Category Archives: downtown toronto

As uncertainty sets in, Toronto homeowners are cashing out

A pedestrian walks between homes for sale in the Leslieville neighborhood of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Saturday, March 4, 2017. In Toronto prospective buyers have found themselves in bidding wars, due in part to the largest price surge in almost 30 years and coupled with an ever tightening inventory supply. (Mark Sommerfeld/Bloomberg/Getty Images): A pedestrian walks between homes for sale in the Leslieville neighborhood of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Saturday, March 4, 2017. (Mark Sommerfeld/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

TORONTO – Sarah Blakely recalls feeling some trepidation when she and her husband shelled out more than $300,000 for a modest 1 1/2-storey house in a less-desirable part of Toronto.

Seven years later, they found themselves on the right side of a hot housing market, with values tripling in a ‘hood suddenly considered up-and-coming for young families seeking detached homes.

They recently sold that renovated three-bedroom for more than $1 million and now expect to live mortgage-free in a four-bedroom purchase in their hometown of Ottawa.

The 34-year-old says it made sense to cash out of a city that was draining their finances, energy and family time.

“My husband and I saw an opportunity to take advantage of the recent gains in real estate and to move to a less expensive city to live mortgage-free, support our savings for retirement and also to be closer to family,” says Blakely, whose new home has nearly twice the square footage.

And they may have taken action at just the right time.

Blakely’s real estate agent Josie Stern says the market appears to be cooling, and doubts Blakely could fetch that same jackpot sale today.

“A little bit of air has been let out of the bubble,” she says.

Many buyers and sellers are waiting to see what will come of Tuesday’s scheduled meeting between Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Toronto Mayor John Tory, who are expected to discuss ways to rein in Toronto’s hot housing market.

Meanwhile, the Ontario government is promising to announce affordability measures soon.

Stern says some buyers are delaying their purchase in anticipation of possible fixes.

“Buyers have been in such a stressful situation for so long that now they think somebody is going to save them and they’re waiting,” says Stern. “They’ve dug their heels in, they’re tired of competition and then there’s those that are still proceeding, but there’s been quite a big pullback from buyers.”

Sellers who’ve bought new homes are rushing to list their old property, she adds, but many are not getting the high bids seen a month ago.

The Toronto market has been astonishing, with the average sale in the Greater Toronto Area skyrocketing last month to $916,567. That’s up 33.2 per cent from a year ago.

With strong demand and limited supply, it wasn’t uncommon for bidding wars to result in sales hundreds of thousands of dollars above asking. And a lot of those sellers took those dollars out of the Greater Toronto Area where they can get more acreage, less congestion and still pocket a fair bit of cash.

“We’re finding that a lot of people are leaving the city,” says Stern, who estimates that about a third of her 35 sales this year involved sellers either downsizing to condos or moving to more affordable markets.

“It’s empty-nesters, it’s (couples with) babies, it’s all kinds of people that are doing this.”

Toronto skyline (Shutterstock)© Used with permission of / © Rogers Media Inc. 2017. Toronto skyline (Shutterstock)

Even with a new uncertainty in the air, it’s still a seller’s market, she adds.

One of her biggest sales was a $2-million listing that went $575,000 over asking in February. The sellers moved to the commuter city of Burlington, Ont.

They’re joining buyers priced out of the Toronto market who have gone looking for cheaper housing in smaller communities across the Golden Horseshoe, spurring other sales spikes in the region – Hamilton-Burlington homes jumped 22.6 per cent during the first two months of 2017 compared to a year earlier.

Still other buyers are looking farther afield.

Remember that relatively inexpensive Nova Scotia mansion that dominated Facebook last month?

Real estate agent Wanda Graves of Eastern Valley Real Estate says it’s sparked more inquiries from Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and B.C. house hunters suddenly hip to Eastern Canada’s charms.

Nova Scotia sellers are taking notice, and are marketing to out-of-province buyers now considered increasingly likely to make an offer.

“They know that there are buyers out there and now it’s, ‘How do we reach them?”’ says Graves.

Before selling for $455,000, the mansion in Newport Landing, N.S., drew more than one million views on her company’s website and 36,000 shares on Facebook.

It’s a story Vancouver real estate agent Melissa Wu knows well.

Years of record-setting sales saw Vancouver homeowners cash out for smaller markets with more space.

But that changed after the B.C. government introduced a 15 per cent foreign buyers’ tax last summer, which Wu says especially soured interest in west Vancouver luxury homes priced at more than $4 million.

Detached homes in the $1-million to $2-million range in east Vancouver are doing well and still notching close to record highs, says Wu.

Her recent sales included a $2-million get for a century-old home owned by a retired couple. Their plan is to downsize to an older condo costing less than $500,000. The rest of the proceeds will go to their kids and retirement fund.

She says the sale was a record high for the neighbourhood, but it took an agonizing three weeks to secure – longer than it would have last year, she says.

She advises Toronto homeowners thinking of selling to take advantage while they can.

“There’s always a shift coming in,” she says of this hot market. “Sell before it corrects.”

Stern would like to see a crackdown on real estate speculators in Toronto, citing one buyer who bought 15 properties in the last two years.

And she cautions those tempted to cash out that there’s always a risk the market won’t co-operate.

“People have been asking themselves that question since the year 2000: Should I sell? Should I cash out?

“And there have been people who have cashed out and have regretted it because they’ve seen what the market has (done) – they’ve never been able to rebuy the houses that they’ve sold.”

 

Source: MSN Money

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How Does Toronto Compare

pricepersquarefoot

 

Source: Genworth Canada

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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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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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Niagara GO train service

Daily, year-round GO train service between Hamilton and Niagara is one step closer to becoming a reality. Niagara politicians are stepping up their campaign and committing $40 million needed for the rail service, which they say would cost a total of between $100 and $120 million .

The proposed plan is calling for year round train service between Niagara and Hamilton which would tie into the existing Lakeshore west line to Toronto. There would be 7 trains in and 7 trains out. They would make stops in Grimsby, St.Catharines and Niagara Falls.

The project is pegged at $120 million, the region has pledged a third of that but is still waiting on commitments from both the Provincial and Federal government.

Officials say they worked through 17 obstacles since their last meeting with the province in March. One of them included the Welland canal crossing. City officials managed to get commitment, in writing from the St.Lawrence Seaway management corporation for dedicated crossing times.

The other major hurdle, using the existing Canadian National Railway lines without coming into conflict with freight shipments. CN has agreed to the GO train proposal but it would cost $50 million to make the necessary track improvements. A cost officials have accounted for in their overall budget.

The new GO train line is projected to have an economic impact of about $195 million and the Niagara GO team is hoping for a fully functional system as early as 2017. The proposed plan will be presented to the province in April and decision on whether the new train line is a go would come no later than June when the province is set to announce its next phase of GO rail projects.

Source: CHCH News – February 9, 2016 09:44:45 PM

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Cities outside Toronto cannot charge land-transfer tax, Ted McMeekin says

Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin: "It is clear that there has been no call for a municipal land transfer tax."

Homebuyers outside Toronto no longer have to worry about paying thousands of dollars in local land transfer taxes.

Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin shut down speculation Tuesday that cities and towns would be given permission to bring in their own such levy in addition to the provincial land transfer tax.

“There has been no call, at all, for a municipal land transfer tax, nor is there any legislation before the House that would allow this,” McMeekin said in the legislature’s daily question period.

Toronto will remain the only Ontario city allowed to charge a land transfer tax, he added, but offered to look at “what possibilities exist” for other new sources of revenue to help strained municipal budgets.

 

McMeekin’s surprise announcement followed a push against a local land transfer tax by the Progressive Conservatives and the Ontario Real Estate Association’s “don’t tax my dream” campaign, arguing it could push house prices further out of reach for many families.

“I’m glad the minister made the right decision,” said Conservative MPP Steve Clark (Leeds-Grenville), blaming the government for floating the idea earlier this fall and crediting a “grassroots” efforts with stirring up opposition.

 

McMeekin had said earlier this fall during consultations with local governments that any new revenue powers for them would be optional and did not rule out a land transfer tax.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario said it wants local councils to have “discretionary authority” just like what Toronto enjoyed in levying its own land transfer tax to raise revenues for services, transit and other infrastructure.

“Ontario municipalities face significant fiscal challenges, just like Toronto,” AMO president Gary McNamara said in a statement after McMeekin’s announcement.

“In many communities, property taxes are poorly suited to the burdens that communities face. We all need to look at new solutions that will work.”

McMeekin suggested local governments could do more in the way of development charges as “a potential significant source of revenue.”

Clark and the Ontario Real Estate Association had warned home buyers would have to dig much deeper into their pockets if local land transfer taxes were authorized.

“This is a huge win for Ontario’s home owners and those who dream of one day owning a home,” said Patricia Verge, president of the real estate group.

In Toronto, the buyer of a $450,000 home pays a total of $10,200 in land transfer taxes: $5,475 for the provincial levy and $4,725 to the city. The city tax was added in 2006.

Source: Toronto Star  Queen’s Park Bureau, Published on Tue Dec 01 2015

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How transportation impacts real estate prices

Being around public transportation wasn’t always a good choice when it came to real estate. After World War II, downtown living was frowned upon and people flocked towards the suburbs in order to find larger and greener land. As a result, real estate prices rose outside the city.

Fast forward to today and we’re seeing the opposite effect. People want to live in the downtown core and public transportation is at the forefront of political debate.

Billions of dollars are being spent on new subways and streetcars in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. Calgary and Ottawa are also beefing up its public transit service in response to a higher demand from residents.

In fact, every major city across Canada has plans to focus on public transportation. It’s a response to increased population demands, and on minimizing the cost of economic and environmental resources.


Increased housing prices are a result of higher demand. In terms of housing near public transportation, this demand has increased because people want the convenience of walking to a subway or streetcar. This is an advantage because there is no requirement to pay for parking.

The millennial generation (those under 30 years old) also prefers to live close to public transportation. This generation of the population has made a conscious decision to drive less and walk more, thus, making them more dependent on public transportation.

This is especially true in the rental market where many renters opt to live in housing that is walking distance to a subway or streetcar route.

Transit is vital for building communities. It’s an essential service that provides mobility, creates jobs and takes cars off the street. As a result, congestion is reduced, fostering economic growth in the economy.

In terms of real estate prices, property values that are located close to public transit increase at a higher rate and have been shown to be more resilient to economic downturns.

A study created by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) concluded that “property values with good access to public transit remained much closer to their pre-recession levels than properties without access, even within the same city.”

This can also be seen in the short-term rental market. Properties listed on AirBnB and VRBO yield a higher return when they are located close to public transportation and to the downtown core.

As cities across Canada become more developed, it will be more and more difficult to commute downtown via car. Thus, properties that are located closer to the downtown and have good access to public transportation will continue to see growth in real estate prices.

Michael Rix is a co-founder of TurnKii, a Toronto-based company providing an all-in-one tool and service to support everyday landlords/real estate investors.

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth 25 Nov 2015

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