Category Archives: condo living

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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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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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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Luxury Living: Not all condo buildings are towers. Meet four mid-rises in mid-town

200 Russell Hill Road is one of the most luxurious condos in Toronto at the moment.

Boutique buildings, especially the luxurious sort, have many advantages over towers: elegant finishes, short waits at the elevator, fewer chance encounters in the hallway and a scale that tastefully tucks into a neighbourhood. Quality control, after all, is inherently more manageable in a mid-rise, where each suite can be coddled and treated as the individual it is, without competing with 699 other units. And so we present a quartet of exceptional small buildings in mid-town Toronto to call home, all within 15 minutes of each other.

200 Russell Hill

Step into the marble-loaded model suite for 200 Russell Hill (200russellhill.com) and your eye shoots up 20 feet to a lacy swirl embedded in the domed ceiling. Which way to go next?

Left to the black kitchen or right to the black kitchen. There are two in the same hue, one contemporary, one traditional, and they’re both glossy and glamorous.

But it would be a shame to bypass the miniature model that sits squarely under said rotunda. It showcases countless trees the size of broccoli florets as a reminder of the forest and the park that makes this site so appealing. If you peer closely at the model, you’ll also notice the front and the back of Rafael + Bigauskas Architects’ design doesn’t match.

“We’ve designed the building with a beautiful, traditional, limestone front, which transforms into a contemporary, minimalist facade around the back,” says Simon Hirsh of Hirsh Development Group of the units that run from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet and are priced from $3.2 million to $11.9 million.

Hirsh Development Group

 

Hirsh Development GroupInterior designer Lori Morris’s model suite shows prospective buyers what they can do.

There’s a reason for the hybrid, Hirsh says. Once the five-storey mid-rise is complete in the fall of 2018, it will complement the sylvan setting. “As you walk along the ravine trail up through the park, you look through the trees where you will see a black, understated building,” he says. The refined design means the trees will eclipse 200 Russell Hill instead of the other way around.

Hirsh stresses the units themselves should be considered as “22 custom homes” given the attention to detail. The enthralling model showcases interior designer Lori Morris’ obvious love of layered and eclectic spaces.

The designer’s signature sass continues indoors, where a gutsy mix of materials prevails: there’s leather on the library walls and kitchen cabinets with raised Rococo detailing as well as gold striping. Buyers needn’t copy the look, Hirsh says. Go Scandinavian with pale woods if you want. And buyers are free to introduce whatever custom finishes they choose without incurring extra costs. Morris says doing this kind of specialty work would be quite different on a tower. “In a smaller building, you can get more intimate, both with what the client wants and you’re able to do more finesse details.”

346 Davenport

 

Freed Developments

Freed Developments 346 Davenport features open-concept suites with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Driving south 10 minutes to the Casa Loma district leads to 346 Davenport Road (346davenport.com). The site is where the mid-rise condo is debuting in 2019 from developer Peter Freed of Freed Developments.

Homes from 1,000 sq. ft. to 4,400 sq. ft. start in the $800,000s and can be combined for true largesse. RAW Design’s vision for the 35-unit building sees a striking marble-like material cascading down the front, as well as vertical landscaped green elements. Acclaimed firm Burdifilek will design the interior and common spaces.

The area is close to the developer’s heart. “I love this neighbourhood. It’s such a core part of our city,” Freed says. “My parents live in the building next door, so it’s been an intimate part of my life.” The luxury market could use a boost, he continues. “The user market with larger units is under-served in the city. Over the past decade, most of the larger projects offer 300 to 700 units; most of which are very small units, which cater more towards rental markets.”

This project promises to pamper the private dweller. “Units are open-concept with very high-end finishes, it’s going to be really stunning,” Freed says of the building that boasts expansive floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies big enough to lounge in.

The Davies

 

Brandy Lane Homes

Brandy Lane Homes A view into a suite at the Davies from the elevator.

Drive 10 minutes east to Summerhill to take in The Davies by Brandy Lane Homes (thedavies.com). The nine-storey, 36-suite condominium overlooks Robertson Davies Park, and has a move-in date of Fall 2018. Suites sized from 1,105 sq. ft. to 2,900 sq. ft start from just over $1 million in a curved building that feels very art deco.

“Right-sizing is big here,” says David Hirsh, president of Brandy Lane Homes of the design by SMV Architects. “We started with 44 suites (36 regular and eight penthouses) and now we have 11 penthouses and 25 suites. One custom suite is 3,000 sq. ft., which is perfect for the empty-nester who wants room to spread out.” Hirsh also recently added a guest suite to the main floor, which is unusual for a building of this size and is a definite bonus for those hosting overnighters.

“We wanted to build an iconic building that completed the existing established neighbourhood,” Hirsh says.

 

Brandy Lane Homes

Brandy Lane Homes The Davies overlooks Robertson Davies Park on Avenue Road.

It took a while to get the project going on Avenue Road just north of Dupont, says Hirsh, noting the effort was well worth it. The response from the public has been great and Brandy Lane has already made modifications to the original design to meet buyer demands. “The design development was extensive and took more time that conventional projects,” he notes.

Crowning the project, a spectacular rooftop terrace means those decamping from a house won’t miss their backyards. This one features private areas where you can catch some rays with a book and communal couches for chatting over drinks.

The Hill and Dale

Old Stonehenge Development / Clifton Blake

 

Old Stonehenge Development / Clifton Blake The view down Yonge Street from one of the Hill and Dale terraces.

Ten minutes east leads to Hill and Dale (hillanddaleresidences.com), a heavily glassed building with street-level shops and office space at the corner of Yonge and Roxborough. Designed by the architectural firm Studio JCI with interiors by Chapi Chapo for Old Stonehenge Development with Clifton Blake, the 17 custom-crafted residences start at $2,195,000 for over 1,500 sq. ft and can be combined up to 6,000 sq. ft. There are only five units left; occupancy is slated for 2018.

Suites grace the top three floors of the building and are for the design-savvy: Those who gravitate to graceful opulence over loud lavishness will love, for instance, kitchens by bulthaup, the architect’s go-to.

“These aren’t flashy, which isn’t our interest,” says Paul Johnston, a salesperson with Right at Home Realty. “Our buyers really care about finishes, which is why we’ve gone to the extreme of using bulthaup.”

Old Stonehenge Development / Clifton Blake

 

Old Stonehenge Development / Clifton Blake Suites will have floor-to-ceiling views over low-rise residential neighbourhoods and the their tree canopies.

He adds, “The building has such a refined level of construction we’re allowing 10 months just for the finish of the individual suites.”
Life in a boutique building is wonderful for the luxury buyer, Johnston adds. “There’s something in the idea of luxury that has to do with scale and privacy that the highrise business can’t aspire to.”

So for those who aren’t interested in dawdling by an elevator in a tower or “renovating a creaky Victorian,” as Johnston puts it, a luxurious mid-rise suite in a distinguished neighbourhood is a very wise move indeed. But better get in quick — there aren’t many of them around.

 

Source: Iris Benaroia, Special to National Post | November 17, 2016 3:18 PM ET

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