mortgage

After a relatively sedate 2018, Toronto is heating up again

After exhibiting relatively modest performance for most of 2018 with the advent of stricter mortgage qualification rules, Toronto is seeing a resurgence in market competition once again.

The latest numbers from the city’s real estate professionals’ association indicated that the total number of active for-sale listings in the GTA saw a 9.8% year-over-year decrease in November, down to 16,420 units.

During the same time frame, the volume of new for-sale listings in the region shrank by 26.1%.

“New listings were actually down more than sales on a year-over-year basis in November,” TREB President Garry Bhaura said, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Read more: Toronto apartment inventory having trouble catching up with demand

“This suggests that, in many neighbourhoods, competition between buyers may have increased. Relatively tight market conditions over the past few months have provided the foundation for renewed price growth,” Bhaura added.

Average home sales price last month was $788,345, growing by 3.5% from the same time last year.

Meanwhile, total sales in November stood at at 6,251 completed deals, representing a 14.5% annual decline.

TREB stressed, however, that any year-over-year comparison should take into account that November 2017’s performance is “distorted” due to a large number of buyers rushing to beat the implementation of B-20 in January 2018.

www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca
by Ephraim Vecina07 Dec 2018

New small-space flex offices push $1,000 a square foot

Metro’s high-tech sector driving demand for new office-industrial strata projects

New light industrial/office strata projects springing up from Mount Pleasant to East Vancouver may have tapped into a profitable path, despite per-square-foot prices ranging from $800 to $1,000.

The most recent manifestations include a four-storey project on Yukon Street at West 6th Avenue – formerly the 3 Vets outdoor store – by Chard Development, which bought the site last year for $20.4 million.

Now under development, the 49,000-square-foot Yukon project will feature a high-ceiling ground floor for light industrial, with bay access for trucks, capped by three floors of stylish office space.

Chard recognized a demand for smaller office sizes from the area’s tech, finance and retail services industries. As a result, Yukon will feature smaller unit sizes (1,000 to 5,000 square feet) to adapt to this new Vancouver real estate reality, according to Byron Chard, Chard’s principal and CFO.

A similar Chard project at 34 West 7th Avenue sold out all 48,000 square feet while still under construction.

Nothing has pre-sold yet at the Yukon, where strata space starts at $1,000 per square foot.

The building will include a freight elevator, bike lockers, showers and 83 parking stalls, and it could prove popular, according to the type of high-tech tenant Chard is targeting. Completion is expected in 2020.

“I can definitely see the demand,” said Dogu Taskiran, a partner and founder at Stambol Studios, a virtual-reality startup that concentrates on the real estate market.

Taskiran said the Mount Pleasant location and ample parking would be among the draws.

Stambol is currently splitting 2,000 square feet of space in False Creek Flats, where the total monthly rent is $3,000, which Taskiran described as “a very good deal, very cheap.”

Chard noted that a startup could buy office or industrial space at Yukon and lease out part of it until it expands, but he expects most of the buyers will be sole owner-occupiers.

“Our goal is to make the space as flexible as possible,” he said.

Alliance Partners is trying the same concept in East Vancouver with a five-storey, 55,000-square-foot light industrial/office strata project on Clark Drive at Adanac Street.

Kevin Kassautzki, vice-president at Avison Young, which is handling sales of the project, expects per-square-foot prices to be in the $700 range for industrial space and $800 for offices.

“I think this area is on its way to becoming the next Mount Pleasant,” Kassautzki said.

There is an appetite for buying strata office space from larger players in the tech community, Taskiran said, but he added that Stambol and other startups often prefer to lease. A common theme, he said, is to stay out of the downtown, where higher lease rates and a lack of parking are considered obstacles.

Frank O’Brien | Western Investor
November 21, 2018

Mortgage stress test could become election issue

The Conservative Party of Canada plans to make the mortgage stress test a hot button issue in time for next year’s election, but explaining such a convoluted issue to Canadians could pose a challenge.

The party’s Deputy Shadow Minister for Finance tabled two motions this year to study the impact of the stress test, known as B-20, but they were both rejected by the Liberals. Nevertheless, MP Tom Kmiec has vowed to put the mortgage stress test on the agenda in time for the Oct. 2019 federal election.

“It will be an election issue, absolutely,” said Kmiec. “I’m willing to use procedural tools to get this study done. I’m not necessarily saying to get rid of B-20 completely; I’m saying take a look at the data and then make a decision on it. I’m asking the Liberals to provide any internal documents they have showing why the mortgage rules were introduced in the first place.”

Kmiec has started a website to pressure the Liberals into studying B-20’s effects. He claims that he was initially told B-20 wouldn’t be examined in the absence of more data, however, much has since come to light about Canadians being shut out of the housing market.

Kmiec is dogged, to be sure. He participated in the electoral reform committee’s filibuster.

“If it comes down to it, I’m happy to use up every two-hour time limit on every single committee until we agree to do a mortgage study,” said Kmiec. “I’m not asking for the moon, either. All I want are a few meetings in Ottawa where we can invite people with data who can then tell us what’s happening with the market.”

But communicating the message will doubtless be challenging for the Conservatives. Ron Butler of Butler Mortgage can attest to how difficult buying homes has become this year, but too few Canadians have born that brunt for the impact to truly be understood.

However, given that mortgage renewals are subject to the same stringent B-20 qualification rules, Butler believes it is still possible to make Canadians understand how detrimental the stress test is.

“It won’t be hot button, but if it’s messaged right, it could be,” he said. “If it’s presented properly as a group of themes about the incompetence, in terms of the ability to handle the file—why has Mexico settled NAFTA already and Canada hasn’t? Why did we buy a pipeline that got shut down? It’s a good thing to add to the general list of incompetence. On its own, it isn’t a hot button issue, but if you want to weave it into a tapestry of every day, practical fiscal management, it could work.”

 

by Neil Sharma01 Oct 2018, www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca

Zoning could be key to funding downtown relief line

Toronto’s downtown relief subway line—should the political will needed to build it ever materialize—could partly fund itself, to say nothing of the skyrocketing valuations that will result.

According to Andy Manahan, executive director of the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario, the municipal government can use zoning as a bargaining chip with developers to pay for the proposed network expansion by negotiating additional storeys.

 

“If a building is only zoned for five storeys but the developer is given 20 storeys, that extra 15 storeys is worth a lot of money and developers would be willing to pay it,”said Manahan. “If we build a relief line, we have to place more density at the station so that there’s more land value capture. If you do that link between land use and transit, you can do some creative financing in the long-run as well, and get some more developers on board.”

Many existing TTC subway stations were created as architectural monuments rather than into the sides of buildings, which is what would adequately succour density.  And if the mere rumour of below-grade infrastructure is enough to cause property values to rise, imagine what a unit 25 storeys above a subway platform would be worth.

“Typically, once an announcement is made about where the line will go, property values do increase, so the trick is how we ensure we can capture some of that increase in value,” continued Manahan.

However, more is at stake than optimizing real estate values. Toronto’s current subway network is overcapacity and its platforms dangerously brim with people. Given how many skyscrapers will continue sprouting downtown, not to mention the already low office vacancy rate, Manahan warns that the network’s capacity troubles are worsening.

“We have a lot of growth in the downtown core, and it’s not just residential,” he said. “There’s about 5.7mln square feet that will be added to the downtown office segment by 2020.”

Davelle Morrison of Bosley Real Estate echoed Manahan: “Right now, without further additional building of office space downtown, we already know we need the relief line. If you add more people working downtown and more people living downtown, because immigration numbers are high and more and more people are moving to Toronto in particular, it’s a no-brainer to me about why you would need the downtown relief line. It’s already needed, but 10, 15 years from now, it’s going to be needed even more.”

The RCCAO has been an outspoken proponent of the downtown relief line, taking out full-page newspaper ads and even launching a Twitter campaign called #GimmeRelief.

The earliest the downtown relief line could complete is 2031, however, there’s no official plan to build it. In fact, it’s as much of a pipe dream today as it was a decade ago—and making matters more frustrating for commuters, the Scarborough subway line has been given priority.

Backwards thinking, says Manahan, because sequencing is important and dictates building the network outward rather than inward, where support infrastructure is presently non-existent.

But he takes solace in Ontario’s political parties acknowledgment that the downtown relief line needs to be built.

“Over the last 50 years, the relief line is talked about occasionally and never gets built. It’s an important project and recognized by all four provincial parties. After June 7, no matter which party is in power, they will have to continue.”

by Neil Sharma30 May 2018 | Canadian RealEstate Wealth

Unlikely Canadian city attracting foreign buyers

Ottawa is experiencing a rental shortage, and savvy foreign investors are swooping in.

“There’s a shortage of inventory in the rental market here, so there’s a need for rental properties,” said Chris Lacharity, a sales representative with Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties, which deals in the luxury market. “An astute buyer knows that. There are a lot of foreign buyers who buy for personal use, but there’s a lot of investment, too.”

 

The nation’s capital is situated between Toronto and Montreal—two cities with significant foreign buyer activity—so the presence of non-resident investors shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

“Ottawa is growing faster than it ever has, but there’s still growth potential,” said Lacharity. “It has a ways to go, in terms of growth, but it’s also a capital city, a government city. It has rivers and lakes, and it’s aesthetically pleasing. If you have a family, it’s safe and hasn’t experienced all the issues that come with large metropolises. It’s also close to Montreal and Toronto.”

Montreal has arguably the hottest real estate market in Canada right now. Government initiatives brought in to cool skyrocketing housing prices in Vancouver and Toronto are believed to be responsible for that. But Ottawa is another city in the midst of a renaissance. In addition to an LRT project, it has a thriving tech sector, robust student population, and well-paying government jobs.

It is also very stable—and given investors’ distaste for volatility, that’s perfect.

“Real estate doesn’t just shoot up, it conservatively rises here 3-5% on average,” said Lacharity, adding foreign buyers park money in the city’s real estate. “It’s a pretty safe bet for that.”

Bernadette Deschenes of Your Choice Realty notes overheating in Toronto and Vancouver are catalysts for foreign buyer activity in Canada’s capital city. But the city’s two universities have also impelled foreign buyers into action.

“They buy more student residences, like condos or townhomes,” said Deschenes. “Most of our foreign buyers are buying for their children who are attending university. We have a huge student population in this city. There’s a fair bit of older brownstone that’s near Ottawa U in the Sandy Hill region.”

by Neil Sharma09 May 2018 | www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca

International online retailer selling Canadian houses like shoes

Chinese real estate portal Juwai—which collects staggering quantities of data on Canadian housing—has struck a deal with online retailer JD.com to start selling homes like shoes.

Juwai markets overseas properties to buyers in China’s Mainland and, according to a JD.com statement buyers can view houses listed for sale “like milk, shoes and other household goods.”

In addition to Canadian real estate, home listings from Australia, the U.K. and U.S. will also be advertised on JD.com—all popular markets for Chinese investors.

JD.com, which is often referred to the Chinese equivalent of Amazon, made a special request for Canadian real estate because of how popular of a commodity it’s become among Chinese consumers.

China forbids capital outflow exceeding USD$50,000, but it’s in the midst of loosening such restrictions and retailers like JD.com—China’s second-largest retailer after Alibaba—are champing at the bit.

However, news about the deal between Juwai and JD.com is bound to inflame tensions between domestic and foreign buyers, whom believe responsible for rising unaffordability.

Countries like New Zealand, Britain, Australia, Switzerland and Singapore, to name a few, have taken measures to protect their housing markets from foreign speculators, while Canada has steep foreign buyer taxes in its two most expensive real estate markets.

by Neil Sharma03 Apr 2018 | .www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca

B.C. commercial real estate investment up 83% year-over-year

Real estate sales over $5 million hit a new dollar volume high in 2017, led by institutional buyer demand

 

B.C.’s commercial investment value set a new record-high of $7.5 billion in 2017 – up nearly 83 per cent over 2016’s $4.1-billion value. 

A new year-end investment review from Avison Young Commercial Real Estate notes commercial real estate deals and dollar volumes have continued to rise astronomically since 2015. Avison Young cites a number of reasons behind this acceleration – primarily a divergence of market opinion between vendors and purchasers that has led to more assets for sale by owners and more demand for purchase among investors. 

The report tracks B.C. office, industrial, retail and multi-family property transactions greater than $5 million. Two hundred and thirty property sales were recording in 2017, versus 147 in 2016.

 2017 property sales continued to be led by redevelopment potential, regardless of asset class. 

"Ongoing price appreciation in all asset classes is being driven almost exclusively by land value and redevelopment potential," says Bob Levine, principal for Avison Young. "The acquisition of retail assets has morphed in many cases into land deals with lesser consideration or interest for the income in place or the retail asset itself.” 

Private investors accounted for 87 per cent of transactions in 2017 but only 46 per cent of dollar volume. Institutional buyers accounted for the other 47 per cent of dollar volume recorded in 2017. Institutional buyers were involved in most high-profile transactions of the year, including Cadillac Fairview’s downtown Vancouver office portfolio, Pacific Centre shopping mall, Oakridge Centre and Solo District office sales in Burnaby. 

Retail sales in B.C. claimed the largest portion of sales dollar volume, claiming 48 per cent or $3.6 billion of 2017’s 7.5 billion investment total. 

The year’s single biggest transaction was the $1.9-billion sale of Pacific Centre and surrounding office towers. It was B.C.’s second commercial real estate deal to surpass $1 billion, following the $1.05-billion sale of Bentall Centre in 2016. 

Avison Young do not anticipate a billion-dollar transaction in 2018 and believes institutional buyer demand will slow, leading to an annual dollar volume decrease. 
 

Tanya Commisso Western InvestorMarch 22, 2018

British Columbia's economy is forecast to remain strong through 2020

VANCOUVER — British Columbia is predicted to have solid economic growth through 2020 by a trade association of credit unions.

Central 1 Credit Union says 2017 was a year of “stellar growth” and the positive momentum will continue in B.C. for the next 24 months, despite a slower housing market.

The new forecast calls for a three per cent growth in the province’s real gross domestic product, which is the inflation-adjusted value of all goods and services produced in B.C.

Growth is expected to slow to just over two per cent next year, but Central 1 economists are calling for a rebound to 3.3 per cent by 2020, marking what they say has been “more than a decade of uninterrupted annual growth.”

Federal lending restrictions, provincial government policies and stepped up home construction will combine to keep a lid on B.C.’s housing market, but Central 1 does not foresee a price correction.

 

Bryan Yu, deputy chief economist at Central 1, says warning flags include trade disruptions due to trade wars or disputes over renewal of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but he says B.C.’s exports are spread across the province, limiting some of the risk.

Yu also forecasts faster wage growth for B.C. workers, as average unemployment moves toward four per cent over the next two years.

“Employers will face increasing challenges in finding workers to support operations as employment is constrained by growth in the labour force due to an aging population,” he says in a news release.

Overall, Yu predicts a surge in investment by the end of the decade as major private and public works projects get underway.

“B.C.’s economy remains in a strong position with consumer demand underpinned by high employment and income growth, rising exports and government spending,” he says.

 

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Published on: March 27, 2018 | Last Updated: March 27, 2018 10:12 AM PDT