sales are forecast to ease back to more typical levels throughout 2021; however, presuming there’s a more normal spring market in 2021, the year as a whole is expected to see more home sales than 2020. National home sales are forecast to rise by 7.2% to around 584,000 units next year. All provinces except Ontario are forecast to see increased sales activity in 2021, as low interest rates and improving economic fundamentals allow people to get into the markets where homes are available for sale.
Ontario has seen strong demand for several years, particularly outside of Toronto, which has eroded active supply in the province. This shortage is expected to limit sales activity in 2021. The strength of demand, particularly for larger single-family properties, will drive the average price higher as potential buyers compete for the most desirable properties.
A Canadian home price tracker known to be one of the best measures of price appreciation just experienced a record-breaking November increase.
The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index rose 0.9 percent last month over October’s reading, the strongest gain for the month of November in the 22 years that the index has been compiled.
National Bank Senior Economist Marc Pinsonneault said it was the second month in a row that the index had broken a record for a monthly increase at the national level. Hamilton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa-Gatineau, Victoria and Vancouver all posted monthly increases of over one percent. Toronto missed the one percent mark, but still recorded a “highly respectable” 0.8 percent rise, according to the economist.
From an annual perspective, the national index rose nine percent over November 2019, the highest 12-month increase since early 2018. Ottawa-Gatineau, Halifax, Hamilton and Montreal led the way by this measure, all recording annual increases above or near 15 percent.
The Teranet-National Bank index is known to lag behind other widely used home price tracking tools, including the monthly average home sale prices published by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and local boards.
This is because the index is compiled using a repeat sales methodology that works by tracking the price change between the two most recent sales of the same property. The index uses prices entered into public land registries in the Canadian markets it tracks. These often are slower to respond to market changes because sale price data is not added to land registries as quickly as it’s entered into the MLS systems used by real estate boards.
“The strong rise of prices is consistent with the revival of home sales volume over the last several months reported by the Canadian Real Estate Association. For a third straight month, the number of sale pairs entering into the 11 metropolitan indexes was higher than a year earlier,” wrote Pinsonneault.
In new commentary on the Teranet-National Bank November price figures, Capital Economics’ Stephen Brown said Canadian home price inflation is forecast to rise above 10 percent annually in the first few months of 2021. It will slow following that, but is expected to continue to rise throughout the year.
“A few forecasters reiterated at the start of December that they still expect declines in house prices in 2021, seemingly because they believe the effects of high unemployment will finally be felt,” wrote Brown in commentary published this morning.
“It seems very hard to justify those downbeat views from the recent data, however, with the sales-to-new listing ratio little changed in November and still consistent with very strong house price inflation,” he continued.
The sales-to-new listing ratio is a key indicator of whether the market is in buyer’s or seller’s territory. With CREA’s latest national reading showing the ratio still in record high territory — meaning the market is undersupplied and sellers are calling the shots — continued price increases seem inevitable.
While home sales across the country declined slightly in November from the previous month, they were up a healthy 32 percent over the same time last year.
In other words, it’s the type of stellar performance that’s become standard during 2020’s post-spring lockdown period.
But the strong home sales figures published today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) represent more than just a continuation of the market’s remarkable performance in the second half of the year.
Canadian home sales are a hair’s breadth away from breaking an all-time record for transactions in a single year.
“Many Canadian housing markets continue to see historically strong levels of activity, so much so that a new annual sales record this year is looking more likely every day,” said CREA Chair Costa Poulopoulos, in a media release.
According to CREA, there have been 511,449 home sales between January and November this year. That’s up 10.5 percent from the same 11-month period in 2019 and already the second-highest January to November sales tally on record.
This year’s total is behind 2016, the current record-holder, by only 0.3 percent. So yes, you read that right, in this bizarre and anxiety-inducing year, Canada’s housing market may very well see its best-ever performance for home sales.
In fact, CREA’s Senior Economist Shaun Cathcart thinks it’s more likely than not to be a record-breaker.
“If I had to sum up the Canadian housing story in 2020, I would say it’s gone from weakness because of COVID to strength despite COVID,” said Cathcart. “It will be a photo finish, but it’s looking like 2020 will be a record year for home sales in Canada despite historically low supply.”
On the pricing side, CREA’s Home Price Index rose 11.6 percent over the previous year. Meantime, the national average home price was up nearly 14 percent to $603,000, though the association said that this is heavily influenced by the country’s most expensive markets, Toronto and Vancouver.
The propulsive price growth is linked to the record-low supply — measured in months of inventory — that Cathcart mentioned. CREA said there were 2.4 months of inventory at the national level by the end of last month, meaning it would take 2.4 months to sell all the homes listed on the market at the current rate of sales. In Ontario, supply is exceptionally tight, with 21 markets across the province posting less than one month of inventory at the end of November.
While downtown condos saw price declines last month, a few suburban condo markets in the Toronto region still recorded healthy price growth.
Oakville, Oshawa and Burlington all posted resale condo price gains above 10 percent in November, while Brampton and Vaughan recorded increases just shy of the double digits.
Condo sales activity was about on par with transaction levels recorded in November 2019 for the three top-performing suburban cities, but demand was strong enough to keep prices rising.
To compile this data, the Livabl team looked at average sale prices for condo apartments sold last month in the 30 cities and towns outside of the City of Toronto that TRREB tracks. Of the areas that recorded 10 or more transactions during both November 2020 and 2019, three experienced price increases over 10 percent compared to the previous year.
Oakville topped the list with its average condo price rising to $661,555, up nearly 16 percent from a year ago. Oshawa posted a nearly 15 percent gain, with an average sale price of $307,400 in November. Rounding out the top three was Burlington, with prices increasing to $554,494, an annual gain of 12 percent.
The two cities that came close to achieving double-digit gains — Brampton and Vaughan — each recorded increases of nearly nine percent, with prices rising to $462,461 and $646,801, respectively.
Of course, the pace of price growth in these suburban condo markets seems relatively sluggish compared to detached homes across the Toronto region. Detached home prices rose over 20 percent in 19 Toronto suburban cities and towns last month.
another year has come and nearly gone, and one thing that we’ve learned this year is the resilience of Ontario’s real estate markets, as they’ve managed to stay hot despite the latest pandemic restrictions rolled out by the provincial government to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In fact, last month, there was a notable annual “uptick” in home sales across the province, with many regions reporting a record-breaking month for sales.
According to TRREB’s October housing market report, resale activity in the GTA showed no signs of slowing down, after having another record-setting month, during which, a total of 10,563 sales were made — a 25.1% jump from the 8,445 sales recorded in the previous October. The record-level sales were paired with record listings, with 17,802 recorded across the region compared to 13,053 in October of last year.
With just weeks left in 2020, we took a closer look at housing competition across 35 Ontario real estate markets by reviewing sales and new listings data for each region for the month of October.
To determine which markets were the most competitive (sellers’ markets) and least competitive (buyer’s markets), we calculated the sales-t0-new-listings ratio (SNLR) for 35 cities throughout the province. To reach this, the number of sales in a city is divided by the number of new listings.
A high percentage of over 60% indicates that many homes were sold compared to homes newly listed (sellers’ market), while a lower percentage under 40% shows fewer homes were sold compared to homes newly listed (buyer’s market).
within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), 14 out of 19 cities are currently sellers’ markets, the remaining five are balanced. Outside of the GTA, all 16 cities were in the sellers’ market territory, while no cities in the report were listed as buyer’s markets.
Here in the GTA, 14 of 19 real estate markets strongly favour sellers, with Orangeville (SNLR of 105%), Whitby (SNLR of 89%), Burlington (SNLR of 88%), Milton (SNLR of 87%), and Caledon (SNLR of 85%) leading the ranking with high SNLR percentages over 60%, which indicates that more homes were sold compared to homes newly listed.
However, the remaining five markets in the GTA reviewed remain in a balanced market territory. With 3,514 sales and 7,823 new listings in October, the City of Toronto is among the five housing markets exhibiting balanced market conditions with an SNLR of 45%.
this shows that housing competition has cooled since October 2019, when the SNLR was 66% and favoured sellers. That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that these figures are influenced by condo market activity where sales have declined amidst the pandemic while new listings increased by more than double (109%) year-over-year.
What’s more, three of the five markets exhibiting balanced conditions are in York Region: Richmond Hill (SNLR of 54%), Vaughan (SNLR of 59%) and Markham (SNLR of 58%). The remaining market exhibiting balanced conditions is Mississauga, with 943 sales and 1,665 new listings and an SNLR of 57% in October.
“Currently, buyers are most interested in freehold properties with backyards, and it is common to see multiple offers on such listings given limited inventory,” says Claudio Castro, an agent in the York Region.
“Homes listed in the $1 million range are the most competitive, seeing that buyers are able to secure a 4 bedroom, detached property within the $1,100,000 – $1,400,000 range in York Region,” Castro notes that as long as COVID-19 remains a factor, this trend is expected to continue into the new year.
As you look outside of the GTA, says that buyers will face “stiff competition” in all of the 16 markets included in the analysis, particularly in four cities, where the SNLR is at or over 100% — indicating that demand was much higher than new listings and buyers began to pick up inventory listed before October.
These markets were: Sudbury (SNLR of 100%), Niagara Falls (SNLR of 105%), Thunder Bay (SNLR of 108%), and St. Catherines (SNLR of 112%). With the exception of Sudbury, buyers faced even stiffer competition this year than they did in 2019.
New townhomes recorded robust sales numbers in several markets across Canada this year, as consumers looked for affordable lower density options amid the pandemic.
Real estate data firm Altus Group published a report this month highlighting strong new townhome sales in Vancouver, where transactions doubled compared to last year’s levels, and the Toronto region, where new townhomes saw the biggest improvement in sales of any property type versus 2019.
Even in Alberta’s weak residential real estate markets, townhome sales were only down slightly in Calgary and Edmonton, the report said.
Altus Group looked at new townhome sales in the first three quarters of 2020 and compared year-to-date activity in the property segment to the past four years. In Vancouver, sales have already surpassed 2019 and 2018 totals just in the first nine months of the year. In Toronto, activity in the first three quarters has already exceeded sales in the previous three years — only 2016 saw better results.
In its report, the firm said that the surge seen in 2020 lines up with growing buyer interest in townhomes that’s been building for several years.
“With housing affordability challenges in the major markets increasingly pricing single-detached housing out of the reach of many buyers, townhouses provide a family sized option with many of the desirable features, such as garages, private front door and amenity spaces, at a much lower price point,” Altus Group said in the report.
It went on to note that new townhomes in suburban regions outside major cities are typically less expensive than two-bedroom condos in more central areas.
Looking ahead, buyer demand for townhomes is expected to keep growing. Altus Group predicted that pandemic-driven factors like low interest rates and flexible remote work arrangements allowing buyers to live farther from their employers would influence demand. The firm also noted that Millennials searching for affordable and family-friendly housing options would continue to support demand.
Average condo prices in the City of Toronto are up about 150%. But…
Land costs are up 160%.
Soft costs are up 118%.
Construction and related costs are up 91%.
Financing costs are up 93%.
Government fees, charges, and taxes are up 413%.
And development charges (a subset of the above) are up 3,244%!
At the same time, the profit margin over costs is down about 45%.
(As a point of comparison, CPI only increased by about 26.5% during this same time period.)
The point here is that condos are so expensive largely because of cost-plus pricing. Government fee increases are also outpacing every other cost bucket.
If you’re developing new housing in Toronto, you have no choice but to accept these rising costs. You have to pay development charges and you have to pay them when you’re told, even if that means swallowing some new massive increase.
So by necessity, end prices get continually pushed as a way to try and absorb these costs. You figure out what your costs are going to be and then you price accordingly. But of course, you also have to ask yourself: Can people actually afford this kind of pricing and can this neighborhood support it?
Sometimes the answer is yes, which is why development continues. But sometimes the answer is no. In this case, the next step is simple: you don’t build.
The Toronto housing market had a lot working against it this November.
The City of Toronto and neighbouring Peel region moved into the “lockdown” zone of the province’s tiered restriction framework, with non-essential businesses closed from November 23rd onward. Prior to that, both regions already were in the highly restrictive “red” zone.
On top of all this, despite the steady stream of strong data on the home sales and pricing front, many commentators appeared certain that the housing market would falter following the summer rebound, as high unemployment and lower incomes would eventually snuff out the momentum.
Instead, the market’s performance has been almost uniformly positive. RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue was one of the commentators who wrote in the summer that the housing rebound would slow by the fall months, with home prices likely to begin declining later in the year. The remarkable home sales and pricing data from November led Hogue to quip “so much for the cooling” this fall in a research note published last week.
“The overall [housing] picture remained amazingly strong despite the re-imposition of tighter social distancing restrictions in the City of Toronto and Peel region in November,” Hogue wrote, noting that changing housing needs and low interest rates “kept the market boiling.”
The economist had previously written that downtown condos are currently the “weak spot” in Canada’s housing picture and that remained true for Toronto last month. Condo prices are now beginning to soften as listings have soared 194 percent, widening the chasm between supply and demand.
But it’s the strength of single-family home sales, especially in the suburban 905 areas of the region, that continue to keep the overall market boiling hot. Detached home sales in the 905 were up 33 percent over a year ago while active listings fell 40 percent.
“Very tight demand-supply conditions apply increasing heat on detached home prices across the entire GTA,” Hogue wrote.
In other words, it’s the complete opposite supply and demand dynamic playing out compared to the sluggish downtown condo market.
Looking ahead, Hogue believes condo prices will continue to decline in the near term while single-family home prices are expected to keep rising “briskly.”
The Toronto housing market is closing 2020 in a way that feels well-suited to the year: some highs, some lows, and not a whole lot of clarity on what’s to come.
According to the newest report from RBC, the entire country saw strength in its housing market throughout November, except for in one area — downtown condos in large urban areas.
It’s easy to imagine, then, that the City of Toronto’s data presents as a combination of “on fire” and “flailing.”
Despite the return to lockdown-status in Toronto and Peel region, the month saw GTA resales rise 24.3% year-over-year, with the MLS Home Price Index (HPI) up 10.6% during the same period.
The 416-region specifically is described as “both hot and lukewarm,” with sales of single-family homes up 24% year-over-year, while condos sales were “flat.”
But the real difference, RBC says, is inventories. Active detached-home listings are sitting some 13% below year-ago levels. Meanwhile, condo listings have skyrocketed 194%. As the report concludes, it’s “no wonder downtown Toronto condo prices are beginning to soften.”
Indeed, TRREB’s November market report, released Thursday, captured the small drop in the average condominium apartment selling price for the ‘416’ area code. Since the onset of the pandemic in March, April is the only other month to have seen a decline in year-over-year condo prices (-4.0%) in the 416 (though October only managed a gain of less than 1%).
At the same time, the month saw market conditions tightened in many single-family market segments, resulting in double-digit year-over-year increases in selling prices for detached houses, semi-detached houses, and townhouses.
The story of the city’s condo market is opposite to that of the detached home market; read: plentiful supply.
“The downturn in rental markets has prompted many condo investors to sell over the past several months,” reads RBC’s report — a statement that, through autumn, has become increasingly clear to those keeping an eye on the downtown real estate scene.
TRREB’s data from the Q3-2020 condominium market and rental market reports revealed the number of condo apartments listed for rent at some point during Q3-2020 was up a massive 113.9% year-over-year. The influx was reportedly a result of many investors and Airbnb owners turning to the longterm rental market in an effort to cover ongoing costs.
And, according to John Pasalis, President at Realosophy Realty, the condo market being in such a state means something to sleep on for would-be investors. As resale prices have been on the decline, albeit “only by a little bit,” rents have decreased by nearly 20% in some cases.
“Certainly, if you’re a savvy investor, you might find some value. There’s no rule necessarily, but it doesn’t seem right to be paying peak prices — 2020 prices — for rents that are at 2018 levels,” he said.
“If you want to be somewhat conservative, you’re either going to wait for further softening in prices — if you think that’s going to happen — or you at least wait for the rental market to start recovering a little bit, because if you’re buying now, as an investor, not only is your rent significantly lower, but your vacancy is higher. It might take you two to three months to rent out your unit.
It makes sense, then, that as those who are interested in investing have been cautioned to watch and wait, those who are already in the downtown condo game have been inclined to attempt to offload their properties. It’s hard to make anything back from a vacant space, after all.
While anyone looking to get in on the condo scene right now — whether renting or buying — has a (relative) pick of the lot, those more interested in single-family homes have increased competition, and prices, to deal with.
TRREB’s latest data showed that market conditions tightened in many single-family market segments in November, resulting in double-digit year-over-year increases in average selling prices for detached houses, semi-detached houses and townhouses.
“Homebuyers continued to take advantage of very low borrowing costs in November, especially those looking to buy some form of single-family home,” said Lisa Patel, TRREB President. “Competition between buyers for ground-oriented homes has been extremely strong in many neighbourhoods throughout the GTA, which has continued to support double-digit annual rates of price growth.”
To use a local metaphor, stabilization then (or a return to some form of normalcy), is like the CN Tower on one of Toronto’s smoggiest summer days — you know it’s there, but it’s difficult to see, and you can’t gauge exactly how far away from it you’re standing.
With regards to the condo experience, any rehabilitation depends on downtown’s healing, according to Pasalis.
“Rents are not going to recover until the downtown core recovers. [At that time,] people are going back to offices, there’s a reason to be living downtown because you walk to the office, the office is nearby, the restaurants are nearby. So, until there’s some return to a normal downtown lifestyle, downtown rents aren’t likely to recover anytime soon,” he said.
And until downtown regains its appeal, it’s hard to imagine what would slow the ever-growing interest in single-family homes, what with their increased space, privacy, and (location-dependent) bang for their buck.
With so many unknowns hanging in the air, conservative advice would be to make no sudden movements… at least not without giving those moves some serious thought. Because, while the timeline for recovery remains uncertain, one thing is clear: downtown is not dead, it’s resting. And come next summer — or even the summer after — you don’t want to be left reminiscing about the waterfront, the Queen West strip or Riverdale Farm as you grapple with suburban regrets.
With a steady stream of positive developments announced in the last month, it’s beginning to look like widespread deployment of one or multiple COVID-19 vaccines will pave the way back to normalcy for Canada’s housing market next year.
Health Canada is expected to approve the use of the Pfizer vaccine in a matter of days. Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will receive 249,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine before the end of the year. Three other potential vaccine candidates are also under consideration for approval, with millions of doses potentially available for priority recipients by early 2021.
While the arrival of a vaccine isn’t likely to create big shifts in the country’s housing market right away, Matthew Boukall, Vice President of Product Management and Data Solutions at Altus Group, says that its roll out could immediately impact how homebuyers make decisions about where they plan on moving.
“Those that are on the fence about where they want to live, whether they’re considering living in urban areas or moving out to the suburbs, the vaccine will provide some certainty around where they’re going to be working and how much of their day will be spent commuting to a downtown office or working from home,” explained Boukall.
Big cities like Vancouver and Toronto have felt the strongest impacts of the pandemic on their housing markets. Decreased demand for rentals, stalled immigration and a major increase in the number of buyers looking to purchase in the suburbs has left condo sales trailing behind the single-family home market through most of 2020.
November’s market data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board marked a continuation of the divergence between the single-family and condo segments in the urban ‘416’ and suburban ‘905’ regions — detached ‘905’ homes saw a 20 percent price gain, while ‘416’ condo prices dipped by 3 percent annually.
Boukall says a vaccine would clear the way for allowing both international and local students to return to post-secondary campuses and reinvigorate rental demand. It could also jump-start the city’s struggling tourism industry and create more demand for platforms like Airbnb that rely heavily on downtown condos for their short-term rental supply.
The urban exodus trend, which has seen a large number of city dwellers migrate to the suburbs during the pandemic, could slow down as vaccine roll out begins.
“The trend will continue, but it will slow down dramatically,” said Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist of CIBC World Markets, noting that there had already been an uptick observed in urbanites moving to the suburbs before the pandemic started.
“I think, at some point, the city will be a very inviting place. It will be more affordable and, still, people will love to live in the city especially if you can go back to the office,” he added.
Tal said that he anticipates some weakness in the condo market in the coming months. However, even if a vaccine hasn’t been widely deployed, we can expect pent-up demand and price adjustments to lead a robust spring market.
“I think the narrative about people not wanting to live in condos will probably start to die off as we get closer and closer to a vaccine, when people realize that the market is actually an opportunity to enter,” explained Tal.
While some market commentary has possible housing supply challenges in store for 2021, Tal doesn’t believe that the market will be undersupplied in the first half of the year.
Boukall noted that Toronto will see a large number of new housing units delivered next year. This, combined with an increase in listings on the market, will create more supply, he said. Buyers and tenants who were previously priced out of the city are expected to return now that affordability has improved, absorbing excess urban condo inventory.
Tal added that there’s evidence that the end of the condo market adjustment has already started.
“We see demand for rentals and rent inflation stabilizing. This means people are starting to take advantage of a soft market and enter the market,” he said.
This year, no one culd predict what would lie ahead for the housing market during the novel Coronavirus pandemic that spread across the globe like wildfire. For many, Canadians lost their jobs and were trying to live off government-assisted programs while trying to juggle their bills, but for others, they were presented with a great opportunity to dip their toes in the real estate market for the first time or upgrade to a house outside of the expensive city due to being able to work from home. Interest rates have also continued to stay at a historic-low in order to help stabilize the Canadian economy while COVID-19 rages on.
But while some buyers were able to get into a home, many others were left losing bidding wars and give up on their dream home. Some even had to sell their homes in order to stay afloat. So, the question remains: is it a good time to buy a house in Canada? What real estate trends are emerging and why should you take advantage of them?
We’ll break down everything you should know.
Are millennials the reason for the booming real estate market activity?
Last year, it was predicted that millennials would become the main reason for homes flying off the market before the COVID-19 pandemic urged people to stay at home and only go out when necessary to essential stores. In fact, millennial home ownership rates in Canada were higher than in other countries according to a report by RBC. As of March 2019, 40 per cent of homes in Canada were owned by buyers 35 years of age or younger whereas, in the United States, that percentage sat at 34.5. The cities with the youngest homeowners in Canada were Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, even despite the high home prices. But did this trend continue into 2020 despite the global pandemic?
Well, maybe not. Scotiabank’s survey suggested that 38 per cent of Canadians believed that now is as good of a time as any to buy a new home, but only 18 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 agreed that the pandemic accelerated their plans to delve into the home ownership journey. This left one-third of those surveyed waiting for prices to drop before buying a home.
How has the Coronavirus affected the housing market in Canada?
Despite the novel Coronavirus putting everything on hold, there were still real estate records being broken in cities all across the country, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area, Greater Vancouver, and Montreal to name a few. As mentioned above, while many feared losing their jobs and steady income to support their family and keep their houses running, many others found the global pandemic a great opportunity to buy their first home or upgrade to homes located outside of the city they no longer needed to travel to for work because of the lower home prices, affordable mortgage rates, and being able to get much more for their money.
Here are some impressive records that were recorded this year due to the Coronavirus that threw us all for an unexpected loop.
Many Montrealers are saying goodbye to city living and buying homes in cottage country. In both July and August of this year, Montreal saw a surge in home sales and broke records for two months in a row in a seller’s market. This means there has been way more demand for homes than what is even on the market. In a report from the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB), residential sales increased by 39 per cent in August compared to the same time last year with a total of 4,878 sales (with single-family homes taking the lead with 2,601 sales). This was the highest number recorded in August in the last 20 years. Single-family home prices also increased by 24 per cent (with a median price of $427,500), but what was surprising was seeing $1 million-dollar homes on the market double compared to August 2019.
Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
The housing market in Toronto has reached new heights too after the global pandemic took its toll on office workers and real estate investors. As stated in a November report by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), home sales in the GTA were up more than they ever have been for four consecutive months. In October alone, TRREB members reported 10,563 home sales compared to 8,445 in October 2019. The average price for all types of homes combined reached $968,318, an increase of 13.7 per cent from the same time last year. The demand for single-family housing in the GTA has drastically increased, so bidding wars are being taken to a whole new level. Supply is low and first-time buyers are getting outbid.
The condo market in Toronto has seen records being broken too. As the Toronto residential housing market has been doing really well, condos haven’t necessarily seen the same light, particularly in the downtown core. Sellers are even seeing their condo listings sit for months compared to just a few days this time last year. The reason? The demand for renting has drastically gone down because students haven’t physically been returning to school, immigration has come to a halt, and travel is a no-go for those offering an Airbnb. In fact, condo sales saw a year-over-year decrease of 8.5 per cent.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reported that in September of this year, 3,643 residential homes sold compared to 2,333 in September 2019. The benchmark price for all properties is currently $1,045,100; a six per cent increase since October 2019. In Fraser Valley, sales were the second-highest they’ve been in July for 10 years with an increase of 25.5 per cent despite the single-family home and townhome supply being low.
But the condo market?
Well, unlike the GTA, the Greater Vancouver area saw a 36.9 per cent increase in condo sales this year in September. Prices have remained high year-over-year because of the demand for buying condos in the busy, downtown hubs. The current median price of a condo in Vancouver is $683,500. However, those who own investment properties in Greater Vancouver have definitely noticed a drop in rent prices due to the lack of students, immigrants, and tenants losing their jobs or being laid off. In fact, in August, rent had dropped by 9.4 per cent compared to August 2019, according to Rentals.ca.
Top six things you should know before buying a house in these record-breaking housing market times
This may seem obvious, but buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make in your life. It may also be one of the most stressful times of your life, especially if you’re a first-time buyer and new to the world of real estate. But that shouldn’t scare you away. Buying a home is exciting, exhilarating, and something to be incredibly proud of. That being said, there are still some things you should make yourself aware of before buying.
1. Mortgage rates are at an all-time low
The main factor driving Canadians to accelerate their plans to buy a house? The historic-low interest rates.
Obviously, 2020 has been an uncertain time for all of us and the unemployment rates have drastically increased. In order to stimulate the economy and make it easy for people to borrow money, low-interest rates became the new normal and they may continue to stay this low for the next three years according to the Bank of Canada. There are a few reasons why people want to take advantage of this:
- This could mean substantial savings for monthly mortgage payments
- Those refinancing their mortgage will notice a huge difference
- May be easier for people to recover their debts
- Buyers can make larger purchases
- Banks are able to lend to even more borrowers
However, if you have a fixed-rate mortgage, you won’t be affected by the rate change. With an adjustable-rate mortgage, your interest rate and mortgage payments can change.
2. You need to become familiar with local real estate trends
If you’re interested in buying a house or an investment property, your best bet is getting familiar with local housing trends and, of course, relying on professional help from a real estate agent who knows the market better than anyone. Not only can they tell you what you’ll expect to pay in certain neighbourhoods, but they can keep you up to date on all information and facts you need to know so you’re as comfortable as possible with your purchase with it be for personal use or investment purposes. If you’re looking for an investment property, it’s also a good idea to rely on a real estate agent who knows what the rental market is like in the area, what you can expect to charge for rent, and what type of renters you should attract. Becoming familiar with the local housing market will also help you set your expectations seeing as bidding wars are becoming quite the fuss. Which brings us to our next point.
3. Prepare for a bidding war (even if it doesn’t end up happening)
Bidding wars and getting worse for buyers amid the global pandemic, leaving buyers feeling devastated they didn’t land their dream home. Why is this becoming such a popular (and hated) trend? Because of the inventory problem. There are more buyers looking for homes than there actually are on the market, leaving buyers’ agents having to pull every trick they know from their hats.
Bidding wars can be frustrating for everyone involved. Ultimately, when it comes to winning a bidding war, knowing how much you can actually afford to spend is crucial because you may need to increase your original offer. You may also want to consider having fewer conditions on your offer to stand out from the others.
4. Ensure that your income is steady before rushing into the housing market
As mentioned above, many Canadians across the country have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, or they’ve had to endure a pay-cut. If you’re someone who has been handed down this financial burden, it may not be the best time for you to buy a home for personal or investment purposes. Plus, when you apply for a mortgage loan, banks will favour those who can prove they have a steady source of income so they can make their monthly mortgage payments on time. You’ll also need funds for a down payment and closing costs, otherwise, if you need to borrow a down payment on top of a mortgage, it will need to come from a different lender than that of your mortgage loan in Canada.
5. Shop around for the right mortgage for you
Shopping around for a mortgage online is more easily accessible than ever before since pretty much everything is moving to the digital world due to the Coronavirus affecting in-person transactions. But finding the right mortgage for your specific needs can be tough to do on your own which is why many buyers lean on a mortgage broker for help. A mortgage broker’s role is a bit different than your agents. Rather than connecting you with the right house, a mortgage broker connects you with the right mortgage term and lender. They’re not just connected to one lender, but various lenders who offer different rates that are better suited for you.
6. Determine if your goals are short-term or long-term
There are many good reasons why people want to get into the real estate market, but when to actually buy a house depending on your goals can vary. So, what are your real estate goals? Do you want to buy your dream home for your family? Do you want to buy a house for investment purposes?
Signs it may be a good time to buy a house for short-term investment purposes to maximize revenue can be:
- You’re financially stable/comfortable enough to put a down payment on a second home (plus you have a good credit score)
- You’re able to access a good interest rate and mortgage rate
- If you don’t have enough for a down payment upfront, you have enough equity to tap into in your first home
- You’ve done your research to determine when it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market – a buyer’s market will mean that there are more properties for sale than there are buyers’ interested, so bidding wars may not be as common, but lower prices will!
- The investment property you’re interested in is in prime rental spots for positive cashflow
Signs it may be a good time to buy a home for long-term living purposes may be:
- You have enough saved for a down payment and closing costs
- You were able to sell your current home
- Your credit score is good
- The interest rates are low
- You’re ready to commit for the long-run and are financially stable to do so
- The housing market is in good condition and your home will actually appreciate
- Again, you’ve done your research – the neighborhood is what you’re looking for, the price is right, and the housing market is stable
So … is it a good time for you to buy a house?
Well, ultimately, it depends on a few factors. Whether you’re a first-time buyer, downsizing, or an experienced real estate investor, some of the most important things you will want to consider are:
- The current interest rates being offered by various lenders
- What your mortgage rate will be
- Where you’re looking to buy
- The current home prices (and if you are in good financial standing with your bank)
- The current state of the housing market
- If it’s a buyer or seller’s market
Because of the Coronavirus, many sellers have been nervous to sell, but even while the pandemic has put everything on hold, it seems like many people have been eager to get into the market. This has made some Canadian cities see record-breaking sales, particularly from July to October 2020. Some cities haven’t seen such high sales in years, but even more impressive has been the interest rate prices which have actually hit historic lows.
So, if you are financially set and ready to move into your new dream home or look for your first home, now may be the right time, but just remember that you may come across bidding wars due to the demand for homes being greater than what is actually available.
TORONTO — HSBC says it will offer rates below one per cent for some mortgages, which rate comparison website RateSpy.com says is a record low for Canada.
The bank is advertising a 0.99 per cent rate on its website for new five-year variable closed term mortgages, with the annual percentage rate, or APR, based on a $200,000 mortgage.
The deal applies to high-ratio residential mortgages, which means the homebuyer has a down payment of less than 20 per cent of the purchase price.
Rates.ca and RateSpy editor Robert McLister says that’s an important point, because the low down payment means the homebuyer will also have to pay for default insurance.
The rate is also variable based on changes in HSBC’s prime rate, which now sits at 1.46 per cent, so the rate could rise over the next few years as the economy mends and the Bank of Canada raises the borrowing rate.
Mortgage rates are currently low, after the Bank of Canada dropped its overnight rate amid the COVID-19 economic downturn.
Canada’s pandemic-weary economy is poised to “take off like a rocket” in the latter part of 2021, according to CIBC World Markets deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal.
Delivering his much-anticipated annual economic update during the opening session of the virtual Real Estate Forum in Toronto, Tal had a message of hope for the more than 1,800 attendees. With a vaccine now on the horizon and two-thirds of Canada’s economy already chugging along in close to high gear, he said the country is poised for a strong recovery.
“Clearly we are seeing the light and this light is not a train, it is a real light,” he said, noting, however, that the next few months could still be quite difficult. “We have to go through the winter. The winter will be tough, we all know that.
“The second half of 2021 will be on fire, I believe. This is the time to position yourself to take advantage of this type of rally; economic activity we haven’t seen in a very very long time.
“Basically my point is short-term bad. Medium-term better.”
Tal built his argument on a combination of many factors.
Many factors point to strong recovery
In addition to the pending arrival of a vaccine, or vaccines, is the experience factor. Canadians have had eight months to learn how to live with the COVID-19 pandemic and that has allowed most of the economy to remain open so far during the second wave.
“We know how to deal with this environment more productively relative to March. Confidence, clearly, seeing the light means many of you will start taking (financial) risks, now compared to the summer of next year.”
He said while impacted areas of the economy such as retail, service and travel have been hit very hard, the damage is limited.
“The damage is very deep, but it’s also very narrow,” he noted. “Two-thirds of the economy is already in a full swing recovery.”
As well, because of the nature of the damage, when the pandemic is under control “it is much easier to open a new restaurant than it is to open a new manufacturing facility.”
Canadian government leads in spending
The Canadian government is also leading the world in its spending, compared to the GDP decline, to buoy the economy. While labour income is down about two per cent, government transfers have increased by 50 per cent, he said.
Tal estimated this and other factors have created a massive pool of money sitting in bank accounts waiting to be spent – about $90 billion in private households and $80 billion for businesses.
“Together, $170 billion,” he said. “Money that is there, and all those households are dying to spend this money . . . that is the biggest stimulus you can get.
“This economy will take off like a rocket in the second half of 2021. We have so much pent-up demand and we have the ability to finance it vis-a-vis excess cash that is sitting and doing nothing.”
Canada must be “player” in U.S. recovery
Tal also noted the results of the U.S. election will factor into Canada’s recovery.
He said Canada must position itself to share in the benefits of a massive stimulus expected to be injected into infrastructure projects by the incoming Democrats, which will be a key to its own economic recovery.
“(Incoming president Joe) Biden is talking about buy America. We have to convince him actually to buy North America.”
Although he said the Keystone pipeline could be in jeopardy, Biden is expected to take a harder line on fracking, which could mitigate any potential impacts to Alberta’s oil patch.
Biden is also likely to create a more united front to battle China on trade issues — a front likely to include Canada and Europe – rather than a solo battle. Tal said Canada is going to be forced to choose a side in what he calls a trade Cold War.
“When you are in a Cold War, you have to choose a side. We know where we are,” he said, noting the Liberal government’s attempts to foster more trade with China and other countries have either fallen flat or had limited success. “Our reliance on the U.S. will rise.”
One drawback of having the Democrats in power, however, is that the U.S. will once again open its borders (once the pandemic is under control) to immigration. That means Canada will need to compete for the brightest and best, he said.
Tal believes office sector will be fine
In terms of direct real estate and commercial real estate impacts, Tal said he expects a new normal that doesn’t look radically different from pre-pandemic days.
“I believe (the pandemic is) a condition,” he explained. “I believe 2008 was a condition, I believe 9/11 was a condition, but we adjusted to make it feel like an event.
“I believe we will be back in the office. Clearly we will be working more from home, and if it’s -20 outside and snowing maybe that day I will be working from home. But (what do) I think (of) the predictions that office space is dead? Wrong. Simply wrong. We will be back in the office.”
He said good retail will also survive and prosper, noting that as soon as lockdowns ended, people were eager to return to stores, restaurants and other such venues despite a host of pandemic-related restrictions and concerns.
Yes, e-commerce will grow, but he expects bricks-and-mortar retail to retain an important role.
“People said over the first six months of the crisis, (e-commerce) gained 10 years in market share, which is true. But in the last five months we lost five years. It is exaggerated.
“Quality will be the dividing line. High-quality, good experience will benefit and do extremely well.”
Observing these trends has led him to conclude that while much is changing, much will remain the same.
“Clearly the economy is being transformed but when the fog clears, everything will look very, very familiar,” he predicted.
“Governments are all trying to support the economy. We are all buying time. This crisis has an end game, this end game is a vaccine. It’s coming and between now and then, we are all buying time.”
The new condo market’s performance in October was slightly more reminiscent of spring 2020 than a typical busy fall season, as sales sank 32 percent from the previous year.
The new Toronto region data, published today by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), arrived as several GTA regions, including the city itself, entered their first week of a lockdown that’s sure to further impact home sales.
While October’s sales decline was nowhere near as dramatic as April’s 80 percent collapse, it was emblematic of the new condo market’s struggles in the face of heightened restrictions, a sluggish condo resale market and investor uncertainty.
But just like the spring season, new condo prices remained robust, with the benchmark price hitting $990,880, a nearly 19 percent increase from a year ago.
Altus Group, BILD’s data provider, noted that there were a large number of new condo launches in October, but acknowledged sales volume was lower than past fall seasons, which is usually the busiest time of the year outside of the spring months.
Altus Group’s Ryan Wyse pointed to new pandemic-induced procedures around new home sales that have led to challenges around condo launches and the pace of sales that’s possible with the new restrictions in place.
“Virtual tours and signings and by-appointment sales offices have allowed the market to continue operating during the pandemic. However, sales launches have changed — instead of crowds at opening, we are seeing a shift to appointments over a longer period of time,” said Wyse.
The major bright spot in the BILD and Altus Group October data was new single-family home sales, which saw sales jump 44 percent and prices rise 12.7 percent to $1,211,141.
Much like the resale market, new single-family home sales have outperformed their new condo counterparts during the recovery period that followed the spring shutdown. While single-family sales activity in October did not match the triple-digit increases seen in August and September, this cooling likely reflects pent-up demand from the spring running its course and giving way to conditions that are more typical of a busy market.
There’s an element of seasonality as well, with this past August in particular being unusually busy for new home sales. October 2019 was already a relatively busy month, so the increases seen last month were less likely to be as pronounced when compared to gains seen in the typically quieter late summer period.
BILD President David Wilkes took a broader view of the state of the new home market, noting that sales in 2020 so far are higher than the same January to October period in 2019.
“When we look at the overall numbers so far in this very unusual year, it’s clear that the demand for the homes our industry builds is not going anywhere,” said Wilkes.
“In spite of the challenges brought on by the pandemic, year-to-date new home sales in the GTA are up 11 per cent compared to the same period last year and two per cent above the 10-year average, demonstrating not only the resilience of the housing market in the GTA, but also the role that our sector will play in economic recovery.”
Against a tumultuous backdrop, the Canadian housing market put on a remarkable display of resilience in 2020.
Now, as we enter the final stretch of this bizarre and challenging year, one of the country’s largest brokerages is forecasting more healthy home price growth and strong buyer demand for 2021.
RE/MAX Canada published its Housing Market Outlook Report on Tuesday, addressing a wide range of real estate topics, from the pandemic-driven suburban home buying surge to the much-better-than-expected performance of the country’s housing market despite 2020’s abundant economic turmoil.
RE/MAX brokers and agents surveyed for the report said a lack of housing supply hitting the market will continue, leading to challenges for homebuyers and putting more upward pressure on property prices.
This upward pressure is expected to result in national home price gains in the four to six percent range for 2021, driven by “move-over” buyers who are relocating from their cities and provinces and “move-up” buyers looking for more space.
“We’ve seen a lot of anecdotal evidence since the summer that households are considering significant lifestyle changes by relocating to less-dense cities and neighbourhoods,” said Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President at RE/MAX Canada.
“This has sparked unprecedented sales this year in suburban and rural parts of Canada and we expect this trend to continue in 2021,” he added.
There was certainly no shortage of pessimistic takes on the country’s housing market in the early days of the pandemic. With housing markets frozen due to lockdowns and subsequent restrictions, it was difficult to be optimistic as sales plummeted through the spring and job losses piled up.
Yet, according to a survey of Canadians commissioned by RE/MAX for the report, the pandemic directly influenced only six percent of Canadians to sell their homes this year. It’s a far cry from the anticipated market upheaval caused by large numbers of homeowners who, unable to make mortgage payments, would be forced to sell, leading to a tsunami of listings hitting all at once and driving property prices down.
Instead, the survey found that 40 percent of Canadian homeowners realized their current home needed renovations during the pandemic while 29 percent said they decided they needed more space.
As for the outlook for 2021, 52 percent of Canadians were confident that the housing market would “remain steady” and still viewed real estate as a strong investment option.
Back in March and April, there was a belief that big and dense cities were going to pose a serious problem in the fight against COVID-19.
The narrative was that the benefits of urban density suddenly flip to glaring negatives during a pandemic. Elevators are a problem. Public transit is a problem. Busy streets and public spaces are a problem. Instead of density, you want dispersion. There was also some speculation that COVID-19 cases would be somewhat correlated with colder climates.
The data that we are seeing today suggests the opposite. Note the above chart by Axios. On a per capita basis, COVID-19 cases are now the lowest — and below the national average — in large US cities with populations greater than 1 million people. Where cases are the highest, again on a per capita basis, is in rural areas. Non-metro areas less than 10,000 people. The county with the highest rate also isn’t the coldest of places. It’s Childress County, Texas, where the rate is about 1,265.3 cases per 100,000 people.
I have a lot of questions about the most important factors affecting transmission rates. Is mask wearing, for example, more important than average temperatures? What is the impact of socio-economic status? I am seeing maps that, unfortunately, suggest this plays a meaningful role. What is really driving these so-called “hot spots?” But what seems clear to me is that density is not necessarily destiny during this pandemic.
Home building activity across Ontario picked up in October, driven by significant growth in low-rise home construction.
Housing starts for single-detached homes and semi-detached homes rose 14.2 percent and 29.4 percent, respectively, last month, according to data published by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Housing starts measure how many homes began construction during a given period and are viewed as a key factor in determining market health.
TD Economist Rishi Sondhi said that the strong performance suggests that home builders are “reacting to the outperformance in detached home sales observed during the pandemic.”
Detached home prices rose over 20 percent in 14 Toronto region suburbs in October on the back of high buyer demand for less expensive properties with more space outside of city cores. October was the fourth straight month that saw sales exceeding 10,000 total transactions in the region, primarily driven by single-family homes.
Home building across the province has remained resilient through 2020, with housing starts from January to October up over 15 percent compared to the same 10-month period last year.
“Since the restart in May it has been business as usual for the construction sector,” wrote Central 1 Credit Union Economist Edgard Navarrete.
“The only thing impeding the development of new housing is the shortage of skilled labour,” he added.
Looking ahead, Navarrete said that construction activity could decline through the final two months of the year as tighter virus control restrictions are implemented and homebuyer confidence slides as a result of increased economic uncertainty.
A surge in Canadians’ disposable incomes and a decline in their spending habits has resulted in approximately $170 billion of surplus of cash, $90 billion of which is tied up in households, according to a CIBC report.
The COVID-19 pandemic was the impetus for reduced consumer spending, but with the addition of the government’s pandemic emergency programs, which bolstered incomes, the amount of money Canadians saved skyrocketed. The report noted that the excess cash—the other $80 billion is held by businesses—which is about 4% of consumer spending, is a record.
“That spike in disposable incomes coincided with a notable decline in spending, which resulted in the savings rate surging from 3.6% to 28.2% as of June,” read the report. “Since then, government support has become increasingly more tailored to those who need it the most, while the re-openings have seen a nascent recovery in consumer spending. Using US data for the third quarter as a guidepost, the Canadian savings rate likely fell to 13% in Q3—still miles above the 3.6% level seen prior to the pandemic. With the second wave of infection upon us, that rate is likely to remain elevated during the winter.”
The report’s findings are all the more bizarre considering the economy is still reeling from pandemic-induced business shutdowns this past spring, and yet Canadians have never been more flush. But upon closer examination, low-income households accounted for the overwhelming majority of job losses in Canada, and their consumption habits didn’t much diminish as they continued buying essentials. However, the majority of the surplus money belongs to mid- and high-income households, which curtailed their non-essential outlays.
“We do not have current data on spending by level of income for Canadians, but utilizing high-frequency US data, we learn that spending amongst high-income households is currently 10% below its January level—notably weaker than the 3% drop seen amongst low-income households,” said the report. “With the happy days of summer over, it is reasonable to assume that mid- and high-income households will, in fact, reduce consumption of nonessentials again.”
The report also predicted that consumption growth will decelerate while incomes will stay elevated because of both the Canada Recovery Benefit program and Employment Insurance, which will cost $17.9 billion and $13.5 billion, respectively, through the next two years, and because of new job creation.
Strangely the Greater Toronto Real Estate Market has been spotty but active and there are options and opportunities as there are in any market.
The number of listings has increased and we have had a flip-flop as the 905 activity surges over that in 416.
“The trend here is that the pandemic has made the age-old desire to live in close proximity to the Central Business District quite irrelevant (for the time being.)”
Though we’re no longer set to be the home of one of the most technologically advanced neighbourhoods in the world, Toronto is still proving itself to be a huge force in the tech sector, and a hot spot for those in the industry.
The city’s scene has now surpassed that of even San Francisco as far as growth, and is still expanding rapidly despite the pandemic, as indicated by new numbers on our tech worker pool.
According to new rankings from CBRE, which scores U.S. and Canadian cities on their tech talent, Toronto tops the list in Canada for 2020 with a ranking of 87.6, adding a staggering 36.5 per cent more workers in that industry betweeen 2014 and 2019, making for about 250,000 innovative minds — 8.8 per cent of the city’s total workforce.
Even compared to major U.S. hubs, Toronto gained a significant edge as far as new graduates in the field, far outpacing all other Canadian cities with a ranking of 64.34 and coming fourth overall as far as tech talent between the two countries, just after the San Fran Bay Area, Washington and Seattle.
With billions being invested into new startups in the city each year, it’s no surprise that people in the biz are flocking here, especially as tech companies are far less affected by the health crisis than other types of businesses.
Some — like Shopify, which has a burgeoning Toronto presence — have even benefitted from the uptick in things like online shopping and social media use.
“Through COVID-19, tech companies have generally fared well. Early on, ecommerce and social platforms experienced a boom as shelter-in-place measures went into effect, forcing everyone to rely on the tech around them to work and live,” the new report reads.
“Success also extended to more specialized players in the realms of cybersecurity, IT infrastructure, gaming, and work-from-home enablers.”
As people continue to work from home and rely on online options amid lockdowns, it’s safe to assume that Toronto’s tech sector will keep on flourishing as the city remains one of the top contenders in the industry.
The biggest risk to Canada’s housing market in the near-term is new lockdowns in big cities that have seen COVID-19 infections surge in recent weeks.
According to an economist with Capital Economics, restrictions that may be rolled out in the coming days would put a dent in the robust sales activity recorded since summer, but would leave home prices mostly unaffected.
“The key near-term risk to the housing market is the prospect of “circuit-breaker” lockdowns in the major cities,” wrote Stephen Brown in a research note published today.
“New restrictions for Toronto [are] due to be announced later on Friday and, while the rumours so far suggest these will remain targeted to certain high-risk activities, we would not be surprised if this is the last step before all non-essential businesses are closed,” he added.
So far, Canada’s housing market has “shrugged off” worsening COVID-19 outbreaks. Brown said that a small monthly decline in home sales recorded in October could be tied back to lower inventory of homes for sale rather than pandemic fears. At the national level, the supply of unsold homes dropped to a record low of two and a half months, meaning it would take two and a half months for all homes currently listed on the market to sell at the current rate of sales.
With new restrictions aligning with the late year period and holiday season, when home sales typically slow down anyway, Brown writes that these measures “wouldn’t do much” to home prices.
The economist acknowledged that downtown condos are a weak spot for the market, but from a national perspective, they are too small to significantly shift home prices at the country-wide level.
Far more important to Brown is the potential impact of an effective vaccine on the housing market in 2021. Pfizer and Moderna have both reported the efficacy of their vaccines is at or near 95 percent. With Canada having already ordered substantial amounts of both, Brown asks if the distribution of those vaccines could reverse the rising home price trends we’ve seen this year.
It may seem like an unusual question considering the promise of a return to normalcy that the widespread distribution of these vaccines hold. But Brown writes that the pandemic was “an unexpected boon for the housing market” and COVID-19-driven policy moves by Canada’s central bank have caused mortgage rates to drop to rock bottom levels.
If mortgage rates were to begin to rise again on the back of an improving economic picture as the pandemic recedes, this could dissuade some potential buyers from entering the market.
A widely watched Canadian home price index just posted its highest gain seen for the month of October in 22 years.
The Teranet-National Bank Home Price Index rose 1.3 percent last month over September and 8.1 percent from the previous year. Ottawa-Gatineau, Hamilton and Montreal were the local markets that saw both the strongest monthly and annual price gains.
Victoria, Vancouver and Halifax also saw price increases healthily above one percent in October. Meantime, Toronto, Quebec City, Edmonton and Winnipeg all saw increases at one percent or lower.
The Teranet-National Bank index is known to lag behind other widely used home price tracking tools, including the monthly average home sale prices published by the Canadian Real Estate Association and local boards.
This is because the index is compiled using a repeat sales methodology that works by tracking the price change between the two most recent sales of the same property. The index uses prices entered into public land registries in the Canadian markets it tracks. These often are slower to respond to market changes because sale price data is not added to land registries as quickly as it’s entered into the MLS systems used by real estate boards.
National Bank Senior Economist Marc Pinsonneault said that a surge in the number of sales entered into the index was a sign the Canadian housing market is continuing to firm up after the pandemic caused the market to stall through the spring.
Because of the lagging nature of the index, the worst of the pandemic’s market impact was more clearly captured in the summer, rather than in the spring data.
Pinsonneault noted that sales entered into the index in October were up 48 percent over the same time last year.
“This development echoes the revival of home sales reported by the Canadian Real Estate Association beginning in July, recovering ground lost in the severe slowdowns induced by COVID-19 in previous months,” he said.
It appears Toronto has been dethroned as the most expensive city in the country for average monthly rents for a one-bedroom after North York surpassed Canada’s largest city in October.
On Friday, Rentals.ca and Bullpen Research & Consulting released their latest National Rent Report, which revealed that year-over-year, the average rent for all property types — which includes single-family housing, townhouses, rental apartments, condominium apartments, and basement apartments — listed on Rentals.ca in the country is down by 8.1% in October — but an uptick was recorded in the average rent for all Canadian properties at .7% month-over-month to $1,782, after four months of almost no change.
“We continue to see an increase in listings nationally, which tells us that supply is outpacing demand. This market imbalance suggests soft rental market conditions will continue for the rest of the year,” said Matt Danison, CEO of Rentals.ca.
What’s more, the latest data has shown that a number of Canada’s largest real estate markets are now experiencing declining rental rates, and in turn, secondary markets are seeing their average rents increase, as more tenants work from home and continue to look for larger, but less expensive units in smaller communities.
In October, average Toronto rents for all property types continued to nosedive with one-bedroom units falling 17% year-over-year and declining every month since January, while two-bedroom units down 14% annually and declining month-by-month since July.
According to the report, North York overtook Toronto for the highest average monthly rent for a one-bedroom home after increasing 7% month-over-month to an average of $1,945.
However, Toronto still finished second on the list for average monthly rent for a one-bedroom home in October at $1,922 and for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $2,531.
The October report also looked at how average rents for select municipalities — and former municipalities — have changed over the past year. In October of last year, Oakville, Vancouver, North York, Toronto and Mississauga all saw rent levels increase by 5% to 14% annually for all property types. In October 2020, all of those areas experienced declines of 5% to 17%.
According to the report, this data backs up the “Urban Exodus” theory in Ontario — which is when people move to rural areas from large towns and cities — with average rents declining by 8% in North York, 15% in Etobicoke, 17% in Toronto, and 20% in East York, while cities such as Kitchener, Hamilton, and London are still seeing double-digit rent growth during the pandemic, with annual increases of 14%, 15%, and 17% respectively.
What’s more, in October of last year, it cost more than $200 more to lease the average property in Toronto than in North York, while during the same time this year, rent in North York is higher than Toronto by approximately $25 per month on average.
When looking at the monthly changes for condo and rental apartments, North York has the most expensive one-bedroom units at $1,953 per month, topping both Toronto and Vancouver, as a number of new purpose-built apartments are starting pre-leasing programs, pulling the average up.
However, it is important to note that comparing North York and Toronto can be difficult because the make-up of listings has shifted dramatically. According to the report, both areas have seen declines in listings for the more expensive single-family segment, but North York has seen a decline in condo listings year over year, while listings for condo apartments on Rentals.ca in Toronto has increased by 45% annually.
“The rising rents in several smaller municipalities, as well as the significant increase in web traffic on Rentals.ca in Ontario, suggests many prospective tenants are widening their search area when looking for a rental property,” said Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research & Consulting.
Toronto is a city of soon-to-be skyscrapers. According to the 2020 North American Crane Index, we have the highest number of active tower cranes out of every other city in the continent, with 120 in the downtown core alone. And in a matter of years, those cranes will be replaced by some of the tallest condos in the country.
Here are some new skyscrapers about to transform the Toronto skyline.
SkyTower, 95 storeys
Hariri Pontarini’s monster condo (pictured above) is slated for completion in 2024. It’s one of three towers making up the Pinnacle project at One Yonge, and will be the tallest building in Toronto, after the CN Tower. If you’ve got a budget as lofty as this development, you’ll be able to afford one of their $800,000 units.
Mirvish+Gehry, 91 and 81 storeys
The Princess of Wales Theatre will soon get two garganguan companions, courtesy of two new mixed-use, high-ceilinged towers in the Entertainment District. Billowy “canopies” will protrude out of these tower podiums and over Duncan Street.
1200 Bay Street , 87 storeys
Swiss-based architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron and Canadian group Quadrangle have been appointed by developers Kroonenberg Groep and ProWinko to transform the corner of Bay and Bloor into this mix-used tower with floor-to-ceiling operable windows and a sky lounge.
The One, 85 storeys
If you’ve passed by Bloor and Yonge lately, you’ve undoubtedly caught sight of the scifi-looking construction site of Mizrahi Developments’ The One. Construction was delayed for several months but above-ground work has finally resumed. It will be Canada’s first supertall skyscraper when it’s done in 2022.
YSL Residences, 85 storeys
The southeast corner of Yonge and Gerrard has seen massive changes over the years, in large part to make way for two towers, dubbed Yonge Street Living (YSL). Both skyscrapers will be connected by a sky-bridge.
372 Yonge, 74 storeys
The Aura Tower is still the tallest residential building in Canada right now at 79 storeys, but only slightly shorter will be this new project from Dialog, which will sit directly across the street. It will also hold a new venue called Club Bluenote, named after the iconic rhythm and blues club which used to exist on the property in the 1960s.
50 Bloor Street West, 70 storeys
Rising up from Yorkville’s Holt Renfrew will be this condo with office space and retail on the bottoms floors. There will be 600 residential units included in the build. A trio of KingSett towers ranging from 50 to 69 storeys located around the corner are also on the way.
200 Queens Quay West, 71 and 41 storeys
The waterfront will soon be even less visible from uptown thanks to this pair of towers from Lifetime Developments. Originally slated to be affordable housing, this parking lot will instead be a mix of condos with some affordable housing sprinkled in.
Concord Canada House, 69 and 59 storeys
Concord Adex’s headquarters will soon be replaced by this mixed-used condo project. Both towers will jut out of a 10-storey podium and contain more than 1,300 new condo units.
A 25-acre expanse of properties located between St. Clair Avenue East, Kennedy Road and the Scarborough GO Train station could make way for a master-planned community.
In late October, an Official Plan Amendment (OPA), draft plan of subdivision and rezoning application was submitted to city planners to construct a mixed-use community with 6,619 residential units at 3585 Saint Clair Avenue East. The site would span multiple lots, and incorporate new retail, park and residential uses. The architect, Giannone Petricone Associates, is also behind other master-planned projects in the Greater Toronto Area, including 250 The East Mall Condos and Agincourt Mall Redevelopment.
The development lands are located on the south side of St. Clair Avenue East within an area known as the Scarborough Junction Triangle, according to the planning rationale by Bousfields Inc. Consisting of 12 industrial and commercial-type properties, the site is split into two parcels, bordered by Kennedy Road to the west, St. Clair Avenue East to the north and the Metrolinx GO Transit rail corridor to the southeast.
This is not the first time that development applications have been proposed for this area. In 1998, an OPA was filed for a mixed-residential and commercial project on an 19.7-acre portion of the site. Rezoning applications were later filed and then appealed in 2006. The application went through revisions from 2006 to 2012, and a Settlement Approval was granted in April 2019, explains the planning rationale.
The Scarborough Junction Master Plan seeks to create three large sites within the triangle that contain new streets, buildings and park space. The recent development application focuses on Site A, with Sites B and C used as a reference but not formally included in the application.
Redeveloping the subject Site A would create a 201,715-square-foot public park with 10 development blocks containing buildings ranging from 12 to 48 storeys in height.
Seventeen high-rise buildings with mid-rise base structures are proposed for Site A. Of the 6,619 proposed residential suites, the breakdown consists of 379 studio, 4,509 one-bedroom, 1,058 two-bedroom and 673 three-bedroom units. According to the project’s data sheet, the residential units would include both condominium and rental uses.
Approximately 317,621 square feet of total residential amenity space would be provided for indoor and outdoor use. A total of 3,666 parking spaces are proposed for Site A, located in a series of underground garages. The application also includes 7,336 bicycle parking spaces for long- and short-term use.
In the southern part of Site A in Block J, a 201,715-square-foot public park would be constructed adjacent to the railway corridor as a central focal point of the master-planned community. Landscaped pathways, event spaces, sport courts, lawn space and a children’s playground with play structures are being considered for the park area.
Landscaping features, seating areas and patio spaces are also proposed in various sections of Site A, such as the 7,588-square-foot Station Plaza and 36,769-square-foot Retail Square. According to architectural drawings, space for a grocery store, daycare, retail and community rooms are proposed.
In the neighbourhood, Merge Condos continues sales while registration is underway at Nahid on Kennedy.
Detached homes have been rightfully stealing the headlines with remarkable sales volume and sky-high price growth, but there are still some areas in the Toronto region that are seeing better than average condo price increases.
While they, for the most part, don’t scale the heights of their detached home counterparts, condos in six Toronto suburbs saw average prices rise over 10 percent in October, according to the latest data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
The Livabl team looked at the average sale prices for condo apartments sold last month in the 30 cities and towns outside of the City of Toronto that TRREB tracks. Of the areas that recorded 10 or more sales during that time, six saw price increases over 10 percent compared to the previous year.
Oshawa and nearby Clarington saw condo prices rise nearly 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively. These were also the least expensive condo markets that saw significant transaction volume during that time. The average price of an Oshawa condo rose to $323,563 while Clarington saw its average price increase to $417,053.
Rounding out the six, Whitby, Markham, Brampton and Pickering all saw condo price increases above 10 percent.
Despite recording the highest condo sales volume outside of Toronto-proper, Mississauga’s average condo price only rose 2.3 percent from the previous year to $536,435. Sales volume in a single year, of course, does not tell the whole story. As the TRREB figures show, Mississauga’s condo sales volume in October actually fell slightly compared to a year ago.
Conversely, condo sales all climbed over October 2019 in the suburban markets that saw 10 percent-plus price increases.
Because of its outsized population, TRREB divides Toronto into three sub-regions — West, Central and East. Toronto Central saw the highest transaction volume, but the average price dropped just shy of 1 percent to $740,578.
Toronto West and East fared better, with average prices rising 8 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively. Due to their lower sales volumes, however, they had less of an impact on Toronto-proper’s overall average condo price, which rose only 0.8 percent from the previous year to $668,161.
Just like clockwork, another month ended with Toronto’s housing market breaking a record for home sales, with October logging 10,563 transactions across the region.
The October total was up more than 25 percent over the previous year and represents the fourth consecutive record-breaking month for Toronto home sales. It was also the fourth straight month that sales exceeded the 10,000 transaction mark, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board data published today (TRREB).
The pandemic-induced spring freeze that saw sales plummet may feel like a distant memory, but COVID-19 is still clearly impacting market activity and buyer preferences. Single-family homes continued to fly off the shelf in October, while activity in the condo segment remained muted by comparison.
TRREB said that sales growth in the detached segment “far outstripped” the rise in new listings. Meantime, the condo segment saw new listings double compared to the previous year while recording a modest 2.2 percent increase in sales.
“Competition between buyers of single-family homes, and particularly detached houses, remained strong last month and continued to support double-digit annual rates of price growth in many GTA neighborhoods,” said TRREB President Lisa Patel.
“In contrast, condo buyers have benefitted from much more choice compared to last year. Pre-COVID polling had already pointed to an increase in investor selling in 2020. The pandemic only added to this trend with a stall in economic growth and a halt to tourism impacting cashflows for many investors,” Patel continued.
The board’s benchmark price rose nearly 11 percent over October 2019, while the average selling price of a Toronto region home increased 13.7 percent to $968,318. Like sales activity, price growth diverged when observing the detached and condo market segments. The average Toronto region detached home price rose 14.8 percent to $1,204,844 as the average condo price recorded an annual increase under 1 percent to $622,122.
October’s record-breaking sales volume ensured year-to-date home sales for 2020 remained above 2019’s total for the same period.
“Year-to-date home sales through October were above last year’s level. The economic recovery in some sectors coupled with low borrowing costs has kept home purchases top-of-mind for many GTA residents,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.
“With this being said, we have not accounted for all of the pent-up demand that resulted from the spring downturn. Expect record or near-record home sales for the remainder of 2020,” he added.
The federal government’s new immigration targets aimed at making up for this year’s newcomer shortfall will provide support to local housing markets across the country, especially in major urban centres.
On October 30th, Canada’s government revealed its three-year plan to welcome 1.2 million immigrants to the country between 2021 and 2023. If the targets are met, the immigration boost will compensate for 2020’s drastically reduced numbers that came as a result of application and travel constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new immigration targets, which represent approximately one percent of Canada’s population, would bring an additional 50,000 immigrants per year on top of the previously established targets.
Whether renting or buying, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s (TRREB) Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer explained that the Greater Toronto Area’s housing market benefits from new immigrants, where cultural and labour diversity attracts newcomers worldwide.
“Growth in the housing market is predicated on population growth, and from Canada’s perspective and certainly drilling down into the GTA, immigration is a key driver of population growth,” Mercer told Livabl. “The GTA, I would argue, is Canada’s single greatest beneficiary of that immigration.”
While only 60 percent of 2020’s 341,000 newcomer target is expected to be met, CIBC Capital Markets’ Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal explained that there’s a few offsetting factors at play — a significant portion of new immigrants are already in the country, the number of returning citizens to Canada is increasing, and the phenomenon of ‘brain drain’ has been reduced.
“There are many forces that are compensating for the fact that new immigrants [are down], but clearly it is a factor that is mostly impacting the rental market at this point because most of them are renting,” said Tal.
Canada’s rental markets, particularly in large cities, have seen rental prices slashed and more supply hitting the market, mostly due to far fewer international students and immigrants arriving this year amidst the global pandemic. However, Mercer said that a boost in immigration over the next three years could absorb rental inventory quickly, tightening the market back up and increasing average rents again.
Only 18 percent of newcomers, on average, purchase a condo, according to a 2019 market study commissioned by Royal LePage. However, Mercer explains that condo markets could also experience a higher rate of inventory absorption from immigrants with new condo supply coming online.
“It stands to reason that if you’re moving from rental into homeownership, for a lot of newcomers as well, the condominium market may be the first thought,” said Mercer.
On average, a newcomer purchases real estate three years after moving to Canada. Tal suggests that today’s purchasing newcomers are not necessarily impacted by the virus. Instead, any delays to immigrants buying real estate will be felt three years from now instead of next year, but a lot can still change in that time.
“The same goes for two years ago, or even a year ago. The impact will be felt, if you wish, three years from now on average for when people start buying,” said Tal. “But by then, we will see some sort of compensation from that coming from the increase [in immigration] in the coming few years.”
Tal points to suburbs outside of big city markets as hotspots for newcomer homebuying activity. He says that more immigrants have been looking to suburban communities and rural areas for housing, where there is greater affordability. However, Tal explains that the shift in buyer preferences that has ignited so many suburban housing markets is not a long-term sustainable trend.
“I think in the short-term it will lead to more [buying in] suburban markets, but I think we should not exaggerate this trend,” said Tal. “I think that two or three years from now, when we are on the other side of this crisis, I think that people will go back to what we’ve seen before.”
The events of 2020 have shaken up Toronto’s real estate market something fierce, driving rent prices down by record amounts as new condo listings flood the market. But some things never change, it would seem — like the ridiculously high price people will pay for one-bedroom shoeboxes in the sky.
Here are some one-bedroom condos that are currently on the market for at least $1 million, if you’d rather live in 700-square-feet of glass and concrete near the SkyDome than a four-bedroom house in Guelph.
$1,075,000 in Liberty Village
Hear me about before you rage-click that “x” over the thought of a seven-figure one bedroom in LibVille: This 1,034-square-foot loft in the Toy Factory building (as pictured above) boasts everything from 12 foot ceilings and custom closets to a full Scavolini kitchen. A den with built-in Murphy bed pretty much makes it a two-bedroom anyway.
$1,014,900 at Bathurst and Lake Shore
This one bed, one bath on the 42nd floor of the newly-completed Lakeshore residential tower (pictured above) has lake views and sits atop an historic (and frankly very cool) new grocery store. It’s quite petite, however, for the price tag: Only 700-799 square feet.
$1,074,900 at King and Sumach
Okay, here’s a place that actually looks like a million bucks. It may not be large enough for a maximalist couple to comfortably co-exist, but the design, decor, appliances and fixtures are all pure luxury. If impressing people or living among beauty are priorities, look no further.
$1,049,000 in the heart of Yorkville
Now this is more along the lines of something you might pay a milli for, at least in terms of location and space — just steps from Bloor on Cumberland with 1,149 square feet to play with. Plus, look at those bay windows.
$1,049,000 in St. Lawrence Market
A little blah and a lot dated for seven figures, this nearly 1400-square-foot unit in a boutique, nine storey building, located within one of Toronto’s most-coveted hoods does have some great things going for it — like a large legit sunroom with a park view
$1,089,000 in Baby Point
This unit within an “elegant boutique-style building” on Old Mill road can boast more privacy than most other condos in Toronto, with just two units per floor and lots of space: 1,200 square feet indoors plus a 420-square-foot terrace overlooking the Humber River. Still… seven figures for that kitchen? I don’t know.
$1,050,000 in Willowdale
Don’t let the bedroom count on this nearly two level, 1600-square-foot unit off of Yonge Street between Sheppard and Finch fool you: It contains two ultra-cool full-sized offices and is probably one of the more unique pads you’ll see on this list. If a see-through kitchen half-wall excites you, regard.
$1,149,800 near Ryerson
First, some context: The Merchandise Lofts are one of the coolest old hard-loft style condo buildings in the downtown core, and units don’t come up for sale here very often. This 1,255 square foot loft is spacious and bright with two baths and very owner has access to a private basketball court and sick, event-worthy rooftop patio.
$1,090,000 at King East and Sherbourne
Another St. Lawrence Market gem, but modernly-designed in a boutique, “pet-friendly, sun-drenched” building just steps to the Harbourfront. With 1,242 square feet of indoor space and 650-square foot vista terrace facing southwest, this two-level could well be worth seven figures despite having only one bedroom.
The federal government intends to settle 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years in a bid to catalyze economic recovery, and if there’s one sector of the economy that will benefit, it’s real estate.
The COVID-19 pandemic has stifled Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) ability to accept and process applications, resulting in a shortfall that’s left segments of Toronto’s once-searing condo market reeling. However, with 60% of these new immigrants touted as belonging to the “economic class,” which includes skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs, the country’s largest condo market should see an immediate surge in activity.
“To compensate for the shortfall and ensure Canada has the workers it needs to fill crucial labour market gaps and remain competitive on the world stage, the 2021 to 2023 levels plan aims to continue welcoming immigrants at a rate of about 1% of the population of Canada, including 401,000 permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023,” said an IRCC statement. “The previous plan set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.”
A third of Canadian business owners are immigrants, the statement added.
Davelle Morrison, a broker with Bosley Real Estate, noted that activity in Toronto’s rental market has been hampered by the dearth of newcomers to the city, although she says domestic investors have done their part to buoy the condo market.
“The real estate condo rental market is down quite a bit, as is the resale condo market, and I’d attribute those things to there being no immigration and no travel, which has affected Airbnb and other short-term rental operators. The lack of travel has depressed the rental and resale condo markets,” said Morrison.
“The other thing that’s interesting is, despite not having immigration, a lot of preconstruction condo projects in downtown Toronto have still sold incredibly well, even though they’re only appealing to domestic investors and not foreign investors. They have still fared quite well, even without immigrants.”
Canada welcomed 321,120 new immigrants to the country in 2019—a 116-year high that’s slated to be broken in 2021. Investors capable of carrying condos a little longer will doubtless benefit from the marked rise in demand that should cause market rents to surge.
“If the government’s plan is to allow more immigrants into the country over the next few years, then I’d say that’s great for both the condo rental and resale markets,” said Morrison.
he temperatures may have cooled down, but the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) real estate market continues to heat up, with home sales up over 25% compared to October 2019, marking the fourth month in a row of year-over-year growth, according to the latest data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
According to TRREB’s October housing market report, resale activity in the GTA is showing no signs of slowing down, after having another record-setting month, during which, a total of 10,563 sales were made — a 25.1% jump from the 8,445 sales recorded in the previous October.
The record-level sales were paired with record listings, with 17,802 recorded across the region compared to 13,053 in October of last year. However, despite the overall growth in listings, TRREB said the number of listings “diverged” in some markets, such as the detached home segment, where the pace of annual sales growth greatly outpaced listings. On the other hand, the condominium segment experienced over double the listings seen in October 2019, while sales only increased by 2.2% in the same period.
“Competition between buyers of single-family homes, and particularly detached houses, remained strong last month and continued to support double-digit annual rates of price growth in many GTA neighbourhoods,” said TRREB President Lisa Patel.
“In contrast, condo buyers have benefitted from much more choice compared to last year. Pre-COVID polling had already pointed to an increase in investor selling in 2020. The pandemic only added to this trend with a stall in economic growth and a halt to tourism impacting cashflows for many investors.”
Home prices have been steadily inflating over the past several months, and last month was no different. The average selling price for all combined home types rose 13.7% year-over-year, up to $968,318 from $851,877 in October 2019.
“Year-to-date home sales through October were above last year’s level. The economic recovery in some sectors coupled with low borrowing costs has kept home purchases top-of-mind for many GTA residents. With this being said, we have not accounted for all of the pent-up demand that resulted from the spring downturn. Expect record or near-record home sales for the remainder of 2020,” reads a statement from Jason Mercer, TRREB’s Chief Market Analyst.
Looking ahead, TRREB is remaining positive, with CEO John DiMichele stating that “beyond COVID-19, it is clear that the high demand for housing will continue.”
“The federal government has set immigration targets above 400,000 people for each of the next three years. The GTA will undoubtedly continue to benefit from this population growth. All of these people will need a place to live, whether in the ownership or rental markets.”
In October, the feds announced they are increasing the country’s immigration target between 2021 to 2023 to make up for this year’s pandemic-induced shortfall.
Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino, said the country will welcome more than 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years, with up to 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023 — an increase of 50,000 each year compared with the previous targets. The previous plan had set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.
Zain Jafrey, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, agreed with DiMichele and said the upcoming increase in immigration matched with low housing inventory and low-interest rates will continue to push prices post COVID. “An increase in population throughout the GTA will continue to increase demand for properties as people will require a place to live and will very well push prices in both the rental and ownership markets. The current pent-up demand will become greater due to the increased competition for limited properties.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada closed its borders to the majority of immigration hoping to ease the spread of the virus. “Once lifted, this new influx of immigrants and the pent-up immigration being held off by COVID-19 will pick up where strong demand — due to lowered interest rates — taper off,” said Broker Matthew Adam Cracower, who specializes in Yorkville real estate.
“The resiliency of the Toronto and GTA market proved itself during the pandemic and this shows how strong the bounce-back will be once COVID-19 is eliminated.”
Shaun Denis, CEO and broker for Umber Realty, believes that in addition to immigration, there are still a number of factors supporting the housing market in recent months — including low-interest rates, pent-up demand, government support. “As we project a strong positive net migration in the coming years, we expect overall demand will continue to rise into 2021. It is important to note that the lingering effects of COVID-19 will cause disproportionate demand between property classes in the city,” added Denis.
Dorian Rodrigues of PSR Brokerage also believes the current demand will continue into the new year, but partially because “there are many people who are still trying to plan their living situation based on their work scenario.”
“Many buyers have been trying to move from condo life to a house and or move out of the city for more outdoor space. The interest rates also have been low for a number of years now and obviously having them stay low will provide more opportunities to buyers moving up in the market, which we have been seeing a lot.”
While these brokers all echo similar sentiments, some economists have a different point of view.
Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC, recently said he believes “the housing market will slow down,” and subsequently, the economy, too, despite the current overall confidence in the Canadian housing market.
“Even the governor of the Bank of Canada is telling us, listen, don’t expect any growth basically over the next six months. The party’s over. You can’t have a o% increase in the economy with the housing market continuing to boom,” said Tal.
Tal also added that another factor influencing his forecast is that the damage to the labour market will be “much more significant in terms of the impact of the economy and the impact on the economy.” “Normally you would see more higher-wage jobs disappearing or at least you would have less job security there. And that’s very, very important,” explained Tal. “So, I believe that this optimism is not actually going to last for too long.”
Tal said that if you ask any real estate developer or investor in the condo space, they’ll tell you the market isn’t actually that “hot.” As such, Tal says all the focus is now on the low-rise segment of the market where there is no supply.
“The demand is there because of the nature of the crisis and this means that we soon will reach, I believe, a price resistance, even in this segment of the market and it will start softening.”
Canadians are out in droves this fall in pursuit of a vacation home or cottage as the country hunkers down for a long winter amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, both buyers and sellers need to keep tax implications in mind as the rules change when multiple properties are involved, experts say.
Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC Private Wealth Management, says that a couple is generally allowed one principal residence for tax purposes. When someone with multiple homes – including a vacation home – goes to sell, most people are eager to claim any tax exemptions they can, right away, to save money.
But deciding whether to pay taxes on the capital gains of your home sale is more complicated than it appears, Golombek says.
In 2016, tax rules changed with regard to what is known as the principal residence exemption. The exemption can save sellers money by offering a tax-exempt capital gain on the sale of property designated as someone’s “principal residence.”
This exemption is “the biggest thing to keep in mind when you have a second property,” says Mariska Loeppky, IG Wealth Management’s director of tax and estate planning.
The seller must first decide whether they expect the sale of their cottage or their city home to yield a bigger gain. The more money you gain on a home sale, the better off you are claiming it a tax exemption.
“But that’s not enough,” says Golombek. “Because you also have to look at the number of years after that you’re expected to hold the other property, and its potential for future appreciation. Because if you now choose to use the exemption on the sale of your vacation property, it’s not available for all the years that you owned both properties.”
A vacation home can often qualify for the exemption – as long as it meets certain conditions, such as being inhabited by the owners at least a little each year, and not being regularly rented out as an income property. But unlike decades past, Canada Revenue Agency no longer takes for granted that – if no tax is paid on the capital gain – the tax saving provision is being used.
Now, sellers must be diligent to report it.
“What’s new (as of 2016) is the requirement to actually tell the government that you’re claiming exemption,” says Golombek. “They’re really cracking down on people who are selling residences – if they qualify for the exemption, making sure that you tell them that you’re actually using it.”
Many people with two homes may be encountering the change for the first time when they file 2020 taxes.
Sales of properties in the Lakelands region of Ontario grew more than 40 per cent from a year ago in September, setting a new monthly record led by waterfront properties. A record number of properties were also listed for sale in the region that includes Parry Sound, Muskoka, Haliburton and Orillia. In Kawartha Lakes, sales also hit a record in September (although listings declined), while in British Columbia, the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board saw September residential sales rise 78 per cent from last year.
Plus, Loeppky says, a recent renovation boom could also impact the tax situation when it comes to selling a vacation home. An online survey of 2,500 Canadian adults by Rates.ca in early September indicated that more than 16 per cent of respondents were planning or had done a renovation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the home goes up for sale, there are also tax implications, says Loeppky. That means homeowners should be keeping receipts for the sale and major renovations on both properties, whether they expect to claim it for a tax exemption or not.
For example, Loeppky says, you may have purchased a house, always expecting that it would be your principal residence for tax purposes. A few years later, you purchase a cottage, which shoots up in value in a hot market.
You’ll likely want to switch gears and try to use the principal residence exemption to ease the tax bill when you sell the cottage. But to do so, she says, you need to show which home makes the bigger gain on paper – so you must keep track of what you paid for the cottage and all the receipts from adding that sunroom years ago.
“It fluctuates with market conditions and over time … You never know what the future holds. Right? And that’s ultimately what it comes down to,” she says.
“In your mind, it’s completely tax free. But then something happens and you end up claiming it for the other property.”
Real estate investors are increasingly trying to get out of closing on their newly built condos in the Toronto region, as rents plummet and banks toughen borrowing qualifications for rental properties.
Selling the right to buy the new condo, also known as assignment sales, has soared during the past few months of the coronavirus pandemic, according to realtors.
It is a sign of weakness in the condo market beset by a glut of new units, declining rents and a dwindling number of renters.
“We are seeing a massive wave of assignments of people who don’t want to close in this market,” said Simeon Papailias, senior partner with REC Canada, which brokers hundreds of preconstruction sales every year.
Since the pandemic started early this year, the rental vacancy rate in the Greater Toronto Area has reached its highest level in more than a decade and the average rental price is 9-per-cent lower than the previous year, according to industry research group Urbanation Inc.
Demand for rentals has declined, with border restrictions slowing immigration, tourism and the influx of foreign students. At the same time, the number of available rental units has spiked. A record 23,000 new condos units will be completed in the Toronto region this year, and another 22,434 are due next year, according to Urbanation. It estimates that 50 per cent were bought as rental units.
Condo resales and their average selling price have increased over the previous year. As well, preconstruction sales on condo projects are still robust. But the number of new condo listings and new rental-unit listings are rapidly increasing. If that persists, realtors predict selling prices will start to decline.
As well, many Airbnb operators turned their properties into long-term rentals or are trying to sell them because tourism disappeared. In addition, many condo tenants gave up their places when they lost work or because they found space outside of the city.
Now, real estate investors who are due to close on their new condos worry that they won’t be able to cover their mortgage payments with rent.
“Guys who are closing in the short term are absolutely shook and affected by the pandemic and what it has done to the rental market. That is what is pushing them to assign,” said Mr. Papailias, who estimates that assignments now account for between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of his preconstruction sales. This compared with a range of 10 per cent to 15 per cent before the pandemic.
Unlike condo resales, which is tracked by local boards, there is no database for condo assignments and realtors are typically not allowed to list them. Over all, assignments account for a small fraction of the residential property market.
Assignment sales are only allowed when the condo building is almost completed, and the sale must be approved by the condo developer. The original buyer would have made a down payment for the purchase and sales agreement on the preconstruction condo before it was built about three or four years ago. For condos due to close this year, the original purchase was made around 2016 or 2017, when the economy was strong and demand for downtown city living was high.
With COVID-19 cases rising and some pandemic restrictions back in place, people are losing income and the economic recovery is uncertain. Banks don’t want investors defaulting on their mortgage payments and are trying to ensure that investors have cash and employment income to draw upon if a tenant stops paying rent. Since the pandemic began, lenders have become stricter with their qualifications, including in some cases requiring bigger down payments and not accepting down payments that were borrowed.
“The financing has gotten a lot more difficult,” said Matt Elkind, senior broker with Connect Realty, an expert in preconstruction sales. “The banks’ appetite to lend to investors is down significantly. An individual, six months ago, would have qualified without problem. They’re not now,” he said.
Mr. Elkind said one of his clients did not qualify for a bank mortgage because she received federal aid when her business lost revenue from the pandemic. Some banks are asking prospective borrowers for a 35-per-cent down payment to qualify for the mortgage, whereas in the past, 20 per cent would suffice.
Lenders are also recognizing less of the rental income as part of the borrower’s total income. For example, before the pandemic, a lender would count 80 per cent of the prospective rental income as part of the borrower’s total income. Now, the same lender will only recognize 50 per cent of that income, according to real estate experts.
“For people whose only income is rental, it is hard to qualify,” said Bernadette Laxamana, mortgage broker and president of Karista Mortgage in B.C.
Banks typically have the cheapest mortgages, with interest rates at record lows. (The popular five-year fixed rate is below 2 per cent.) If buyers don’t qualify at a bank, they are forced to seek alternative lenders, which typically charge higher interest rates.
“They are having to look at options where the money is much more expensive. That is where people are having problems,” Mr. Elkind said.
Because the prices of condos have increased since 2016, investors are able to sell their contracts at a higher price, according to realtors, though they said it was not an ideal time to sell, especially as housing demand is expected to soar with Ottawa boosting immigration targets for the next three years.
“Life changes, your situation changes and you have the option to sell. Is this the best time to sell it? No it is not,” said Hunny Gawri, managing partner of My Investment Brokers, which works on all types of preconstruction projects.
The Liberal government plans to bring in more than 1.2 million immigrants over the next three years, despite hurdles created by the global pandemic.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino unveiled what he called an “ambitious” three-year immigration plan today that set targets for bringing skilled workers, family members and refugees into Canada.
Canada aims to bring 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023.
The numbers — which represent an increase of about 50,000 for each year — aim to compensate for the shortfall this year due to the pandemic and represent about one per cent of Canada’s population.
Last year’s plan promised to bring in more than one million immigrants over a three-year period, but the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting travel restrictions have slowed down the process. Mendicino said the government remains committed to welcoming newcomers as a means to keep Canada’s economy afloat.
At a news conference in Ottawa today, Mendicino said immigrants drive the population and economic growth that pays for vital programs such as health care.
“Put simply, we need more workers, and immigration is the way to get there,” he said.
WATCH: Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino on immigration targets:
Mendicino said he’s confident the government can meet the targets despite the global health crisis, by working around travel restrictions while adhering to safety measures such as mandatory quarantines.
He said the government will aim to attract workers to fill labour gaps in regions facing sector shortages.
“With nearly 60 per cent of all new admissions in the economic class, our plan will continue to focus on Canada’s economic growth,” he said.
The breakdown of next year’s plan includes:
- 232,000 immigrants in the economic class.
- 103,500 in the family class.
- 59,500 refugees and protected persons.
- 5,500 on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Traditionally, Ottawa’s goal in immigration policy has been to attract top talent in a competitive global market while reuniting families and offering refuge to people displaced by disaster, conflict and persecution.
In its last three-year plan, the federal government sought to bring in 341,000 immigrants this year, 351,000 next year and another 361,000 in 2022.
The government did not offer a precise figure on how many immigrants have arrived in Canada so far this year, but says it’s on track to meet half of its 341,000 target by year’s end.
Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho called the numbers “pure fantasy” and said the government has no plan to bring in large numbers of immigrants safely despite border restrictions and embassy and office closures around the world.
“There’s just no way that’s going to happen. And I was really hoping to hear an actual plan of how those issues were going to be resolved today. And there was not barely any mention of it at all,” she said.
She said rapid testing for COVID-19 would be a critical step in helping bring people in during the pandemic, but the government has failed to make the necessary progress.
She said the Trudeau government must offer a concrete plan for bringing people safely into the country during a pandemic and for integrating them into Canadian society.
“The number can be whatever it’s going to be, but unless they bring forward a plan for how they’re going to change course and get better at processing immigration applications, it’s really all for nothing.”
NDP MP Jenny Kwan said the government must take steps to accelerate processing after the pandemic slowed the process and created a growing backlog of applications.
“With over half a year of applications whose processing came to a complete stop, there will be no shortage of requests to be processed next year,” she said, adding that the immigration department must have a significant boost in resources to deal with the backlog.
“Without these investments, applicants are to expect significant increases in processing times for years to come, which were already long before the pandemic.”
She said Canada also should give permanent residence status to people who want it and are already in the country, such as temporary foreign workers and international students with job offers.
“Canada can, in fact, take a true humanitarian approach by regularizing all those immigrants and refugees and undocumented people,” she said.
Focus on labour gaps, says C of C
Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies and inclusive growth for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the government must focus squarely on matching economic migrants to worker shortages in various sectors and regions of the country.
Despite changes in the labour market and a major spike in the unemployment rate since the onset of the pandemic, gaps in the market remain, Nord said — and immigration will continue to play a large role in filling persistent labour shortages.
“We’re in this rather strange situation where we do have higher unemployment rates than we’ve seen for a number of years. Before the crisis there were record low unemployment rates. Now, they’re tipping towards the other end,” she said.
“But we still have a situation where there are still job vacancies and jobs that need to be filled across the country. Immigration can play an important role in diversity and economic growth, but also in filling labour market gaps, for sure.”
The government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth recommended that Canada boost its annual immigration levels to 450,000 by 2021 to stimulate the economy and tackle the twin labour market problems of an aging population and a low birth rate.
From Oakville and Milton in Halton Region to Oshawa and Clarington in Durham Region, there were 14 Toronto suburban cities and towns that saw detached home prices rise over 20 percent in October.
For the fourth consecutive month, the Toronto region’s housing market broke a sales record, again surging past 10,000 transactions for a 25 percent sales increase in October compared to the same month last year.
The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), which published the data yesterday, noted that sales in the detached home market segment drove the biggest gains, with new listings unable to keep pace with demand.
As buyer preferences have shifted to suburban detached homes, prices have been rising rapidly as suburban markets tighten up in the face of the demand influx. In just one example of how markets have quickly changed, detached home prices rose by more than 20 percent in 10 Toronto suburbs in September. Now, in October, there are 14 suburbs that saw home price growth surpass the 20 percent-mark.
Of the 30 suburban cities and towns tracked by TRREB, Adjala-Tosorontio in Simcoe County and Uxbridge in Durham Region saw by far the largest increases in detached home prices in October. Prices in Adjala-Tosorontio rose nearly 60 percent to $1,039,993 while Uxbridge recorded a close to 52 percent increase to $1,249,676.
Six more areas saw detached home prices rise over 25 percent. They were Scugog, Caledon, Clarington, Halton Hills, New Tecumseth and East Gwillimbury.
Rounding out the 14, another six markets saw prices rise between 20 percent and 25 percent. They were Oakville, Oshawa, Vaughan, Newmarket, Milton and Pickering.
Ten of those 14 markets recorded average sold prices above $1 million. In October 2019, only three of those same markets had average sold prices over the million dollar mark.
TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer said earlier this week that the board expects near-record home sales figures for the remainder of 2020 with pent-up demand from the spring still buoying market activity. With buyers still scooping up detached homes at a rapid pace, expect prices to keep accelerating too.
Construction crews were busy completing work on 6,816 condo units across the Toronto region this summer.
The third quarter total represented a huge leap over last year, rising 124 percent above the 3,038 units completed in 2019’s third quarter, according to new data from research firm Urbanation.
The surge in condo completions over the summer pushed the total completed through the first nine months of this year to 17,596 units, 47 percent higher than through the same period in 2019.
What’s most impressive, according to Urbanation, is despite this substantial rise in completions, there are still 78,156 units under construction in the Toronto region. The firm said that it expects 5,411 units to be completed in the final quarter of the year, bringing the annual total to a record-breaking 23,007 units.
A similar completion total is expected for 2021, with 70 percent of completed units located in Toronto-proper.
The city’s pipeline of new construction condos has been burgeoning for several consecutive quarters now, but the record-breaking completion numbers are somewhat ill-timed from a demand perspective.
Condo resale listings have risen considerably through the summer and fall while the city’s rental market is also seeing a sharp increase in units listed, forcing investor-owners to slash prices in order to woo renters.
In the same report, Urbanation said that new condo sales remained strong in the third quarter, but sales levels diverged when the suburban 905 area surrounding the city and the Toronto-proper 416 area were compared. New condo sales rose 106 percent in the 905 in the third quarter, while the 416 saw sales decline by 16 percent.
Among the seismic shifts the pandemic has spurred across the Canadian economy, few are as profound as those that have rocked Canadian real estate. The battle to control the spread of COVID-19 has not only altered how and where Canadians work, but also led many to question where and how they want to live. Rural and suburban areas that once lagged desirable city addresses are now roaring hot as homebuyers wearied by lockdowns seek bigger yards and larger living spaces. Tight downtown condo markets that previously commanded expensive rents are now thick with supply. And the flow of immigrants that typically fuel demand for housing of all types has slowed to a trickle. In just months, the landscape of Canadian real estate has been shaken to its core. Whether the changes are permanent or transitory is an open question, but one thing is certain, 2020 has been a year like no other for Canadian housing markets. Here we look at seven ways COVID-19 has affected housing.
Peak home resale activity shifted from spring to summer
Lockdown orders sent a shock through the housing market in March, suspending open houses and flat-lining sales during what is typically a high season for the market. Spring activity wasn’t lost though. As social distancing restrictions were relaxed in the summer, the market sprang back to life. This led to record-high activity over the July-September period. Pent-up demand was largely exhausted by September and we expect a return to more normal levels later this fall.
Rental markets cooled in some of Canada’s largest and least affordable cities
Following years of steady increases, rent is now declining in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, especially in higher density, downtown locations. Underlying the shift: is a surge in rental supply as the short-term rental business dries up and new purpose-built rental and condo units are completed. It all comes at a time when many renters have come under heavy financial pressure. Renters tend to earn less than homeowners, and it’s been lower-income and younger Canadians who suffered the most job losses during the pandemic. Demand near post-secondary institutions has softened too, due to the switch to online study and the closing of our border that kept many foreign students abroad.
Condo investors are looking to sell
As rents soften and vacancies rise, condo listings are spiking in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver—albeit from low levels. New, stricter regulations in Toronto are adding to the impulse to sell – at a time when new condo completions are bringing more units to the Toronto and Vancouver.
City-dwellers are pulling up stakes on a quest for larger living spaces—often in cottage country
Big-city living has lost some of its luster with social distancing measures severely restricting cultural life and socializing opportunities. Working and studying from home is now a reality for many, further eroding the attachment to big cities. Meantime, affordability issues are driving many Canadians further afield into smaller towns and cottage country, where larger living spaces are available. Clearly COVID-19 has lit a fire under cottage country real estate.
A silver lining? The pandemic made it ‘more affordable’ to own a home
With the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate cut to close to zero and sharp declines in bond yields mortgage rates have been pushed to their lowest levels on record. This slightly reduced mortgage payments on a home priced at market value despite prices continuing to rise at an accelerating pace in most of Canada. Generous government income support programs for households most affected by COVID-19 also made it easier to carry mortgage payments. Overall, Canadian households received more money ($56 billion) from government aid programs such as CERB and other transfers in the second quarter than they lost in wages and salaries due to the pandemic ($23 billion). On net, household disposable income spiked 11% in Canada. This substantially increased buyers’ purchasing power.
A key pillar of Canadian housing demand has been shaken: immigration
COVID-19 has severely disrupted the flow of immigrants moving to Canada—a major source of housing demand. In the second quarter of 2020, the number of new permanent residents plummeted 64% and more non-permanent residents left our country than came to it. The impact was dramatic: total net migration collapsed 94%. With the border poised to remain closed to all but essential travelers, and most post-secondary students continuing to study at home until immunization from COVID-19 reaches high levels in Canada and abroad – immigration is unlikely to rebound soon. To date, weak in-migration has had minimal impact on Canada’s overall housing market. But if sustained, we expect it will temper rental demand in larger markets as immigrants tend to rent in their first 5-10 years after landing into our country. This could have negative repercussions for condos and longer term, an extended period of weak in-migration could deplete future cohorts of first-time homebuyers.
The pandemic put many homeowners on the defensive
The sheer economic shock of COVID-19—with unemployment soaring to unprecedented highs—directly impacted many Canadians and put many others on the defensive. Almost 780,000 people opted to defer mortgage payments since the start of the pandemic, representing 16% of mortgages in bank portfolios. By the end of August, the vast majority of mortgage holders whose deferral period has expired had resumed regular payments. However, it remains unclear how many will ultimately be able to continue as outlook for jobs remains bleak for many Canadians. This poses a risk for the housing market, especially in areas where the economy is shakiest. Financial strains could potentially unleash a wave of properties for sale.
Robert Hogue is a member of the Macroeconomic and Regional Analysis Group, with RBC Economics. He is responsible for providing analysis and forecasts for the Canadian housing market and for the provincial economies. His publications include Housing Trends and Affordability, Provincial Outlook and provincial budget commentaries.
Even the most bullish housing observers would have had a tough time anticipating just how quickly Canada would bounce back from the pandemic shock that froze up market activity in the late winter and spring.
But, after what RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue calls a “spectacular rally,” the market has fully recovered and then some. National home sales hit an all-time high for September, climbing over August and up 46 percent over 2019’s total for the same month.
What comes next, however, is still shrouded in uncertainty.
In commentary published earlier this month, Hogue said that while the summer housing rally had been extended into September, the market has likely expended all the pent-up demand that had accumulated from earlier in the year at the height of the pandemic shutdowns.
The economist wrote that the market is set to cool off without the pent-up demand to keep it aloft. Tight supply relative to current demand for housing will also have an impact on sales numbers through the fall.
In what will be long remembered as a bizarre year for Canada’s housing market, it’s far from unusual for home sales to slow as the year winds down. But Hogue believes the next few months should at least offer some clues as to where the market is heading in 2021.
“We’ll see whether low interest rates and changing housing needs can keep demand boiling hot, or whether the exhaustion of pent-up demand and plummeting immigration will cool things down,” Hogue wrote.
“We’ll also learn how many current homeowners will be in trouble once mortgage payment deferrals expire and are forced to sell,” he added.
RBC has maintained a relatively positive outlook on the country’s housing market through the pandemic. Hogue said that answers to these questions, as well as a better view into how the second wave of COVID-19 plays out, should provide a better understanding of the risks as we move into the second calendar year of a pandemic-affected housing market.
It was another record-breaking month for the Canadian housing market. September sales rose 45.6 percent over the previous year with no obvious signs of slowing after several months of remarkable levels of buyer activity.
Sales rose in almost all Canadian housing markets in September, amounting to a nationwide total high that was enough to beat the previous record for the month by a margin of 20,000 transactions, according to data published today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
September records were broken on the pricing side as well, with the national average sale price increasing by 17.5 percent over the previous year to $604,000. This marked the first time that the national average exceeded $600,000. CREA noted that the soaring average sale price is heavily influenced by robust activity in the country’s two most expensive markets — Toronto and Vancouver.
CREA Senior Economist Shaun Cathcart wrote that the usual suspects were driving the record-breaking levels of activity in the country’s housing markets, with pent-up demand, government income support, rock bottom low interest rates and job losses being concentrated on lower wage workers all cited.
“But I think another wildcard factor to consider, which has no historical precedent, is the value of one’s home during this time. Home has been our workplace, our kids’ schools, the gym, the park and more. Personal space is more important than ever,” Cathcart said in a media release.
Commenting on yet another release of record-breaking housing market data, TD Economist Rishi Sondhi noted that increases in the supply of homes for sale and a pandemic-driven slowdown in population growth that was less severe than anticipated likely played a role.
“Also, instead of travelling during the traditional July and August vacation periods, people stayed home on account of the pandemic. This gave them more opportunities for buying and selling, which they likely took advantage of,” Sondhi wrote.
The past three months have been a remarkable show of strength during an economically tumultuous period, but many market experts believe that this pace cannot be sustained over the long term.
BMO Senior Economist Robert Kavcic wrote in response to the CREA data that while the bank doesn’t “subscribe to the deeply bearish view on Canada’s housing market,” there are enough headwinds building that the market should cool down in the months ahead.
Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus pandemic, had the most tourists of any Chinese city during a public holiday in October. Wuhan is overcoming its pandemic past and benefiting from its hero-city status to become a top travel destination
Buyers flocking to the 905 also want an urban experience, making condos in the growing urban centre of Mississauga the perfect choice.
Mississauga real estate is on a tear, reflecting the considerable efforts the city has put into its livability factor, transforming it from commuter suburb to urban centre, without the stress of downtown Toronto living.
Of course, prices are rising in tandem with popularity, so many who want a less frenetic lifestyle outside of downtown Toronto are considering a condo in this neighbouring city.
The Great Migration
There has been a steady stream of people moving to the 905-region as of late. Figures from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) in August showed the region outperformed the 416-area in both sales and the number of new listings.
Summer activity was explained, by many in the industry, as pent-up demand being released, as those who sat on the sidelines in the spring due to the pandemic went on a buying spree. But September figures kept the trend going, with the number of sales across all housing categories up by 42.3% in the GTA from the same time last year. And the 905 continued to outperform the 416 in September.
Affordability is one of the key factors driving buyers into the 905 area. The average price for all housing types in the 905 is $931,834, according to the latest TRREB figures. For the 416, the average price was $1,022,051. There is also more choice for buyers: there were 11,731 new listings of all housing types in the 905 in September, compared with 8,689 in the 416.
In the sales figures especially, it’s clear that buyers are voting with their feet (or moving vans). There were 7,528 sales of all housing types in the 905 in September, versus some 3,555 in the 416.
Urban Living Outside Toronto
While the 905 area encompasses a wide region, for those who want a more urban experience with close proximity to Toronto, Mississauga is a particularly coveted location.
The city’s Downtown Strategy aims for a growing, walkable downtown, where people can live, work and play.
“One of things we find … is that people moving to Mississauga want to be in the suburb but also want access to Toronto,” says Asha Singh, president of the Mississauga Real Estate Board (MREB). There are also the people who want to “feel like they are living in a city.”
Mississauga is a diverse cultural community, Singh says, with city-sponsored cultural events, many restaurants, and live-performance venues (the latter of which are waiting patiently for those days to return).
For those who enjoy the outdoors, Mississauga is filled with green space, Singh says, and for cyclists, there are “more than 400 km of on-road bike lanes.” There are golf courses and parks along the Credit River where people can actually see salmon run, she adds.
Though there is quick access to major highways such as the 401 and the 403, transit is also well served with the GO train, Miway buses, and the Light Rapid Transit line still being built out. For families, there are many excellent schools, libraries and play fields, she says. With Sheridan College and the University of Toronto’s Mississauga Campus, higher education is also accessible throughout the community.
With denser, mixed-use planning, as well as an emphasis on public transit, Mississauga is growing into an urban landscape.
Condo Life and the Perla Project
While the migration to the 905 region encompasses buyers looking for all housing types, condos remain the most affordable option when it comes to enjoying urban living. They also offer several advantages: maintenance is taken care of and buildings offer many amenities, for instance.
But size is often an issue, especially now, when space to work from home is an important consideration. Some of the condos in downtown Toronto could only be called “tiny,” coming in at under 500 square feet. In other words, not exactly the size you need to live (and love) your new COVID life that includes working at least some, if not all, your days from home.
Though the shift in demand for real estate in the 905 region started before the pandemic, according to Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, more people took a hard look at how much space they needed while spending more time at home.
“With COVID, people want to be in the suburbs, where they can get in the car or go for a walk,” says Singh.
Perla, a new development at Eglinton Avenue East and Hurontario Street, is offering the best of all worlds: urban, approachable condo living, but in much larger than average units that include massive balconies so working from, and enjoying time in, one’s space is easily attainable.
The Pinnacle International project offers 2- and 3-bedroom units from 960 square feet to more than 2,000 square feet. That’s a lot of living space. The development also includes extensive amenities, such as a 24-hour concierge, an indoor swimming pool and hot tub, fully-equipped exercise and yoga rooms, and a party room with kitchenette for better times to come.
While the East Tower is still under construction, occupancies in the West Tower are well under way, with all units including one parking spot and one locker. And with pricing in Mississauga more affordable than in Toronto, condos in the 905 are moving fast, Singh says. “As soon as they come on, they are bought.”
Perla is set in 15-acres of parkland, is just steps to the future LRT, and brings with it the amenities of an urban centre while still being set in the suburban calm of the red-hot 905-region.
To learn more about Perla and how you can register click here.
Bank is assuming no widespread lockdowns are coming back, and that there will be a vaccine by 2022
The Bank of Canada says it has no plans to change its benchmark interest rate until inflation gets back to two per cent and stays there, something it says isn’t likely to happen until 2023.
The central bank said Wednesday it has decided to keep its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent. The news was expected by economists, as although the economy is showing signs of recovering from the impact of COVID-19, things are still a long way from normal, so cheap lending will be needed for a long while yet.
The bank outlined a fairly bleak assessment of the worst case scenario when it laid out its last Monetary Report in July. But the roughly eight months since COVID-19 began in Canada have given the bank a clearer picture of how things are shaking out, even if the picture isn’t always rosy.
“With more than six months since the onset of the pandemic, the Bank has gained a better understanding of how containment measures and support programs affect the Canadian and global economies,” the bank said.
“This, along with more information on medical developments related to COVID-19, allows the bank to now make a reasonable set of assumptions to underpin a base-case forecast.”
Rocked by COVID-19, the central bank says it expects Canada’s economy will shrink by 5.7 per cent this year, but grow by 4.2 per cent next year, and 3.7 per cent in 2022. Inflation, meanwhile, is expected to be 0.6 per cent this year,
1.0 per cent next year, and 1.7 per cent in 2022.
Those growth and inflation projections, however, are based on two leaps of faith: that there won’t be a second — or third — widespread lockdown in Canada, and that a vaccine or some sort of effective treatment will be widely available by the middle of 2022 at the latest.
“The breadth and intensity of re-imposed containment measures, including impacts on schools and the availability of child care, could lead to setbacks,” the bank said in the quarterly Monetary Policy Report that accompanied the rate decision.
Impact on mortgages
The bank’s outlook and rate decisions have real world impact on Canadian borrowers and savers. Fixed-rate mortgages are priced based on what’s happening in the bond market, but the central bank’s rate has a direct impact on variable rate mortgages.
So telegraphing that rates are going to stay low for long presents something of a conundrums for borrowers, says James Laird, Co-founder of Ratehub.ca and president of mortgage brokerage CanWise Financial.
“There is no wrong answer right now,” Laird said.
“Canadians who derive value from certainty should choose a fixed rate. For Canadians who are open to a little more risk, considering a variable rate is certainly appropriate, since the Bank is committed to keeping rates where they are for at least another two years.”
Economist Sri Thanabalasingam with TD Bank says the bank made it clear on Wednesday that the road to a full recovery will be slow.
“There’s a long way to go for the Canadian economy to emerge out of this crisis, ” Thanabalasingam said.
“The path forward is filled with uncertainty, most of which could set the recovery back a step or two, [so] the bank is set to continue to provide monetary support for many years to come.”
Source: CBC News
From Canada Day to the summer wind down at the end of September, buyers fanned out across Toronto’s ‘905’ suburbs and scooped up 3,834 new condo units.
The surge in buyer activity over 2020’s third quarter meant that new condo sales in the 905 region jumped 106 percent when compared to the same period a year ago, according to data released today by research firm Urbanation.
The boost in condo sales in the city’s suburbs roughly matched buyer enthusiasm for new and resale single-family homes outside the City of Toronto’s boundaries in a phenomenon that RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue recently called the “pandexodus” from the city.
Buyers were less enthused about purchasing new condos in the City of Toronto during the third quarter, with sales declining 16 percent from the previous year to 2,536 units.
“The third quarter showed impressive demand for new condominiums in the GTA amid the pandemic, with the suburban markets leading the way,” said Urbanation President Shaun Hildebrand.
“This regional shift in activity is expected to continue as buyers gravitate to less expensive markets while the downtown area faces supply challenges in the near term,” he continued.
The heightened activity in the 905 region was more than enough to offset the weakness seen in the city-proper, leading overall new condo sales to rise 30 percent over the previous year across the entire Greater Toronto Area.
It was not, however, enough to lift year-to-date new condo sales past where they stood three quarters into 2019. There were 13,454 new condos sold between January and September 2020, down 22 percent from the same period last year.
On the pricing front, Urbanation said the average selling price for condos launched in the third quarter was $1,044 per square foot, up 3.5 percent over a year ago. New condos launched in the 905 region had an average price per square foot of $915, while City of Toronto condos came in at $1,275.
The stark price disparity between the two regions illustrates Hildebrand’s point of buyers gravitating to less expensive markets as one of the main reasons for the 905 sales surge.
Toronto’s renters sprung into action over the third quarter of 2020, signing a record number of new rental condo leases for the three-month period as listings surged.
And, with so much choice for renters in the market, investor-owners were forced to drop prices for their condo rentals, according to third quarter data published recently by market research firm Urbanation.
Average monthly rents for Toronto region condos fell by 9.4 percent annually to $2,249 during the third quarter. This marks the lowest rent level observed by Urbanation since the first quarter of 2018.
As more supply entered the market, condo renters signed a record 13,140 leases for units across the Toronto region, up 39 percent from the same quarter last year. While that’s an exceptionally high number of leases signed, it still pales in comparison to the 23,288 condo rentals that hit the market during that same period.
By the end of the quarter, Urbanation said there were 9,154 active condo rental listings on the market, four-and-a-half times the number available during the same point in 2019.
In a media release accompanying the rental data, Urbanation President Shaun Hildebrand said that weakness in Toronto-proper, especially the downtown condo market, had weighed down the overall market.
“The GTA rental market showed some improvement in the third quarter within more suburban areas, while experiencing weakened conditions in the downtown areas as renters reevaluated the costs of living in the central core as most offices, post-secondary schools and entertainment venues remained closed,” said Hildebrand.
“While it was encouraging to see the large increase in lease activity in the third quarter as renters took advantage of recent discounts, the market will continue to face challenges heading into 2021 from restrained demand caused by COVID-19 and elevated supply levels,” he added.
Canadian home prices posted across-the-board monthly gains in September, led by the Ottawa-Gatineau and Quebec City markets, for the second-strongest September on record, data showed on Tuesday.
The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, which tracks data collected from public land registries to measure changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed prices rose 1.1 per cent in September from August.
In addition to the 11 major markets included in the index, Teranet also tracks 20 other cities across the country. All 31 posted gains for the month, the first across-the-board monthly gain since tracking of the current bundle began in 2009.
Prices were up 2.3 per cent in the capital region of Ottawa-Gatineau and 2.2 per cent in Quebec City, with Montreal and Hamilton both up 1.9 per cent in September from August.
On a year-over-year basis, the index was up 6.7 per cent in September, rising at a faster pace than the previous month. The 12-month gain was also lead by Ottawa-Gatineau, up 14.3 per cent, followed by Halifax at 12.2 per cent.
Calgary prices were down 2.6 per cent on the year, while Edmonton prices were 0.8 per cent lower.
Price gains in Hamilton and in six of the seven other Golden Horseshoe cities around Toronto were higher than in the Greater Toronto Area itself, reinforcing the view that many urbanites are fleeing to satellite cities for more space amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In this blog I will try to explain as much as possible (and the topic is extensive) about the process and key factors when buying a preconstruction condominium. The below applies to Ontario, and more specifically the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Selecting the Location
Arguably the most important factor when buying real estate, especially if one of the goals is capital appreciation, is the location. Quality location is not always easy to determine, one needs to look at the current surroundings, future plans and developments of the area, and the possibility of gentrification. Less than desirable areas now may look much different in 10 years after a number of condo projects have been completed. Proximity to public transit can not be understated, ease of access to public transit has a large impact on the value of the surrounding area. Additional examples of questions surrounding the location are: how long it will take to get downtown, is the building currently in development next to the condominium a new arts center or homeless shelter, etc. You also need to look at all the negative factors of the surrounding area (e.g. high crime rates) to decide whether the project is worth investing in.
Choosing the Right Developer
Not all developers are the same, the quality they put out differ, and in worse case scenarios they never get the construction off the ground. I have written a blog regarding already, there have been many around the GTA in the recent years (Cosmos, Kennedy Gardens, to name a few). If you happen to be the unlucky one to invest in one of those, especially if this is your first venture into preconstructions, it could cause a major setback in any future ventures down the road.
Build quality is also very important, poor quality construction will result in a cheap look and more repairs. A quick google search will give you a good idea of which builders are better than the others.
The bottom line is, do your due diligence and select a builder that a has a long history of successfully completing projects in Canada.
Purpose of the Purchase
There are pretty much two options, you either buy it as an investment or for your own enjoyment. In both cases, cost will be a main factor. The developer will charge different amounts for exactly the same unit depending on the location of the unit within the building. Other factors that affect price include:
· Proximity to the elevator, garbage chute, and facilities: units next to these will be noisier and experience more hallway traffic.
· View: no need for a detailed explanation here, a great view will demand a premium price.
· Floor premium: generally, the higher the floor the higher the cost, the odds of having a good view on the 25th floor are better than on the 5th floor, also the noise from the street will be more noticeable on the lower floors.
· Layout: not all units will have perfect layouts, the developers are limited by the footprint, while some units will be very good, others may have long hallways with wasted space. For small units where space is at the premium this is a very important factor to consider.
· Ceiling height: 8 foot ceilings feels and look quite different than 9 or 10 footers, some projects have consistent floor heights, others differentiate starting at certain floors.
It’s clear that units on higher floors with great views away from the garbage chute will be more expensive than second floor unit with facilities next to it, so which one should you buy? Are you buying it for yourself or as an investment? If as an investment, your main concern should be the return on investment and less expensive units will most likely make more sense for you. You maybe able to get a bit of a premium when renting higher floor units but it’s likely offset by the higher cost of purchase. If you are buying for yourself the cost is still very important, but so is the ability to enjoy your own property.
Cost per Square Foot vs. Total Cost
When buying a house, you never hear about cost per square foot. When purchasing a condo, both total and per square foot costs are important factors needed to be considered. Let’s use an example of two units that are the same size (500 square feet): one is $1,000 per square foot, the other is $1,100. The more expensive unit has a great layout with no wasted space, the less expensive unit has a long hallway and essentially 80 square feet that cannot be properly utilized. In this scenario, the more expensive unit is actually cheaper when calculating the usable space. The cost per usable space of the less expensive unit is now $1,190. Since the layout is better, buying the $550,000 unit maybe a better deal than buying $500,000 unit.
Using the very same example there is an argument to be made that the $500,000 unit is still the better buy. This is especially true when the unit is purchased as a long-term investment. The owner may not be able to charge much premium for renting the $550,000 unit, and even so, the small rent difference would be offset by the mortgage payments, property taxes, etc.
What is cashflow? In simple terms it is the difference between cash coming in and cash going out. The cash flow can be positive (more coming in than going out), neutral, or negative. If the condo is owner occupied the cashflow will obviously be negative (make sure you can afford to carry the costs). If you are an investor in the GTA, the bad news for you is that with the current prices, putting 20% down, you will not be able to generate positive or neutral cashflow and therefore will be negative (how much will depend on the project and unit). To calculate the cashflow you will deduct all payments related to the condo (mortgage, condo fees, insurance, property taxes, repairs, etc.). Before investing in the condo make sure you are able to carry the negative cashflow for an extended period of time. Keep in mind that both rental income and expenses will go up, but one may outpace another (expect increase in condo fees, the developers are known for underestimating the amount).
Calculating Rental Income
There is a difference between calculating cashflow and rental income, you may be in a negative cashflow position yet still be generating a profit which will further negatively affect your cashflow since taxes will be paid. The biggest factor here are mortgage payments. For example, you are in a negative cashflow position of $500 each month, your monthly mortgage payment is $1,200, of this amount $800 goes towards the principal repayment, and $400 is mortgage interest expense. In this scenario, you are generating a negative cashflow of $500 per month while still creating a monthly taxable profit of $300.
Costs to Purchase
There are costs associated with a purchase of any real estate such as land transfer tax and legal fees. In addition, you will pay fees associated with the acquisition of a brand new unit from the builder and it is very important you familiarize yourself with what you can expect as the amount can be significant. Since every condo builder is required to be registered under Tarion Warranty you will need to pay Tarion fees (up to $2,034, the amount is based on the purchase price).
The most important fees to get familiar with are development charges, I can’t emphasize enough the fact that you need to ensure the fees are capped and you need to know exactly how much you will be paying. What are development charges? Basically, the municipality is charging exuberant fees to the builder for allowing them to build the project, the fees tend to go up each year, and with the municipalities being strapped for cash, the trend to increase the fees is going to continue, in some cases they may double from one year to another. If the fees are not capped in your contract you may end up paying a much higher amount than you would expect, either way expect anywhere between $5,000 to $30,000 or even more in development fees depending on the project and your unit.
You may also be responsible for utility hook up fees (expect a few thousand for this).
This topic probably deserves a blog on its own, therefore I will just touch on the basics.
Assignment is simply the ability to buy or sell a unit that the developer already sold to a buyer.
Building a condo takes many years, some investors already have an assignment (selling before the unit is completed) on their mind, for others simply circumstances change, they need cash, the value went up and they want profit now.
To carry on with the assignment there needs to be a clause in your contract with the developer allowing assignments (the developers charge assignment fee, some projects don’t permit the assignments), since the unit is not yet completed the purchaser is not buying a unit, but the right to own the unit when it’s completed.
The seller is called the assignor, the buyer is called assignee, the assignee better be prepared to have plenty of cash on hand as they should be able to pay for the deposit the assignor paid to the developer and the profit on the unit. The assignee will also need to pay for Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), development charges, etc.
Not all assignments are sold at a profit, if you know what you are doing you can score a great deal, it all depends how desperate the assignor is to unload the unit.
Assignments are harder to find as they are not advertised on MLS.
10 Day Cooling Off Period
The cooling off period is pretty unique among the real estate transactions, unlike resale or non-condo residential preconstruction which doesn’t allow for a cooling off period, brand new condominiums purchased from the builder by law do allow the cooling off period. What this means is you can change your mind and get the deposit back during a period of 10 days (keep in mind it’s 10 days, not 10 business days).
The 10 day period starts from the time you receive copy of signed purchase and sale agreement or the disclosure statement, which ever comes first.
You have the right to cancel the agreement within 10 days of any material change to the disclosure statement.
During the 10 day period you should have your lawyer review the agreement. Additionally, talk to your mortgage broker regarding pre-approval.
HST rebate rules apply to all preconstruction residential real estate. The sale of the unit is a taxable sale (meaning the seller is charging the consumer sales tax), no different than buying a car from a dealer, or a computer from Staples. The difference is there are rebates, both federal and provincial, available for the purchase of new real estate. The federal portion of the rebate is available up to a purchase price of $450,000. Sadly, the vast majority of the new condos purchased around GTA will be more than the threshold, thankfully, the province of Ontario doesn’t put any cap on the maximum price purchase and you will qualify for the rebate if you purchase the condo as principal residence, or as an investment property and have a 1 year residential lease signed in place.
In majority of cases the advertised price includes the amount of HST and is discounted by the amount of the rebate. The maximum rebate available for the provincial part of HST is $24K if you are purchasing a principal residence the rebate will be assigned to the builder, if you are buying it as an investment you will need to pay additional $24K to the builder and apply for $24K rebate from CRA. It usually takes a couple of months to get the refund from CRA.
Why Preconstruction Instead of Resale
Number of factors come into play when choosing preconstruction over resale. The buyer may not be ready or willing to own the unit now but is forward thinking and expects to be ready to own a condo in few years. The deposit structure also plays a significant role, instead of dishing out the full amount of the deposit, the builder will often have a deposit schedule spread out over number of months or even years.
Interim Occupancy Period and Fees
Occupancy period is when the developer allows you to move into the unit before the title is transferred. It takes a long time to complete the project, the lower floor units are completed earlier than higher floor units therefore the occupancy period will likely be longer for lower floor units than higher floor units. During that period, you will not be making mortgage payments, but you will be paying occupancy fees to the developer until you take the ownership. The occupancy fees are governed by Ontario Condominium Act, and the structure of the payments is designed to allow the builder to break even abd not to make a profit.
During the occupancy period the elevators will be in service, on the other hand amenities such as gym and swimming pool will not be open, you will also experience noise and all other inconveniences associated with construction.
Around one year before occupancy you will be invited to pick your design options, this is not the time to upgrade or downgrade, this was done at the time of signing the contract, but it is the time to select the finishes matching your taste. As a side note if you are buying the unit as an investment, hopefully you have selected no upgrades when signing the contract, as there is no financial benefit of upgrades if you are renting out the unit.
Title transfer usually occurs approximately 3 to 12 months after your occupancy period begins, the condo corporation can be formed, you will make the final and full payments for the unit, arrange the mortgage, pay all the closing costs etc.
Tarion warranty is another topic deserving a blog on it’s own, instead of copying what can be found on the Tarion website please have a look here at what you need to know in more details, the main topics are below:
· Tarion offers defects warranty as well as deposit protection warranty
· All condo builders must be Tarion registered
· Defects warranty expires in the following periods: 1, 2 and 7 years, the longer the warranty, the less it covers.
· The warranties are for within units and common elements.
· PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) happens before you receive the keys to your unit.
· 1-year warranty claims can be done during first and last 30 days of the year, 2 and 7 year warranty claims can be made anytime.
Condo fees are another significant factor when making purchase decisions. When buying resale, the history of the monthly fees is already established, and by analysing the status certificate and the reserve fund you can predict with a good amount of certainty what will happen in the near future. With preconstruction condos it gets more complicated. The developer may advertise low initial monthly fees to attract the buyers, and there is a likelihood of increases a few years down the road, in general here is what you need to take into consideration:
· Small boutique condos with limited number of units will have higher monthly fees than large projects
· The more amenities the more the fees
· Luxury buildings will be more expensive to maintain than more down to earth projects.
There is good news for new condo owners. Back in the day older condos were not mandated to have a periodic reserve studies done. The current requirements mandated under the Condominium Act regulate the matter in a very strict manner; the studies have to be done every 3 years, and the minimum balance in the fund has to be maintained. This requirement hopefully reduces the amount of unexpected condo fee increases and special assessments.
Here is a story I hear all the time, in 2014 I bought a condo for $300K, the title transferred in 2018, the value at that time was $500K, and I rented for a year to get the HST rebate. Another unit sold on assignment for $150K profit. Great, guess what, this will not happen all the time, and will certainly not continue forever. It is always wise to have a Plan B if the market turns south. Be prepared to hold onto the investment if your initial goal was a quick flip. Patience is one of the most important virtues when investing in the real estate. The cost of buying and selling real estate is very high, it will hurt you even more if you happen to be forced to sell when you don’t want to.
Developer’s Unit Allocation
By the time the official opening for the public happens, up to 80% of the units may already have been sold. This means that if you waited, did not want to use an agent, or simply missed the news, you will have no chance of getting the better units, and the prices may have already gone up.
The typical unit allocation, in chronological order, is as follows:
· Family and friends: no, not like Lowe’s family and friends where everyone is related, it is a narrow and close circle. Unless you are family or a friend, you are not getting first pick on a unit.
· Platinum VIP agents: each developer deals with a very small group of preferred agents, those agents will be allocated a certain number of units which in turn will be sold to their best clients (e.g. investors with deep pockets). If you are a rookie investor and this is your first purchase, you may not be able to get a unit in this phase either.
· VIP agents: this is where you have a good chance of getting some decent units, the agent may offer you some extra incentives for representing you.
· All other agents: by this time 50-70% of the units have already sold, but still some good units are available and possible extra incentives from the agent representing you.
· Grand opening to the public: this would have been you unless you have read this blog, waiting outside for hours to find out that 80-90% of the units have already been sold.
With each phase the choice gets smaller and the price may get higher. Your goal should be to get in early and scoop the best unit available. There is an outside chance that you may get a decent deal (the price will not be reduced but you may get free upgrades) when there are a few units left lingering around and the developer wants to close the sales office, but in general, don’t wait.
I have been asked this numerous times, what needs to be done to get the unit with an agent, and what are worksheets. Worksheets, in the most simplest of terms, is an information sheet your agent will submit on your behalf to the builder and will include your choice (usually 3 to 5) of preferred units along with personal information such as your name, current address, SIN along with proof of identity. Usually a worksheet submission date is set by the developer. By that time you need to be familiar with the project, units, pricing, layouts etc. The worksheet submission does not constitute an offer, you are not committed to buy until you sign a purchase and sale agreement, and even then, there is a 10 day cooling off period.
Hopefully within a few days you will receive the answer from your agent advising you the unit has been allocated to you, and you can then proceed with a purchase.
After reading this blog, my hope is that you have gained a basic understanding of the process of buying preconstruction condominiums. It does not cover every detail but should at the very least help you understand the basics and avoid some mistakes first-time condo buyers can make.
Despite a remarkable surge in new listings, the average resale condo price in the Toronto region rose 8.3 percent to $633,484 in the third quarter.
The third quarter data, published today by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Association (TRREB), showed that condo sales rose in the July to September period by 10.5 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
There were 7,072 sales recorded across the Toronto region, up substantially from the 3,459 sales logged during the previous quarter, which included figures from the market’s pandemic-induced freeze through April and May.
Despite the strong bounce in sales, activity was significantly outpaced by new listings hitting the market. There were 17,613 new listings in the third quarter, up 84.6 percent over the same period last year. TRREB reported that active listings at the end of the quarter were more than double the number recorded at the end of the third quarter in 2019.
TRREB President Lisa Patel said it was a strong showing for the condo market, but the low-rise market had performed better during the same period.
“The condominium apartment segment experienced the second best third quarter on record in terms of sales and the best third quarter on record in terms of the average selling price,” said Patel.
“However, while the pace of year-over-year condo sales and price growth remained strong, it was lower than that reported for low-rise home types,” she continued.
Patel noted that condo investors opting to sell their units had an impact on supply. A weakened rental market, especially in downtown Toronto, and new by-laws around short-term rentals were major motivating factors for investors’ decisions to sell.
The increase in supply has yet to lead to any measurable price plateaus or declines in the condo market. Beyond the 8.3 percent rise in the average condo selling price recorded across the Toronto region, the City of Toronto saw a comparable annual increase to $680,963 in the third quarter.
“While condo buyers certainly benefited from more choice in the third quarter compared to the past few years, there was still enough competition between buyers to support average selling prices substantially above last year’s levels,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.
“It is important to note that one quarter does not make a trend, either on the demand or supply sides of the market. How the relationship unfolds between condo sales and listings over the next three to six months will dictate the longer-term direction for selling prices,” Mercer added.
It can be challenging to navigate the new home buying process.
We are here to help – and have compiled a few tips on purchasing a pre-construction home or condo.
1. Research your builder
The Ontario Builder Directory (OBD) is an online resource that can help you confirm if your builder is licensed to build new homes in Ontario.
You can also use the directory to learn more about the builder – for example, how many homes they have built, what their claims history is and, in the case of condos, what projects are underway or have been completed.
A feature recently added to the OBD is Conviction Search, which allows you to see whether a particular company or individual has been associated with any illegal building convictions during the past 10 years.
2. Understand your purchase agreement before you sign
Your purchase agreement is one of the most important documents in your new home buying process.
This purchase agreement is a legal and binding contract between you and the vendor, so it is important that you have a lawyer review it, before you sign.
Your lawyer can also help you understand the Tarion Addendum attached to your purchase agreement, which includes closing dates and potential delays, closing fees and other possible costs. Your lawyer can also explain when your Agreement may be terminated and, if that happens, how your deposit will be protected under the Addendum.
3. Learn about your warranty coverage
Under the Ontario new home warranty and protection plan, all new homes have a warranty for, among other things, workmanship, materials, Ontario Building Code violations, water penetration and defects in your home’s structure and systems. The warranty coverage is broken into one-year, two-year and seven-year warranties and it is important to understand what types of defects and conditions are covered during each warranty period.
4. Prepare for your Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI)
Before you take possession, you will have an opportunity to walk through your new home with your builder to make sure that nothing is missing, damaged or incomplete.
Review Tarion’s PDI Checklist before your walk-through, so you’ll know what to look for. The PDI Checklist is a general guide so you should add your own checkpoints based on your property and its unique details.
5. Extra tips for condo buyers
Buying a pre-construction condo is slightly different from purchasing a new house. Ask your real estate lawyer to inform you about your rights and responsibilities, including the following:
a. Cooling off period
If you are purchasing a new condo, you have an initial 10 days under the Condominium Act to cancel a sales agreement. During this time, make sure to review your purchase agreement and the disclosure statement.
b. Interim Occupancy
You might move into a new condo before the condo project is completed and registered. This is called interim occupancy. Make sure to ask your real estate lawyer about the following:
- Condominium ownership
- Monthly payment of interim occupancy fees
- Duration of interim occupancy
- Other rights and responsibilities during the interim occupancy period.
- Following these tips will help take some of the worry out of the purchase of your new home or condo. Please share this with family and friends who are in the market to buy a new home in Ontario.
The goal of this blog is to provide you with general information about the warranty process by sharing real experiences from new homeowners. The blog should not be relied upon as legal advice. For privacy reasons, we will not address or resolve current cases in a public forum, so any comments or questions that are posted on this site that describe individual cases cannot be discussed. If you have a question about your warranty or Tarion generally, we would be pleased to discuss your issue, in the context of your particular circumstances and in confidence. We exercise reasonable care to avoid offensive, illegal or defamatory content from being posted, as well as comments that are intended solely for self-promotion or considered to be spam.
While the City of Toronto is working to improve its complex system of underground pipes, sewers and catchbasins, these improvements alone cannot completely protect a home from basement flooding.
During heavy rain, the sewers can become overloaded. It is essential that homeowners take steps to help protect their home from basement flooding.
There are a number of reasons why basements flood, including:
- When stormwater or ground water seeps into the home (drainage failure) due to:
- A crack or leak in your home’s foundation, basement walls, or basement windows or door
- Poor lot grading or drainage
- Failure of the weeping tile system (foundation drains)
- Failure of a sump pump (in some homes) used to pump weeping tile water
- Overflowing eavestroughs
- Leaking or plugged downspouts
- A sewer back-up caused by a blocked or overwhelmed sewer pipe.
- Blockages are typically caused by items that are incorrectly flushed or poured down the drain. Tree roots and broken or cracked sewer pipes can also cause blockages.
- Overwhelmed sewer pipes can happen during extreme rain. If the sewers fill beyond capacity, the water will travel backward in the sewer pipe and into the home.
What to do if Your Basement is Flooded
If your basement is flooded, it is necessary that you take appropriate action to protect your home, your health and safety. The City also offers a Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy of up to $3,400 per property.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Basement Flooding
Every home is at risk of basement flooding, even if it has not happened before. Water in your basement is most likely to occur during a heavy rainfall, or when snow and ice is melting.
You can take steps to help reduce or prevent it from happening.
What the City is Doing to Prevent Basement Flooding
Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program
The City offers owners of single-family, duplex and triplex residential homes a subsidy of up to $3,400 per property to install flood protection devices.
Basement Flooding Protection Program
The City is taking steps to stop the overloading of the sewer system and reduce basement flooding.
Mandatory Downspout Disconnection
Disconnecting downspouts from the sewer system is mandatory. It can reduce the risk of basement flooding and releasing polluted rainwater into our local waterways.
The City regularly inspects, cleans and maintains the sewer system to ensure it is in good working order.
The Toronto region’s housing market moved back into seller’s territory in September with new listings declining and home sales continuing at a rapid pace.
Resale listings had been on the upswing for four consecutive months, but fell by nearly 16 percent overall in September. This caused the important market barometer — the sales-to-new-listings ratio — to reach 65.8 percent in the region, indicating the reemergence of a seller’s market. In August, the Toronto housing market had been in ‘balanced’ territory, with a sales-to-new-listings ratio of 52.6 percent.
As Diana Petramala and Victoria Colantonio, researchers at Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research (CUR), pointed out, the increase to the ratio means sellers now hold more of the bargaining power in the Toronto region’s market.
“As such, the MLS average sales price [in the GTA] was up 14 percent year-over-year. The price of all types of housing rose at this rate, with the exception of condos,” they wrote in a research brief published last week.
The researchers were alluding to the fact that the overall shift to seller’s market conditions was driven primarily by skyrocketing demand for detached homes and other ground-related property types brought on by the pandemic. Condos are the one segment where buyers likely still hold the upper hand, especially in the City of Toronto and its downtown core.
Active listings for condos in the City of Toronto reached a record high in September, with enough listings currently available to satisfy three and a half months worth of buyer demand, Petramala and Colantonio wrote.
This helps explain how the Toronto region’s suburban areas saw a relatively modest 21 percent increase in new listings in September, while the City of Toronto, where condos figure more heavily into the market composition, saw a 50 percent increase.
“[T]he condo market has lost favour among homebuyers. While prices are still rising in the condo market, they could change direction if listings continue to rise as they have been in the last seven months,” the CUR researchers wrote.
Some have speculated that investor-owners attempting to offload their former Airbnb units or long-term rentals on the resale market are behind the new condo listings surge, but Capital Economics’ Stephen Brown said in commentary published last week that other factors are likely at play.
“[W]e suspect the far bigger factor is that there has been a huge shift in demand among owner-occupiers. Specifically, due to health concerns and increased working from home, many people are trying to sell apartments and purchase more spacious single-family homes,” wrote Brown.
Petramala and Colantonio expressed a similar view, writing that low mortgage rates and Millennials are driving demand for ground-related housing outside of the city-proper.
Last week was the Vancouver Real Estate Forum. Benjamin Tal (chief economist at CIBC) opened things up, as he usually does, and he was pretty candid about what might be coming this winter. Here is an excerpt from a recent Globe and Mail article summarizing the event:
“It’s reasonable to assume that the next six months will not be very pretty,” said Mr. Tal. “The honeymoon of the summer is basically over. Now we enter the winter months, and I think the next few months will be much more difficult. We will have a situation where we will clearly see a second wave, and it’s already starting. This second wave will overlap with the flu season, so everybody will be very confused. The fear factor will rise, and that’s something we have to take into account when we look at the trajectory of the economy.”
Indeed, today kind of feels like the official start of the second wave. Here in Toronto, indoor dining, gyms, and a bunch of other things were just shut down for the next 28 days.
But I think the more important takeaway from the article is this one here: the fundamentals around Canadian real estate remain incredibly strong. Another excerpt:
“Let’s visit the market in 2023: I suggest the market will show the same trend we have seen in as 2019. This is a pause, but the fundamentals of the real estate market in Canada are so strong that the demand factor will continue to be there and supply will be limited. I suggest that after a two- to three-year period of some sort of softness, despite the V-shaped recovery that we are seeing, I see continuation of the trend.”
As I’ve said before on the blog, it’s easy to get caught up in shorter-term and ephemeral headlines. But if one can look through some of that to the other side of this health crisis, I think we would all be in a position to make better decisions.
As a general rule, I don’t like making long-term real estate decisions based on what is expected to take place in the next 6 months.
Google continues to expand its footprint on Canadian soil with the expansion of three massive new offices, two of which will be in Ontario and a third in Quebec.
Our fine city will be home to one of the province’s new spaces, setting up shop on King Street East, while the other two offices will open in Waterloo and Montreal.
This comes nineteen years after Google opened the doors to its first office in Toronto, which only had one salesperson at the time. Today, the tech giant employs over 1,500 people across its current Canadian offices, including engineers, sales leaders, and AI researchers.
When the three new offices are finished being built in 2022, Google says its Canadian offices will accommodate up to 5,000 employees.
The new Toronto digs will be located at 65 King East, occupying 400,000-sq.ft of office space across 18 floors in the city’s newest, “next-generation” office development.
“We are extremely pleased to announce that 100% of the office floors of 65 King East are now leased to Google: one of the most prominent, influential and well-recognized companies in the world,” said Dean Cutting, a partner of Carttera, a Canadian real estate investment fund manager and developer.
“Our vision for 65 King East has always been to combine innovative office architecture and an employee-centric workplace design with a dynamic, forward-thinking organization. Google truly recognizes how 65 King East promotes sustainability, employee wellness, collaboration, productivity and health,” said Cutting.
“The fact that Google made a long-term commitment to our project is a testament that we are leading the future of innovative office design. We look forward to a long-term collaborative relationship with Google for many years to come.”
With proximity to the TTC and Union Station, the King East office building will also feature over 18,000-sq.ft of outdoor terraces, 196 bike stalls, and 10,675-sq.ft of retail space, while also incorporating smart building technologies and sustainability. With Wired Score Gold already accomplished, 65 King East has been designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, according to Carterra.
September was another banner month for the Toronto region’s housing market and no property type was hotter than detached homes in the suburban areas surrounding the city.
Of the 30 suburban regions tracked by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, 10 saw detached home prices climb by over 20 percent last month compared to September 2019.
Scugog, Adjala-Tosorontio, Uxbridge, Bradford-West Gwillimbury and Clarington made up the top five Toronto region suburbs that saw the largest percentage increases in their detached home segments.
At the top of the list, the average detached home in Scugog, a township northeast of Toronto, skyrocketed 37.2 percent to $870,078 in September. Detached homes in Adjala-Tosorontio also saw a 30.5 percent price increase from the previous year, rising to $895,480. The suburbs that rounded out the top five all recorded price increases in the 25 percent range over September 2019.
The other suburbs that saw 20-percent-plus price increases for detached homes were Georgina, Innisfil, Milton, Whitchurch-Stouffville and Whitby.
“Low mortgage rates, in combination with Millennial demand, is driving demand for ground-related housing. As homebuyers search for affordable ground-related housing, they are looking beyond the 416 boundaries,” wrote Diana Petramala and Victoria Colantonio, researchers at Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research (CUR).
In a recent research note titled “September TRREB data show 905 region leaving the 416 area in the dust,” Petramala and Colantonio wrote that the strength seen in last month’s sales and price figures went beyond pent-up demand accumulated through the March to May period.
The CUR researchers pointed out that new listings were actually rising faster in the 416, or City of Toronto, despite sales activity being more concentrated in the suburban 905 areas. But with the pace of sales more than offsetting the weakness in the city’s core condo market, the overall regional market was firmly in seller’s territory, with home seller’s holding more bargaining power, Petramala and Colantonio said.
This means there’s insufficient supply in the form of new and active listings to meet buyer demand, pushing home prices higher in suburban areas that are now more coveted than ever.
Here’s some data from the Pew Research Center looking at the percentage of young people (18- to 29-year olds) in the US that live with at least one parent. It it based on an analysis of monthly Census Bureau data and is obviously interesting/relevant given that this pandemic seems to have precipitated a number of people moving back home. As of July of this year, 52% of young adults were thought to be living with at least one parent, which is up from 47% back in February.
At first I was surprised to see these numbers as high as they are. But it’s really the 18-24 age bracket that is driving this number up, which makes sense given that a chunk of this demographic is probably in school, not working, and now unable to do much on a campus. Among 25- to 29-year olds, the range is significantly lower, with just over a quarter (26% -> 28%) living with their parent(s).
What I’m curious about now, after seeing this chart, is what is driving some of these regional, ethnic, and gender differences? Why are young midwesterners seemingly less likely to live with a parent compared to those in the northeast? Is it cultural? Economic? Or something else? And is the above an indication that maybe women are more independent than men?
Home sales in major markets across the country delivered more impressive increases in September as activity continued to rebound from the lows seen in April and May.
Market data published over the last week by local real estate boards saw trends first observed in the early summer remain fairly uniform across the country, especially the ongoing divergence of low-rise home sales and prices and activity seen in the condo segment.
Commenting on the latest set of data to emerge from Canada’s major housing markets in the pandemic era, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue noted that demand for single-detached and other low-rise homes appeared “universally stronger” when compared to condos.
“The pandemic is altering the housing needs of many current owners, which simultaneously shifts demand from condo apartments to single-detached homes and other low-rise categories, and boosts the supply of smaller condos in core urban areas. These trends have put single-family home prices on accelerating trajectories,” Hogue wrote.
Average condo prices have remained on a much less impressive upward trajectory during the course of the pandemic thus far, but Hogue doesn’t believe this will last. With buyers looking elsewhere and new listings steadily rising, the economist said that condo prices will lose ground in 2021 in some of the country’s major urban markets.
Zeroing in on Toronto, Hogue pointed to September’s 90 percent year-over-year increase in new condo listings as a sign that demand-supply conditions were softening for the segment. Meantime, the Toronto region’s MLS Home Price Index hit a three-year high growth rate of 11.6 percent over September 2019’s reading, with the “heat,” as Hogue put it, concentrated in the market’s low-rise segments.
Detached home prices also accelerated in Vancouver, up 7.8 percent in September on an annual basis compared to the 6.9 percent increase recorded in August. Home sales increased 77 percent over the previous year, while new listings rose 18 percent.
The divergence of supply and demand in the detached and condo segments was not as pronounced as what was observed in Toronto, but Hogue believes it will still impact prices for both housing types. New condo listings rose faster than sales, with the former recording a 44 percent increase over the previous year and the latter logging a 37 percent rise. This meant condo prices rose a calmer 4.5 percent annually.
“We expect prices to heat up even more in [the detached home] segment in the near term. We expect more plentiful inventories will do the opposite for condo prices,” Hogue wrote.
The Toronto real estate market continued its brisk pace in September setting a new record for the number of sales for the month at 11,083, according to the latest market statistics from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).
Although 2019 was a good year for Toronto real estate, and despite a major slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all losses appear to have been recouped as the first nine months of 2020 are now up approximately one per cent when compared to the same period in 2019.
“Improving economic conditions and extremely low borrowing costs sustained record-level sales in September, as we continued to account for the substantial amount of pent-up demand that resulted from the spring downturn,” said Lisa Patel, president of TRREB. “Further improvements in the economy, including job growth, would support strong home sales moving forward. However, it will be important to monitor the trajectory of COVID-19 cases, the related government policy response, and the impact on jobs and consumer confidence.”
Market activity in September also resulted in considerable price appreciation especially in the low-rise sector of the market with average selling price for all home types up 14 per cent from last September. Condo prices continued to grow, but at a slower pace.
Other important indicators show that active listings continue to rise and now sit at more than 18,000 throughout the region, up from 16,662 in August. Month-to-month average price of detached and semi-detached homes dropped from August to September, while prices for townhomes and condos increased.
“On a GTA-wide basis, market conditions tightened in September relative to last year, with sales increasing at a faster pace than new listings,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB’s chief market analyst. “With competition between buyers increasing noticeably, double-digit year-over-year price growth was commonplace throughout the region in September, resulting in the overall average selling price reaching a new record.”
Toronto home prices increases were eclipsed by other regions almost across the entire board with Halton and Durham regions showing the highest rate of price growth. The average price growth in the entire 905 region was 16.9 per cent while the city of Toronto was under 10 per cent.
Summer may have drawn to a close but the Toronto real estate market remained hot well into the start of the new season, with September being a record-breaking month for home sales in Canada’s largest city.
According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), it was the best September on record for home sales in the Toronto-area, with 42.3% more sales closing last month than in September of last year.
Important to note, even amid a global pandemic that saw the economy come to a near halt and COVID-19 lockdowns prevented home showings, sales through the first nine months of 2020 still managed to be up by 1% compared to the same period in 2019.
TRREB says 11,083 existing homes were sold in the Toronto-area in September, at an average price of $960,772 — up by 14% year-over-year.
TRREB President, Lisa Patel, says improved economic conditions and “extremely” low borrowing costs helped sustain September’s record-breaking levels, as did built-up demand left over from the disrupted spring season.
“Further improvements in the economy, including job growth, would support strong home sales moving forward. However, it will be important to monitor the trajectory of COVID-19 cases, the related government policy response, and the impact on jobs and consumer confidence,” said Ms. Patel.
Year-over-year sales growth in September continued to be driven by ground-oriented market segments, including detached and semi-detached houses and townhouses. Annual growth rates were also higher for sales reported in the GTA regions surrounding the City of Toronto.
Here in Toronto, the number of new listings (8,689) and the number of sales (3,555) at the end of September were both up on a year-over-year basis. While new listings were up strongly for all home types, growth in sales of new condominium apartments (1,549) outstripped growth in the city’s other market segments.
But it’s not just sales and listings that soared in September, as the average selling price of all home categories in the 416 — low-rise market segments and condos included — rose last month to $1,022,051, up $9,545 from August’s average.
The September numbers also showed that those looking to enter the housing market are turning to buy more ground-level homes, as detached houses in Toronto sold for $1,487,122 on average, a 9.4% increase compared to last September. What’s more, the 1,161 detached house transactions in Toronto last month represented a 28.1% year-over-year increase, while the 421 semi-detached home sales showed a 48.8% increase from last September.
While condo sales rose 7% year-over-year in Toronto in September, the 905 regions saw the biggest jump in condo transactions with a 32.1% increase. Condo prices also rose more notably in the 905-area, up 8% to $537,354 compared to 7.7% and $686,191 in Toronto.
“On a GTA-wide basis, market conditions tightened in September relative to last year, with sales increasing at a faster pace than new listings,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB’s Chief Market Analyst. “With competition between buyers increasing noticeably, double-digit year-over-year price growth was commonplace throughout the region in September, resulting in the overall average selling price reaching a new record.”
TRREB CEO John DiMichele says the housing market recovery experienced throughout the summer benefitted the broader economy as well.
“Home sales reported through TRREB’s MLS System result in billions of dollars in spin-off expenditures, support for tens of thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars in taxes paid to all levels of government. The demand for housing and the related economic impacts will continue in the post-COVID period as population growth resumes. Policymakers will need to continue their efforts to bring more housing supply on line to meet this longer-term demand,” added DiMichele.
Toronto’s housing market continued on a tear in September, breaking the record for homes sold in the month and exceeding 11,000 total transactions for the second time in three months.
The 11,083 homes that changed hands in the region last month also meant that September was the third consecutive month that the Toronto market broke a sales volume record since the pandemic recovery began.
The sales total was up 42.3 percent over the previous year and the performance was enough to push 2020’s home sales to date past the same nine-month period in 2019. According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), which released the data today, sales through the first nine months of 2020 were up one percent compared to the previous year.
It’s a headline figure that surely would have surprised many watching the market in April and May, when sales were down 67 percent and 53.7 percent on an annual basis, respectively.
Despite the swift market recovery, TRREB President Lisa Patel was careful not to provide an overly optimistic outlook for the remainder of the year as the pandemic wears on and cases of COVID-19 rise in the region.
“Improving economic conditions and extremely low borrowing costs sustained record-level sales in September, as we continued to account for the substantial amount of pent-up demand that resulted from the spring downturn,” said Patel.
“Further improvements in the economy, including job growth, would support strong home sales moving forward. However, it will be important to monitor the trajectory of COVID-19 cases, the related government policy response, and the impact on jobs and consumer confidence,” she continued.
As has been the case since the market recovery began, the detached, semi-detached and townhome segments were the primary drivers of annual sales growth. While the condo segment has seen solid year-over-year growth, the 14.6 percent annual increase lags far behind the 54.7 percent increase seen in the GTA detached home segment.
On the pricing front, the MLS index price for the Toronto region was up 11.6 percent over September 2019. The average sale price across all property types was $960,772, up 14 percent over the previous year and a new record for the region. Like sales volume, it was the low-rise segment that was responsible for the majority of the price growth momentum.
“On a GTA-wide basis, market conditions tightened in September relative to last year, with sales increasing at a faster pace than new listings,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.
“With competition between buyers increasing noticeably, double-digit year-over-year price growth was commonplace throughout the region in September, resulting in the overall average selling price reaching a new record,” he added.
Fact: living in Toronto is expensive. Exactly how expensive depends on where you live in the city and what you live in — obviously. But new data from shows just how much prices for apartments and single-family homes have fluctuated over the past five years and it’s safe to say, prices have definitely gone up.
In a new report, looked at whether home prices have grown or contracted in 15 Canadian markets compared to 5 years ago by reviewing benchmark prices for apartments and single-family houses with data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) from August 2020 and August 2015.
In analysis, benchmark apartment prices rose over 50% in 7 of 15 markets over the past 5 years — the majority of which were in Southern Ontario. However, Fraser Valley, BC saw the highest 5-year increase overall, with prices rising 104%. What’s more, 7 out of 15 markets included in the analysis also noted a 50% or higher increase in the benchmark price for single-family houses, with the Niagara Region leading the pack.
On a local level, prices in Toronto have seen substantial increases, with apartment prices rising 78%, bringing the average price in 2020 to $592,900. Prices for single-family homes in the area rose by 51% to reach an average of $999,200.
Across the region, Niagara led price growth in the area for apartments, with the benchmark price growing 87% to $354,400. This was followed by Toronto, then Hamilton-Burlington, where the price rose 74% to $471,100, and finally Guelph, where there was a 73% increase in the benchmark apartment price bringing the 2020 average to $379,000.
As for single-family homes in the analysis, the Niagara Region experienced the highest growth — the price almost doubled — with an impressive 95% increase in 5 years to reach $490,500 in 2020. This was followed by Hamilton-Burlington with a 71% increase, Guelph with 63%, Fraser Valley with 62%, Ottawa with 53%, and Victoria with 50%.
Furthermore, the analysis revealed that Prairie markets (Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg) are some of the few regions where the benchmark apartment and single-family house is more affordable today than it was 5 years ago.
analysis follows national home sales and listings continuing to climb in August, as some of the pressure from pent-up demand was released this summer when pandemic restrictions eased. In turn, buyers continued returning to the market with refocused housing priorities — with a growing number beginning to look to suburban and rural markets in search of more space relative to what’s available in denser urban cities.
However, despite the surge in demand, the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) recently reiterated their forecast that home prices are likely to dip by as much as 18% in the coming months — citing pandemic-induced unemployment and slower in-bound migration weighing on demand, particularly in metropolitan cities like Toronto and Vancouver. In turn, RE/MAX called CMHC’s prediction “fear-mongering.”
If one thing’s for certain, the Toronto luxury real estate market has remained resilient in the face of the global pandemic.
And while Ontario braces itself for the already-in-motion second wave of the novel coronavirus, according to Royal LePage, there are currently interesting buying opportunities in the Toronto and Greater Toronto Area (GTA) luxury condo market, as buyers seek larger homes to live and work in the pandemic.
This week, Royal LePage released its Luxury Property Report, which includes insights regarding luxury properties — which are defined as having a value above three times the median price of a house or condominium in its region — specifically for the Toronto and GTA region.
According to the report, from March 15 to September 9, the price of a luxury condo in Toronto dipped by 1.6% year-over-year to $1,870,000, while in the GTA, the price fell by 3.6% year-over-year to $1,830,000.
Luxury houses in the city, on the other hand, saw gains of 5.4% to a median price of $3,187,500. In the GTA, luxury house prices increased by 5.9% to $ 3,177,500.
Cailey Heaps, managing director and sales representative, Royal LePage Real Estate Services, says demand for luxury properties in Toronto has been driven by low inventory, low-interest rates, and a “renewed focus on lifestyle to accommodate for our new normal.”
Heaps added that buyers seeking luxury property are focused on lifestyle when looking for their perfect home.
“With travel off the table for the near future and many working from home, features such as a home office, outdoor space, a pool and walkability are becoming increasingly important in their search criteria,” said Heaps.
“Appropriately priced homes in the established Central Toronto neighbourhoods such as Rosedale, Leaside, and Lawrence Park often sell in a matter of days. Multiple offer situations still occur but to a lesser degree than in the pre-COVID landscape, giving buyers an opportunity to purchase in a slightly less competitive market.”
While the luxury condominium market has faced some challenges over the recent months, Heaps says the new rules with respect to short-term rentals, higher inventory, and the increased risk that comes with communal spaces or common areas have meant that condos did not perform as well as the freehold market. However, she says buyers will find more selection compared to the inventory of luxury houses.
Heaps noted that while all luxury buyer demographics are still active, boomers are quieter this year than previous years. However, many cautious boomers selling their luxury home have the opportunity to stay at their cottage or a secondary property as an additional option during the pandemic.
Looking towards the remainder of the year, Heaps noted that current demand is slowing, which is typical of fourth-quarter activity.
On a national level, the median price of a luxury house increased 1% year-over-year to $2,500,000, while the median price of a luxury condominium remained constant at $1,250,000.
Royal LePage says recent steep increases in overall Canadian home prices have pushed more properties over the national lower price threshold, increasing the overall quantity of Canadian homes defined as luxury properties.
In light of the past six months of COVID-19-triggered uncertainty, home sales in Canada have been shockingly brisk as a combination of FOMO and low interest rates keep drawing buyers into the market. The feeding frenzy won’t last – plenty of organizations are expecting a major correction in the coming months – but waiting until it passes may not be the best course of action according to one mortgage insider.
In his recent dealings with clients seeking preapprovals, Alex Leduc, who does double duty as both Mortguage’s principal broker and its CEO, came to notice what could be a chilling trend for Canadians with variable incomes. Faced with earning a significantly lower income in 2020 because of pandemic-related busines disruption, this particular cohort of prospective buyers – hourly wage earners, the self-employed, anyone whose income depends heavily on bonuses or commissions – could see their buying power plummet – until 2023.
“It’s not necessarily just homebuyers,” Leduc says. “It would be anybody who is buying, or even potentially switching mortgages, who has a variable form of income that would be effected.”
When lenders evaluate borrowers with variable incomes, Leduc explains, they look at notices of assessment, T4s, and T1s for the two most recent years and calculate the average between them. The lesser of the two-year average and the most current year’s income becomes a person’s qualifying income. Anyone buying in 2020 will use 2018 and 2019’s records – no problem there – but buyers who wait until 2021 will be evaluated using 2020 income levels. For a significant portion of the population that experienced a disruption in income this year, that means less buying power.
“As of now, lenders are not going to use your 2020 NOA or T4 because you don’t have it yet. But once you have it, you have to use it,” Leduc says.
In a recent blog post, Leduc provided an example that highlights the potential problem: A buyer earned $96,000 in 2018 and 2019, meaning her two-year average qualifying income this year is also $96,000. But if her 2020 income falls to $80,000, much lower than the two-year 2019-20 average of $88,000, that becomes her qualifying income for 2021. Leduc calculates that this borrower would see a 16 percent reduction, equivalent to around $74,000, in purchasing power.
Because lenders require two years’ worth of records, the problem will persist until borrowers get their hands on 2022’s financial docs. In 2022, borrowers will still be hampered by their 2020 earnings. It won’t be until 2023, when 2021’s and 2022’s earnings are taken into consideration, when these buyers might see their buying power return to today’s levels.
“It really does have a significant impact,” Leduc says.
With 2020 being the nightmare it is, some may wonder if lenders will adjust their metrics and attribute any loss in income to the pandemic rather than to borrowers themselves. Leduc doesn’t currently see much of an appetite for such changes among lenders.
“Some lenders are pretty cut-throat about it. A lot of them don’t sway from policy,” he says. “No one’s come out and said, ‘We’re going to make policy changes or exceptions to this.’ It’s really business as usual.”
He does, however, see a scenario where, if an abundance of Canadians see their buying power evaporate next year, lenders feel pressured to change their income calculations. If that happens, he says, they could decide, when looking at 2019-20 or 2020-21 earnings, to use whichever is higher to determine qualifying income. They could also potentially look at the past three years and use the two highest incomes to calculate an average.
Leduc insists that he’s not trying to generate panic. Plenty of Canadians with variable earnings will still be able to qualify next year and the year after. That’s why it’s important for them to sit down with their mortgage brokers now and start running a few possible scenarios. Leduc says he is working with his clients to ensure they understand the situation and can set reasonable expectations.
With a potential price correction on the way, buyers may feel safe waiting, thinking that even if their income for 2020 falls, a mini housing crash may help compensate for a shortfall in qualifying income.
That’s not a strategy Leduc encourages. Pointing to the example of the buyer whose purchasing power fell 16 percent, he says, “Even if we had price decreases, I don’t think it would be to the extent of 16 percent within a year. That would be pretty aggressive, I think.”
The last few weeks of summer was an “unusually” busy time for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) new home market, as over 4,500 new homes were sold, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).
On Monday, BILD announced that a total of 4,539 new homes sold last month, up 217% from August of last year and 119% above the 10-year average, according to Altus Group, BILD’s official source for new home market intelligence. This also marked the highest number of new home sales for August since Altus Group started tracking in 2000.
During the same time, sales of single-family homes, which include detached, linked, and semi-detached houses and townhouses (excluding stacked townhouses), with 1,930 units sold, were up 355% from last August and 139% above the 10-year average.
What’s more, condominium apartments, including units in low, medium and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units, accounted for 2,609 new home sales, were up 159% from August 2019 and 106% above the 10-year average.
When breaking it down by municipality, Toronto had the highest number of new condominium apartment sales, with 1,423 transactions in August. Halton followed behind with 483, while York had 365 sales, York had 365, and Durham had 163.
“With the record sales activity and unusual number of project launches we saw in August, it is becoming clear that the COVID-19 pandemic delayed consumers’ housing purchase decisions as well as builders’ project openings,” said Ryan Wyse, Altus Group’s Manager, Analytics, Data Solutions.
“After the normally busy spring months were severely affected by the pandemic and related government-imposed restrictions, we saw much stronger activity than normal during the summer.”
The total number of new homes remaining in inventory in August was 14,331 units, which includes units in preconstruction projects, in projects currently under construction, and in completed buildings.
What’s more, BILD says while the benchmark price for both single-family homes and condominium apartments dipped slightly in August compared to the previous month, it was still up year-over-year. The benchmark price for new condo apartments in August was $972,859, up 15.7% over the last 12 months, while the benchmark price for new single-family homes was $1,169,823, up 8% over the last 12 months.
David Wilkes, BILD President and CEO says while the GTA housing market had a “strong” summer, with the resurgence in COVID-19 cases, the coming months are full of uncertainty. “What is certain is that residential and non-residential construction has played a key role in kick-starting the economy in our region and in Canada, and will continue to do so.”
Wilkes added that BILD is working with all levels of government to remove barriers to building and economic recovery.