“UNTITLED” AN EXCITING CREATIVE COLLABORATION

You may have read the news already – Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties are collaborating with Pharrell Williams to bring curated condominiums to Yonge and Eglinton. Called untitled, this collection will include two towers at this in-demand location.

Why Pharrell? The partnership was born out of a desire to do something really unique for Toronto and architecture as a whole. Reserve and Westdale believe by bringing in a cultural icon with vision and ideation from outside the realm of real estate it would help break the mold in terms of what has traditionally been done.

The amazingly creative Pharrell Williams is collaborating with Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties on untitled, a collection of curated condominiums at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto.

The Grammy Award-winning artist, producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer and entrepreneur is known for high-profile collaborations, including a capsule collection with Chanel and a long-standing relationship with Adidas and Human Made. Other collaborative projects include an upcoming Youth Centre in Virginia Beach with Oppenheim Architecture + Design, work with Zaha Hadid Architects and the creation of the Something in the Water Festival. Pharrell’s collaboration with Reserve and Westdale marks his first foray into multi-residential development.

Pharrell worked alongside Reserve Properties, Westdale Properties, and the design team, responding to everything from the vision and materiality of the architectural facade, to the overall interior programming and even the furnishing choices for individual spaces. The fabulous amenity spaces the team collaborated on will include a expansive spa, gym and yoga studio, basketball court, rooftop dining with barbecues and pizza ovens, plus an indoor/outdoor swimming pool as well as a co-working garden lounge to name a few.

Pharrell even helped decide on the name of the project explaining how untitled reflects the concept that physical space is a backdrop upon which residents can make their homes their own.

The project is most exciting, and talk about an all-star team! Exteriors are by IBI Group architects, and interiors are by U31, both firms that have earned international renown.untitled is just steps to the Yonge Street Subway Line and the LRT. Purchasers can choose from studios to three-bedroom designs, all with a balcony. It is all truly fresh, new and exciting. To register, visit http://untitledtoronto.com/

BRAVO FOR BILL 145 PASSING SECOND READING

On Monday, November 25, Bill 145 passed a 2nd reading. It took only 2½ hours of debate to pass the “Trust in Real Estate Services Act 2019,” which if it passes a 3rd reading and Royal Assent, will replace the Real Estate and Business Act, 2002. The Real Estate Council of Ontario administers and enforces the Act to regulate the more than 86,000 registered sales people, brokers and brokerages in the province. This legislation protects consumers by helping to ensure that real estate professionals conduct themselves ethically. I support this move by the provincial government – something for which Ontario REALTORS® have been advocating for years.

On Nov. 25, Bill 145 passed a 2nd reading. The “Trust in Real Estate Services Act 2019” replaces the outdated Act that regulates registered real estate professionals in Ontario.

Among the many improvements this bill incorporates are enhanced customer protection through increased transparency, improved professionalism, the streamlining of the code of ethics and adding to the Real Estate Council of Ontario’s ability to encourage compliance, and the creation of a stronger business environment including a potential specialist certification program. In addition, the new act permits real estate professionals to form personal real estate corporations so they will pay taxes at much lower corporate rates. It’s win-win all around, as it will make Ontario a North American leader in establishing professional standards for real estate professionals!

Things are happening quickly, so if you want to help make the “Trust in Real Estate Services Act 2019” a reality, you can contact your local MPP and ask that person to vote YES to Bill 145 www.REBBAReform.ca/action.html, and go onto social media and send emails to encourage others to contact their MPPs. To read the new act, visit The Legislative Assembly of Ontario at https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-42/session-1/bill-145

ALTUS GROUP STATS SHOW OCTOBER CONDO SALES ABOVE 10-YEAR AVERAGE

It is always exciting to read BILD’s posting of the Altus Group statistics. The numbers for October show that condo sales in the GTA accounted for 3,424 out of the total 4,720 new home sales. The result was 13 per cent above the 10-year average.

In addition, the benchmark price of new condominiums was up to $833,827, which is 7.5 per cent over the last 12 months. As I always say, condominiums are a great lifestyle and financial investment for both end-users and investors.

I also agree with BILD President and CEO David Wilkes, who applauds the provincial government’s commitment to achieving long-term balance in the housing market. He, I and many other new home professionals have been saying that the process to bringing new homes to market should be faster and easier in order to fill the demand and be fair to everyone involved. To read the entire press release about the statistics, visit https://bit.ly/2qBtlZ7

MY CONDO CRYSTAL BALL

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As a seasoned professional in the new condominium industry, I keep up with current trends, and I also think ahead to the new year. I have a few predictions for 2020.

2020 Predictions: more condo popularity in the GTA with low interest rates, job market strength, increased international and interprovincial migration; fewer balconies included in condos for more interior space; and more Zen-type areas to encourage enhanced wellness.
  • First, I predict a strong market for Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area next year, as mortgage interest rates are still amazingly low, the job market is strong, international immigration and interprovincial migration are on the increase, and there is a dearth of rental housing available. RBC’s Focus on Canadian Housing Report of September 25 states that in Toronto, the pace of rental supply will have to double to meet future demand. Condominium investors are critical to that process. The word from the agencies we deal with at Baker Real Estate Incorporated is that condominiums represent 60 per cent of new construction, and that percentage is growing.
  • I also see a shift coming in the way developers and purchasers look at balconies. Right now, having a personal outdoor space is a must for many buyers, and developers include as many balconies as the building design will allow for. With prices continually on the rise and square footages getting smaller, I believe people will prefer the square footage a balcony takes up to be put toward their interior layout instead. Keep in mind that the outdoor shared amenity spaces in today’s condos are extraordinary. This predicted trend is a reality in cities such as New York right now, where you do not get balconies in new condos, period.
  • There has been a lot of media attention recently to circadian rhythms – our sleep/wake cycles. When these are out of whack, we can experience insomnia, daytime sleepiness or both, putting us at greater risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. The trend toward including Zen gardens and meditation-type areas in new condos has started. I see more of this kind of shared space in the future, including the possibility of nap rooms in offices and work areas, to encourage mindfulness and enhanced health.

INTERGENERATIONAL LIVING IN CONDOS

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Long ago, multigenerational living, referred to recently as intergenerational living, was a way of life for Canadian families who shared accommodations. Culturally and internationally, this continues to be an accepted practice, and nowadays we see a lot of families with grown children opting to live in the same suite or different suites in the same building.

Baker Intergenerational Living

For example, some parents have their post-secondary education enrolled children live with them, rather than paying out for residence and room and board. These families save thousands to put toward their mortgages. Some millennials in the working world move back in with their parents to save money toward owning homes themselves. Another situation we see a lot of is parents helping their grown children purchase suites in the same condominium, often on different floors. Essentially, they live together, yet apart for convenience and privacy. The opposite happens when adult children purchase a suite in the same condo they live in for their aging parents, which makes helping to care for the older generation more convenient.

Whether it is one large suite for two or more generations, or two or more suites in the same building, condominium living can be the perfect answer to your lifestyle needs. As I love to say, GO CONDO!

TORONTO HIGH IN WORK-LIFE BALANCE WORLD RANKING

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Once again, the City of Toronto is racking up impressive world rankings in a number of areas. Recently, Toronto was chosen by KISI (https://bit.ly/2M6R6RH) as one of the top 40 cities in the world for Best Work-Life Balance 2019. The parameters of the study included Work Intensity, Society and Institutions, and City Livability. Toronto came in 13th out of the 40 cities considered.

Toronto ranked as one of the top 40 cities in the world for Best Work-Life Balance 2019

KISI is a mobile access technology company of keyless security experts. To conduct this study, they began by choosing in-demand metropolitan areas around the globe with “sufficient, reliable, and relevant datasets.” The ranking was based on an assessment of how much time people dedicate to their job, including commuting and working hours, along with several other considerations such as equal treatment, health and welfare programs, overall happiness, safety and access to leisure activities.

It is easy to understand why Toronto ranked high. Our city is a magnet for immigrants because of the quality of life we enjoy. The purpose of KISI’s study is to make municipalities and countries aware of how they can enhance the happiness and productivity of their residents. I agree – they can all take a lesson from Toronto!

TORONTO AND THE GTA LEADERS IN NORTH AMERICAN POPULATION GROWTH

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I have said it numerous times over the years: Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area continue to welcome new residents, so we have an ongoing need for new homes and condominiums. Never has that statement been more important, since the results of a recent study by Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development were released. Toronto is now the top-growing city in North America, having welcomed more than 77,000 new residents last year alone. In addition, the GTA is the second-fastest growing metropolitan area and is predicted to grow 40 per cent by the year 2041. That is only 22 years from now.  

Toronto is the top-growing city in North America; the GTA is the second-fastest growing metropolitan area and will grow 40 per cent by 2041.
Toronto is the top-growing city in North America; the GTA is the second-fastest growing metropolitan area and will grow 40 per cent by 2041.

The planning implications for the next two decades are astounding, especially when you consider the predicted rise in density. By 2066, the GTA’s density is estimated to climb from 4,000 people per square kilometer to more than 7,700 – that is nearly double. Building “up” rather than “out” is obvious. New condominiums are the answer to housing newcomers, and the industry is rising to the occasion. Last year, Toronto ranked first on the “Crane Index.” Plus, the Rider Levett Bucknall Crane Index reports that in July of this year, we had 120 active cranes in the city, ranking us as having the most real estate development on the continent. In the first quarter of this year, the number of new condo units under construction in the GTA reached over 70,000 for the first time ever.

Once again, condominiums lead the way in Toronto and the GTA!

NEW CONDO MARKET IN GTA STRONG IN SEPTEMBER

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Great news on the new home front! According to the Altus Group statistics released by BILD in September, a strong new home market in the GTA continued with total new home sales up 73 per cent from last September, and 6 per cent above the 10-year average. Condominium sales rose 39 per cent from last September and were also 6 per cent above the 10-year average. The benchmark (typical condo) price was up 6.5 per cent over the last 12 months.

September GTA stats show that condos remain a hot ticket! (Image of 11YV by  RioCan, Metropia, Capital Developments)
September GTA stats show that condos remain a hot ticket! (Image of 11YV by RioCan, Metropia, Capital Developments)

This is in keeping with the national trend occurring in home sales across Canada. The Canadian Real Estate Association reports that in September, sales in our large metropolitan areas increased 15.5 per cent from one year ago. The national average price for homes sold in September was up 5.3 per cent from September 2018. In addition, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s recently released annual forecast increased its housing starts estimate to 204,300 (4 per cent higher) for 2020 and predicts Toronto home prices will rise as much as 5 per cent next year.

Overall, the news is good, so if you are on the fence about purchasing a new condominium, it is time to take the jump and add a suite (or two or more) to your financial and/or lifestyle portfolios.

TORONTO NAMED 6th SAFEST CITY IN THE WORLD!

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Well, 2019 is turning out to be another banner year for Toronto, with more accolades piling up. The Economist Intelligent Unit’s 2019 Safe Cities Index recently ranked Toronto as the 6th Safest City in the World. Sponsored by NEC Corporation and subtitled “Urban security and resilience in an interconnected world,” the index ranks 60 cities across 57 indicators that cover security in the categories of digital, health, infrastructure and personal. Toronto was the only Canadian city, and one of only two North American cities ranked in the top 10.  

The Economist Intelligent Unit’s 2019 Safe Cities Index ranked Toronto as the 6th Safest City in the World (only Canadian city ranked in the top 10).

The Economist team conducts in-depth research to compile this list each year. By “urban resilience,” the report measures the ability of cities to handle and bounce back from disasters and other shocks. The genesis of this thinking is that as of now, 56 per cent of the earth’s population live in cities, and that by 2050, that number will rise to 68 per cent. The result is that urban management plays, and will continue to play, a key role in the quality of life of most of our population.

Certainly, Toronto’s relative safety compared to the rest of the world attracts immigrants who appreciate the already high quality of life we enjoy. Many, if not most, of these newcomers choose new condominiums for their homes of choice. To find out more about The Economist survey, visit https://safecities.economist.com/safe-cities-index-2019/

ONGOING CONDO DEMAND FUELED BY IMMIGRATION

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The 2016 Census showed that 17 per cent of all recent immigrants to Canada live in Toronto, and that if that trend continues, we would see nearly 170,000 immigrants moving into the city by 2020. According to the Canadian Government, Toronto has the highest per capita immigration rate in the world, and 43 per cent of all new immigrants to Canada settle in the Greater Toronto Area. The World Population Review posted that Toronto has the second-highest percentage of foreign-born residents of all world cities after Miami. The result is that immigration is at its highest peak in a generation, and Toronto’s population is inching up toward 3 million, making it the largest city in Canada by population. As I continually say, newcomers have to live somewhere.

43 per cent of all new immigrants to Canada settle in the GTA. You can understand why the demand for new-construction housing – especially condos – is strong on an ongoing basis. GO CONDO!

People who immigrate to Toronto and the GTA appreciate the high standard of living we enjoy, especially considering the conditions in some of the other countries in the world. They are also used to living in, and raising their families in, high-rise apartments. Condominiums are a natural choice for many newcomers. Add to that the fact that across Toronto and the GTA, condos represent the most attainable price points in the new home market, and between immigrants, first-time buyers and investors, are always in demand.


At Baker Real Estate Incorporated, we know that right out of the gate, our first sales are to investors who know that buying early in the process gets them the best prices and the most choice of suites, floors, etc. Of course, not everyone’s life falls in line with a five-year construction timetable – and the good news is that for those with an immediate need, there is plenty going on with new construction that is built and toward the end of the selling phase, as well as resale condos. The upshot is that there are condos out there for everyone at every stage of life. GO CONDO!