≈ Comments Off on 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.
≈ Comments Off on 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!
≈ Comments Off on 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!
≈ Comments Off on 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.
≈ Comments Off on 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.
With the hectic pace of life for most people nowadays, it is easy to understand why carefree condominium living is appealing to the masses. When combined with master-planning and mixed-use design, condos offer the opportunity to live, work, play and shop in the same community, which is even more desirable. That’s what master-planning is all about: urban design that usually includes residential, retail, office, commercial, green space and easy access to public transit. Residents can run errands, exercise in the outdoors, enjoy entertainment venues and possibly even work and/or attend college or university, all within walking distance.
Over the past several years, cities across North America have become home to a growing number of these residential scenarios. One thing we have learned from the blossoming of master-planned, mixed-use communities is that we need all those little shops we use to keep our lives together, such as small grocery stores, fresh green grocers, dry cleaners, hair salons and the like. Walkability is the crux of master-planning, and it is a true luxury to be able to stroll to these nearby amenities. Sometimes the residences in these communities are rental, as well as market condos, to embrace people of all walks of life.
Then again, even single condominiums in downtown Toronto are master-planned and mixed-use by virtue of location alone. Most new buildings feature retail venues on the ground floor and are close to a multitude of local amenities and services, including lovely green spaces. They may also be adjacent to office/commercial towers. And wherever you live in Toronto, you can be sure public transit access is close by. Whether urban or suburban, the condo lifestyle continues to be in demand in Toronto and throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
With economics driving condominium suite design to be more compact for affordability, and many young singles entering the new condo marketplace, developers have been ingenious about creating living spaces that “live” larger than their square footage. Open-concept main living areas flooded with natural light from large windows form a bright palette for owners to express their personality with the features and finishes they choose. Linear kitchens are so lovely these days that they are a true enhancement of these living/dining spaces.
By design, condo suites maximize space usage with the absence of long hallways. And it is not just young buyers who appreciate this practicality; empty-nesters moving from large “nests” often find they have more usable space than they did in their low-rise homes. Remember, too, that condominium amenities are extensions of living space that save space – and once the pandemic is over, condo residents will enjoy these areas once again. For example, there is no need to own exercise equipment when there are fitness facilities right in the building. Hosting large get-togethers in the party/multi-purpose room is a breeze. Whatever your age or family configuration, there is a condo out there that will satisfy all of your needs!
≈ Comments Off on YOUR CONDO CORPORATION AND YOUR LIFESTYLE
During these days of the pandemic, condominium residents are hearing a lot from the members of their condominium corporations about health and safety, especially in the lobby, corridors and other common areas. For example, there are limits to how many people can be inside an elevator at any given time. Of course, during the pandemic, the building amenities are not being used, but condo corporations are paying for extra cleaning and sanitizing services to these areas, as well as hallways, elevators and lobbies. Residents are expected to do their best to avoid the spread of COVID-19 as well.
This is only one aspect of the many responsibilities board members attend to. Among them are awarding contracts for building maintenance, hiring staff, setting up a code of conduct for residents, ensuring that the reserve fund remains ample for future repairs and determining amenity hours and use. The board members should be respected, as they are residents too, and have all suite owners’ interests at heart.
You might want to consider joining the condominium board of directors. For one thing, you have a say in the way things are done – and everything is done to protect residents’ and their guests’ comfort, safety and privacy. Keep in mind, as well, that board members often become friends. Typically, they come from a variety of fascinating backgrounds. In addition, the duties are interesting, and everyone on the board wants things to run as smoothly as possible. Even when no pandemic is affecting our lives, condo residents are all in this together!
This is another reminder that real estate was deemed an essential service by the Ontario Government, so we have been selling through the pandemic. Yes, life is different, as we are doing everything via the Internet, email, phone and virtual presentations – but this is a very different scenario from the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Back then, real estate practically came to a standstill for months on end. Nowadays, we have wonderful technology to help us carry on business.
Condominiums, as usual, are still in demand from purchasers of all ages and walks of life. Baker Real Estate is selling across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, and I am delighted to say that sales are surprisingly robust. Even in this unusual situation, people have to, or want to buy because of leases ending, job relocations, families expanding, nests emptying, etc. Thankfully, our industry has not been hit as hard as some others. If you have thought about purchasing a condo, now is the time to do it. You will still have great choices, and prices are likely to keep rising as supply diminishes. GO CONDO!
≈ Comments Off on LOW MORTGAGE RATES FUELING THE FURNACE FOR FUTURE NEW CONDO SALES
Recent announcements by the Bank of Canada have resulted in historically low mortgage interest rates once again. On March 4, the target for the overnight rate was lowered to 1¼ per cent. On March 27, the overnight rate was lowered by 50 basis points to 0.25 per cent. And in April, the target for the overnight rate at 0.25 per cent was maintained. Bank of Canada considers that the effective lower bound, which means lowering it further would be counterproductive.
What does this mean for real estate when the market starts to open up again? For new condominiums, we entered this pandemic situation with demand exceeding supply. The pent-up demand will undoubtedly spur tremendous interest – especially in order to take advantage of the remarkably low interest rates. We will also see competition for this business among our banks. If a new condo is on your horizon, you would do well to shop now before the rush. Remember, at Baker Real Estate, we are open for business, and we can help you to shop and make your purchase “virtually.” Now is a great time to GO CONDO!