MILLENNIALS HOLD ONTO DREAM OF HOMEOWNERSHIP

Statistics in Zoocasa’s recent Housing Trends Report 2018 show that 84 per cent of Millennials surveyed consider owning a home a life milestone. Compare that to an Ontario Real Estate Association survey facilitated by Nanos Research Corporation, which found that 68.5 per cent of young Ontarians agree or somewhat agree that owning a home in their community is unaffordable. Of course, rents in the GTA are higher than ever as well. With rising interest rates and home and condo prices, the down payment required to buy is elusive for many young potential buyers. The interesting thing is that first-time buyers are finding ways to purchase every day, especially in condominiums.

First-time buyers are saving, receiving financial help from family members, going together to co‑purchase condo suites and doing whatever they can to make ownership happen. The government offers help in the form of tax credits, RRSP withdrawal allowances and GST/HST rebates. Some builders/developers provide incentives that help to reduce the bottom line. Potential buyers understand that getting into the market as soon as possible is wise.

If you have questions about how you might afford a home, check out CMHC’s “Homebuying Step By Step” and “Condominium buyer’s guide” online at www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/buho/.

TORONTO A STAR ON THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SCENES

Here I am once again, extolling the virtues of Toronto as one of the best cities in the world. Apparently, a lot of people agree with me, as Toronto continues to receive national and international accolades from a variety of sources. For example, this year alone, our city has ranked in the top-10 in six rankings, and in the top 20 in another two.

There are oh, so many reasons why we continue to attract a steady influx of immigrants and newcomers. Many come here for higher education, because we have superb universities and colleges in the city. In fact, recently, the University of Toronto placed 22nd in the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In addition, U of T held the distinction of top Canadian university for the eighth consecutive year, and is in the top 10 of publicly funded universities worldwide. The latest U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Global Universities rankings places U of T in the top 20 of global universities; in the top 10 of public universities; and seventh in North America!

And Toronto continues to improve when it comes to other areas of quality of life. Counted among the greenest cities in the world, Toronto is home to a myriad of parks, and the proposed new Rail Deck Park is sure to be a massive lift to the city’s urbanscape. The estimated cost for this signature park is $1.66 billion. The 21-acre green space will be built over electrified GO train passages in the downtown rail corridor. Sounds like this public space will be fabulously functional as well as beautiful. All I can say is, GO, TORONTO, GO!

LUMINA TO SHINE A FINAL SPOTLIGHT ON EMERALD CITY

To say that the master-planned Emerald City condominium community at Don Mills Road and Sheppard Avenue East in North York is successful, is an understatement. Elad Canada’s dynamic neighbourhood includes eight towers that are completed or underway, and the ninth and final – Lumina – will go on sale soon. If you have ever thought about owning a condo suite in this remarkable location, NOW is the time to act. Lumina offers your final opportunity to own, and prices will begin from the low $400,000’s. Over the past few years since Emerald City opened, we have seen the value of real estate in the Sheppard-Don Mills area increase significantly, so what a fantastic opportunity!

Lumina will rise to an intimate 13 storeys and will include 245 suites. Amenities include a fabulous pool, outdoor terrace, private dining and gathering lounge, plus retail space on the ground floor to cater to residents’ needs. And speaking of their needs, this is one of the most convenient locations in Toronto, across from Fairview Mall, and close to the Don Mills subway station and access to Highways 401 and 404/DVP.

All residents can access the use of the facilities at the Parkway Forest Community Centre, with its full-size gymnasium, weight room, running track, dance studios, youth lounge, craft rooms, YMCA-run daycare, and a spectacular onsite Aquatic Centre.

Like its predecessors, Lumina is designed by the renowned design team of WZMH Architects. Register online at EmeraldCityLife.ca, visit the presentation centre on Sheppard, just east of Don Mills Road, or call 416-492-0001.

O CANADA!

Our beautiful country has earned international recognition once again! Recently, Canada was named the #2 Best Country in the World by US News in partnership with Y&R’s BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and we came in #1 for Quality of Life! In fact, that’s the third year in a row we ranked tops for quality of life in this study. Only Switzerland beat us for #1 country in the world.

In this ranking, quality of life is based on affordability, job market, economic stability, family-friendliness, income equality, political stability, safety and quality of public services. In Canada, we do enjoy an enviable lifestyle, which is why our immigration is so dynamic. According to Statistics Canada, 21.9 per cent of Canada’s growing population is made up of immigrants.

In November 2017, our Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced a historic multi-year immigration levels plan that will welcome 310,000 new residents this year, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020. This means that by 2020, upwards of 1 per cent of Canada’s population will be new immigrants. As I often say, these people have to live somewhere, and many will buy or rent condos – and we know from experience that a substantial proportion of our new residents will choose Toronto and the GTA!

2017 A RECORD-BREAKING YEAR FOR CONDO SALES

The Altus Group statistics are out for new home sales across the GTA 2017, and what a year it was for condos! New home sales across the board were the fourth strongest since 2000, and 82.5 per cent of the 44,143 homes sold were condominium apartments in low-, medium- and high-rise buildings, stacked townhouses and loft units. That was the highest number of condo apartments sold in any year in the GTA.

Why is this trend in condo sales continuing and increasing? In a nutshell: price, supply and demand, and lifestyle. Although the benchmark price of new condo apartments rose to $716,772 (41.3 per cent over December 2016), that is still a far cry from the $1,225,774 for low-rise homes. In addition, new home inventory is down dramatically. Add to that the fact that many people today, from first-time buyers to empty-nesters, lead hectic lives and long for the carefree living condos offer. We also have an aging population of retired individuals and couples who appreciate single-level, low-maintenance living.

Of course, investors represent a significant portion of condo purchasers, because they realize a great investment when they see it. I cannot say it enough: for a wise lifestyle and financial investment, GO CONDO!

THE LOWDOWN ON HIGH RENTAL ACCOMMODATIONS IN TORONTO

Anyone thinking of investing in a new condominium suite in Toronto would be wise to act soon. On the PadMapper.com website, the January 2018 Canadian Rent report shows Toronto as THE most expensive city in the country for one-bedroom rental accommodations. The median rents for all homes available or vacant in December 2017 are based on the median price of a one-bedroom apartment, which in Toronto was $2,020 (15.4 per cent year over year). Median two-bedroom prices jumped 14.5 per cent over last year, to $2,520. This is THE city to invest in, with immigration fueling the continuing desperate need for rental stock, and the vacancy rate sitting at under 1 per cent.

Of course, new condo prices have increased greatly, but in the long run, investors recognize how lucrative owning real estate in Toronto can be. Imagine how well those who invested in suites a few years ago are doing, with rents being as high as they are now.

Remember that real estate is real, not just words on paper such as stocks and bonds, and historically brings a great return-on-investment over time. Remember, too, that in Toronto and the GTA, we are experiencing more demand than supply.

Once again, I say for a wise financial investment, GO CONDO!

HOLIDAY GIFT SUGGESTIONS FOR CONDO-OWNERS

It’s that time of year, when we’re making lists of gift ideas for loved ones. If you have a condominium-owner on your list, or someone who will be moving into a condo in the near future, give some careful thought to what that person might appreciate in the new surroundings. The key is flexibility. Modern condominiums are designed to maximize space, yet are often compact. Think multi-functional, especially for the condo kitchen. Gone are the days when people have space to store numerous small appliances such as rice cookers, slow cookers, yogurt makers, pressure cookers and the like. The great news is that nowadays, manufacturers have come up with innovative small appliances that do the job of several of these. A small gift of stacking coffee mugs or kitchen towels that will add a pop of colour are other possibilities, depending on your budget. If you want to go a little larger and know the condo-owner’s décor tastes, consider an ottoman that doubles as a coffee table, seating and/or storage unit.

If you are looking for stocking stuffer ideas, consider a decorative wall hook or a USB drive your loved one can use for digital media storage. Let your fingers do some shopping on your computer keyboard for more ideas, such as edible gifts, a cozy blanket beautiful enough to use on the bed or as a throw, a fabric laundry bag that can hang on the back of a closet door, or serving trays that can double as dining surfaces. Even better, tickets take up very little space in a wallet.  A new or recent condominium purchaser may be on a tight budget for a while, so think about an experience gift in the form of tickets to a play, concert or sporting event. A magazine subscription is another great idea.

Bed linens, placemats, a multi-tool gadget, a handheld vacuum … the possibilities are beautiful and exciting. Just remember that your family and friends who live in condos likely do not have space for a lot of “things.” Then go with your heart and your budget, and you will find the perfect gift.

THE AGE-OLD STORY OF SUPPLY VS. DEMAND

The most recent Altus Group statistics released by BILD indicate that in the Greater Toronto Area, we are still behind demand when it comes to the supply of new homes available. The supply increased in October, but is still well below what is considered viable in the face of demand. At the end of October, there were only 9,308 multi-family homes and 3,192 single-family homes available across the GTA.

Condos, in particular, are coveted by new home buyers. In October, 91 per cent of new homes sold were multi-family homes. Condo sales that month were 81 per cent above the 10-year average, as well as the highest ever recorded for an October. Over the past few years, condominium sales in the GTA have broken long-standing records and continue to take centre stage in the new home, and even resale marketplace.

Why are we so far behind in supply? Blame the provincial government, which is lagging in approving existing land for development. Developers and builders are building as fast as they can, but bureaucratic red tape poses continual hold-ups in getting land approved for residential development.

The moral of the story is to get into homeownership as soon as you can, while mortgage rates are still low – and condominium is likely the way to go. Let’s hope the supply-demand scenario changes in 2018!

A WHIRLWIND OCTOBER FOR GTA CONDO MARKET

The statistics are in for October 2017, and condominiums drove the soaring new construction home sales for the month. Approximately 91 per cent of the 5,377 homes sold were multi-family. Condo sales were 81 per cent above the 10-year average and reached the highest October on record! On top of all of that, prices were up slightly from September.

If you look at new home sales for 2017 to the end of October, 82 per cent were condo apartments in high-rise and mid-rise buildings, and stacked townhomes. In a nutshell, condos are selling like the proverbial hotcakes to three main groups: investors who are helping to provide new rental housing, end-users who can afford condos over low-rise homes, and end-users who appreciate the convenience of carefree condo living.

To say the condo market in the GTA is healthy and stable is an understatement. We may well be on track to have a record-breaking year for GTA sales. If you are thinking of purchasing a condo, NOW is the time to do it!

You can read BILD’s News Release on the October data at http://bildgta.ca/news/newsreleases.

TARION WARRANTY ANOTHER REASON TO BUY NEW

Most first-time buyers, and all home buyers, understand that with a new home or condominium suite, you have the benefit of Tarion Warranty coverage. Certainly, freedom from worrying about major repairs and knowing deficiencies will be taken care of at no cost to you offer peace of mind over buying resale. But did you know that over time, that coverage follows the home, rather than the buyer? This is great news all around. If you purchase new and then sell before the coverage ends, having it in place is a key selling point. Anyone who purchases from you will get the benefit of the coverage until it runs out.

There are oh, so many reasons to choose a new home or condominium. Consider the most up-to-date construction techniques, materials and green features; the opportunity to select the features and finishes that will personalize your fresh, clean surroundings; the knowledge that you are the first owner in your brand-spanking new home. And warranty coverage to boot!