Category Archives: condo developments

What share of GTA condos are flipped? New report offers insight

gta-condos

Soaring price appreciation in the Greater Toronto Area’s high-rise segment is encouraging condo investors to flip their units more rapidly.

So suggests the latest quarterly report from Urbanation, a Toronto-based real estate consulting firm.

This burgeoning trend is reflected in the 9,932 condo units that changed hands in the first quarter, a 73 per cent increase over activity in the first three months last year as well as a quarterly high.

Looking only at units in condo developments that were completed by builders and registered in the last two years, a total of 1,059 transactions were recorded in the first quarter.

In the first quarter of 2016, condo owners sold a total of 625 units in buildings completed throughout the preceding two-year window.

“The shortening of holding periods for some condo buyers is an outcome of the rapidly accelerating market,” says Shaun Hildebrand, senior VP of Urbanation, in a statement.

The average sale price of a resale condo unit in Q1 this year was $510,000, representing a 24 per cent increase over that period last year, according to Urbanation.

“Following the recent strength in condo price appreciation, Urbanation noted an increase in resale activity within newly completed buildings as well as more units transacting twice within shorter timeframes,” the consultancy’s report reads.

In fact, according to past Toronto Real Estate Board numbers, resale condo prices were increasing annually by a far more restrained 9.3 per cent as recently as September 2016.

With year-over-year appreciation well above 20 per cent now, a relatively recent development, it’s easy to see why some recent homebuyers would be compelled to sell sooner.

However, Urbanation’s Hildebrand notes flipping is not widespread — for now.

“Although the share of short-term condo market participants still appears relatively low, it will be important to monitor the situation closely going forward as market conditions evolve,” he adds.

Source: BuzzBuzzHome.com – 

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Is your condo board above board? Tips for evaluating condo governance

Condominums have proliferated in the downtown cores of Canada's biggest cities.

Condo corporations are effectively a 4th level of government, says one expert

Condominium governance is in the spotlight after an investigation by CBC Toronto reporters unveiled questionable practices at a series of downtown Toronto buildings.

Owners and property managers in those buildings say a group of people have aggressively sought control of the boards and budgets of multiple condos. The allegations include voting irregularities and contentious contracts.

If you’re wondering whether your condo board is operating in a trustworthy manner — or if you simply want to get a better grip on how your condo works — here are a few tips from experts in the field of condo governance.

Learn who runs the place

Not just anyone should sit on the board of directors of a condo corporation, experts say.

“You want people who are financially literate, who have some business experience, preferably,” said Audrey Loeb, a lawyer with Miller Thomson who specializes in condo law.

“You don’t want the board of directors managing the building, you want the board of directors overseeing the manager.”

That property manager should be independent of the board, with a good reputation, Loeb added.

Condo board directors should own a unit in the building, and ideally live in that unit, said Loeb. If not, that’s a potential red flag for owners.

Conflicts of interest on condo boards are another red flag, according to Brian Antman, who audits condo boards as a partner with accounting firm Adams and Miles and serves as a director of the Canadian Condominium Institute’s Toronto chapter.

Board directors shouldn’t have any financial interest in transactions with the property manager or their vendors, Antman said. Directors, he added, should also sign and follow a code of ethics.

Put on your reading glasses

Condo owners ought to take the time to read their building’s declaration, said Antman. (A declaration is essentially a condo’s charter or constitution.) They should also read any bylaws and rules instituted by the board, according to Antman.

Potential owners of new condo buildings need to read the disclosure statement provided by the developer, and should have it reviewed by a lawyer with experience in condo law, Antman said. (For resale condos, a “status certificate” replaces a disclosure statement.)

“It’s probably the most significant purchase they’ll ever make, and they shouldn’t be surprised by anything going into it,” he said. “I see a lot of people who don’t do their due diligence up front, and are surprised.”

Toronto condos

Potential condo owners should be sure to read disclosure documents or status certificates provided by the seller, one expert says. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

Communicate with the board, and participate

“The best way to tell how well-run your condo is… is to ask for documents, and see if you get them,” said Loeb, the condo lawyer.

Minutes of board meetings are a common record that a board should share.

“If you get them in a timely fashion, ask for the monthly financial statements,” said Loeb. “Any owner is entitled to see that stuff.”

Most condo board meetings are closed, but Loeb said owners should absolutely take the time to attend annual meetings.

If owners can’t attend an annual meeting but still want to vote on condo issues by proxy, Loeb recommends electronic proxy voting, by which proxy documents are emailed directly to owners.

Vancouver condos

Condominium buildings are administered by a condo corporation, which is controlled by a board of directors. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

If a condo owner is concerned about their condo corporation’s board, they can try to shake things up.

​”If they’re unhappy with the board, or a board member even, they can requisition a meeting to replace the board or the board member,” said Antman.

The owner can even try and join the board themselves, if they feel up to the task.

“This is their biggest investment, and if they want it to be run properly maybe they need to get involved,” Antman said.

Be warned, though: sitting on a condo board can be “a hugely time-consuming job, if it’s done well,” said Loeb.

“People have no clue what hard work it is, especially in the first two years of a condo’s life when you’re just trying to figure out what’s going on,” she said.

Make sure professionals are involved

Good condo administration often requires professional expertise, said Antman, an auditor.

“The [condo] corporation should hire a solicitor, an auditor, an engineer who’s doing the reserve fund study,” he said. “And all of these people that you’re hiring should be people that are experienced in the industry.”

A solicitor is especially important when things go wrong, said condo lawyer Audrey Loeb, who described how condominiums have become “very complex entities” over the years.

“My philosophy has always been that the condo is the fourth level of government,” said Loeb. “After the feds, the province and the city, you’ve got your condo [corporation].”

Source: By Solomon Israel, CBC News Posted: May 23, 2017 5:00 AM ET

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Ontario’s 16 new housing measures

Houses are seen in a suburb located north of Toronto in Vaughan, Canada, June 29, 2015.

The Ontario government has announced what it calls a comprehensive housing package aimed at cooling a red-hot real estate market on Thursday. Here are the 16 proposed measures:

  • A 15-per-cent non-resident speculation tax to be imposed on buyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations.
  • Expanded rent control that will apply to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991, which are currently excluded.
  • Updates to the Residential Tenancies Act to include a standard lease agreement, tighter provisions for “landlord’s own use” evictions, and technical changes to the Landlord-Tenant Board meant to make the process fairer, as well as other changes.
  • A program to leverage the value of surplus provincial land assets across the province to develop a mix of market-price housing and affordable housing.
  • Legislation that would allow Toronto and possibly other municipalities to introduce a vacant homes property tax in an effort to encourage property owners to sell unoccupied units or rent them out.
  • A plan to ensure property tax for new apartment buildings is charged at a similar rate as other residential properties.
  • A five-year, $125-million program aimed at encouraging the construction of new rental apartment buildings by rebating a portion of development charges.
  • More flexibility for municipalities when it comes to using property tax tools to encourage development.
  • The creation of a new Housing Supply Team with dedicated provincial employees to identify barriers to specific housing development projects and work with developers and municipalities to find solutions.
  • An effort to understand and tackle practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market.
  • A review of the rules real estate agents are required to follow to ensure that consumers are fairly represented in real estate transactions.
  • The launch of a housing advisory group which will meet quarterly to provide the government with ongoing advice about the state of the housing market and discuss the impact of the measures and any additional steps that are needed
  • Education for consumers on their rights, particularly on the issue of one real estate professional representing more than one party in a real estate transaction.
  • A partnership with the Canada Revenue Agency to explore more comprehensive reporting requirements so that correct federal and provincial taxes, including income and sales taxes, are paid on purchases and sales of real estate in Ontario.
  • Set timelines for elevator repairs to be established in consultation with the sector and the Technical Standards & Safety Authority.
  • Provisions that would require municipalities to consider the appropriate range of unit sizes in higher density residential buildings to accommodate a diverse range of household sizes and incomes, among other things.

Source: The Canadian Press – April 20, 2017

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Buying an unbuilt condo? Think twice, agent says

Being exceedingly careful in one’s condo purchase is never a bad thing, especially in light of the $3-million class action by over a hundred condo owners in Ottawa.

Toronto-based real estate agent David Fleming, who says that he has never been involved in a pre-construction condo transaction in his 13 years as a professional, advocates one simple bit of advice: “Never buy new.”

“I liken it to buying a pair of jeans. If you walked in [to a store] and you couldn’t try them on and didn’t know how long they would be, and what the waist was … that’s a hundred-dollar pair of jeans. So why would someone buy a million-dollar condo the same way?”

The most important aspect that buyers should remember is the fact that they can back out with no penalty, as Ontario provides a 10-day “cooling off” period that can serve as an out for hesitant consumers. The countdown for the 10-day duration starts once the would-be buyer receives a copy of either the disclosure statement or the fully signed purchase and sale agreement, whichever comes later.

Another wise step would be to always hire a lawyer, who should be tasked to review all of the documentation involved in the transaction. If the lawyer suggests amendments to areas of concern, these proposals should be forwarded to the developer.

“If the developer says no, then don’t go ahead with the transaction.”

Fleming also noted that it would be helpful to remember that the people in the showroom are still salespeople who work for the developer, no matter how warm and accommodating they might seem. Working with one’s own real estate agent should help a consumer avoid an ill-advised purchase.

Source; Canadian Real Estate Wealth – by Ephraim Vecina 03 Apr 2017

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Condos are king in the GTA

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Condo sales were up 79% year-over-year in February and far outstripped home sales for low-rise units.

“In the GTA in February, there were more than twice as many new condo apartments sold (as) low-rise units,” the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) said in its latest report. “Altus Group recorded 3,542 sales of condo apartments in stacked townhouses and mid and high-rise buildings, and 1,541 sales of new detached and semi houses and low-rise townhomes.”

Condo sales more than doubled the ten year average.

Toronto led the way in terms of sales (1,661 units), followed by York (1,299), Peel (370), Halton (107), and Durham (105).

A lack of low-rise supply and, indeed, skyrocketing prices, are the market forces driving many buyers to the condo sector.

“Today in the GTA we have a scarcity of single-family ground-related housing that is not just unprecedented – it is almost inconceivable,” BILD President and CEO Bryan Tuckey said. “As a result we are seeing record breaking condo sales and continued price growth.”

That’s also leading to inventory issues in the condo market.

Units hit a new low in February, dropping to 10,342.

Still, that’s much better than the current availability of single-family homes.

Across the GTA, a mere 1,001 new low-rise homes were available in February. And there were only 324 new detached homes available.

10 years ago there were 17,304 low-rise homes and 12,064 detached homes available.

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – by Justin da Rosa27 Mar 2017

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Liberal budget released: These are the housing related promises

Liberal budget released: These are the housing related promises

Cities and affordable housing providers will find themselves with $11.2 billion more to spend on new and existing units over the coming decade, as part of the federal government’s multi-pronged push to help people find homes.

Of that money, which comes from the government’s social infrastructure fund, $5 billion will be allotted to encourage housing providers to pool resources with private partners and to allow the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., to provide more direct loans to cities.

The funding falls short of the $12.6 billion the mayors of Canada’s biggest cities requested last year and Wednesday’s federal budget shows that the majority of the $11.2 billion isn’t slated to be spent until after 2022.

Over the next 11 years, the Liberals pledged $202 million to free up more federal land for affordable housing projects, $300 million for housing in the North and $225 million to support programs that provide units to indigenous peoples off reserve.

The money, coupled with $2.1 billion for homelessness initiatives over the next 11 years, sets the financial backbone for the Liberals’ promised national housing strategy that will be released in the coming months. The document will outline how the government plans to help people find affordable housing that meets their needs, and ensure a robust emergency shelter and transitional housing system for those who need it.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters the spending will make a difference for those who rely on social housing. He said the Liberals want to ensure cities can access funds as quickly as possible to make necessary investments in the country’s stock of aging affordable housing.

Liberal budget released: These are the housing related promises

The details are among many laid out in the budget, which outlines how the government plans to spend the $81 billion it is making available between now and 2028 to address future infrastructure needs and, the government hopes, boost the economy to create new jobs and government revenues.

It also gives $39.9 million over five years for Statistics Canada to create a national database of every property in Canada. This will include up-to-date information on sales, the degree of foreign ownership and homeowner demographics and finances to answer lingering questions about the skyrocketing cost of housing that may squeeze middle-class buyers out of the market.

The Liberals clearly see a need to attract private investors to help pay for infrastructure projects, including affordable housing, given the federal government’s tight fiscal position.

At the centre of that push is a proposed new infrastructure bank that would use public dollars to leverage private investment in three key areas: trade corridors, green infrastructure and public transit.

The government is setting aside $15 billion in cash for the bank, split evenly between each of the aforementioned funding streams, with spending set to start as early as the next fiscal year on projects based on budget projections.

Morneau said that the government wants to have the bank up and running this year, including having some projects that will be identified for investors.

But the budget document again projects that the majority of the bank’s spending won’t happen until after 2022. And in the case of trade corridor infrastructure, spending isn’t expected to start until 2020, even though some experts argue this stream would give the country the biggest economic bump.

The Liberals are also tweaking how much of the bill it will cover for municipal projects under the second phase of its infrastructure plan in order to nudge provinces to pony up more money for work and to prod cities to consider using the bank for projects that could generate revenue, like transit systems.

The government will cover up to 40 per cent of municipal projects under the upcoming phase of its infrastructure plan, 50 per cent for provincial projects and 75 per cent for indigenous projects.

Source:  The Canadian Press 22 Mar 2017

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Do You Know the Rules of Condo Living in Mississauga?

The might of the heavy hand of the condo corporation has been in the news lately. Recently, a judge ruled in favor of an Ottawa condo corporation that took legal action against residents who rented out their suite on short-term rental service Airbnb.

The judge ruled that condo corps can indeed forbid owners and tenants from listing their units on short-term rental websites and the ruling has far-reaching implications because it confirms that such organizations can put limits on what owners can and can’t do with their spaces.

But while that’s an interesting case, it makes one question what rules condos have (and are permitted to have) and how residents follow them.

While the Airbnb case is complex, it’s often interesting how people misunderstand rules and, in some cases, plain common sense.

I live in a typical 20+storey condo. It’s challenging living in a place filled with such a diversity of people. But even so, you would expect people to be able to do simple things like dispose of their garbage and enter the underground garage properly.

Recently, our condo management began posting notices about procedures for residents to follow, and when I read them I couldn’t help wonder if they were actually serious. The instructions were rather simplistic and I was surprised that people needed to be reminded to follow them. Here’s a brief sampling, and my own comments pertaining to those instructions:

Garbage must be properly tied in plastic garbage bags (so they don’t break open while being tossed down a chute)

Unless you’re just taking your garbage container and dumping its contents down the garbage chute, I don’t know anyone who isn’t supposed to be already doing this. Maybe some residents are unfamiliar with garbage bags, or are just too lazy to use them?

Please remember that glass items are recyclable and must be taken to the depository on the ground floor

It sounds ridiculous that in 2016, people are still throwing out glass like it’s garbage. Even if glass wasn’t recyclable, don’t people realize throwing glass down a garbage chute, especially if you live on a higher floor, could smash into pieces and injure someone? At the very least, broken glass is a nightmare to clean up.

Please do not allow anyone without a key to enter the building, nor grant access through the entry phone to unidentified individuals

This may sound crazy, but there are people out there who will unlock the front door to the building for just about anybody. All you need to do is make up some story about how you’re seeing a family member, friend or dropping someone off. I’ve seen the police show up at my condo numerous times; people really shouldn’t just let random people in. You never know what might happen.

Please be sure to close and lock all suite and patio doors and windows

As a follow up to the previous point, just because you live in a condo with security in the lobby doesn’t mean some random weirdo can’t access the building. You may feel no obligation to lock your door if you live in the countryside by yourself with your nearest neighbour 10 miles away, but in a condo (as well as standard detached homes in neighbourhoods these days) you can’t assume you’re not at risk.

When parking your car in the underground garage, please ensure that no visible items are in your car, especially your garage door opener

I actually leave my garage door opener in my car, because I can’t tell you how many times I would forget to bring it with me if I didn’t. That said, something like that should be stored in a safe, discreet place in your vehicle if you do leave it in there, so as to avoid the prying eyes of potential car thieves.

When entering the underground garage, please allow the garage door to close behind you before proceeding to your parking space

This one had me baffled, because I literally was not sure what it meant. My underground garage entrance is a ramp like structure, and if I were to wait until the garage door closed behind me, it would be quite inconvenient, especially for any vehicles behind me. That would definitely slow things down for people going in and out of the underground garage.

This isn’t the first time my condo management attempted to convey instructions to their residents. But if they have to issue notices on rather obvious rules to follow, then maybe posting notices isn’t working. One of my neighbours suggested that management host meetings for the residents to go over these instructions and then give all residents a written test that they must pass before returning to their unit.

Okay, I was being facetious on that last point.

But while some rules are a little more complex (no pet policies, Airbnb bans), I understand it must be frustrating for condo corporations and management companies to deal with people being inconsiderate and, in some cases, negligent.

Source: insauga by Alan Kan on December 27, 2016

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