Toronto Loft Conversions

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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.

Toronto Real Estate

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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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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.

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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.

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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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Toronto housing bubble showing no signs of bursting

Dan Karpenchuk – WBFO 88.7 Buffalo

A recent survey by one of Canada’s big banks suggests that the cost of renting or owning a home in the city of Toronto is climbing out of reach of most residents.

The average price of a home in Canada is just over $400,000 and in Toronto, that number in excess of $575,000. Some experts say Canada’s biggest city is in danger of becoming the “New York City of the north.”

The report, by the Toronto Dominion bank, is raising concerns about affordability and availability of housing in Toronto.

Comment: It is of note that TD is the only one of the big banks with such a pessimistic outlook. The other 4 major banks don’t agree. The Bank of Canada and CMHC also think that Toronto housing is fine.

Toronto housing market
Experts say there is no end in sight to the  housing bubble experienced by Toronto, even while they insist prices are at least ten percent higher than they should be.

Comment: It is NOT a bubble. It is simple continued price appreciation for almost 20 years. Just because prices don’t fall doesn’t make it a bubble. And if price fell 10%, it would bring us back to where prices were last year. And last year they said price were over valued by 15%. So what is the “proper” value? It is what people will pay… it is a free and open market. Prices are set by buyers and sellers. There were 87,000 sales last year. That means at least 174,000 buyers and sellers. And another 174,000 buying and selling agents. That is over 350,000 people that set the prices in 2014. Never mind friends and family that gave advice or financial help. Plus 87,000 mortgages. I take the collective opinion of all of those involved in the market over what one economist thinks.

But real estate agents counter, saying as long as demand continues to outweigh supply, those prices will continue for the foreseeable future, even if there is a modest cooling.

Comment: But demand isn’t letting up, and supply is not increasing. In such an economic situation, prices don’t fall. I took that in Grade 9 business class.

The current situation, according to the TD Economics survey, is in danger of pushing prices beyond the reach of even high income residents.

Comment: Not true. If you start with nothing, maybe. But those moving up the property ladder have assets worth a lot, which they then sell. They put that money down on a larger house and use their high incomes to pay the remaining mortgage. Sure, even if you make $200,000/year it would be hard to buy a $1.5 million house without a large down payment. But that is playing semantics, which economists love to do.

“You’re dealing with a huge sticker shock and a growing gap between those larger properties and the smaller ones,” says Derek Burleton, TD’s deputy chief economist.

The TD report suggests that the boom in condo construction is partly to blame, at the expense of more single-family homes and townhouses.

Comment: Because condos are being built and houses aren’t? The market is speaking, buyers are telling developers what they want with their wallets.

“Removing some of the structural barriers that are driving up the cost of land, and leading to a housing stock that’s becoming very tilted toward small condo apartments,” Burleton adds.

Comment: How? As land becomes more scarce downtown, land values go up. Again, simple economics. Greenbelt legislation makes land in the 905 more constrained and thus more expensive. There are 100,000-120,000 people coming to the GTA every year, all of whom need somewhere to live. Demand is not letting up. Land is less available. People don’t want to commute, they are preferring downtown over the suburbs. So many factors are affecting the price of land and the type of housing being built, it is not as simple as “removing structural barriers” to magically make everything less expensive.

Toronto condos
But construction of new condo units has blossomed, in some cases making up as much as 80% of new residential construction, nearly half of it in Toronto’s core.

Comment: For the reasons I stated above.

With so little affordable housing, renters are getting hit hard as well, with many rents in the downtown more than $2,000 a month or about half of the income of the lowest 40% of wage earners.

Comment: But those lower wage earners can go to apartment buildings, where the rents are half what they are in new investor-owned condos. Just because some rents are high does not mean they are ALL high.

The TD survey says affordability has dropped to the point where Toronto is not far behind New York.

Economists say it takes 6.5 times the average income to buy a house in Toronto compared to 6.1 times the average income in New York City.

Comment: And those numbers are simply wrong. Especially when the GTA is ranked 323rd out of the 360 most expensive cities and New York is number 16. It is a completely illogical claim. Median sales price in NYC is $1,310,000 USD ($1,629,600 CAD)compared to $510,532 CAD in Toronto. Price per square foot for condos is $1,450 USD ($1,804 CD) in NYC vs. $543 CAD in Toronto. And yet this person wants to tell us that Toronto is LESS affordable than New York? Really? This means that the average income in NYC would have to be $267,148 CAD for their math to work, vs. $78,543 CAD in Toronto. According to the US Department of Labour, income in Manhattan is $2,749 USD a week, which is $177,823 CAD per year. That means it would take 7.4 times than income to buy the average property in New York. And Toronto’s median income, according to StatsCan is $71,210 for 2012. Which then puts us at 7.2 times income to buy the average property. While much closer than I had thought, their math is still wrong.

—————————————————————————————————–
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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