28 EASTERN WILL BE THE BIGGEST LAUNCH DOWNTOWN OF THE SUMMER!

Watch for the upcoming launch of sales at 28 Eastern, Alterra Developments’ hot new condominium coming to 28 Eastern in Toronto’s Downtown East. With prices beginning from the $500,000s, this condo offers an incredible opportunity to live in the centre of everything that is great in this vibrant and growing area!

Talk about location, location, location! 28 Eastern earns a bike score of 100 on WalkScore.com, as well as a walk score of 96! In under 10 minutes, residents will be able to walk to George Brown, the Distillery District, Canary District, Corktown Commons park, a dog park and more. Plus, a new Corktown station is underway next door to the condo. It already has a transit score of 100, so this is really icing on the cake. And in addition to a car share available onsite, there will also be dedicated bicycle storage rooms and a bicycle repair station.

A 12-storey condominium, 28 Eastern will grace the Corktown neighbourhood with a striking exterior by Teeple Architects. Choose from condo suites and three-bedroom townhomes accessible from the street. Among the building amenities will be a rooftop terrace with barbecue and dining facilities, pedestrian courtyard with a sculpture garden, party room, media lounge and co-working space, to name just a few.

What a convenient and exciting lifestyle! This is THE location in downtown, and the demand is great for the area. NOW is the time to act. For more information, visit https://www.baker-re.com/projects/28-eastern/ and give us a call!

SHOP FOR A BUILDER AS WELL AS A CONDO

Anyone shopping for a new condo in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area is on an exciting journey. We have some of the finest choices and variety here in Southern Ontario. As you look around, you have your must-haves in mind, such as location and price – but remember to include builder/developer reputation among your criteria. You want a trustworthy company that will be with you for years to come.

Visit builders’ websites, read their brochures and see what is posted on the walls in sales offices once they are open again. Talk to sales representatives about the companies’ experience and track record for service. You can also visit BILDGTA.CA (https://bit.ly/3cKmYoV) to find out if the builder is a member of this Toronto and GTA association.

Of course, good old word of mouth is also a powerful tool. Ask around about the builder to discover how purchasers were treated and whether they were happy with the finished product. You can also drive or walk by condominiums these builders have completed to see for yourself how they look, whether they are architecturally harmonious with their surroundings and are nicely landscaped.

A condominium is probably one of the biggest purchases you will make in your lifetime, so you want a builder that will provide you with excellent service before, during and after your move-in date.

BOUTIQUE CONDO VS. HIGH-RISE?

What’s right for you? That is the question you should ask. We have a striking variety of new condominiums available today in an assortment of designs and configurations. Here are a few things to consider before you hone in on your shopping choices.

On one hand, there is a tremendous appetite for high-rise living in North America. The power and presence of a tower can be very exciting to some people. In Toronto, we have led the charge for tall buildings, which in general have lower maintenance fees because there are so many people sharing in the costs. High-rises also encompass tremendous space for shared amenities, which nowadays are gorgeous and bright. Swimming pools, cinemas, multi-function rooms, game rooms, rooftop terraces … the sky’s the limit! Taking the high-rise concept to a higher level, some condominium buyers prefer living on top of a luxurious hotel. These people enjoy private amenities, as well as access to the hotel’s restaurant(s), spas, etc.

On the other hand, many condo shoppers are looking for a more intimate scenario, such as a boutique building. Amenities may be fewer and maintenance fees higher, but for them, a quieter lifestyle in a building with a more residential feel is well worth it. Often, empty-nesters or right sizers moving from a large low-rise home prefer the boutique condo over a high-rise.

It is about personal choice, and in Toronto and the GTA, what wonderful choices you have!

ENDS OF THE SPECTRUM TAKING OVER CONDO MARKET

For years, I have been writing about the spectrum of condominium purchasers. Once the home of choice for retirees, the convenience and affordability of condos caused them to morph into the popular choice for everyone from first-time buyers to families and empty-nesters. Now that Baby Boomers are retiring, we are coming full circle to that market segment again.

Condo sales have dominated the new home market for years, largely due to the lack of supply and skyrocketing prices of low-rise homes. The reasons go beyond that, however, to the maintenance-free lifestyle condos offer in the face of an increasingly frantic work life for most people. Young professional first-time buyers who are now starting families find they like the time freed up by maintenance fees, eliminating the need to mow lawns and shovel snow, meaning more opportunities to spend quality time with their children. They also love having amenities in their buildings that are cleaned and cared for. A lot of seniors who might have otherwise retired to cottage living are opting to live in condos as well, for those same reasons.

Interestingly, the condominiums they are gravitating to are not all necessarily in downtown Toronto. Condo living is catching on in the 905 areas and beyond. However you slice it, condos are here to stay! If you have not jumped on the condo bandwagon as a home or financial investment, now’s the time, before prices go up more.

SUBWAY EXTENSION WILL MAKE CONDOS IN YORK REGION EVEN MORE IN DEMAND

Condominiums in York Region are bound to be in more demand in the future. In a media release on May 28, the Region of York announced that the Yonge North Subway Extension is still on track to happen, as the municipality and the Province of Ontario have signed a preliminary formal agreement. This step is important, as it outlines how the extension will be delivered, and who has what roles in planning, funding, building, operating and maintaining it.

The approximately $5.6 billion extension is one of the four priority projects the Province announced last year to improve the GTA’s transit network. The extension will bring the subway to Markham and Richmond Hill for the first time, and will enhance the service already in place in Vaughan – making homes and condos in these areas more convenient for commuting. Once the extension is complete, real estate prices are bound to rise in those areas, so NOW is the time to jump on the condo ownership bandwagon in York.

TORONTO IS NOW NORTH AMERICA’S FASTEST-GROWING CITY

Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development recently released a report (https://bit.ly/2BXbbX0) names Toronto the fastest-growing central city in the United States and Canada for the 12 months ending July 1, 2019. In addition, the Toronto census metropolitan area was the fastest growing in North America as well. Based on census statistics, Toronto’s population grew by 45,742 persons during that time period. In interesting contrast, during that same time period, New York City’s population decreased by 53,264. And Phoenix, which placed second, welcomed just 25,288 new residents.

Once again, immigration is fueling population growth, as well as the demand for condominiums in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. If you have not already purchased a condo to live in or as a wise investment, NOW is the time!

WHAT WILL CONDO OWNERS EXPECT POST-PANDEMIC?

In our recent webinar (https://youtu.be/TqLtq5P_8VA) featuring Mansoor Kazerouni, the Global Director, Buildings for IBI Group and for IBI Living+, he addressed the topic of how condominium design might change once the pandemic is behind us. Now that people’s lifestyles have changed, there are some new practices Mr. Kazerouni says will “stick” and endure long after the pandemic is over. One example is the entry foyer or lobby, which will play an important role as the intermediary area between public and private space. Bed/ bath parity become a priority, as residents will be less willing to share these private spaces.

Flexibility is key to practicality when it comes to condo design. Simply making suites larger is not enough; innovative additions such as sliding partitions and Murphy beds can allow for the adaptability of space. The current work-from-home requirements will likely set a new precedent, so dens will serve as home offices. They can also be used as isolation spaces for future health issues. Amenities will also be geared to working from home, with acoustic and space features for office use.

And let’s talk kitchens. With the pandemic spawning a trend of more cooking at home, people are buying and storing additional food. This calls for more storage and pantry space in the future in addition to existing lockers. People will want larger kitchen appliances, and maybe even space for standalone freezers. Throughout the suites, new finishes and self-cleaning materials that make hygiene paramount will be in demand. Hardwood, vinyl and stone flooring, which are already popular, will be even more, replacing carpeting, which is difficult to keep clean and sanitized. Balconies will become new social spaces to connect residents with the outdoors and could be used as outdoor rooms in the nice weather. Outdoor amenities in general will need to provide social interaction, but with greater flexibility for use and distance. As for indoor amenities, pools and other gathering spots will require greater purification, cleanliness and monitoring.

The great news is that condominium developers continually keep up with changing purchaser needs. Look forward to a new generation of new condos on the horizon!

POST-PANDEMIC REAL ESTATE CHANGES THAT ARE LIKELY TO “STICK”

Recently, Baker Real Estate facilitated a webinar (https://youtu.be/TqLtq5P_8VA) featuring Mansoor Kazerouni, the Global Director, Buildings for IBI Living+. He had some fascinating insights into post-pandemic condominium real estate. Some innovative changes thus far have been reactionary and temporary. Others are “sticky” changes that will redefine the living environment in our cities.

For example, horizons on zoning, land use and site selection will be expanded. Previously, the focus has been on transit-oriented residential development in Toronto and its edge cities. People who continue to work from home may be willing to consider new areas, with live/work options in residential neighbourhoods to create mixed-use communities supported by retail and schools to create complete walkable communities. New zoning rules may be required to reflect the trend.

The second sticky change has to do with what condominium purchasers want. Larger entry foyers will serve as a buffer between public and private space, and building amenities geared to working from home will have acoustic and space features for office use. Pools and all common areas will require greater purification, cleanliness and monitoring. Hygienic new finishes and materials that are self cleaning will be desirable. Flexibility will be key in suite design, and a high priority will be placed on the bed/bath configuration, with a reduced willingness to share bathrooms. Dens will morph into home offices and/or isolation spaces. People are cooking more, so the kitchen becomes an important hub with the need for additional storage and pantry space, plus larger major appliances.

Third, he points out that technology will enhance building resilience and community connectivity. Smart appliances will gain in popularity as online grocery ordering and delivering becomes the norm. In high-rises, parcel delivery will have to be managed and controlled differently, possibly with individual lockers with cold storage and touchless codes.

Fourth, he sees changes in our mechanical systems to create cleaner living environments by minimizing cross-contamination of air flow in private and public spaces. Instead of a vertical centralized system, the ideal will be individual air filtration. This will include higher levels of antimicrobial filtration and features such as controlled airflow in elevators.

In addition, the future will likely bring more localized supply chains and new sources of products and services closer to their markets. Working from home and/or flexible work schedules will facilitate existing transit systems with more staggered use. People are already buying fewer parking spots in condos.

According to Mr. Kazerouni, past pandemics led to the creation of city parks and the awareness of our need for clean air for community resiliency. COVID-19 may not be the last pandemic we face, so we need to prepare now for the future.

CMHC RULE CHANGES WILL BRING MORE STABILITY TO MARKET

Business closures, job losses and reduced immigration during the COVID-19 pandemic have affected our Canadian economy, including real estate – but once again, our government is taking a proactive stance to minimize risk. On June 4, CHMC announced that effective July 1, changes will be implemented for new applications for homeowner mortgage insurance to counteract some of the effects of the pandemic (https://bit.ly/2MMIzC5).

The changes to mortgage qualifications will include requiring a minimum credit score of 680 for at least one borrower (up from 600), limiting gross/total debt servicing ratios to CMHC’s standard 35/42 to make sure buyers can keep up with payments, and not accepting non-traditional sources of down payment that increase indebtedness as equity. Multi-unit mortgage insurance refinancing has been suspended temporarily as well, unless it is for the purpose of repairs or reinvestment in housing.

Although the new rules make it tougher to qualify for mortgage insurance, especially for anyone who does not have at least a 20 per cent down payment, they also protect home buyers and increase stability in our housing markets. They reduce government and taxpayer risk and will serve to curb housing price increases that are unsustainable. Our government’s conservative practices have saved Canada from the kind of economic real estate disaster such as the US experienced a few years ago, and this step will continue to do the same.

NEW UNEXPECTED CONDO LOCATIONS MAY BE ON THE HORIZON

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With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way we live – and work – condominium buyers who continue to conduct their job duties from home may be able to consider locations in new areas outside the downtown core. Recently, Baker Real Estate facilitated a webinar for Baker Realty Partners and selected industry leaders, with keynote speaker Mansoor Kazerouni. As Global Director, Buildings for IBI and for IBI Living+, he had some fascinating ideas concerning post-pandemic residential real estate. Until now, the best residential sites have been focused on transit-oriented locations in urban locales. With the “sticky” (enduring) changes we see happening, including live/work scenarios for more people than ever before, we may see an opportunity to expand the horizons for residential sites. Zoning may need to be expanded to satisfy the need with less single use zoning and more mixed-use.

Rather than promoting urban sprawl, new zoning bylaws could simply allow for condos that are within a 10-minute walk to essential services, supplies and local amenities. In other words, they could be introduced into commercial areas to create mixed-use neighbourhoods. The ability to walk to grocery stores, pharmacies, cafés and other restaurants, schools, small-scale health care facilities and parks enhances the already carefree condo lifestyle. We may see changes in local retail as well, with some venues offering more than one service, for a win-win situation. Overall, supply chains will become more localized, and new sources will likely emerge. It is also interesting how important ground-level retail and commercial spaces have become to those who live and work in their condos.

Although the live-work concept has been around for years, it has gained huge ground during the pandemic. Companies and workers have been creative in finding ways to conduct business outside of a central office space. Now that we have seen how effective it can be, the trend is likely to continue from this momentum. Condos with live-work possibilities are the way of the future!