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Monday, May 13, 2013

E Condos Anticipate The Crosstown Traffic

The Eglinton LRT, dubbed “The Crosstown,” should be complete by 2020, running from Jane St. to Kennedy Station along Eglinton Avenue. (Courtesy of Dear Jimi Hendrix, we’re gearing up for The Crosstown traffic, but there are no plans for gridlock, or tire tracks of any kind.
We Torontonians are bracing ourselves for the big transit spend along Eglinton Ave. and it seems we may be getting our ducks in order.
In a May 17 article in the Globe and Mail by Richard Gilbert titled, “How Toronto’s transit plans take taxpayers for a ride,” potentially overwhelming future costs of the Eglinton LRT were supposed by the author.
Gilbert also offered some possible solutions to reduce the load on taxpayers. The most compelling? A four-fold increase in estimated ridership, reducing the subsidy per rider from $17.50 to $4.40.
How does Gilbert suggest the city increase ridership? By “encouraging massive development at and near the light-rail stations.”
Though people are clinging to car era logic, the reality of gas prices, traffic jams, and progressive urban planning are making downtown living increasingly attractive, especially for people who are tired of the commute.
While Toronto’s increase in the number of occupied units is not growing as fast as the rest of the GTA, the 2011 Census reports that 34.0 percent of the GTA’s increase in occupied dwelling units between 2006 and 2011 were in Toronto proper—a near two-fold improvement over the period between 2001 and 2006’s increase of 19.6 percent.
Your eyes can confirm what the census will tell you. Lots of that growth was from high-rise condos along the waterfront.
The question is, “where next?” The obvious answer is to connect new development to our transit plans.
Designed by Rosario Varacalli, E Condos will transform the Northeast corner of Yonge and Eglinton Avenue. (Courtesy of Baker Real Estate)
The Crosstown crossroads
Dear Robert Johnson, I went down to the crossroads, but I didn’t fall down on my knees, I actually took the elevator—to the subway.
The intersection of Yonge and Eglinton has always been a great location, but the imminent Eglinton LRT cements it as a new transit hub for Toronto.
The Northeast corner of said intersection is about to change dramatically. Developers Bazis, Metropia and RioCan are building 889 condominium units at Eight Eglinton Ave. E.
The project, called E Condos, will be the tallest constituent of the neighbourhood so far, with one tower rising 64 stories above street level, and the other 38.
Residents will be able to connect to the subway directly, without feeling winter’s undesirable touch. The project itself is the beginning of Eglinton Avenue’s arrival as a future transit hub.
Swimmers will enjoy a stunning view from cantilevered pools on the 31st floor of both buildings. (Courtesy of Baker Real Estate)
The smallest units are 480 square-foot one-bedrooms, the largest 1220 two-bedrooms plus den. There are 15 typical plans and a few terraced and penthouse suites.
Two cantilevered swimming pools on the 31st floors of both buildings are one of the project’s most distinctive features.
Scheduled grand opening is later this summer, with occupancy anticipated in the fall of 2017.
Baker Real Estate will oversee the sales and marketing of E Condos. Baker’s annual sales were almost $2 billion last year, during which they sold around 4,000 condominiums. Baker has offices in Toronto, Florida, and Montreal. They also take Canadian real estate products to China, Russia, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates.
We spoke to Baker Real Estate president Barbara Lawlor about who she thinks E Condos residents will be, given Toronto’s increasingly cosmopolitan character.
“I think there will be quite a mix of buyers at Yonge and Eglinton,” Lawlor says. Aside from first-time homebuyers who work downtown, who else will make up this mix?
According to Lawlor, baby boomers are “having tremendous impact already and it’s only just begun. Now they are approaching right-sizing their homes, they have the money to do it. They’re well situated.”
“They want the freedom of one-level living, the community security of condominium living, and luxury.”
Downsizing your home in your 60s is a lot easier than waiting until your 80s to simplify your lifestyle. Condo living doesn’t include many of the hassles of home ownership, such as garden upkeep, snow removal, and repairs.
Party lounge in e8 building at E Condos (Courtesy of Baker Real Estate
Location, transit proximity
E Condos is certainly designed with luxury living in mind, but its greatest selling point is location, and transit proximity. Transit-connected projects like E Condos are built with fewer parking spaces. The demand for parking is decreasing. According to Lawlor, this is another sign Toronto is maturing.
“The minute you land in a great cosmopolitan international city, the first thing you do is learn how to hail a cab or where the underground [subway] is. Toronto is starting to feel like that.”
Transit initiatives make the city more livable and attractive, and that is encouraging real estate investors, who are also having a considerable impact on Toronto’s housing market.
With the first quarter of 2012 performing very well, Toronto is still North America’s top real estate market. “[Canada] is a safe haven. It is conservative,” says Lawlor.
Lawlor, an Irish immigrant, recognizes that “people coming here from all over the world are grateful for the conservative economic reliability this country offers—and I’m one of them.”
Responding to fluctuations in Vancouver’s housing market she comments, “We are not our West Coast where prices have spiked and are probably not sustainable. Our pricing in Toronto has been on a very steady incline for the last 20 years with very few blips along the way and very few double digit increases.”
To learn more about E Condos - visit Toronto Condos

Unruffled builders see a continuing Toronto condo boom

f condo owners are feeling nervous about the number of cranes visible on the horizon these days, how must it feel to be among the builders of those partly finished high-rises? A few of them assembled recently to share their views on the outlook for Toronto’s condo market at a seminar on real estate investment sponsored by Queen’s University. The panel included a lender, a receiver, a marketer and a couple of developers.
“We’ll see who’s the busiest in the next few years,” quipped moderator and real estate agent Hunter Milborne.
All seemed to agree that there is a dampening in the voracious demand for condos that we’ve seen in the past several years. They also talked of tighter lending, rising inventories and nervous buyers. There was general accord that gradual cooling is likely a good outcome.
John Andrew, director of executive seminars on corporate and investment real estate for Queen’s University, noted afterwards that the developers on the panel are among the most conservative. They were also among the first movers when low interest rates made building condos an attractive proposition.
“My overall sense is they feel that the condo boom is going to continue for quite some time,” he said.
The main driver of the boom is low interest rates, which appear to be here for a while. But he adds that the builders are taking steps to mitigate their risk in the event that the momentum shifts.
“Most of their projects are going to be long complete before we ever have any kind of a crisis – if there is going to be a crisis.”
James Ritchie, for one, appeared quite unruffled as he sat in the downtown Toronto conference room and gestured at the view from the 16th floor.
“Look at the cranes,” he said. “Those are a couple of our cranes over there.”
All eyes turned towards the rigs hoisting materials on behalf of giant Tridel Corp., where Mr. Ritchie is senior vice-president of sales and marketing.
“We really are the hot spot in North America,” he said of the hectic pace of construction in Toronto.
Mr. Ritchie summed up the mood of investors as “skittish.”
The pace of building, combined with speculation in the media about a possible bubble, is undermining consumer confidence, he added.
Mr. Ritchie does not believe there’s a bubble. Yes, prices have jumped, but year-over-year increases of 7 or 8 per cent don’t worry him. Back in the late 1980s, he pointed out, speculation was rampant and the average price spiked 20 per cent one year and 40 per cent the next.
“That to me is a bubble,” he said.
Canderel Group is racing to build Canada’s tallest residential building with its 78-storey tower called Aura. Canderel executive vice-president Ben Rogowski said that, inevitably, many of the people buying units in the skyscraper at Yonge and Gerrard streets are investors, but he doesn’t see a problem with that.
“I know there’s a lot of concern but these investors all want to make money,” Mr. Rogowski said.
Mr. Rogowski hasn’t seen rampant flipping or other signs of speculation, and he notes that the investors have no problem renting out their units. They’re closing on deals and making healthy deposits, he added.
Similarly, overseas buyers don’t worry Mr. Rogowski. The pace of building in Toronto is not as intense as it was in Vancouver and Calgary when foreign buyers drove up those markets in 2007 and 2008, he added.
Prof. Andrew says he finds it fascinating that the developers themselves don’t have a handle on the percentage.
“The truth is, they don’t have a clue. They don’t survey that,” he said.
He adds that even the buyers who show their Canadian identification at the sales office may have power of attorney to act on behalf of someone outside the country.
But Prof. Andrew considers the questions surrounding the proportion of foreign buyers to be a red herring. He says many overseas investors pay in cash, which helps to lower the risk in the market.
He is more worried about young, first-time buyers who are taking on much more debt than they can handle if interest rates are significantly higher when they renew the mortgages on their units in the coming years.
“Domestic investors are the worst because they tend to borrow as much as they can and they’ll be the first to dump them when interest rates go up.”
Mr. Ritchie said Tridel does a good job of shutting out first-time buyers. The company has been demanding a deposit of 20 per cent, which is hard for a first-time buyer to scrape up. But, as risk increases, they want as much as a 35-per-cent deposit – just in case the market turns sour and buyers decide to walk away.
He believes speculation about the number of foreign buyers is overblown but acknowledges there is a risk when investors are overseas.
“If somebody buys and they’re in Nigeria, how the heck are we going to deal with that – aside from the deposit we have,” Mr. Ritchie said.
Remo Agostino, director of development at Daniels Corp., said he still sees an opportunity to build more projects – in emerging downtowns such as Vaughan and Markham – and especially along transportation corridors.
He thinks one of the biggest problems is figuring out how to make housing affordable as land and construction costs rise. The buyers are out there, as evidenced by the lineups that form outside the sales offices when Daniels launches new projects.
“It really is a social phenomenon when we go on sale,” he said.
Mr. Agostino said the company has experimented with a rent-to-own concept at Bayview and Sheppard avenues as one way to help buyers overcome the hurdle of affordability.
“It’s getting creative in the marketplace,” he said.
For the lenders’ viewpoint, the panel had Steve Sagro, senior manager of real estate at Laurentian Bank. He predicted that things will slow down over the next year or two. Eventually interest rates will rise, he said, and already bankers are scrutinizing deals carefully and becoming more selective about to whom they are lending money.
Mr. Rogowski said he doesn’t know if the real estate market will suffer a drop in Toronto, but if it does, he believes the catalyst will be an external shock.
“It will be somewhere else in the world and everyone will suffer, including us,” he said.
Mr. Ritchie summed up the outlook succinctly: “Nobody can predict it. No one’s ever predicted it correctly.”

Is the Toronto Real Estate Market Too Expensive!?

Survey respondents: Canada market too expensiveBy Cameron French, REUTERS
A home up for sale in Toronto. (QMI Agency/Jack Boland) TORONTO - Canada’s housing boom will grind to a halt next year, stopped by price declines in the condominium-saturated markets of Toronto and Vancouver, according to a Reuters poll, raising the risk of a broader economic slowdown.
On a national basis, Canadian house prices are expected to rise 2.0 percent this year before stalling next year with a negligible 0.5 percent gain, according to median results of the poll, which was conducted last week.
House prices have increased 37 percent since their trough in January 2009, The Canadian Real Estate Association index showed. All 15 respondents in the poll said the market was expensive, by varying degrees.
“Home prices are overvalued by slightly under 10 percent nationwide (and) most of the overvaluation is concentrated in Toronto and Vancouver,” said Mark Hopkins of Moody’s Analytics, citing a common concern about the two hottest urban markets.
House prices in Toronto, Canada’s largest city and financial capital, are expected to rise 6.6 percent this year after rising al most 10 percent in 2011. But that will quickly fizzle into a decline of 0.2 percent next year, the first fall since 2008.
In Vancouver, the country’s most expensive market and until recently clocking the fastest annual price rises, they are expected to fall 1.6 percent this year and 2.5 percent in 2013.
Canada’s housing market avoided the U.S. sub-prime boom and bust that triggered the global financial crisis, in large part because its banks are more closely regulated and more conservative, requiring higher deposits for mortgage lending.
While property prices tumbled in the U.S., Ireland, Spain, and to a lesser extent, Britain, record low borrowing costs that followed the recession spurred another wave of home buying and property market speculation in Canada.
By early 2010, sales volumes and prices were rising by double digits on an annual basis. Figures from one industry group showed that since March 2009, the nadir of the financial crisis, Canada home prices have risen by nearly a third.
While the housing boom helped pull the country out of a shallower recession much faster than the United States, it has also fueled fears a major correction could be in the offing.
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have both expressed concern with the high debt loads Canadians have taken on to finance house purchases, enticed by rock-bottom interest rates.
Household debt levels are approaching those in the U.S. before the housing meltdown there, where prices fell by more than a third and still have not shown meaningful signs of recovery. Canada’s credit market-debt-to-income ratio hit a record 152 percent in the first quarter of 2012.
Some economists, like Bricklin Dwyer at BNP Paribas, worry that Canada’s economy, which has outperformed its peers in the G7, could take a big hit if the housing market were to turn suddenly. Recent experience around the globe shows that is what booming property markets often do.
“Whether or not Canada will face a hard landing will be determined by whether or not household risk was correctly priced in the first place. In other words, when Canadians show up to refinance their mortgages, if their interest rates jump and/or the terms of their loans change dramatically, then households could default at a rapid rate,” Dwyer said.
“If the demand for housing slows too quickly, then homeowners could quickly find themselves underwater and promoting a dangerous cycle as they try to unload their home.”
Unlike the Federal Reserve in boom times, The Bank of Canada said last week the housing market and the threat of a correction was one of the main risks to the Canadian economy.
“The continued high level of activity and stretched valuations in some segments of the housing market are of increasing concern,” it said in its semi-annual Financial System Review.
Housing starts are also expected to retreat through this year, according to the poll. Starts are expected at an annualized seasonally-adjusted 216,000 in the second quarter, falling to 190,000 by the fourth quarter. Annualized starts were 211,400 in May, down from 243,800 in April.
Rapid condominium construction in Vancouver and Toronto - where the skylines are now crowded with high-rises - has raised fears that the market could find itself saturated in supply and become the trigger point to a larger crash.
High immigration to both cities has fed the condo boom, but has also helped stoke fears that the market is partly supported by foreign investors who may pull out their money if the market starts to reverse.
Finance Minister Flaherty has tightened mortgage requirements three times since 2008 to cool the property market and the market has rallied on. But half of the respondents in the poll said the government probably won’t intervene again in the next twelve months.
“The government understands that we have a safe mortgage market and that further tightening would risk a policy-induced housing market slowdown that would have broader macroeconomic risk,” said property market analyst Will Dunning.
Reuters polled Canada’s big banks, independent analysts as well as international participants. Of Canada’s major lenders, National Bank Financial declined to participate in the poll, as did CIBC, saying they did not provide forecasts on Canada’s housing market. A few other primary dealers also declined to participate.

Ritz-Carlton SPA Opening

Spa My Blend by Clarins makes North American premiere at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto TORONTO, June 6, 2012 /CNW/ - A fully customized spa experience launches today with the highly-anticipated opening of Spa My Blend by Clarins at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto.
My Blend is a revolutionary new concept of personalized skin care that treats the skin according to individual and evolving needs at every stage of life. This exclusive treatment will be made available for the first time in North America at Toronto's only 5-diamond hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto.
Personal Skin Coaches deliver the Spa My Blend experience through tailor-made wellness options for the face and body. The signature My Blend facial features custom-blended formulations based on individual skin profiles that are determined through in-depth diagnostic imaging. Using My Blend's unique 3-step system of Essentials, Boosters and Specifics, a personalized formula is created for each guest.
Spa My Blend offers a full selection of essential Clarins services, including targeted body treatments, tri-active facials, skin therapy and massage. The Discovery Enhancements menu allows guests to further personalize their experience with luxurious additions such as the Luminous Eyes, relaxing Foot Ritual or Revitalizing Body Scrub.
The Spa's new wellness programs include one-on-one personal training by Innovative Fitness using state-of-the-art gym Techno-Gym, Precor and Kinesis equipment, as well as individual yoga instruction by yogagurl in the movement studio.
With the aim to make guests feel beautiful both inside and out, Spa My Blend's Champagne Nail Bar with luxury pedicure stations is perfectly suited for individual appointments or social engagements, while celebrity stylist Jackie Gideon enhances looks at the Spa's Beauty Bar.
For more information, visit or call 416-572-8000.
For further information: Melanie Greco Public Relations The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto Email:
Click below to find a Ritz-Carlton condo and enjoy the full luxury experience The Ritz-Carlton Residences

First People's Exhibit to Open @ The Bell Lightbox

An exhibit focusing on Canada’s First Peoples will open at the TIFF Lightbox on Thursday, featuring movies, an art exhibit and lectures, including one from actor Graham Greene. First Peoples Cinema: 1500 Nations, One Tradition takes a look back at indigenous filmmaking around the world, while the gallery show Home on Native Land features new media work from aboriginal artists from Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
“This project embodies TIFF’s vision to celebrate diversity and foster international and cultural understanding and exchange,” artistic director Noah Cowan said in as statement.
“Bringing together these works from a variety of First Peoples artists from around the globe will offer visitors a unique experience of creative and cultural discovery.”
Click here to see the full film program.
Greene, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Dances with Wolves, will speak on June 25.
Other lecturers include Australian film director Warwick Thornton; Chris Eyre, a director who is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes; New Zealand director Tusi Tamasese; Toronto writer and director Shane Belcourt, who is Metis; and Gemini-award winning actress Michelle St. John, who is a member of Wampanoag.
The exhibit runs until Aug. 19. Click here for a full list of events.

Toronto real estate now: A fixer-upper at $227,000 over asking

For the owners of a semi-detached house on Pearson Ave., $699,000 seemed like a fair asking price for the five-unit property. They were hoping it might go a little higher on the offer night a few weeks ago. “We were all totally shocked when it sold firm for $926,000,” says Lyle Hamilton of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.
The house at 180 Pearson Ave. sits in Roncesvalles Village - one of the most frenzied real estate pockets in Toronto. Six bidders submitted offers that night.
“This one was way out in front - it was a pretty obvious winner,” says Mr. Hamilton, who added that there was no second round of bidding. “The sellers were elated.”
Mr. Hamilton says setting a night for reviewing offers often leads to unpredictable results. It’s hard to gauge how badly someone will want a particular house. Often people who’ve lost out in a previous contest or two will be spurred on to bid more aggressively the next time.
“We don’t really have any control over who comes to play that week.”
In this case the house needs work - especially if the new owners want to convert it from five apartments back into a single family home.
Mr. Hamilton says his strategy was to get the word out to builders, renovators and investors along with the avid young couples and other prospective buyers who are already keenly focussed on that area.
“It had that versatility of use that played very strongly in its favour.”
Mr. Hamilton says the market’space is already shifting a little bit in favour of buyers. Listings jumped in May just as buyers’ attention is turning towards the end of the school year and summer vacation plans.
Meanwhile, everybody, including me, wants to know how things are unfolding a few kilometres north and west where investment advisor Bernie Doyle is selling his house without the aid of a real estate agent.
The details about 673 Willard Ave. are available on the site and Mr. Doyle and his wife Alison have set an asking price of $575,000.
He says more than 100 people came to the open houses last weekend: many after reading last week’s Next Move, in which Mr. Doyle railed against agents who are “absent to the game”.
“There were many very lively conversations about ‘going it alone’ in this hot market. It was a great deal of fun for all.”
Mr. Doyle says he has had less fun dealing with the agents who have phoned him and tried to discourage him from pursuing the “for sale by owner” strategy. He believes he has been blackballed by some buyers’ agents.
Mr. Doyle says there is so much thirst from the public to understand what he’s going through that he’s decided to start a blog about the experience. He’s not going to appease any agents with his choice of name, which is “Real Estate Hacks”.
Meanwhile, he’s hoping for a table full of offers on offer night.
Stay tuned.

For information on Toronto Condos

TTC expresses concern over Eglinton rail line timeline

Construction on the Eglinton Crosstown line is already behind schedule, as construction crews grapple with unexpected electrical and water pipes underneath Eglinton Avenue and Keele Street, according to senior Metrolinx staff. The news emerged as Toronto Transit Commissioners voted to mute a TTC report critical of the plans that Metrolinx is putting in place to have the light rail line up and running by 2020.
Metrolinx VP of Rapid Transit Implementation, Jack Collins, told reporters that the $5-billion project is already behind schedule.
"There's been a slight delay at the launch shaft site in moving utilities, as there are water and Hydro utilities there that we weren't aware of," said Collins, who said Metrolinx was pleased that the TTC had affirmed its support of the Metrolinx plan.
That support came after a report from TTC staff that pointed out several "concerns" about the Metrolinx plan to build and own the light rail line itself, using public-private partnerships with contractors to help finance the project.
The TTC report said the timeline for completion of the project is too ambitious, and it would more realistically be completed by 2023. The report also said it was unlikely having private-sector partners help finance the plan could end up boosting the cost by as much as $40 million.
And it said that a plan to build all of the stations in the underground portion of the line at once could result in problems in the communities along the line.
The report also suggested that Metrolinx begin work on the Sheppard LRT a year earlier than scheduled, in 2013.
But TTC Chief Executive Officer Andy Byford said the critique wasn't meant to undermine the project, which is being paid for by Infrastructure Ontario and owned by Metrolinx.
"We're as one wanting to get on with these projects," said Byford. "The only reason we submitted the report today was because of a number of concerns we had."
Byford maintained that the TTC is still skeptical that the ambitious timelines can work.
"In our professional opinion we still think that's a very tight time scale," he said. "Not that it can't be done but it would be very tight and would have implications for constrution."
Byford admitted that it was important that the public know who was responsible for the line. All other TTC projects have been constructed and managed by the commission itself. This one is a provincial project.
"I think one of the issues for me that is very important that the general public, the citizens of Toronto, know whose building these... the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown, it's important that people know it's Metrolinx," he said.
"Not to apportion blame, but if people have concerns about community consultation, they shouldn't be mistaken in thinking it's the TTC's project."
Eglinton-Lawrence Councillor Josh Colle was anxious to move the project forward as quickly as possible, and moved a motion to affirm the TTC's support of Metrolinx's schedule.
"We're letting them know we're full partners and intend to be there throughout the whole project," he said. "The commission wanted to clearly send the message that we're at the table."

What a banker is telling foreign investors about Toronto real estate

By CAROLYN IRELAND Toronto — The Globe and Mail
Last updated 
  I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a Bank of Nova Scotia economist facing a room full of foreign real estate mavens.
Investors around the globe are fascinated by Canada’s housing market. When Scotiabank vice-president Derek Holt did the rounds of U.S. cities last week to present Canadian Housing in a Macro Context, he must have been besieged.
Canada’s housing market is stretched but there are lots of mitigating factors that should quell some of the anxiety floating around, according to Mr. Holt, who narrows in on “Why it’s Different from the United States”.
Interest rates in Canada will stay low a while yet according to Mr. Holt and Dov Zigler and Adrienne Warren, who put together some of the forecasts for the road trip. They add that inflation won’t challenge Bank of Canada targets while growth in wages remains weak.
Household debt growth is already cooling, they add, and the central bank shouldn’t push that too far. For one thing, other factors – including the strong Canadian dollar, real wages and regulatory tightening – are already doing the work of the Bank of Canada.
Still, the economists point out some of their worries: Canada’s record-high rate of home ownership has surpassed the rate in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, Canada has overshot the United States on average house prices, and the ratio of insured mortgages to uninsured has swelled.
Confidence should be bolstered by the fact that the sellers’ market of the past few years is returning to a better balance between buyers and sellers. There’s no evidence of too much building in the single-family house market, they add, and the rules surrounding long mortgage amortization periods and paltry down payments have already been strengthened.
As for the number of cranes filling the sky in cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Calgary, there are plenty of things driving the demand for high-rise condominium units, say the economists. They point to the fact that condos are more affordable and provide more to choose from than single-family houses. People are moving here from overseas and those who already live here are changing their lifestyles. There’s a trend to urban intensification, vacancies for rental units are tight, and investors are still keen to own condos.
But the economists do note some “pockets of concern”: Vancouver has seen a jump in the inventory of unsold condos compared with the long-term average, while Calgary’s condo market is not lean either. Toronto’s condo boom masks the shrinking amount of building in the market for detached and semi-detached houses, they add.
As for why Canada is different from the United States, the economists look at stronger household finances on this side of the border. Canadians have more home equity and more real estate assets.
Meanwhile, the country’s diversified economy means that economic shocks – when they do hit – never hit all of the local housing markets in various cities in the same way.
Canada’s banks are strongly capitalized and there is far less shadow banking than in the United States. That revolving-door-financing so popular south of the border is not prevalent here.
Canadians don’t default when house prices correct: In Toronto and Vancouver since the late 1980s, mortgage arrears have barely budged even when prices dropped.
The chart showing average existing home prices as a multiple of income per capita is particularly striking: While the line plotting the U.S. numbers turned downwards back in 2006 or so, the Canadian trajectory has been mostly upwards since 2001.

TREB President Outlines Privacy Concerns

May 18, 2012 -- Recently there has been coverage in the media regarding the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and its fight to protect consumers in the dispute with the Canadian Competition Bureau.   However, there are a few points that continue to cause confusion, and should be clarified. While some material on MLS® is publicly available through, TREB safeguards personal information as guided by privacy legislation. Abandoning these privacy safeguards of MLS® threatens the privacy of GTA consumers.
To better understand how Ontarians feel about the Competition Bureau’s actions to force TREB to abandon the safeguards in the MLS® System, TREB commissioned an Angus Reid poll.
The results of this poll could not be clearer. As part of the poll, TREB asked the question “Do you feel that, as much as possible, personal information (such as your name or the final sale price of your home) disclosed during the buying or selling of a home should be kept confidential by your REALTOR®?”
75% of Ontarians answered yes. Only 25% answered no. The overwhelming majority of Ontarians want their personal information kept confidential.
This sensitive private information includes a seller’s name (coupled with their address), negotiated sale price, sensitive property access information, financial information (including mortgage details), and property floor plans. If the Competition Bureau is successful, this information could become publicly available on the Internet, easily accessible by anyone.
The Competition Bureau is taking actions that would force TREB to abandon privacy safeguards for the entire MLS® System. This would create a “one stop shop” for abuses of private information. Consumers have not consented to this, and it would violate privacy laws.
Indeed this is the age of the Internet which is why TREB took steps to provide REALTOR® clients with much richer information but in a safe and responsible way. This is called a Virtual Office Website (VOW). TREB believes this policy meets the consumers’ need for more information.
A VOW service allows REALTORS® to offer consumers much richer information than that seen on This password-protected website displays MLS® listing data while providing consumers with the benefit of a REALTOR® Member's knowledge and accountability, and without compromising MLS® accuracy or consumers’ privacy rights.
Ontarians want their personal information kept confidential. REALTORS® subscribe to a Code of Ethics and have an obligation to protect consumers’ personal information.
This is a complex issue. That’s why TREB launched the website—to build awareness of the consequences of the Canadian Competition Bureau’s actions to dismantle the privacy safeguards of the MLS® System. REALTORS® have access to personal and sensitive information and an obligation to protect it.

Toronto Condos

Toronto Real Estate Board: April Numbers

Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 10,350 transactions through the TorontoMLS system in April 2012. This level of sales was 18 per cent higher than the 8,778 firm deals reported in April 2011. The strongest sales growth was reported in the single-detached market segment, with transactions of this home type up by 22 per cent compared to a year ago. “Interest in single-detached homes has been very high, both in the City of Toronto and surrounding regions. Growth in single-detached listings has not kept up with demand, which means competition between buyers in this market segment increased. With this in mind, it was no surprise that the strongest annual price increase was also experienced in the single-detached segment,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President, Richard Silver.
The average price for April 2012 transactions was $517,556 – up 8.5 per cent compared to April 2011. While price growth was strongest for single-detached homes, the better-supplied condominium apartment segment experienced a more moderate annual rate of price growth, at four per cent.
“Monthly mortgage payments remain affordable for home buyers in the Greater Toronto Area. While interest rates are generally expected to increase over the next two years, the extent and timing of rate hikes has been thrown into question by slower than expected economic growth in the first quarter of this year. On net, borrowing costs are expected to remain a positive factor influencing home sales through 2012,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

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Toronto Condos

Toronto Real Estate Board: April Numbers

Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 10,350 transactions through the TorontoMLS system in April 2012. This level of sales was 18 per cent higher than the 8,778 firm deals reported in April 2011. The strongest sales growth was reported in the single-detached market segment, with transactions of this home type up by 22 per cent compared to a year ago. “Interest in single-detached homes has been very high, both in the City of Toronto and surrounding regions. Growth in single-detached listings has not kept up with demand, which means competition between buyers in this market segment increased. With this in mind, it was no surprise that the strongest annual price increase was also experienced in the single-detached segment,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President, Richard Silver.
The average price for April 2012 transactions was $517,556 – up 8.5 per cent compared to April 2011. While price growth was strongest for single-detached homes, the better-supplied condominium apartment segment experienced a more moderate annual rate of price growth, at four per cent.
“Monthly mortgage payments remain affordable for home buyers in the Greater Toronto Area. While interest rates are generally expected to increase over the next two years, the extent and timing of rate hikes has been thrown into question by slower than expected economic growth in the first quarter of this year. On net, borrowing costs are expected to remain a positive factor influencing home sales through 2012,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

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Condo Security: Budget builders usually skimp on security matters

“Beware of the budget builder. These folks cut corners and one area that almost always makes the cut list is building security. Legally, the builder hasn’t done anything wrong; after all, he did abide by the building code. Builders only need to satisfy the city’s building inspectors to get a pass on their report card. Unfortunately, upgrading existing security has become accepted by new condominium owners in order to keep their building safe from intruders. So how many more consumers are going to be hit with the budget builder’s bills? The answer lies in the hands of the building commission who sets the building codes. These professionals need to educate themselves on the importance of good home security. Revamping the building security codes will not only benefit the consumer, but enhance sales for the builder.” Toronto condos
Security is an important feature when looking for a condo. Be vigilant in knowing whether your building offers a 24 hour monitored security guard or if your last line of defense is the front door.

Busy builders unfazed by talk of Toronto condo bubble

From his office, the chief executive officer of real estate developer Diamondcorp looks south toward the towers of the Toronto skyline. But what Stephen Diamond sees is the extended expanse of tree tops between his office and the downtown core. The houses beneath those trees are the reason the developer is comfortable making big bets on the city’s condo market. Unlike downtown Tokyo or London or New York, Toronto has a plethora of single-family homes in its core, he points out.
So although it is true that there are more condos under construction in Toronto than anywhere else in North America, he doesn’t see it as worrisome: It’s just the next phase of the city’s development.
His view sets him apart as fears grow about the health of the condo market in Canada’s most populous city, where developers are building at a record pace. But Mr. Diamond is confident enough that he has raised a new $130-million fund that will be used to build more condos.
“From an urban fabric point of view, Toronto is unique in the world,” Mr. Diamond said in an interview. “It’s one of the few cities that has both a very healthy core and low-rise single-family homes almost within walking distance of the core.”
He believes that what is occurring is a necessary switch from building outward to building upward. “We’re not supplying too many units, we’re supplying them in a different form,” he said in an interview.
More than 6,000 newly built condos sold in Toronto in the first quarter, the highest number ever for the January-to-March period, research firm Urbanation said Monday. But the average number of sales per project was down, as builders unveil more new projects every week. There were 338 active condo projects in Toronto in the first quarter, a record high.
Urbanation has identified the rising amount of unsold condo units as a factor that could derail the market. There were 15,554 unsold units at the end of 2011 – 27 per cent more than a year earlier.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently suggested that developers in Toronto are prepared to build until sales evaporate, a scenario that he said could lead to a condo market crash.
Twelve years ago, most of the new housing in Toronto was low-rise homes. Now most of it is high-rise towers. Construction of single homes is at all-time lows.
Immigration trends suggest that the Toronto census metropolitan area will need between 42,500 and 52,000 new dwellings a year. Only 28,500 were delivered last year, Mr. Diamond noted. Vacancy rates remain low.
“Every market is cyclical,” he said. “But Toronto has a great, great future. Unless something that emerges that’s going to throw this city completely off base, we have a lot of confidence.”
Mr. Diamond (whose father was A.E. Diamond, a founder and the first chairman and CEO of Cadillac Fairview) was a municipal and planning lawyer for most of his career.
He has spent the past three years investing Diamondcorp’s first real estate investment fund, which raised $70-million from RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, Sterling Silver Development Corp. and the Diamond family’s venture capital firm. It produced about 2,500 condo units in seven projects.
Mr. Diamond said all levels of government should change tax incentives and development fees to encourage the construction of larger condo units, such as three-bedrooms, rather than the smaller units that are dominating the current developments.
“If we did that, then I don’t think there’s any bubble in the city of Toronto at all, because we need to accommodate the population,” he said.


From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Last updated

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