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Saturday, September 26, 2015

CMHC to look at foreign ownership of Canadian real estate

Data indicating how much of Canada’s real estate is being snatched up by foreign buyers is scant, but the country’s national housing agency is working to change that.

In a briefing note dated May 15, 2015, obtained by The Canadian Press through an Access to Information request, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., says it will be hosting “bi-lateral meetings” and roundtables with industry stakeholders to fill a number of data gaps, including the share of new and existing homes owned by foreigners.
The initiative will go beyond the limited data the agency currently gathers, including a survey of property managers indicating how many condo units are owned by people whose permanent residence is outside of Canada.
“Currently there is no perfect source of information on the level of foreign investment in the housing market,” chief economist Bob Dugan said in a statement to The Canadian Press.
“CMHC has undertaken steps to address this data gap. As a result, we know a lot more about it today than we did a year ago and are continuing our program of work to determine the level of foreign investment in Canadian residential real estate.”
The contentious issue has been in the spotlight recently, especially in Vancouver, where some have blamed demand from offshore buyers for the city’s soaring home prices.
In August, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper waded into the debate, saying that if re-elected, the Tories would gather data on foreign ownership of Canadian homes — and would even consider implementing taxes and other rules to govern the practice.
However, the briefing note prepared for Pierre Poilievre, the minister responsible for CMHC, suggested that work was already underway at CMHC.
“For high priority data gaps that it cannot address on its own, CMHC has started to engage in discussions with other data providers and organizations,” the document reads.
“Although this work is at an early stage, CMHC will keep you informed regarding progress.”
Other gaps that CMHC intends to address include the total volume of mortgages issued and outstanding and mortgage data broken out by lender type, characteristics of borrowers, property type and geographic location.
In another briefing note, the agency said it is keeping a close eye on the rise of unregulated mortgage lenders such as mortgage finance corporations, mortgage investment corporations and individuals.
“The exact number of unregulated lenders in Canada is not known since this includes private individuals and a multitude of small private firms,” the note, dated May 26, 2015 and also obtained under the Access to Information Act, reads.
“CMHC and its government partners continue to closely monitor developments in unregulated mortgage lending.”

From the Toronto Star
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Monday, May 25, 2015

What!? Vancouver could implement a speculation tax on real estate?!

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is calling for a new tax on real estate speculators to cool the city’s white-hot real estate market. 

Debate has been raging over the impact of foreign investment on Metro Vancouver house prices. Robertson says speculators are to blame, forcing young people and the middle class out of the city. He says he’s asked Premier Christy Clark to impose a speculation tax to increase affordability.
“We definitely need taxation tools that discourage speculation on real estate,” said Robertson in a statement. “It’s clear that rampant speculation on real estate is driving up prices in Vancouver. Vancouver needs the B.C. government to take action on creating a speculation tax and recognize that we need a fair and level playing field to make housing more affordable for residents in Vancouver, and throughout the province.”
Prominent developer Bob Rennie of Rennie Marketing Systems was the first to propose the idea at Friday’s Urban Development Institute’s luncheon.
“So if you buy in a presale today…you pay your deposit today and you complete in two-and-a-half to three years, there’s often a higher value at completion and at completion if you sell within three months, six months, nine months, 12 months. Perhaps we should tax that profit because it’s interfered with affordability,” he explains to Global News.
However, Tsur Sommerville of UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate says flipping condos may not be what’s driving up the Vancouver real estate market.
“I don’t see what the evidence is that all of the sudden we’re in a raft of quick flips on housing. So taxing something that’s probably not the problem — quick sales and turnarounds — seems to me kind of silly in terms of trying to address the affordability problem,” he tells Global News. “What we’re seeing is really large price increases in the single family product, but that’s the product where there’s not more supply, there’s less supply of that.”
The province has not ruled out the idea of a speculation tax, but says changes must be weighed carefully and not destroy the equity owners have in their homes.
“By trying to move foreign buyers out of the market, housing prices overall will drop,” said Clark in the legislature earlier this month. “That’s good for first-time home buyers but not for anybody who is depending on the equity in their home to maybe get a loan or use that to finance some other projects.”
The Ministry of Finance issued the following statement to Global News with respect to a proposed speculation tax.

The Province recognizes that home ownership in British Columbia can be challenging for some people.
  • Governments need to be careful that any tax would have the desired effect, without undermining the equity that people may have built up in their homes.
  • Programs designed to relieve some of these challenges are targeted toward those who need it most, while ensuring that municipalities continue to receive the full benefit of assessed property tax.
  • If you purchase a home for the first time, the First Time Home Buyers’ Program reduces or eliminates the amount of property transfer tax BC residents pay when they purchase their first homes. The threshold for the first-time home buyers program was increased to $475,000 from $425,000 in last year’s budget. This exemption can save first-time buyers up to $7,500 when purchasing their first home. A partial exemption continues and now applies to homes valued between $475,000 and $500,000.
  • In preparation of each year’s provincial budget, the Minister of Finance reviews all taxes and considers whether changes are appropriate within the context of a balanced budget and other spending priorities.
Robertson says Ottawa also needs to step in.
“Limiting speculation is an important action for the B.C. government but we absolutely need the federal government involved in affordable housing,” said Robertson. “Their complete absence in supporting low- and middle-income housing is making it extremely difficult for people, especially young people, to live and work in Vancouver.”
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Storage Solutions for Small Spaces

Tiny homes hold the secret to clever storage, with their well-placed shelves and multi-functional furniture. They demonstrate that if you get creative, you can maximise even the most miniscule sliver of space. Keeping this in mind, we searched room by room to find the best storage solutions forsmall spaces - including ideas for small bedroomssmall bathroomssmall kitchens and more. Intrigued? Come see how others added storage to a small space with these ideas…

7 Sneaky Solutions for Small Outdoor Space

While large backyards are certainly dreamy, small outdoor spaces are often the reality, yet equally able to provide a place to entertain, relax and frolic in the sun (or shade if you prefer). Take these tips and a healthy dose of inspiration from seven tiny backyards that demonstrate myriad ways to maximize your time outdoors.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What to Do the First 24 Hours in a New Place

The first 24 hours in a new place are vital — they can make a difference on how the first few months go and set the tone for the rest of the time you live there. So how should you spend the first 24 hours in a new place? Consider this list as your guide for those precious first hours.

Los Angeles Miracle Mile Block

Around the corner from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in L.A.’s Miracle Mile, local firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) outfitted a six-unit residential building with a recycled structural steel skin surrounded by muted stucco in what has quickly become a distinctive addition to the area.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Foolproof Decorating Tricks to Always Keep In Your Back Pocket

You can't go wrong with recurring decorating advice that pops up again and again — the little nuggets of wisdom whispered in our ears by mentors or mothers — and make sense every damn time. Keep these go-to tips in the forefront of your minds when approaching a space.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

7 Ideas to Steal From a Super-Stylish Scandinavian Home

This beauty is the home of Swedish blogger Tant Johanna, and if you happen to be looking for a place in Gothenburg, Sweden, you're in luck, because it's for sale. But if you're not, there are still plenty of design ideas here that are worth stealing for your own home. Here are seven of our favorites.

7 Classic Pieces That Will Never Go Out of Style

Trends in home decor can be fickle. They come and go. And sometime they're hard to predict — something that's all over design blogs this year could feel dated five years from now. Which got me thinking: what are some designs that have been around for a long time but still feel fresh? What are some pieces that will look as good ten, fifteen years from now as they do today, not because they're trendy, but because they're timeless? Here are my picks for classic pieces that will never go out of style.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tips for designing on a budget!

Living on a budget is a simple fact of life, for most. Who says that should equate to missing out on good, modern design for the home? Here are some great examples of great modern living on a tight budget!

To some, this Austin, Texas home’s interiors might appear unfinished, but to architect Sean Guess, it’s simply a modern and cost-effective solution. The trick for keeping costs low on the poured-in-place concrete island was finding a subcontractor who wanted this type of job under his belt. Nate Francis of Countertop Creations "didn’t charge an exorbitant amount of money because it was sort of an experiment for him as well," says Guess.

When working on a budget inside an older, traditional structure, small touches of modern design can make a big impact. In this this Brooklyn brownstone, the design firm MADE implemented a black-and-white color scheme and added the Torroia pendant light by David Weeks in the dining room to modernize the space.

Check out more ideas here >

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dining Room Ideas

Need some dining room ideas? This room is all about crowding a group of friends around the table with some delicious food, good wine and plenty of conversation.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Narrow Dwelling in Toronto Converted Into Bright Family Refuge:The Contrast House

Situated on a corner lot in a dense neighborhood in Toronto, Canada, the Contrast House by Dubbeldam Architecture + Design is a modern rehabilitation of a 120-year old dwelling. According to the architects, the primary design challenge was to “increase natural light in the space, accomplished through both physical and perceptual means. The long, narrow house was reorganized in plan and in section, introducing new sight lines to the expanded openings at the rear of the house and updating the layout for a growing family.” The name of the project hints towards the contrasting elements spread around the house with the purpose of brightening internal spaces with no direct access to natural lighting.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hallway Ideas To Steal

Need some hallway ideas? Your corridor deserves to be a stylish room of its own and we have some hallway pictures to help you make the most of the space. From ingenious storage solutions to stylish furniture and lighting, our hallway decorating ideas  will show you how to make yours so much more than just an entryway. So get inspired by these amazing hallway design ideas. Your home will thank you for it...

Lofty Ambitions

Looking for loft conversion ideas? If you're lucky enough to have an attic that is as yet untouched, we say it's time to make better use of it. Converting loft space can not only provide much needed extra space, whether it be an additional living room, home office or bedroom and bathroom, but when done well can provide financial rewards, should you ever sell your property. We take a look at examples of crafty loft conversions that tackle tricky design stumbling blocks. Follow our guide to transform your attic from cluttered dumping ground into a chic, practical extra room. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The 3 Principles of Interior Design

A beautifully decorated interior not only functions well but it creates a mood or a feeling and shows off the personality of the family that lives there. It's attention to these three important ingredients — function, mood and personality — that ensures decorating success.

Variable or fixed-rate mortgage, that is the question

The decline in interest and prime lending rates is providing investors with unique opportunities – but with uncertainty still ahead, the question remains: variable or fixed-rate mortgage?

Given the state of the economy, it’s more appealing to secure a variable rate mortgage, says one mortgage broker, but the fixed-rate mortgages have also become more attractive over recent months.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Futuristic Apartment Design Integrating a Time-Capsule Elevator in Taipei

This futuristic apartment design in Taipei, Taiwan comes with many interesting elements, including a life-sized iron man and a time-capsule elevator. Developed by White Interior Design, the project known as La Fatte Residence unveils an unconventional approach: “I used the industrial elements as its base while combining a hint of retro. The colorful designer furniture are used to accentuate the owner’s exceptional taste. The time-capsule elevator brings the two levels of the house together and adds a sense of futurism“, explained the designer. 

Yes, We Can Afford to Plan for Smarter Growth and Better Housing

Critics of smart growth are not comparing apples to apples when it comes to housing costs. We need to consider the full cost of housing under different development scenarios.
So you think that smart growth, the Greenbelt and planning for Places to Grow is ruining the housing market? Think again.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Beauty of Simplicity: Minimalist Interior with Maximum Style

While it is easy to imagine renovation and remodeling as the process of adding new pieces - new furniture, new windows, fresh paint - it can just as readily be the process of taking things away. In this Lithuanian home renovation, interior designers Ramūnas Manikas and Valdas Kontrimas from the Ramūnas Manikas firm streamlined and simplified an existing house, giving it an entirely new life. From the open floor plan they created on the ground floor to the sunny and sleep spaces dedicated to the upstairs bedrooms, the minimalist home became a place of easy relaxation and ultimate beauty.

Micro Condos Will Face Their First Real Test In Canada This Year, Experts Say

TORONTO - The appeal of so-called shoebox condos — no larger than the size of two average living rooms — will face its first real test in Canada this year, with an influx of the compact homes set to hit the country's largest real estate market.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How will the Pan Am Games impact Toronto real estate?

The 2015 Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games, which are due to kick off in Toronto this summer, could replicate the impact on real estate and development that was seen by Vancouver following the 2010 Olympic Games.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bright And Compact 1 Bedroom Apartment For Young Family

Starting a new family comes with many challenges, not the least of which is finding a suitable place to live. When making that important life transition from young married couple to new parents, it can be difficult to figure out how to incorporate your old sense of style with your new needs. This apartment, from visualizer Natalia Tsetsulina, uses playful colors, open spaces, and plenty of natural light to create an apartment that is efficient in its use of its 50 square meters (538 square feet) but still comfortable enough for a fresh, easy start to this new phase of life.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

10 Top Kitchen Trends for 2015

In the year 2015, the kitchen is not being built for just cooking. Rather, it is becoming a multi-purpose room that simultaneously allows restaurant-worthy meals to be made while also acting as the hub of all conversation, dining, social gatherings and festivities.
We already know that kitchens seem to have a magic power of pulling in the party—but in 2015 it’s a party room with more than one purpose.
So, let’s look at the hottest kitchen trends for 2015, and ring in the new year right with a new, en vogue kitchen:

Stylish Outlook Curved Bespoke Kitchen

The skilled craftsmen at David Glover Furniture create charming bespoke kitchens that blend modern functionality with aesthetics. In today’s post we would like to share one of the company’s latest work, especially developed for a residential project in Woolacombe, North Devon. The Outlook Curved Bespoke Kitchen features an elegant dining table with unconventional seating units integrated in an oval kitchen island. There is plenty of storage space available in the cupboards (including inside the kitchen island/seating combo), most of which is cleverly hidden away from sight.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Which Canadian city saw investment properties soar in 2014?

It was a record-smashing year for sales of investment properties in this Canadian city in 2014, but experts don’t expect this trend to extend into 2015.

Daily Market Update

Lower rates won’t increase chance of a crash, says CMHC boss
The CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said that he does not expect to see a crash in the housing market as a result of the lower interest rates. Speaking to CBC’s Amanda Lang, Evan Siddall said:

Friday, February 6, 2015

Oil to contribute to moderated market in 2016

Provinces mainly affected by sinking oil values are likely to drive a moderated housing market in 2016, according to a new outlook report released today by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

More cuts to come from BoC?

The voices predicting a further rate cut from the Bank of Canada have become a chorus, with another bank stating it believes the central bank still has additional basis points to slash.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

GTA condo sales rebound by 50 per cent

New condo sales in the Greater Toronto Area rebounded by 51 per cent in 2014, from a 10-year low in 2013, according to a new report.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A kitchen that you and future homebuyers will love

If you expect to sell your home within a few years, living with an outdated kitchen is a conundrum. Do you invest in a remodel or make do? The ideal solution for homeowners in this predicament is to update a kitchen so you can enjoy it now and attract potential buyers later. Given the choice of materials available today, it is possible to make the changes you desire within a reasonable budget. 

Home prices expected to move with oil’s impact

Across the country, average home prices showed modest to healthy year-over-year gains in most markets in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the Royal LePage House Price Survey, released in January.

According to the survey, the average price of a home in Canada increased between 4.5 per cent and 6.7 per cent year-over-year. Nationally, the average price of detached bungalows rose 6.7 per cent to $406,218, while standard two-storey homes increased 6.0 per cent to $443,379, and standard condominiums saw a 4.5 per cent increase to $257,624.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Top Six ways to extend your ceiling heights!

Here are six ideas to help you achieve visually higher ceilings in your new condo:
1. Extend your kitchen cabinetry and backsplash to the ceiling wherever possible. Kitchen cabinets that meet the ceiling draw the eye upward, and that’s the goal throughout your entire apartment. If you can, use the same material on the backsplash as the countertop (so there’s no visual break), and also extend it to the ceiling behind the stove area and kitchen sink (if those areas don’t have cabinetry above them)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Major banks cut prime lending rate

Canada’s biggest banks are lowering their prime lending rates, nearly a week after a surprise rate cut by the Bank of Canada.
Royal Bank of Canada said Tuesday it decreased its prime lending rate to 2.85 per cent from 3 per cent.

Builder quietly cancels condo complex

Urbancorp has quietly cancelled its Kingsclub condo complex on King St. W. and plans to build three towers of rental apartments instead.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lower rates set to benefit first-time investors the most

Lower interest rates – announced by the Bank of Canada last week – will mostly benefit first-time investors and homebuyers, say experts.

Daily Market Update

RBC cuts mortgage rate, price war coming?
It was always going to happen, but while last week the big lenders were reluctant to pass on the Bank of Canada’s interest rate cut to borrowers, this week there’s talk of a price war. Royal Bank of Canada is the first of the big banks to cut mortgage rates, dropping its five-year fixed rate deal to 2.84 per cent and also cutting its other fixed products. Flexible rates are unchanged though along with other lending from the bank. Of course, these rates are the bank's published deals and brokers frequently secure better ones, but a ‘battle of the rates’ creating headlines can only help the perception that now is a great time to buy. How low those rates go is anybody’s guess, but there are already predictions of sub-two per cent mortgages.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Toronto Real Estate Sees Record Price Gap Between Condos And Houses

The price gap between Toronto-area condos and low-rise homes hit its highest point last year, say industry insiders.
The difference in price between low- and high-rise homes stood at a record high of$251,337 in 2014, said a strategic review of the Greater Toronto Area's (GTA) new home market that came out Wednesday.
The average price for a high-rise home jumped to $454,476, up four per cent from 2013. The average low-rise home, meanwhile, rose eight per cent to $705,813.

Sorry, but you just missed the cheapest real estate day of the year

On Tuesday night this week, nine bidders were vying to purchase a three-bedroom house just east of the Beaches in Toronto. At the end of the evening, the house at 123 Blantyre Ave., had sold firm for $751,528, or $151,628 above the asking price of $599,900.
The real estate agent , represented the sellers wasn’t surprised at the action, he says, after more than 100 people swarmed through the weekend open house expressing “I was expecting a lot of offers,”

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Buying a cheaper home outside Toronto may not pay off

Most home buyers say they would prefer to live in a walkable neighbourhood even if it means buying at least a slightly smaller house.
When it comes time to signing on the realtor’s dotted line, however, buyers still base their decision on the sticker price of the home, choosing a cheaper house over the higher purchase price of a cosy, walkable neighbourhood.
That was the finding of a study released earlier this year by RBC and Pembina Institute.
Now the bank and sustainability think-tank have followed that research with a report illustrating how the cost of that cheaper home shakes out if the purchaser factors in the cost of transportation in the Toronto area.
“People will often choose to drive as far as it takes to qualify for a mortgage. But once they get there, the actual costs undermine the lower cost of the house,” said Pembina’s Ontario director Cherise Burda, who co-authored, “Location matters: Factoring Location into Homebuying Decisions.”

Bank of Canada lowers target for overnight rate

For the first time in more than four years, the Bank of Canada has changed its target for the overnight rate, which may come as a surprise to real estate investors.

“The Bank of Canada today announced that it is lowering its target for the overnight rate by one-quarter of one percentage point to 3/4 per cent," the BoC wrote in an official release.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Investors must be more creative around financing

With lenders constantly changing their regulations and guidelines, investors have to find more creative ways to secure financing for new income properties, say experts.

“The big lenders are not going to be as easy as they once were,” said investor Gillian Irving. “There are always ways to get financing, but right now everyone needs to put their creative hats on.”

Dave Butler, principal broker at Butler Mortgages, added: “Since the beginning of last year, there seems to be a concerted effort by a lot of lenders to change their qualifying guidelines. This is not helping investor applications at all. We have to put on a puppet show for the banks.”

Daily Market Update

Vancouver is second most unaffordable market in the world
Vancouver has been identified as one of the most unaffordable cities in the world in a study of major property markets. The Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey studies and ranks property markets in Canada, US, UK, Australia, Japan, China (Hong Kong), Singapore, Ireland and New Zealand. Its findings for this year rank Hong Kong as the most unaffordable followed by Vancouver. While it is the only Canadian city in the top 10 Victoria, Toronto, Kelowna and Fraser Valley are also listed as unaffordable. Among the most affordable in the study are the New Brunswick markets of Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton, Windsor, Ontario and Charlottetown, PEI.  Read the full report.

Toronto becoming ‘the New York of the North’
House prices in Toronto will continue to be out of the reach of many homebuyers even if there is moderation in the coming years. That’s according to a new report from TD Economics which highlights government regulations and taxation among the factors affecting affordability. The report says that the policy of pushing for high density with small units has led to an increasing shortage of townhouses and single-family homes, increasing prices. Co-author of the report, economist Diana Petramala, says that prices in the GTA mean that the area is now not far behind New York for being unaffordable.

High-end sales hit new record in Vancouver 
The number of Vancouver properties selling for $3 million or more hit a new record last year. Reports indicate that there were 842 properties in the price bracket in 2014, an increase of 31 per cent from 2013. While most of the high-end homes sold were single-family detached properties there were also many condos at higher prices. The record for homes selling above $5 million was also broken last year with 199 sales, beating 2013’s high of 148. 

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Source:Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Monday, January 19, 2015

Toronto condo rentals spike 15 per cent in 2014 climbing to all-time high

It was a breakout year for GTA condo rentals, which counted 22,765 units leased through MLS in 2014, up 15 per cent from 2013. The strength of the market shouldn’t be too surprising given the strong summer and record breaking second quarter. The fourth quarter of the year also saw a boost in condo rentals, with an 11 per cent increase over the same time in 2013.

Downtown condo rentals booming, as GTA records double-digit increases

The love affair with downtown living shows no signs of easing as the number of condos renting through the MLS system hit a new record in 2014.
Some 22,765 units were leased across the GTA throughout 2014, up 15 per cent from 2013 and up 11 per cent in the fourth quarter alone. Most of the units were in the highly sought-after downtown core.
And that’s just the units rented via MLS. It doesn’t include others rented via online sites such as Kijiji and Craigslist or by word of mouth, as a record number of units came to completion across the GTA last year.
The demand was enough to keep up with that record supply coming onstream throughout 2014, which was up 10 per cent in the fourth quarter alone.