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Condos in Toronto

I started off selling mainly condos, helping first time buyers get a foothold in the Toronto real estate market. Now working with investors and helping empty nesters find that perfect luxury suite.

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Toronto Real Estate

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Broadview Lofts - 68 Broadview AvenueCheck out this spectacular authentic brick and beam loft in one of Toronto’s most desirable buildings – The Broadview Lofts! Enjoy life in Toronto’s booming Riverside neighbourhood in over 1,300 square feet of hard loft space. Gorgeous 10-1/2-foot wood beam ceilings, original Douglas Fir posts, exposed brick, polished concrete floors and original warehouse doors. Loft has 2 bathrooms, exclusive underground parking and a large locker. Walk to Queen and the new Canary District. MORE DETAILS HERE

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Debunking the myths about your condo fees

Michael Chu – BNN

As the spring real estate season quickly approaches, you might be thinking of jumping on the chance to buy a condo, but watch out, there are hidden costs associated with maintenance fees.

Comment: Not really. All the costs are outlined in the condo documents for each building. None of the costs are hidden, none are secret.

Condos.ca recently released a study gathering data from every single condominium sold in the Greater Toronto Area over the past five years.

Condo amenities
While the study reiterated the widespread knowledge that condo maintenance fees usually go up with more amenities–including pools and saunas – parking could become a murky spot when purchasing a condo.

Comment: Again, not really. They just separated parking costs from the main fee, to better help compare costs per square foot. Taking lockers and parking out makes it much easier to compare apples to apples.

While many condos now require purchasers to shell out upwards of $50,000 for a parking spot, many condo buildings are also charging anywhere from $43-$148 a month in maintenance for warm and heated lots.

Comment: Of course, the upkeep of the parking garage needs to be paid for, same as the actual building. Cleaning, repairs, door maintenance… you name it. That is not free.

Condo lobby
Another condo-fee myth debunked by the study is that older condos don’t necessarily mean you’ll be paying more in fees.

Comment: Except that in most cases it does. Generally, older condos cost more. Not always, but most of the time.

“Many older condominiums actually include utilities such as water, hydro, heat and sometimes even cable,” Sandra Rinomato, owner of Sandra Rinomato Realty tells BNN.

Comment: That is true. The older the condo, the more tends to be included in the fees. Newer ones tend to meter almost everything separately, to encourage owners to conserve energy or water. Older condos even include cable TV a lot of times. And then there are co-ownerships and co-ops that include property taxes as well. Point is, you need to know what is included in the fees, educate yourself!

And while newer condos actually do have smaller fees, you get what you pay for – less square footage.

Comment: Which is what most people forget. The larger the unit, the higher the fees. Balconies have to be paid for as well, they are included in the units square footage. Add in a locker and a parking spot, those also need to be paid for. Add in a pool, concierge, etc. Amenities also cost money.

Condo parking garage
“With condos becoming smaller and smaller, common elements are actually getting valuable to the average condo dweller,” says Rinomato.

Comment: Not always. Many don’t want to have to pay for them. Most people don’t use the amenities. Trust me, I show a lot of condos, the amenities are usually empty. Some buildings have full and busy gyms, but most don’t. I love going swimming at my father-in-law’s condo, we are always the only people in the pool. But go to Pure Spirit on Mill Street, a summer afternoon and the pool is fuller than a cruise ship!

Rinomato says paying less than 50 cents per square feet for maintenance fee is a good benchmark if you wish to control your maintenance fee costs.

The average paid in the Greater Toronto Area is 59 cents per square foot, according to the study.

Comment: But that is misleading, as it is unit cost only. You have to add in parking and locker costs as well, to be able to get a proper monthly cost. Point is, do your homework, know what you are paying for!

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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In many Canadian cities, unsold condos are stacking up

Tamsin McMahon – The Globe and Mail

When the federal government tightened mortgage rules in 2012, overheated condo markets in Toronto and Vancouver were widely seen as the main target. But little more than two years later, it’s many smaller cities that are bearing the brunt of stricter regulations.

Comment: Except they weren’t. It was mainly a final move to get us back to where we were before the rules were relaxed to allow for 0%-down mortgages and 40-year amortizations. The government wanted to make sure people buying any sort of property were better qualified and financially able to afford them.

Winnipeg, Montreal and Moncton are grappling with a surplus of unsold condo units driven by a surge in new construction and a dwindling supply of first-time buyers in the wake of Ottawa’s decision in June, 2012, to limit mortgage insurance to amortization periods of 25 years or less from 30 years.

Comment: I am not sure the condo inventory in Moncton has anything to do with 2-1/2-year-old mortgage rule changes. That would be a long and strange time gap. And why not in Toronto or Vancouver, where most of Canada’s condos are being built?

Condos in Moncton
While deep-pocketed investors in Toronto and Vancouver stepped in to fill the void, the picture has been different in smaller markets where condo sales are driven largely by first-time buyers.

Comment: How do you know that is what happened? That is just a guess, nothing more. And with the recent CMHC study saying only 4.3% of downtown Toronto condo buyers are investors, that would mean that 95.7% of the others were bought by non-deep-pocket non-investors. Which kinda proves your guess entirely wrong.

“It definitely had an effect on first-time buyers,” said Paul Cardinal, manager of market analysis for the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards.

Comment: Maybe in Quebec it did, but he has no basis to speak to any other real estate market in the country.

“What’s not really intuitive is that you would have thought the most expensive markets would have been impacted more than the less expensive market, but that’s not necessarily the case.”

Comment: So maybe your theory is wrong then?

The downturn has been most painful in Quebec, where the boom in condo construction started in 2011 and 2012 as young buyers, armed with cheap mortgages, flocked to the housing market.

Condos in Montreal
Roughly a third of Quebec buyers had taken out mortgages with 30-year amortizations – and that number rose to 40% in Montreal, Mr. Cardinal said. He calculated that the change was the equivalent of raising interest rates by one percentage point.

Similar problems have plagued markets such as Moncton and Halifax, according to a recent housing market forecast from Re/Max. In Regina and Saskatoon, the number of unsold housing units hit a 30-year high, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation said, the majority of them condos.

Winnipeg has also seen a surge of new condo construction since 2012 as builders rushed to cater to new immigrants under Manitoba’s provincial nominee program and retirees looking to downsize and spend their winters down south.

Comment: Note that Toronto had over 10,000 condos completed last month alone. And another 21,000 last year. And of those, only 1,600 are not sold.

Last year was the first time in 30 years that the city saw more multifamily units under construction than single-family homes. The level of unsold inventory has been rising, as have rental vacancy rates, sparking concerns about overbuilding. “That’s something we’re keeping an eye on,” said Dianne Himbeault, CMHC senior market analyst. “At this point levels are above the five-year average in terms of completed an unoccupied units.”

Montreal in particular has been grappling with a glut of unsold condos for the past two years as builders haven’t scaled back their plans in the wake of softening demand. The city had a backlog of nearly 3,000 unsold condos last year, yet condo starts in Montreal rose 19%, defying analyst expectations for a slowdown in new construction.

Comment: Montreal has double the number of unsold condos as Toronto does, in a market 1/5th the size. That is a problem. Toronto is not.

There are now nearly 20 condo sellers for every one buyer in Quebec City and downtown Montreal, well above the long-term average, said Hélène Bégin, chief economist at Desjardins Group.

In Gatineau, near Ottawa, condo prices have fallen 14%, as stricter rules and federal government job cuts have sapped the confidence of new buyers.

Yet despite a rising stockpile of unsold units, prices in Montreal’s condo market haven’t fallen, rising 1% last year, in large part because developers are choosing instead of offer generous incentives instead of price breaks. “Instead of taking $10,000 or $20,000 off the price, they’re offering to furnish it with the whole washer, dryer, dishwasher, stove and fridge,” said real estate agent Mike Abatzidis of Re/Max Du Cartier.

Comment: Weird. If there were 20 units per buyer, prices should be through the floor. Toronto has the opposite, with 20 buyers for every house for sale.

Desjardins’ Ms. Bégin expects to see a slowdown in new construction this year if the city is to avoid a serious downturn in its condo market. “If we don’t, the adjustment will be just more painful,” she said.

Not everyone agrees. In downtown Montreal, a joint venture backed by Chinese investors recently broke ground on one of the city’s most ambitious condo projects, a two-phase, 800-unit project known as YUL Condominiums.

“This is a world-class city which is still not seen as a condo market,” said Steve Di Fruscia, CEO of Tianco Group, the Vancouver-based company developing the project with Montreal’s Brivia Group. “It’s just a question of time to get the local community out of the rental market and into [condos].”

So far the project is 50% sold, but Mr. Di Fruscia says he confident the city’s glut of unsold condo inventory is merely the short-term growing pains of a city whose condo market is still developing.

“We are very bullish on Montreal,” he said. “We think it’s a great time to plant seeds. We are very hungry for some more real estate in the city.”

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

—————————————————————————————————–

Economy, consumer confidence brighten in Ontario

Plummeting oil prices shift the economic landscape, the Conference Board of Canada says.

Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew – Toronto Star

Economists and consumers see brighter days ahead for Ontario, according to a forecast and opinion poll released separately on Monday.

Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia will lead growth in Canada this year as plummeting oil prices shift the economic landscape, the Conference Board of Canada said in its latest forecast.

These provinces will benefit from the lower Canadian dollar, a stronger U.S. economy, and stronger consumer confidence, Marie-Christine Bernard, associate director, provincial forecast, wrote in the Winter 2015 Outlook.

Comment: So a good economy is good for all of us. And it also means that real estate is not going to collapse… at least not this year.

Ontario legislature
Growth in Ontario’s economy is projected to come in at a healthy 2.9% this year, roaring ahead of the national average of 1.9% for the first time since 2002, according to the forecast by the Ottawa-based economic think-tank.

“Ontario, with its minor exposure to the oil and gas extraction sector, is expected to receive a significant economic boost in the short term,” Bernard said in a release.

Lower prices at the gasoline pump, which could add as much as $1,000 in disposable income to each Ontario household, will help boost consumer confidence, the Conference Board said.

At the same time, sinking oil prices have put the brakes on growth in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan this year, the forecast said. Alberta’s GDP is expected to shrink by 1.5%.

Comment: Like I said, oil prices will have zero effect on Toronto real estate. It won’t even affect the Ontario economy. Which will rise more than the national average.

The U.S. economy, meanwhile, is expected to expand by 3.2% this year, which would benefit Ontario’s exporters, the Conference Board said.

However, the report warned, rising public debt and fiscal deficits will remain a challenge for most provinces this year.

The downturn in oil-producing provinces will be short-lived, the report said. Prices will rise gradually as the global oil glut eases and worldwide demand improves later this year and in 2016, according to the forecast.

Alberta oil sands
Meanwhile, Ontario consumers have replaced those on the prairies as Canada’s most optimistic.

Comment: Which yet again bodes well for real estate.

The index of consumer confidence calculated by Nanos Research also found that residents of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are quickly becoming the country’s most pessimistic.

Every week, Nanos Research conducts telephone interviews with 1,000 Canadians to ask their views on personal finances, job security, the outlook for the economy and where real estate prices are headed. The survey data is compiled for Bloomberg News.

The score for the prairies fell to 49.2 last week, putting it behind every other region for the first time since the series began in 2008.

The decline comes as prices for crude oil are trading at half of last year’s peak. As a result, house prices have fallen precipitously in Calgary and Regina.

The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index, a national composite score based on the four survey questions, declined to 53.8, the lowest level since May 2013.

About 20% of those surveyed expect real estate prices to fall. That’s the highest percentage since 2009, and almost double the level recorded in September.

Comment: Nationally. I bet they are all in Calgary!

The boost in sentiment from falling gasoline prices and lower interest rates is wearing off, the survey found. The share of Canadians who say their personal finances have improved fell to 21.2% last week, down from a record high of 25.3% three weeks ago, Bloomberg reported.

Comment: Again, most are likely in the oil patch.

—————————————————————————————————–
Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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