strata

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

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

Investing in strata windups, How to profit from strata assembly: selling off entire buildings for development can be a windfall

Changes to BC’s Strata Property Act allow for strata owners to dissolve their strata corporation on an 80 per cent vote for voluntary wind-up, which has spurred developer interest in older strata properties for redevelopment purposes.

Prior to the July 29, 2016 change in the statute, the requirement was unanimous approval, which was difficult to meet – one holdout vote was all it took to defeat the wishes of a significant majority.

The new provisions bring B.C. into line with most other provincial condominium statutes.

In anticipation of the new changes, developers have been busy identifying feasible sites and likely candidate strata corporation owners willing to consider wind-up and sale for redevelopment. And strata councils/owner groups have been consulting with their advisors to sort out the navigation processes required for such wind-ups and sales.

Some sites, decades old, are worth more in redevelopment value than non wind-up, as-is value. Some buildings are not built to full allowable or potentially allowable density, or are close to newer rapid transit lines. Other buildings have such high deferred maintenance and repair costs that sale to a developer could yield owners greater returns, while also relieving them from having to pay for significant repair costs to the building, and from the mess and stress of carrying out the repairs.

 

Complex process

However, the termination and sale process, for both developer buyers and owner sellers, can be complex and lengthy. There are requirements for the winding-up, mandatory where five or more strata lots are on the strata plan, including court order approval, procedural rules for obtaining approval, and notice requirements.

The court approval requirement gives those opposed to termination and sale the opportunity to try to convince the court there is significant unfairness to one or more owners or holders of charges, or significant confusion and uncertainty in the affairs of the strata corporation or of the owners.

This is new law for B.C. and as such, time will tell what parameters the BC Supreme Court will establish to determine the best interests of the owners as a whole, and what factors it would consider in its determination of whether or not there has been significant unfairness or confusion to deny approval.

Fairness

A good approach, for both the developer and the majority owners who wish to sell to a developer, is to ensure there are terms benefitting the sellers which show fairness to all owners. As an example, provision for a long turnover possession date where the sellers can live rent free for 12 to 18 months after closing would show the sellers are being given time post closing to find alternate housing.

Some developers have considered entering into contracts with sufficient numbers of owners to enable the developers to effect the 80 per cent vote for wind-up only after it completes the purchase with those owners. In such instances the obtaining of a court order approving the voluntary wind-up and sale by all owners would not be a condition of its purchase. Buyers should understand there could be considerable delays and holding costs to factor in if they opt to go this route, as getting court approval is not guaranteed. Also, if a court does not order a wind-up on an application, a developer buyer may be left, for the short to mid-term, with an 80 per cent or more ownership of a property requiring costly repairs.

Working with legal advisors in advance and during this new process is suggested, for developers and owner sellers alike.

Carol Lee Western Investor
June 22, 2017
www.westerninvestor.com