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Toronto Real Estate

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Printers Row Lofts - 525 Logan AvenueRare, stunning loft conversion by Bob Mitchell, known as Printer’s Row. This vintage architectural gem located in the heart of Riverdale features soaring ceilings and 15-foot windows with a south view. This boutique 12 unit loft building is nestled in a lovely residential area. The suite’s walkout to private terrace was the original entrance to the building and overlooks a picturesque garden. Large master bedroom with two closets. Open concept main floor has a spacious upper loft overlooking the living room. MORE DETAILS HERE

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Condos become the preferred choice

Neil Sharma – QMI Agency

Ever wonder what factors drive Toronto’s high-rise condominium market?

Location figures into nearly every real estate adage imaginable, and for good reason. Why? Well, in congested Toronto, living near public transportation, primarily subways, is a far greater privilege than being canonized. Secondary transportation like buses and streetcars figure into the equation, too.

Comment: Some of the reasons downtown living is taking preference over the suburbs for many people, especially Millennials.

“Any location that is next to, close by or walking distance to a subway station is number one,” said Barbara Lawlor, CEO & president of Baker Real Estate Inc. “People love to be in the thick of things, people have to be able to get to work easily, people love if they can get to cultural events like movies, theatre, art galleries. They don’t want to have to go too far.”

Toronto condos
And, according to Paul Golini, co-founder and executive vice-president of Empire Communities, LRTs are equally important, particularly along Eglinton Ave. where the track will be submerged from Mount Dennis to Don Mills. Buoyant external amenities and high walk scores also drive interest in location.

“Projects along the existing and soon-to-be LRTs and subways are still experiencing traffic and good response in terms of sales,” he said. “Developers are having success across Eglinton because of the LRT. People don’t realize the LRT will be buried in that part of the city, so it’s going to feel like a subway.”

Comment: Watch prices rise along Eglinton as the LRT finishes. And then condos will be built along the route, much like Sheppard filled in after the new subway track was completed.

As condos slowly but surely supplant houses as the housing of choice — condominiums accounted for 55% of new construction in the GTA in 2014 — adequate living space becomes increasingly important.

“A lot of young families are priced out of the low-rise market, and they do want brand new,” said Lawlor. “Condominiums are starting to appeal to young families. It isn’t just affordability; families want to be in the middle of cultural venues, of transportation, of heartlands and being able to walk to amenities. We’ll see this trend grow. There’s already been pressure on builders to build three-bedroom units.

Comment: Not a lot of pressure. And more from politicians and pundits than from consumers. But we will get there, it takes time and the buyers have to start to demand it.

“We’re becoming more and more like international cities, like New York, where it’s commonplace for families to live in apartments.”

End-users aren’t the only buyers paying attention to family-sized units, either. Investors, typically bulk purchasers of bachelor-sized units, have started diversifying their portfolios with larger units.

Comment: Are they? Do you have proof or is that just an assumption? With around 3% of new condos bought by foreign investors, they just don’t make up enough of the market to be buying small units in such vast quantities. Many are bought by those who don’t need more space, who can’t afford more space or those who want to make the smallest impact on the environment.

Erudite in the ways of the market, they, too, have observed sprouting demand from families.

Amenities are a staple of any condominium building. However, where once developers raced to outdo each other by dressing buildings to the nines in amenities, they now adhere to a ‘less is more’ ethos. Building amenities might be fewer, but they’re top notch.

“It’s about picking a couple of key amenities and making them great rather than numerous,” said Golini. “Amenities speak to condo fees and there’s an issue of affordability, so if we can keep condo fees in check by not burdening projects with amenities then that’s a way to go with affordable alternatives.”

Comment: Now, if we can just get developers to put solar panels on every condo roof, wind turbines, grey water recycling, etc. How about a cell tower on the roof (Rogers pays handsomely to rent that space). Public spaces on the first few floors, something municipal like a library and a school. Get those condo fees down and create amenity spaces that can be shared by the residents and public alike. Connect the buildings to the public space.

While party rooms and gyms are practically omnipresent throughout the condos market, outdoor space is also in high demand. Both Lawlor and Golini said buyers flock to projects with outdoor lounges, BBQ areas and green space.

Toronto’s condo boom can partly be attributed to an historic low in the mortgage rates set by banks, and with speculation of the so-called bubble bursting existing in perpetuity, buyers are taking the plunge.

Comment: People aren’t buying real estate because they are afraid of a non-existent bubble bursting.

“There’s no denying the fact that historic low-interest rates are a big part of why people are saying it’s time to invest in a condo and get out of rentals or mom’s basement,” said Golini. “Rates are only going to go up.”

Comment: Funny, people have been saying that for years. And rates have fallen from 4.75% 5 years ago to 2.79% today. Don’t assume they will stay low or drop further. But don’t assume they will jump to 10% tomorrow either.

Toronto’s downtown east side, long an industrial wasteland, is slated to become the city’s next hot market segment. The 80-acre CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletes’ Village near the Don River has renewed interest in the area, and a plethora of affordable family housing is expected to ensue.

Comment: I have been saying that for years.

“The east side will come into focus in 2015,” said Lawlor. “I know there are fabulous developments coming up and they’re more affordable than products on the west side.”

Added Golini, “Post-Pan Am Games, people are going to discover the east side of the city, around the East Bayfront. It’s going to be big.”

As the transit system continues expanding, expect high-rise residential development to follow suit.

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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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Oil price to push down home sales 1.1% in 2015: Real estate association

Alexandra Posadzki – The Canadian Press

The Canadian Real Estate Association is predicting that the impact of declining oil prices on consumer confidence in some provinces will push down Canadian home sales by 1.1% this year, to 475,700 units countrywide.

Comment: By averaging out the decline in Alberta across the whole country.

CREA also estimates the national average home price will grow by 2% to $416,200 this year, a smaller increase than last year, as Alberta’s average home prices slip by an estimated 3.4% this year to $387,600.

Comment: So what is the price rise if Alberta is removed? Last year everyone liked to show that values were lower if Toronto and Vancouver were removed, so remove the negative values in Alberta and lets see where we are at.

Calgary
The association had earlier predicted home sales would be 0.8% above 2014, rising to 485,200 units, but revised its outlook lower to reflect the falling price of oil.

Provinces with significant oil production will see lower home sales. Alberta is expected to see sales fall by 19.3% in 2015, Saskatchewan by 11.2%, Manitoba by 2.2% and Newfoundland by 1%.

However, RBC Economist Robert Hogue said the oil price-related turbulence in Western Canada looks like it may subside soon.

“It is encouraging to see possible signs that the worst may soon be over in Calgary and Saskatchewan,” Hogue said in a note. “In particular, we point to the drop in new listings in these markets as a positive development that, if sustained, would suggest to us that panic is not setting in and that activity may be close to reaching a floor.”

Canada’s other provinces will continue to see higher sales and relatively stable or higher average sales prices, according to CREA.

British Columbia is projected to see the number of home sales increase by 4.9%, Nova Scotia by 3.7% and Quebec and New Brunswick by 2.5%.

Ontario is expected to see a 1.9% boost in sales levels from 2014, while Prince Edward Island is projected to see sales activity rise by 1.4%.

The B.C. average home price is expected to rise 3.4% this year over 2014 to $587,600 and Ontario’s average price will grow 2.5% to $441,900. Apart from those two provinces and Alberta, prices elsewhere are expected to be within 1% of last year.

TD Economist Diana Petramala said although rock-bottom interest rates will fuel housing demand over the short term, “the impact is likely to fade as 2015 unfolds.” Overall, Petramala predicts sales will remain relatively flat over the course of the year and price growth will slow down to about one to two%.

“A stable housing market means the Bank of Canada will be in no rush to raise or lower interest rates over the near term,” Petramala said in a note.

Comment: “No rush to raise interest rates”

Meanwhile, home sales in February were up one% from January after several months of back-to-back declines, though the picture was dramatically different in various regions.

The overall increase was led by the Vancouver and Okanagan regions in B.C. and Toronto. However, CREA said sales were lower in more than half of all local markets compared with January as buyers on the Prairies stayed on the sidelines amid low oil prices.

Compared with a year ago, sales last month were up 2.7% from February 2014.

The number of newly listed homes fell 2.5% in February compared to January.

The national average price for a home sold in February was $431,812, up 6.3% on a year-over-year basis.

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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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Buying a home in Toronto? Know that even a no-frills semi can spark a bidding war

Carolyn Ireland – The Globe and Mail

Michael and Carly Telpner weren’t sure what offer night would bring for their semi-detached Toronto house with one bathroom and no parking.

They certainly didn’t imagine it would bring $954,000. But after two rounds of bidding and a last-minute flurry, that price clinched the deal for their three-bedroom house at 512 Balliol Street The house had been listed with an asking price of $799,900. The final tally shows how tight the race can be.

On the night scheduled for reviewing offers, six prospective buyers submitted bids. Three were invited to a second round.

One came in at $950,000 and another at $951,000, Mr. Telpner says. The agent for the prevailing couple just made it under the wire with an offer of $954,000, Mr. Telpner says of the breathless final moments.

Even with all of the bids so close, Mr. Telpner says he wasn’t tempted to aim for a third round.

Comment: But then the 2nd round would have been just to get more money. If you were trying to create a clear winner, 3 bids within $4,000 of each other is a virtual tie. Another round might separate one from the rest. But if they were tied after first bids, then why go to a 2nd round that had them still tied?

Toronto semi detached house
“I didn’t want to be obnoxious,” he says, and he knew it was a tough evening for all the buyers. “I didn’t want someone to lose out over $2,000 or $3,000, but that was the process we laid out.”

The numbers show why so many sellers are grappling with multiple offers: The Toronto Real Estate Board reported this week that sales in the GTA jumped 11.8% in the first two weeks of March from a year earlier. New listings increased 8.4% in the first half of the month compared with the same period in 2014.

Comment: Sales keep outpacing new listings, causing supply to drop every day. Most months have negative listings growth, making the problem even worse.

The average selling price in the GTA rose 10.6% to $620,106 in the first half of March from a year earlier. TREB says the growth in prices was driven by gains in houses and townhouses.

Jason Mercer, TREB’s director of market analysis, points out that a greater share of sales came from high-end detached houses changing hands. That dynamic helped to push up the average price.

In Toronto, the average price of a detached house jumped a whopping 21.3% in the first half of March from a year earlier. The average price of a semi gained 13.3%, and a townhouse 11.6%.

Comment: Don’t read too much into the price in 2 weeks of March vs. last year. Let’s see where the numbers are at the end of the month.

In the Toronto condo market, sales swelled 12.9% in the first two weeks of the month from a year earlier while the average price edged down 0.8%.

Those who are wading into competition know how tense it can be. If you wonder if it’s worth trying to appeal to the emotions of the sellers – as many agents do these days with hand-written notes and stories about their clients – Mr. Telpner says having the best offer is most important but he was also slightly swayed.

Mr. Telpner is a triathlete and he learned that the buyers were particularly keen on the gym he had built in the basement. “Price is first,” he says, “but I was kind of gunning for them.”

But he was also felt badly for a couple waiting outside in a car with their children. He figures they would have made good new custodians as well. “There’s one asset and not everyone can win. I know the others were disappointed.”

Mr. Telpner knows because he phoned the real estate agents of the runnersup the following day to thank them for showing up at the table.

“I wanted to make sure that everyone had a very positive experience,” he says. “I was happy with the process.”

Mr. Telpner, who works in international banking at Bank of Nova Scotia, says the outcome was “very surprising” for the couple’s first property sale.

The price was a record for a comparable house in the area near Davisville Avenue. and Mount Pleasant Road, he says, adding the couple would have been happy with a selling price of $855,000 or $860,000. The other half of the semi had sold last October for $847,000.

Comment: It is a hot area and prices are high there. I remember trying to convince my wife to buy a semi on Soudan in 2003 for $289,000. She thought it was a dump and too expensive. That house is worth $900,000 now. Hindsight… sigh…

Still, they thought the lack of parking could hold back the price. “That was what we thought was going to be our biggest hurdle,” he says.

Comment: But parking is generally rare, especially in the smaller semis. Buyers know this.

Real estate agent Sarah O’Neill of Royal LePage Signature Realty, who represented the Telpners, says people are vying to be in that pocket near Davisville.

“It was incredibly close,” she says of the competition.

She points out that the couple had invested quite a bit in the mechanics and insulation of the house since buying it in 2007, and the interior was also nicely designed.

She says potential buyers are savvy these days and they can tell the difference between a house that has had solid investments and one that has just been fixed up to look better for sale.

Ms. O’Neill says buyers at this time of year often have frayed nerves. Multiple offer situations are very emotional she says, and even more so when there’s a second round. “People have to decide very quickly what price to go to. It’s tough.”

As for the Telpners, they bought a detached house near Avenue Road and Eglinton Avenue in the fall, when buyers were more hesitant.

“People were wondering what was going to happen in the next year,” Mr. Telpner says of the speculation about interest rates and other economic factors.

Comment: Um, not really. September saw sales rise 11% and prices almost 8%. October sales rose almost 8% and prices 9%. There was no hesitation in the fall…

The property was listed with “offers any time.”

The couple had looked around a bit but hadn’t been serious enough about any of the houses they had seen to even make an offer.

The couple offered slightly above asking and the owners accepted. “We kind of lucked out,” says Mr. Telpner of the timing of both transactions.

Comment: Wait, what? They offered over asking on a house with no bid date and no other offers? In a period they thought was slow? Why?

The market this week is a bit quieter one in Toronto, Ms. O’Neill says, because most agents will wait until after March break to put new listings on the market.

Plenty of buyers are likely to be circulating: This week the Bank of Montreal made news when it cut its posted rate on a five-year fixed mortgage to 2.79% from 2.99%.

Meanwhile, organizations including the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of Canada have warned that markets in some Canadian cities – including Toronto – appear overvalued.

Comment: And RBC and others say the opposite. And the BoC said MAYBE things were overvalued, the market MIGHT be. And they said it in the fall, almost 6 months ago now. It isn’t something recent.

Some economists warn that ultra-low interest rates are creating too much froth.

Comment: No, it is the lack of supply. If we suddenly had 5 times the number if listings tomorrow, it would alleviate some bidding wars. Which would help rein in prices. Sales would go through the roof, mind you.

Ms. O’Neill believes that bidding contests will likely lose some intensity as the spring market gathers momentum: Typically the action is most fervid in the early part of the year when there are few listings and a lot of pent-up demand. As move-up buyers find new homes, they in turn list their current properties and the supply loosens up.

Comment: Not really. More buyers come out and listings don’t go up. That is not a recipe for things to calm down.

She expects that more listings will come on after the public and private school breaks, but the big surge in listings will follow the Easter and Passover holidays.

“I predict it will be gangbusters after that.”

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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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