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If you would like to discuss options please call us at 416-927-9898 or email at tkonkina@rogers.com and we will get back to you within the next 24 hours.


Canadian home sales fall further in July

Ottawa, ON, August 15, 2017 – According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales declined further in July 2017.


  • National home sales fell 2.1% from June to July.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in July stood 11.9% below last July’s level.
  • The number of newly listed homes edged back by 1.8% from June to July.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) was up 12.9% year-over-year (y-o-y) in July 2017.
  • The national average sale price edged down by 0.3% y-o-y in July.

The number of homes sold via Canadian MLS® Systems fell 2.1% in July 2017, the fourth consecutive monthly decline. While the monthly decline was about one-third the magnitude of those in May and June, it leaves sales activity 15.3% below the record set in March.

Sales were down from the previous month in close to two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Calgary, Halifax-Dartmouth and Ottawa.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 11.9% on a year-over-year (y-o-y) basis in July 2017. Sales were down from year-ago levels in about 60% of all local markets, led by the GTA and nearby markets. National sales net of activity in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region was little changed from one year ago.

“July’s interest rate hike may have motivated some homebuyers with pre-approved mortgages to make an offer,” said CREA President Andrew Peck. “Even so, sales activity continued to soften in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. Meanwhile, sales and prices in Montreal continue to strengthen. All real estate is local, and REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to.”

“July marked the smallest monthly decline in Greater Golden Horseshoe home sales since Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan was announced in April,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “This suggests sales may be starting to bottom out amid stabilizing housing market sentiment. Time will tell whether that’s indeed the case once the transitory boost by buyers with pre-approved mortgages fades.”

The number of newly listed homes slipped further by 1.8%, led by the GTA. Many other markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region have also seen new supply pull back recently after having jumped immediately following the Ontario government’s announcement of its Fair Housing Plan in late April. New listings were also down in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and northern British Columbia, with the lattermost region having been hit by wildfires.

With sales down by about the same amount as new listings in July, the national sales-to-new listings ratio was little changed at a well-balanced 53.5%. By contrast, the ratio was in the high-60% range in the first quarter of 2017.

A national sales-to-new listings ratio of between 40 and 60 percent is generally consistent with balanced national housing market, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers’ and sellers’ markets respectively.

Considering the degree and duration to which current market balance is above or below its long-term average is a more sophisticated way of gauging whether local conditions favour buyers or sellers. (Market balance measures that are within one standard deviation of the long-term average are generally consistent with balanced market conditions).

Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with its long-term average, more than 60% of all local markets are in balanced market territory. In the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, housing markets that recently favoured sellers have become more balanced, with some beginning to tilt toward buyers’ market territory.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents how long it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were 5.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of July 2017, the highest level since January 2016. This was up from five months in June and up by more than a full month from where it stood in March.

The number of months of inventory in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region is up sharply from where it stood prior to the Ontario government housing policy changes announced in April 2017. For the region as a whole, there were 2.6 months of inventory in July 2017. While this remains below the long-term average of just over 3 months, it is more than triple the all-time low of 0.8 months reached in February and March.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 12.9% y-o-y in July 2017, representing a further deceleration in y-o-y gains since April. The deceleration in growth from June to July was the result of softening prices in the Greater Golden Horseshoe housing markets tracked by the index.

Price gains diminished in all benchmark categories, led by single family homes. Apartment units posted the largest y-o-y gains in July (+20%), followed by townhouse/row units (+15.9%), two-storey single family homes (+10.7%), and one-storey single family homes (+9.7%).

While benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in 12 of 13 housing markets tracked by the MLS® HPI, price trends continued to vary widely by region.

After having dipped in the second half of last year, benchmark home prices in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia have recovered and are now at new highs (Greater Vancouver: +8.7% y-o-y; Fraser Valley: +14.8% y-o-y).

Meanwhile, y-o-y benchmark home price increases were running a little below 20% in Victoria and just above 20% elsewhere on Vancouver Island.

Benchmark price gains slowed again on a y-o-y basis in Greater Toronto, Oakville-Milton and Guelph but remain well above year-ago levels (Greater Toronto: +18.1% y-o-y; Oakville-Milton: +12.7% y-o-y; Guelph: +23% y-o-y).

Calgary benchmark prices further edged into positive territory on a y-o-y basis in July (+1.1%). While Regina home prices popped back above year-ago levels (+3.6% y-o-y), Saskatoon home prices remained down (-2.2% y-o-y).

Benchmark home price growth accelerated in Ottawa (+5.8% overall, led by a 6.8% increase in two-storey single family home prices) and Greater Montreal (+4.9% overall, led by a 7% increase in prices for townhouse/row units). Prices were up 5.4% overall in Greater Moncton, led by one-storey single family home prices which set a new record (+8.9%).

The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) provides the best way of gauging price trends because average price trends are prone to being strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in July 2017 was $478,696, down 0.3% from where it stood one year earlier. This was the first y-o-y decline in the measure since February 2013, reflecting fewer sales in the GTA and Greater Vancouver on a y-o-y basis.

Because these 2 markets nonetheless remain highly active and expensive, Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto upwardly skew the national average price. Excluding these two markets from calculations trims almost $100,000 from the national average price ($381,297).

Source: crea.ca

Future of GTA property market is up in the air

Housing trends show clear evidence that the Places to Grow intensification policy introduced a decade ago has now come into full effect.

Up in the air. That might be the best way to describe the state of the GTA housing market — today and in the future.

First, consider the resale market. While resale transactions were down 37 per cent in June, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board, demand for homes to buy was on par with demand levels seen last fall, according to Ipsos. This would seem to indicate that the buying decisions of prudent consumers are up in the air as they wait to see how a raft of recent policy changes (the province’s Fair Housing Plan in particular) will affect them.

Then there’s the new-home market. With 86 per cent of the most recent month’s new-home sales coming from highrise homes, according to Altus Group, the GTA’s new-home market is not about homes on the ground, it’s about homes in the air. This is clear evidence that the Places to Grow intensification policy introduced a decade ago has now come into full effect.

It will take time for the dust to settle in the market following the recent introduction of policy changes and there’s still lots of uncertainty regarding how many of the changes will actually be implemented.

These housing policy tweaks are aimed at fixing market problems, but the slow speed of implementation and some other conflicting forces could end up creating new issues.

Consider the issue of supply, a vital part of the GTA housing equation.

There’s been plenty of industry and government discussion about land supply, the essential element for creating new homes, but there’s been less focus on the development process and how to facilitate the intensification of the region’s housing supply.

The province wants the GTA to grow up, not out. And now, a decade since Places to Grow was introduced, the government is calling for even more highrise development.

It is increasing highrise development targets for the GTA to 60 per cent, up from 40 per cent. Particular emphasis is being placed on development around major transit nodes, such as subway stations.

Hitting these density targets will require the development approvals system to deliver much more than ever before. Last year the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) facilitated 70 per cent of all high-density development approvals in the city of Toronto.

The controversial changes planned for the OMB may now put the fate of the province’s Growth Plan in the hands of the city and place the future of our region’s housing market up in the air.

Source: thestar.com

Mortgage rule changes are cooling housing market: Morneau


Finance Minister Bill Morneau says last October’s sweeping mortgage rule changes aimed at cooling Canada’s housing market have successfully dampened high-risk borrowing.

But despite a report urging Ottawa to look at ways of boosting support for Canadians entering the housing market, the Minister ruled out any new measures along those lines, expressing concern that such an approach would encourage higher house prices.

The comments are part of a recent letter from Mr. Morneau to the House of Commons finance committee, which had released a wide-ranging report on housing in April.

The federal government announced four policy changes last October in response to concern over rapidly rising home prices, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto.

The changes included a new stress test for all new insured mortgages to ensure that home buyers would still qualify for a loan even if interest rates were slightly higher. Another change restricted access to mortgage insurance to homes with a purchase price of less than $1-million. The government announced new reporting rules for the primary-residence capital-gains exemption and also launched a consultation on having private lenders take on some of the risk associated with insured mortgages. Currently, the federal government is responsible for 100 per cent of an insured mortgage in the event of a default.

“Preliminary data received since the government implemented its most recent adjustments to mortgage rules in October, 2016, suggests that the rule changes are having their intended effect,” states Mr. Morneau’s letter to the finance committee.

“A decline in the share of new insured loans issued to highly-indebted borrowers suggests that the quality of credit is improving in the high-ratio mortgage market. This development helps to ensure that Canadians are taking on mortgages that they can afford.”

Canadian existing-home sales were down 2.1 per cent in July, representing a fourth consecutive month of decline.

A TransUnion report released this week found the average size of a new mortgage in Vancouver was $517,415 in the first quarter of this year, down from $553,719 a year earlier.

BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic said tightening measures taken over the past year by the B.C. and Ontario governments, as well as local moves in Vancouver and Toronto, appear to have had more of an impact on cooling the market than the federal changes.

Mr. Kavcic said the government intervention at all levels was “absolutely necessary” given the unsustainable price hikes that had taken place.

“It’s tough in that we have to endure a bit of a [housing market] correction now,” he said. “But I think the adjustment that we are seeing now is far more favourable to what we would have seen a few years down the road if it was allowed to run.”

The finance committee’s April report said Ottawa should “examine increased support for first-time home buyers,” but it did not make a specific policy recommendation. The report highlighted testimony from the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association that called on Ottawa to allow 30-year amortization periods for first-time buyers with insured mortgages, in contrast to the current maximum of 25 years.

As recently as 2011, some insured mortgage amortizations were as high as 35 years until Ottawa cracked down by lowering the maximum to 30 years. Ottawa acted again in 2012 to restrict them to 25 years.

Mr. Morneau, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Toronto Mayor John Tory had said in April that they would not be introducing any new measures that would boost demand for housing.

Mr. Morneau expanded on that view in his letter to the committee.

“Additional government support for home ownership, especially in the context of housing markets experiencing rapid price growth and restricted housing supply, are likely to be counterproductive,” Mr. Morneau wrote. “Policies to further boost home ownership by stimulating demand would exert more pressure on house prices, with little or no positive impact on housing affordability.”

Source: theglobeandmail.com

Home construction picks up in July, driven by buildings, condos, CMHC says

OTTAWA — Home construction in Canada picked up last month, driven by British Columbia and Alberta, defying expectations that homebuilding activity would cool down.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts rose to 222,324 units in July, up from 212,948 in June, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Wednesday.

The ramp-up likely reflects strong demand for new housing from the end of last year into the start of this year, TD Bank economist Diana Petramala said, adding that the new construction market tends to lag real estate demand, which has started to fall.

Petramala said regulatory changes over the past year including tougher mortgage qualification rules have prompted a shift for some first-time homebuyers from existing homes to cheaper, newly built dwellings.
“Some of the momentum could potentially carry forward into the second half of the year before new home construction eases along with the existing home market next year,” she said.

Last month, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported that national home sales figures in June posted their largest monthly drop in seven years. CREA is expected to release July sales data next week.

The annual pace of urban home construction increased by 5.5 per cent last month to 206,122 units, driven by a rise in multiple urban starts — generally apartment buildings, townhouses and condominiums — while single, detached home starts slowed.

Multiple urban starts increased by 10.4 per cent to 141,950 while single-detached urban starts fell by 3.9 per cent to 64,172. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16,202 units.
Regionally, the annual pace of housing starts in B.C. surged 20 per cent compared with June while Alberta saw an eight per cent increase. The annual pace of starts in Ontario was up one per cent.

“Much of the recent strength has been concentrated in B.C., where starts have rebounded back close to record highs after slowing late last year,” Royal Bank senior economist Nathan Janzen wrote in a report.

The housing start data came as Statistics Canada also reported the value of building permits issued in June rose to $8.1 billion, up 2.5 per cent from May and the second highest value on record.

The overall increase came despite a 0.9 per cent drop to $5.0 billion in the value of residential building permits in June. The value of permits for single-family dwellings fell 12.5 per cent, while plans for multi-family dwellings rose 12.5 per cent in June to $2.7 billion.

The value of building permits for non-residential structures in June rose 8.8 per cent to $3.0 billion

The Canadian Press
Source: ctvnews.ca

Commercial Investment Property Sales Set Record in the GTA

GTA Commercial ReportA new record has been set for Greater Toronto Area’s commercial investment property sales.

The second quarter saw a total of 736 sales for investment properties over $1 million, for a total of $6 billion, according to a new report from Altus Group.

That represents a 34% increase over the previous quarter.

And it seems developers are still bullish on the residential housing sector, despite a recently cooled market as a result of recent housing measures and Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan.

Residential land was the strongest sector for the GTA’s investment property sales, accounting for 25% of overall activity.

The office sector saw a total of 66 sales at a total volume of $1.4 billion – that was up 130% over the previous quarter.

“The most notable sale of the quarter was 700 University Avenue, sold by Ontario Power Generation to Kingsett Capital for $433 million, representing a price per square foot of $355 and a cap rate of 5.9%,” Altus Group said in its report.

A total of 140 transactions in the industrial sector were reported in Q2, an increase of 21%. The sector reached its second-highest quarter in terms of dollar volume, reaching $971 million.

“Consistent with the theme for the quarter, a record was also set for the number of GTA retail transactions with 175 sales totalling $831 million, up 99% from last quarter and 15% from the same quarter last year,” Altus Group said. “The most notable transaction of the quarter was the sale of Promenade Mall in Vaughan, from Cadillac Fairview to Liberty Development Corporation & Serruya Private Equity, for a total of $249,000,000, representing a cap rate of 5.5%.”

Source: mortgagebrokernews.ca

Buyers work around mortgage stress test

A new report reveals Canadian sentiment about homebuying in Canada – including just how impactful the stress test might be.

In its latest report, entitled Consumers’ Perspectives on Homebuying in Canada, Mortgage Professionals Canada aimed to simulate what percentage of prospective homebuyers would be impacted by the stress test policy that requires high ratio buyers to qualify at the posted rate of 4.64%.

According to the simulation – which included buyers with less than 20% down payment who could afford a market interest rate of 2.6% — 20% would fail the stress test and therefore would not qualify for mortgage financing.

Of those who would fail, 45% said they would increase their down payment amount; 45% said they would buy a less expensive home; 20% would look outside their original targeted region; 39% would delay their purchase; 5% would do something else; and 7% did not know what to do.

“The stress test would mean that a considerable number of potential homebuyers would become unable to borrow as much as they need to complete their desired purchase (even though they can afford the actual costs associated with that purchase),” MPC said in the report. “There is uncertainty about how many of these affected people would be able to make changes in order to make a purchase (buying a less costly property, increasing their down payment, or finding a borrowing alternative that does not require mortgage insurance) and how many would have to delay buying (and for how long).”

Paul Taylor, president and CEO of MPC, said the number of Canadians impacted by the stress test was unsurprising.

MPC did find the stress test is forcing some homebuyers to use pricier uninsured lending options rather than decrease their debt load.

“We agree with a mortgage stress test but it should be reflective of more realistic future interest rates so Canadians can continue to have access to affordable homeownership,” Taylor said. “Modifying the criterial has a more realistic chance of improving homeownership for consumers.”

Source: repmag.ca

Interest rates to hit 1.75% by summer 2019

The latest forecast from CIBC Capital Markets is for Canadian interest rates to increase again in December this year.

In its forecast summary released this week, CIBC calls for a hold steady until then with the 1% rate coming in just before Christmas and holding until the summer of 2018 when a further 25 basis points rise will take rates to 1.25%.

If the forecast proves correct, interest rates will reach 1.50% by the end of next year and will be increased again by the summer of 2019 to 1.75%.

The summary also predicts that housing starts for 2017 will reach 201,000, beating the 198,000 of 2016 and 194,000 of 2015. For 2018, CIBC expects 187,000 new starts with 177,000 in 2019.

By Steve Randall
Source: whichmortgage.ca

The darker side of low rates

Canadians have qualified for much larger mortgages over the past two decades due to record-low interest rates, and that has impacted affordability according to the Fraser Institute.

“Increased borrowing power, brought about by falling interest rates and rising incomes, is potentially the most overlooked and least understood factor influencing home prices across Canada,” Niels Veldhuis, president of the Fraser Institute, said.

In its new study, Interest Rates and Mortgage Borrowing Power in Canada, the institute found mortgage interest rates fell from 7% to 2.7% between 2000 and 2016 and increased the maximum mortgage for Canadians by 53%.

“Based on average family incomes in 2000, falling interest rates resulted in increased mortgage borrowing power in the four main regions over the same period:

  • Vancouver from $183,751 to $280,893;
  • Calgary from $221,214 to $352,671;
  • Toronto from $221,214 to $338,161;
  • Montreal from $171,692 to $262,459,”

the institute said in the study.

Incomes increased in lockstep, jumping 53% nationwide – and contributing to even more purchasing power among Canadians.

And the results have the Fraser Institute warning policymakers about the potential implications of increased borrowing power on home prices.

“This increase in borrowing power — in simple terms — means that an average Canadian family, dedicating the same share of their income to monthly mortgage payments, can afford a mortgage that’s more than twice as big now as it would have been in 2000,” Veldhuis said. “As would-be homebuyers and governments contend with rising prices across Canada, policy makers should look closely at the impact of interest rates, rising incomes and increased mortgage borrowing power on home prices.”

Source: repmag.ca

Taxes – the average Canadian family’s largest expense

With home prices rising across the country, many would assume that housing costs (including rent and mortgage payments) are the most expensive budget item for the average Canadian family.

In reality, the average Canadian household spends more on taxes than any other expense. Specifically, in 2016 the average Canadian family (including single Canadians) earned $83,105 in income and paid $35,283 in total taxes. That’s 42.5 per cent of income going to taxes.

For most of us, the income and payroll tax deductions on our paycheques do not total anything close to this percentage. But to understand the full cost of taxation, you must consider all the taxes — both visible and hidden — that we pay throughout the year to federal, provincial and municipal governments including sales taxes, property taxes, fuel taxes, carbon taxes, import taxes, alcohol taxes and much more. All these taxes add up and make our overall tax bill expensive.

So how does the overall tax bill compare to housing costs?

The average Canadian family spends 22.1 per cent of its income on housing — only about half as much as it spends on taxes. In fact, taxes consume more of the average family’s income than all the basic necessities of life combined. If you add up the average family’s spending on housing, food and clothing in a year, it comes to 37.4 per cent of its income.
We should not simply assume that higher taxes always provide better government services

With 42.5 per cent of income going to taxes, Canadian families may rightfully wonder whether they get good value for their tax dollars. Of course, taxes fund important government services. But we shouldn’t simply assume that higher taxes always provide better government services.

While it’s ultimately up to individual Canadians and their families to decide if they’re getting the best bang for their money, you must know how much you pay in total taxes to make an informed assessment. That’s where our annual calculations help. They estimate the cost of government for the average family. Armed with this knowledge, Canadians can then determine if they think they’re getting good value in return.

In most provinces, more than 50 per cent of our tax dollars finance generous pay for government employees. In fact, government employees, on average, receive 10.6 per cent higher wages than comparable private-sector workers doing similar work. And that’s on top of the much more generous non-wage benefits (pension coverage, job security, early retirement) the government sector also enjoys. Of course, we need qualified and well-paid government workers, but is this pay and benefit premium the best use of our tax dollars?

In the case of health care, which consumes around 40 per cent of most provincial budgets and is a fast-growing expense, international comparisons show that, despite high levels of spending, Canadians have comparatively poor access to technology and doctors, and endure longer wait times for surgery. It’s hard to see how we get good value for our money in public health care when measured against other countries that also offer universal access.

Most troubling is when our tax dollars are outright wasted on boondoggles and failed government programs. A recent study documented more than 600 cases where the federal government failed to meet its own objectives over a 25-year period, resulting in up to $197 billion of wasted tax money.

Bottom line — we need a robust public debate about the overall tax burden and whether we’re getting our money’s worth.

Source: Financial Post

Canada has 3 of the 10 most liveable cities in the world

The annual rankings of the world’s most liveable cities has been revealed and three of the top ten are in Canada.

The listings from The Economist Intelligence Unit is based on several key factors:

  • Stability including crime and the threat of terror attacks;
  •  Healthcare including the availability and quality of public and private health services;
  • Culture & Environment including sporting, food and consumer goods and services, climate and levels of corruption;
  • Education, both public and private;
  • Infrastructure including roads, energy and provision of housing.

Melbourne, Australia leads the list followed by Vienna, Austria and the next three positions are all in Canada.

Vancouver (3), Toronto (4) and Calgary (5) all score highly in the key metrics for the listings.

The top ten is completed by Adelaide and Perth (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), Helsinki (Finland) and Hamburg (Germany).

Some of the world’s most famous cities do not make the top ten due to high levels of crime offsetting some of their positives, these include New York, Paris, London and Tokyo.

Source: canadianrealestatemagazine.ca

Ground Broken for Toronto’s First ‘Supertall’, Mizrahi’s The One

The first building in Toronto that will be taller than First Canadian Place, and the first aiming to cross the ‘Supertall’ threshold of 300 metres, is now under construction. Digging commenced this morning on The One, an 82-storey tall mixed-use tower that will top off in a couple of years at 306.3 metres or 1005 feet. Designed by London’s Foster + Partners and Toronto’s Core Architects, the complex by Mizrahi Developmentswill feature 7 double-height storeys of retail and restaurants (also connecting to the local PATH network and subway underground), 10 storeys of hotel, and another 66 storeys of residential and mid-tower mechanical.

While work to level and clear the site and to preserve a portion of a heritage building has been going on for many months, equipment to start the digging has been arriving for a few weeks. Seen above, the photo from overhead and taken last Friday, shows equipment for shoring at left.

This morning the digging began. Sam Mizrahi, President of Mizrahi Developments, told us he was “excited to confirm that, yes, we have officially mobilized and commenced construction on The One.” The photo below shows the scene from across the intersection of Bloor and Yonge streets from earlier today. The close-up that follows has been lightened to highlight the excavator at work.

The One under construction, Toronto, Foster and Partners, Mizrahi Developments

The site in context on August 23, image by UT Forum contributor LNahid2000

The One under construction, Toronto, Foster and Partners, Mizrahi Developments
Close-up on the digging on August 23, image by UT Forum contributor LNahid2000

Just to the south of the site on Yonge Street, a construction site office has been set up.

The One under construction, Toronto, Foster and Partners, Mizrahi Developments
The site office for construction of The One located at the south end of the site, image courtesy of Mizrahi Developments

Mizrahi also wrote this morning “the Presentation gallery for The One residential sales will open next month” on Davenport Road. We expect an official ground breaking ceremony in September, and we are told that there will be an announcement of some of the commercial tenants at the time.

The One scale model, Toronto, Foster and Partners, Mizrahi Developments
Scale model of The One at the Toronto of the Future show in June, image by Craig White

When complete, The One will be Canada’s tallest building.

Want to know more about The One? You can visit our database file, linked below, to see several renderings, and to get more details. Want to talk about it? Get in on the ongoing conversation in our associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Source: Urbantoronto.ca