Monday, November 28, 2016

GTA high-rise sales breaking records

Sales of high-rise homes in the GTA are set to break records in 2016 according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

So far this year there have been 20,596 new high-rise sales in the Greater Toronto Area, accounting for 60 per cent of all new home sales in the area up to the end of September. There were 14,140 low-rise sales.

Tight supply has seen prices continue to rise sharply with new homes averaging $992,231 in September, up 22 per cent from a year earlier. For low-rise, prices averaged 486,605, up 10 per cent year-over-year; new detached homes averaged $1,194,771.

"We have a serious housing supply challenge in the GTA due to a significant shortage of shovel ready land and long and uncertain project approval timelines," BILD president and CEO Bryan Tuckey said. "These factors are severely restricting the number of new homes being brought to market and are causing prices to surge month after month."

Supply of new homes dropped 10,000 in the past year.

Foreign buyers have limited power in GTA condo market as sales soar

Foreign buyers play a limited part in condo sales activity in the Greater Toronto Area but investors play a key role in the market according to a new report from Urbanation.

It found that just 5 per cent of sales that have occurred within projects currently in active development across the GTA were to foreign buyers while 52 per cent were to domestic investors.

“The results of this very important survey show a rather limited role of foreign buyers in the GTA new condo market and a very significant overall share of investors,” said Shaun Hildebrand, Urbanation’s Senior Vice President.

In projects where foreign buyers are involved, their share ranges from 1 to 25 per cent of units with domestic investors picking up between 5 and 90 per cent.

Urbanation’s figures show that there were 6,677 new condo sales in the third quarter of 2016, up 73 per cent from the same period of 2015. Total unsold inventory was down by 33 per cent to 11,485 representing 5.2 months of supply.

“The pace of new condo development has fallen well below the level of demand this year. Given the low prevailing amount of available supply and diverse range of buyers, the recent mortgage insurance rule changes are anticipated to have a somewhat limited effect on market conditions for condos in the near term,” said Hildebrand.

Rental market tightens in GTA

There was a 17.3 per cent drop in condo apartments available to rent in the Greater Toronto Area in third quarter of 2016 compared to a year earlier, Toronto Real Estate Board says.

“Demand remains very strong for condominium apartments in the Greater Toronto Area. The key issue in the third quarter was the fact that there was a pronounced decline in the number of units available for rent,” said Larry Cerqua, TREB president, adding that fewer new developments became available to investors in the quarter.

The number of signed lease agreements through the board’s system was down 4.8 per cent while rents increased sharply; a 1-bedroom apartment averaged $1,777, up 7.2 per cent; a 2-bedroom apartment averaged $2,419, up 7.9 per cent.

Monday, November 7, 2016

September Monthly Resale Housing Market Figures

Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 9,902 sales through TREB’s MLS® System in September 2016. This result was up by 21.5 per cent compared to September 2015.

For the region as a whole, strong annual rates of sales growth were experienced for all major home types.  The pace of detached sales growth was slower in the City of Toronto and the number of semi-detached sales was down compared to last year.  In both cases, the year-over-year dip in new listings was likely the issue.

“We continued to see strong demand for ownership housing up against a short supply of listings in the Greater Toronto Area in September.  The sustained lack of inventory in many neighbourhoods across the GTA continued to underpin high rates of price growth for all home types,” said Mr. Cerqua.

Both the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark and the average selling price for all home types combined were up strongly on a year-over-year basis in September.  The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark grew by 18 per cent compared to September 2015.  The average selling price was up by 20.4 per cent to $755,755.  It is important to remember that the MLS® HPI provides a price growth measure for a benchmark home, thereby allowing for an apples-to-apples comparison from one year to the next.  The average selling price can be influenced by changes in both market conditions and the mix of homes sold.

“The Toronto Real Estate Board will be closely monitoring how the recent changes to Federal mortgage lending guidelines and capital gains tax exemption rules impact the housing market in the Greater Toronto Area.  While these changes are pointed at the demand for ownership housing, it is important to note that much of the upward pressure on home prices in the GTA has been based on the declining inventory of homes available for sale,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

10 home maintenance tips for this fall

Use these ten easy fall maintenance projects to keep your house in peak condition through the winter.

1. Inspect your roof

When fall's rains (and winter's snows) arrive, few things make the season more miserable than a leaky roof.

Experts recommend doing a visual inspection of your roof, either from the ground with binoculars or heading up there with a ladder. Look for bent, cracked or missing shingles and replace them. 

If there are a lot of those, and you know your roof is old, consider having it replaced. It may be costly, but so is water damage from leaks.

While you're up there, DIY Network recommends paying special attention to areas around skylights, chimneys or vents.

2. Check your roof gutters

When the leaves are done falling, you'll save a lot of hassle by pulling out the ladder again and clearing out your roof gutters.

Clogged or clear, the water from fall and early winter rains won't stop coming. Clearing the gutters allows rainwater to drain properly through your downspouts, rather than spilling over the sides and potentially getting into your home's foundation.

For a less-gunky job, wait for dryer weather to clear out the dried leaves.

And speaking of downspouts, check them for leaks, and make sure they direct water away from the foundation, not to mention pathways and driveways.

3. Put your barbecue to bed

At some point, you'll have to accept that the season for grilling is over.

Take the cool down as a reminder to clean the barbecue's grills and burners, as well as disconnect the tank and store it somewhere safe.

Don't forget to guard against moisture by either covering your barbecue up or putting it out of the elements.

4. Clear your yard

You won't be getting much use out of your backyard, so fall is a good time to remove things that won't do well when the snows come.

Move or cover backyard furniture that you know won't react well to the cold and snow.

Your lawnmower doesn't like those conditions either, so move all outdoor tools inside.

5. Disconnect your outdoor hose

While your home's warmth may insulate water in pipes from the cold rigors of Canada's winter, outside faucets have no such protection.

Turn water off to outdoor faucets, and disconnect and store your garden hose as well. Make sure to run the tap after to drain as much of the water out before the cold sets in.

6. Inspect your home's exterior for cracks

Fall is the best time to do this, not just because of fall rains and winter snows, but with an eye to the spring melt as well.

Walk around and have a look for cracks or gaps. Take a good look at doors, windows, and entry points of wires or cables. Sealing these off will save you headaches later.

Don't delay too long in doing so, as caulking is best done before it gets too cold.

7. Get ready to turn up the heat

You've prepped the outside of your home against the rigors of the cold, now it's time to focus on keeping the interior toasty.

Change out the air filter on your furnace (and stock up on spares), and call in an inspector to give the system a once-over, as well as check for signs of carbon monoxide buildup.

Next, check all your heating ducts and vents for dust build-up, and peek inside to see if anything fell into them over the past season. Every bit of extra clearance helps.

8. Guard against drafts

Having a warm home isn't much of a boon if you're losing heat through poor insulation.

Check your window and door seals for drafts when the weather gets cool enough. Seal any cracks with caulk or weather stripping.

9. Check your humidifier

Winter air is dry, and that has its own effects on your home's infrastructure.

If your home is equipped with a humidifier, it'll need annual maintenance as well. Clean out the filter, or replace it if it's too encrusted. Give the equipment as a whole a good cleaning also.

10. Give a thought to home safety

While you're giving your home its seasonal overhaul, take the time to make sure it's safe for its inhabitants.

Check your smoke detectors to see if they are in working order (you should have one on each floor), and check your fire extinguisher. If you need to replace it, now's a good time to do so.

Winter blackouts are a fact of life in Canada, so if you own an emergency generator, test it out (but be sure not to do so in an enclosed area, as fume build up can be hazardous or deadly).

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Countries with the highest house price growth

New research from property consultancy Frank Knight places Turkey atop its Global House Price Index, which tracks countries’ average house price growth.

The latest data compared the second quarter of 2016 to the previous year.
  1. Turkey 12-month percentage change: 13.9
  2. New Zealand 12-month percentage change: 11.2
  3. Canada 12-month percentage change: 10
  4. Chile 12-month percentage change: 9.4
  5. Sweden 12-month percentage change: 8.9
  6. Malta 12-month percentage change: 8.8
  7. Austria 12-month percentage change: 8.1
  8. Iceland 12-month percentage change: 8.1
  9. Mexico 12-month percentage change: 8.0
  10. Germany 12-month percentage change: 7.9

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Get used to Low Interest Rates & Rate Announcement by Bank of Canada

The Bank of Canada announced in September that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent.
Get used to low interest rates, slow growth

Good news and bad news for homeowners; low interest rates are set to be around for a while but the Canadian economy is likely to remain sluggish.

Speaking at a conference in the UK, the Bank of Canada’s senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins said that weakness in the global economy poses a risk to Canadian growth with low interest rates and slow growth damaging corporate investments and impacting the labour market.

Additionally, she said that “households could experience longer and more frequent periods of shrinking incomes, making their debts more burdensome.”

The low cost of borrowing may also encourage greater credit risks with potential damage to the financial system.
Ms. Wilkins urged lenders and the wider population to “adapt to the new reality of lower potential growth.”

Low interest rates are here to stay: Poloz

The governor of the Bank of Canada has warned Canadians that low interest rates are here for the long term, affecting retirement plans and business investment.

For homeowners, it should mean mortgage rates remain low for many years however low rates won’t help housing affordability, especially for first-time buyers.

Stephen Poloz also warned that low interest rates could impact business investment which in turn could have a negative effect on the labour market.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Supply is central to price growth in Canadian real estate

A comprehensive report released few weeks ago argued that contrary to the popular notion of foreign demand as the prime mover of price growth in Canada’s real estate markets, the dearth of housing supply is primarily to blame.

In its September 23 news release, Fortress Real Developments pointed out that the drastic reduction in the supply of single-detached housing in Canada over the past few years coincided with the acceleration of growth in average home prices across the country.

“Municipalities pushed right against the Greenbelt like Aurora, King City, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville are experiencing a shortage of single-detached homes, and high price growth,” according to the press brief, which was released via Canada NewsWire.

“Until recently, the lack of residential unit supply has rarely been discussed as a factor influencing high house prices,” the news release added. “Factors that lead to a decreased housing supply include vehicle transportation and commuting, bodies of water and natural boundaries, obstructive planning policies and disruptive taxes.”

Other possible influences are advocacies preventing the smart usage of more land, Fortress explained.

“Anti-development groups have been successful in reducing housing supply, while driving up the values of their homes.”

Rarely have supply-side aspects like development costs, environmental protection, urban containment, and undue regulation been discussed, according to Fortress senior vice president of market research and analytics Ben Myers.

“For the sake of homeowners and potential home buyers, both demand and supply must be part of any debate going forward by governments looking to improve the short and long term health of the Canadian housing market,” Meyers stated.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Doubling up" on the rise in red-hot markets

More and more consumers in Vancouver and Toronto are purchasing and moving to new properties even as they continue to maintain ownership of their old homes, taking advantage of the unprecedented demand in these overheated markets.

“In essence, their old principal residence becomes an investment property — one they hope will deliver some income but more importantly will lead to massive capital appreciation,” real estate reporter and long-time markets observer Garry Marr wrote for the Financial Post.

While definite figures have yet to be collated, TD Bank associate vice president of real estate secured lending Pat Giles stated that “doubling up” in an increasingly common practice not only in Canada’s leading markets, but all throughout the country as well.

“I don’t have the numbers behind it, but I can tell you anecdotally, we have seen many customers considering income properties, and that’s probably not surprising given the low interest rate environment we are in,” Giles said.

“It’s still a very small portion. But in the low-rise market the potential for speculating or flipping is high. When prices rise, people take risks,” CIBC World Markets deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal agreed.

A major driver of the phenomenon is the prevailing environment of home price growth, which facilitates generous profits for flippers. In August, Vancouver saw a 36 per cent year-over-year rise in the average price of detached homes, while Toronto experienced a 21.5 per cent increase in the same property type over the same time frame.

However, while going for this option might seem reasonable in light of the current fiscal climate, Scotiabank vice president of real estate secured lending Janet Boyle said that it’s not for everyone.

“Having an investment property is a lot of work. There’s upkeep, you have to stay current, municipal regulations, just a variety of things to consider,” Boyle cautioned.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ontario home sales set new August record

Residential sales activity reported through the MLS® Systems of real estate Boards and Associations in Ontario numbered 22,350 units in August 2016, an increase of 17.2 per cent from a year earlier.

This was the highest August sales figure on record, smashing the old record set back in 2016 by 16.6 per cent.

Nationally, home sales activity rose 10.2 per cent from year-ago levels in August 2016, boosted most by the year-over-year increase in Greater Toronto.

Provincial year-to-date home sales were running 9.3 per cent above the first eight months of 2015. The 173,896 homes that have traded hands so far this year put 2016 well on track to set a new annual record.

The provincial average price for homes sold in August 2016 was $518,586, rising 16.2 per cent from a year earlier.

The national average price, by comparison, rose 5.4 per cent on a year-over-year basis to $456,722.

The year-to-date average price for Ontario was $527,278, rising 13.2 per cent from a year earlier.

New listings on the MLS® Systems of real estate boards in Ontario numbered 28,562 units in August, a decrease of 3.2 per cent from a year earlier.

Active residential listings numbered 46,359 units at the end of August, down 31.4 per cent from one year earlier. Supply has now fallen to the lowest level in over a decade.

There were just 2.1 months of inventory at the end of August 2016, down from 3.6 months at the same time one year ago and below the long-run average for this time of year. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

The value of all home sales in the province totalled $11.6 billion in August 2016, an increase of 36.2 per cent from August 2015. This was the highest level of any August on record and the first August to surpass $10 billion.

The dollar volume of all home sales in Canada was up 16.2 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

Sales of all property types in Ontario numbered 23,727 units in August, up 18 per cent from August 2015. The value of those sales amounted to $11.9 billion, rising 36.5 per cent from a year earlier.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

GTA on course for high-rise sales record

Sales of high-rise homes in the Greater Toronto Area are on course to hit a whole-year record in 2016 with year-to-date sales already the highest ever.
The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) says that 17,949 high-rise homes sold by the end of August, 1,880 in August alone according to Altus Group data.

“Our industry is building to government intensification policy and we are building at least as many high-rise homes as low-rise homes,” said BILD President and CEO Bryan Tuckey. “The supply of low-rise homes – especially single family detached homes – has plummeted in the years since the Growth Plan was introduced, but demand for those types of homes has not diminished. As a result, prices have increased dramatically.”

That low-rise inventory (including single- family detached, semi-detached and townhomes) was just 1,379 in August and average price hit a record $931,506, up 16 per cent year-over-year. For just single-family homes the average in August hit $1.16 million.

High rise home prices averaged $480,914, another record and 7 per cent higher than a year earlier. Supply was down with 14,600 units available as August is traditionally a slow month for starts.

“Demand and prices of high-rise homes are also starting to climb as more people are priced out of the low-rise market,” Tuckey said. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Monthly Resale Housing Market Figures

Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported a record 9,813 sales through TREB’s MLS® System in August 2016.

While this sales result was 23.5 per cent above the number of transactions reported for August 2015, it is important to note that the majority of sales are reported on working days and there were two additional working days in August 2016 compared to 2015. When the year-over-year discrepancy in working days is accounted for, the annual percentage change in sales is closer to 13 per cent.

“The conditions underlying strong demand for ownership housing remained in place, including a relatively strong regional economy, growth in average earnings and low borrowing costs. Unfortunately, we did not see any relief on the listings front, with the number of new listings down compared to last year. This situation continued to underpin very strong home price growth, irrespective of home type or area,” said Mr. Cerqua.

The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark for August 2016 was up by 17.2 per cent on a year-over-year basis. Similarly, the average selling price for all home types combined was up by 17.7 per cent on an annual basis to $710,410. Both the MLS® HPI benchmarks and average prices for low-rise home types were up by double digits percentage-wise.

“Population in the GTA continues to grow. The resulting growth in households coupled with favourable economic conditions and low borrowing costs means that we remain on track for another record year for home sales. Against this backdrop, TREB will also be releasing new third-party research, and consumer and REALTOR® survey results throughout the fall and winter, with discussions focusing on foreign buying activity and issues affecting the supply of ownership housing,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ontario to introduce regulations for home inspections

Ontario said it plans to start licensing home inspectors in the province as part of legislation that could be passed as early as this fall.

Minister of Government and Consumer Services Marie-France Lalonde said the province plans to introduce laws that would establish minimum standards for home inspections, including the type of information that inspectors would be required to disclose to home buyers and the language inspectors are allowed to use in their contracts. The government said it also plans to create an independent administrative authority to licence the province’s more than 1,500 home inspectors.

“These changes would ensure consumers benefit from quality advice, are protected from surprise costs and aware of safety issues before buying a home,” the province said in a news release. “This will also create a level playing field for the home inspection industry, preventing inspectors with little or no training from competing with qualified professionals by offering lower rates.”

Home inspectors are one of the few professionals tied to Ontario’s real estate industry that are not licensed or regulated, even though nearly 65 per cent of all homes sold on the resale market in Ontario are inspected each year, according to government estimates.

Currently, home inspectors are governed by a patchwork of different industry organizations, each with their own training programs and accreditation standards, although industry associations have urged the government to introduce rules that would apply to all inspectors.

Ontario has been examining the issue of licensing home inspectors since 2013, when the idea was among 35 recommendations made by an expert panel the province created to study ways to strengthen consumer protection in the housing market.

Liberal MPP Han Dong introduced a private members’ bill in February that sought to license the industry, prompting the government to announce plans to draft its own legislation.

If the legislation passes, Ontario would join B.C. and Alberta as the only provinces in Canada to regulate the home-inspection industry. The B.C. government announced earlier this year that it planned to tighten its regulations governing home inspectors, including requiring inspectors to have liability insurance, introducing stricter rules around record-keeping and banning contracts that limit an inspectors’ liability.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

GTA Condo supply slides to decade low

The supply of new condos in the Greater Toronto Area hit the lowest level since 2010 in the second quarter of 2016.

A report from Urbanation shows that sales of condos in the GTA increased 26 per cent year-over-year to 7,731.
However, the total inventory declined by the same percentage to 13,528, a decade-low of 6.8 months of supply.
New project launches were down 9 per cent from the previous year to 5,106 units.

“With demand for condos in the GTA pressing forward strongly, new projects are being challenged to enter the market in greater volume. Should current conditions persist, price pressures for high-rise units can be expected to build, particularly as low-rise housing remains afflicted by record-low supply” said Shaun Hildebrand, Urbanation’s Senior Vice President.

Prices increased 2 per cent year-over-year to $582 per square foot across the GTA but in the core they were up 4 per cent to $662 psf. In the City of Toronto prices were up 7 per cent to 724 psf. Resale prices increased 10 per cent to $498 psf.

Monday, September 26, 2016

GTA low-rise average price grows by more than $100K

In its August 22 data release, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) revealed that the average price of a low-rise home in Toronto has increased by more than $100,000 year-over-year in July, stoking fears that the affordability situation in the city’s residential real estate segment is well and truly out of control.

Mississauga News reported that the average price of new detached and semi-detached homes in the Greater Toronto Area last month swelled by around 12 per cent compared to the same time last year, up to $906,508.

A corresponding increase was also seen in high-rise home prices in the city, which rose by 7 per cent year-over-year to $475,764.

Scarcity is the major motivating factor in these increases, according to BILD president and CEO Bryan Tuckey.

“Provincial intensification policies, delays in the approvals process and a lack of serviced developable land in the GTA has reduced the amount of new homes coming to the market,” Tuckey stated.

“The industry’s biggest challenge is bringing enough new homes to market to satisfy demand,” he added. “Projects are being sold as soon as they come to market, which is driving up prices and reducing choice for new-home purchasers.”

Recent data supported Tuckey’s observation: Over the past decade, the supply of new homes in the GTA has shrunk by 41 per cent, from 29,238 in 2006 to 17,213 today.

A recent analysis conducted by real estate brokerage TheRedPin found that a household needs to earn a sufficient amount to cover the average $124,153 required annually to own a home in the overheated Toronto market. First-time home buyers are especially hit hard by this prohibitive price barrier, the study noted.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Foundation Cracks

Houses, no matter what their age, will shift and settle over time resulting in cracks. Cracks may appear in either finishes or structural components. Though they usually have no structural significance, it's worth some detective work to help homeowners understand the difference between different types of foundation cracks. Here are some visual guidelines:

Shrinkage Cracks
Concrete shrinks as it cures, so a newly-poured concrete foundation may develop small vertical cracks. Known as shrinkage cracks, they are not structurally significant. Characteristics of shrinkage cracks include the following:
  • The crack will be small and vertical, usually less than 1/8" wide.
  • The crack is in the foundation wall only and does not extend up through the structure.
  • Shrinkage cracks usually occur in the middle third of the length of the foundation wall. If it's located toward the end of the length of the foundation wall, it is probably not a shrinkage crack.
Settlement Cracks
Like shrinkage cracks, settlement cracks are vertical but they extend up through the structure. In block or brick, cracks may follow the mortar joints in a step pattern rather than vertical. Most settlement cracks are caused by short-term settlement. Ongoing settlement is uncommon but can cause structural problems over time. Here are some ways to get an idea of whether ongoing settlement is likely:

Crack size: Settlement cracks more than 1/4" wide is more likely to indicate ongoing movement than smaller cracks.

Direction of movement: The edges of a typical settlement crack line up and fit together vertically, much like pieces of a puzzle. If the edges of the crack have shifted, or sheared, so that they no longer line up, the 1/4" rule described above does not apply. This type of crack can be a significant structural concern.

Repaired and re-cracked: Unless it is a hairline crack, a settlement crack that was repaired and has re-cracked could also indicate ongoing movement and should be addressed.

Horizontal Cracks - Basement Foundation Wall
In homes with true basements, a horizontal crack in the foundation wall, below grade and running the full length of the basement is likely a sign of foundation failure. For a house with a full basement, the soil outside the foundation wall exerts a tremendous amount of pressure on the foundation wall. Occasionally, unanticipated additional loads exert pressure and cause horizontal cracking in the foundation wall. Do not wait to address this potential issue as it could cause much greater problems down the line, including structural failure.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Low Rise Homes in Toronto and GTA doubled in a decade

Low rise homes in the Greater Toronto Area have more than doubled in price in the past decade; average appreciation in the past year alone was $100,000.

The average price of a new low-rise home hit $887,543 in June, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) reports; that’s more than double the average $393,398 in June 2006.

High-rise prices have also increased of course but the figures are more modest. The average in June 2016 was $469,516, up 6 per cent from a year earlier and 1.5 times the average price in June 2006.

The BILD report also highlights the significant drop in the supply of new homes in 2016 compared to 2006 with overall inventory at 18,427 compared to 29,968, in 2006. This drop was only slight for high-rise homes (down to 16,363 from 16,560 in 2006) but for low-rise inventory plummeted from 13,408 in 2006 to a near-record low of just 2,064.

"Supply of new low-rise homes has declined dramatically in the last 10 years due to government policy and lack of available serviced land," commented Michelle Noble, BILD Vice President of Marketing and Communications. said. "Demand for ground-related homes is far outpacing supply, with some projects selling out just hours after launching.”

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Monthly Resale Housing Market Figures in GTA

Toronto Real Estate Board President Larry Cerqua announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 12,794 residential transactions through TREB’s MLS® System in June 2016. This result was 7.5 per cent higher than the 11,905 sales reported in June 2015.

“As I start my term as TREB President, we are certainly in an interesting environment for ownership housing. There is no doubt that demand is at a record level, but would-be home buyers continue to face an uphill battle against a constrained supply of listings, which has perpetuated strong price growth. Buyers and sellers alike continue to benefit from the value a REALTOR® brings to a transaction,” said Mr. Cerqua.

“As the federal, provincial and local levels of government discuss housing policy in the coming months, issues affecting the lack of supply in the GTA should be of paramount importance. TREB will be undertaking, and making public, results of additional research in the second half of 2016, with the goal of proactively adding to the housing policy discussion,” added Mr. Cerqua.

The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 16 per cent on a year- over-year basis. The average selling price for all home types combined was up by a slightly higher annual rate of 16.8 per cent to $746,546. The single-detached, semi- detached and townhouse market segments led the way in terms of price growth.

“When TREB surveyed consumer intentions for 2016, we found that the majority of GTA households who were likely to purchase a home continued to be pointed towards some form of ground oriented housing.  This is why we continue to see strong competition between buyers in many neighbourhoods where supply remains constrained,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Each Canadian household to spend around $13,000 on renovations in 2016

Canadian homeowners are projected to spend an average of $13,017 per household on renovations and home improvements this year, according to the latest poll by CIBC.

In a June 22 press release, CIBC announced that around 37 per cent of those surveyed are planning renovations and improvements for their properties in 2016, a decline from the proportion of homeowners who undertook such projects last year (40 per cent).

54 per cent of the respondents said that they would focus on basic maintenance, while 42 per cent indicated a greater interest in updating their landscaping (including elements such as patios and decks).

Meanwhile, only 33 per cent would be renovating their bathrooms, and 26 per cent would be improving kitchens.

“The [CIBC poll] findings show that Canadians are focused on outdoor projects,” HGTV's Income Property host Scott McGillivray said.

“Spending more on the outdoors may not necessarily be the first option when it comes to return on investment, however you should never underestimate the value of curb appeal,” he added. “If you've already taken care of the big hitters inside the home and have the renovation funds, why not turn your attention to outdoor projects?”

However, while fully 52 per cent of Canadian homeowners surveyed said that they are primarily concerned with spending too much, only 34 per cent said that they already have their respective budgets prepared.

When it comes to improving one’s home, possibly for future selling, a circumspect approach in the financial aspect would never hurt, CIBC officials said.

“It's critical to stay on budget as it is easy to lose control of your spending if you don't have a detailed and comprehensive plan,” CIBC vice president for mortgages and lending Barry Gollom said.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Stay Cool, Save Money

Summer's heat is less welcome inside the home than out. Air conditioning is the first way many people think of to cool off, but there are other steps homeowners can take to help keep cool without the high energy consumption associated with air conditioning.

Close the window coverings on south- and west-facing sides of the home early in the morning and keep them closed until dusk. If the outside-facing sides of the window coverings are white, they'll reflect the heat and reduce temperature buildup even more. Use ceiling fans to move air around, which will make the room seem several degrees cooler. Be sure to adjust the rotation of the fan to its summer setting, so that the air blows down into the room. Portable fans are effective, inexpensive, and convenient, and can be placed almost anywhere additional air circulation is desired.

In the kitchen, give the stove a rest and use the microwave or outdoor grill whenever possible. Run the dishwasher at night and set it for non-heated drying. Similarly, laundry can be done early in the morning or in the evening instead of at the height of the day's heat. For both dishes and laundry, wash full loads. You'll save on energy and the house will stay cooler, too, since the appliances will run less often.

Turn off unnecessary lights, even CFLs, everywhere in the house. Use power strips for computers, televisions, etc. and switch them off when those items aren't being used. "Smart" power strips have a combination of always-on outlets and switchable outlets, allowing some items plugged into the strip to stay on while others are shut off.

If air conditioning is warranted, there are ways to maximize cooling without lowering the temperature setting unnecessarily. Positioning a fan near a window air conditioner will help distribute the cool air over a larger area. Providing shade can help an outside central air conditioner compressor use less energy. Also, be sure to clean or change filters according to the manufacturer's instructions to help ensure your unit is running at its best. If you're considering a new air conditioner, look for models with the Energy Star label. Newer air conditioners are far more efficient than units just 8-10 years old. Using an inexpensive programmable thermostat with your air conditioning system is another good way to regulate the temperature throughout the day, especially while no one is at home.

These simple ideas will help homeowners save money, prevent wasted energy, and stay cool and comfortable all summer long.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Highs and lows of GTA housing market

New figures show wide disparity between the low-rise and high-rise housing markets in the Greater Toronto Area as tighter supply in the low-rise sector curbs sales.

Sales of high-rise homes soared in May to a near-record high of 3,623; only November 2011 saw a higher volume of monthly sales for high-rise condos.

Meanwhile, there was a record low for the inventory of low-rise homes with just 1,985 properties available for sale, the first time inventory has dropped below 2,000 for new detached, semi-detached and townhomes.

The data, from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), reveals that total inventory (19,209) is around 10,000 lower than a decade ago but that availability for high-rise (17,224) is up almost 3,000.

"The industry is following the Province's Growth Plan intensification policies which emphasize high-rise development in the GTA," said BILD President and CEO Bryan Tuckey. "Nine out of 10 of the new homes available for sale in the GTA are high-rise and mid-rise condominiums."

The tight supply of low-rise homes pushed the average price in this category to a record high in May - $875,174 – while detached homes averaged $1.125 million, having surpassed the million-dollar mark in March.

High-rise homes edged 3 per cent higher year-over-year to an average $454,304 with the price per square foot also 3 per cent higher at $573.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Each Canadian household to spend around $13,000 on renovations in 2016

Canadian homeowners are projected to spend an average of $13,017 per household on renovations and home improvements this year, according to the latest poll by CIBC.
In a June 22 press release, CIBC announced that around 37 per cent of those surveyed are planning renovations and improvements for their properties in 2016, a decline from the proportion of homeowners who undertook such projects last year (40 per cent).
54 per cent of the respondents said that they would focus on basic maintenance, while 42 per cent indicated a greater interest in updating their landscaping (including elements such as patios and decks).
Meanwhile, only 33 per cent would be renovating their bathrooms, and 26 per cent would be improving kitchens.
“The [CIBC poll] findings show that Canadians are focused on outdoor projects,” HGTV's Income Property host Scott McGillivray said.
“Spending more on the outdoors may not necessarily be the first option when it comes to return on investment, however you should never underestimate the value of curb appeal,” he added. “If you've already taken care of the big hitters inside the home and have the renovation funds, why not turn your attention to outdoor projects?”
However, while fully 52 per cent of Canadian homeowners surveyed said that they are primarily concerned with spending too much, only 34 per cent said that they already have their respective budgets prepared.
When it comes to improving one’s home, possibly for future selling, a circumspect approach in the financial aspect would never hurt, CIBC officials said.
“It's critical to stay on budget as it is easy to lose control of your spending if you don't have a detailed and comprehensive plan,” CIBC vice president for mortgages and lending Barry Gollom said.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Toronto House Prices Are Rising By $550 A Day

That breaks down to price growth of $16,820 per month, or roughly $550 per day.

That’s for single detached homes in the city itself. The average price for all home types in Greater Toronto rose by $104,000 in a year, to $739,082, up about 16.3 per cent in a year.

Condo owners aren’t seeing nearly the same rate of growth, though. Condo prices in the city rose 7 per cent, to $436,545, and in the suburban 905 region they rose 7.8 per cent, to $343,439.

So if you own a condo in Toronto, you’re seeing price growth of $2,411 per month, or “just” $79.26 per day.

Supply shortage as owners keep homes off market

Toronto set yet another all-time home-sales record in April, TREB said, but said sales “could have been even higher if we had benefitted from more supply.”

There were four per cent fewer detached home sales in Toronto this April than last, TREB said. Faced with a shrinking supply of family homes, Torontonians are turning to those less-lucrative condo properties, sales of which are up 17.4 per cent in a year.

TREB says Torontonians are choosing not to list their homes “because of the second substantial Land Transfer Tax and associated administration fee.”

But a recent Re/Max report suggested some different reasons for why people are taking their homes off the market: Some are waiting for even higher sale prices later on, while others are afraid of becoming homebuyers in such a competitive market.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Gear Up For Summer

Summer will be here before you know it, and we're definitely glad about that. And now is a great time to get your home in top shape for the months ahead. Whatever your weather, caring for your home now will help to ensure a worry-free, comfortable summer. Follow a few of these tips each week and you'll be done in no time. 

  • Inspect siding for cracks and make any needed repairs.
  • If paint is peeling, cracking, or chipped, repair and repaint now to limit damage to the underlying materials.
  • Remove window screens and clean them with a soft brush and soapy water. Rinse well and allow them to dry in the sun. Repair any holes or tears, or replace the screen material before reinstalling. It's a fairly easy DIY job to replace the screening, or you can check to see if your local hardware store offers this service.
  • Have your air conditioning unit serviced to ensure good operation. Promote air circulation around the unit by keeping surrounding shrubs and plants trimmed.
  • Clear debris from gutters and eaves to allow rainwater to drain properly.
  • Seal cracks in the driveway and keep walkways clear of debris and overgrown plants.
  • Test irrigation and sprinkler systems and replace any broken sprinkler heads or emitters. Check for proper water coverage and adjust if necessary.
  • Power wash decks and patios and seal surfaces as appropriate.

  • Vacuum or brush off refrigerator coils to help maintain energy efficiency. Depending on your model, the coils will be located either on the bottom or on the back of the appliance.
  • Empty dehumidifier pans and clean hoses according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • If possible, take area rugs outside and hang them over a deck or porch rail to air out.
  • Adjust ceiling fans for proper balance and change the rotation to the summer setting. While you're at it, give the unit a good dusting to avoid blowing dust around the room.
  • Switch out heavy bedding for lightweight summer fabrics. Have the winter bedding cleaned before storing it away for the season. 
  • Close the chimney flue to prevent insects from entering and to help keep cool air in during the months ahead.
  • Repot houseplants to give their roots a fresh start for the summer.
  • Check door and cabinet hinges and lubricate any that stick or squeak.
  • Open windows even on cooler days to get fresh air flowing throughout the home.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

$3 million benchmark price for a single family home in Toronto in 10 years if trends remain

As one of Canada’s best performing real estate market for several years now, Toronto has seen home prices grow to new levels.

As one of Canada’s best performing real estate market for several years now, Toronto has seen home prices grow to new levels.

Within a decade, however, these concerns might prove moot as benchmark costs could go as high as $3 million for each single-family home if present trends do not change, according to an analysis by Daniel Tencer and Jesse Ferreras of HuffPost Canada.

Taking current price growth rates into account, the duo’s predictions noted that the baseline price of a house in Toronto would be sitting between $2.26 million and $3.582 million by 2026.

Even going from a condo to a single-family home would become nigh-unaffordable for a significant proportion of would-be buyers within a decade.

"In Toronto today, upgrading from an average condo to an average house costs $758,000. By 2026, it will cost between $1.68 million and $2.95 million. Good luck."

The HuffPost analysts said that while continuous growth in the next ten years is unlikely, "The point of this is not to scare you into rushing out and getting a huge mortgage before prices get any worse, it's to illustrate that what's going on in Toronto and Vancouver today can't go on."

Monday, May 16, 2016

New detached homes in GTA break $1 million milestone

The average price of a newly-built single-family detached home in the Greater Toronto Area has exceeded $1 million for the first time. Figures from the Building Industry and Land Development Association reveal that the milestone was reached as of the end of March with prices up from $861,848 a year earlier.

The 21 per cent year-over-year surge has been driven by strong demand in the GTA which has not been met by supply. This, BILD CEO Bryan Tuckey says, is due to government intensification policies and a lack of suitable land.

"The demand for detached homes is far outpacing supply as the GTA's population continues to grow," said Tuckey. "Our region has record-low levels of new detached homes available for sale, which drives up prices and reduces housing choice for consumers."

In March, 905 new detached homes sold and inventory was at just 1,634. The building industry is meeting provincial requirements for townhouses and condos but Tuckey says there is strong demand for detached homes.

"New low-rise homes are being purchased faster than they can be brought to market," Tuckey said. "As long as demand for low-rise homes continues to outpace supply, we will continue to see rapid price growth."

Prices for all low-rise homes, including townhouses, semi-detached and detached, also set a new record in March - $849,312. High-rise homes averaged $459,231.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Toronto heading for another record year in existing home sales

It’s early in 2016, but Canada’s largest city looks like it’s on pace to break another record in home sales.

The Toronto Real Estate Board Toronto Real reported there were 10,326 sales in March and 22,575 sales in the first quarter. March sales were up 16.2 per cent from a year ago while the first quarter activity grew 15.8 per cent from a year earlier with double-digit year-over-year rates of sales growth across all major home types.

“At the beginning of 2016, TREB’s outlook for the year pointed to a strong possibility of a second consecutive record year for home sales. This outlook was based, in part, on upbeat consumer survey results pointing to robust home buying intentions. It is clear that these upbeat intentions have translated into record first quarter results,” said Mark Mr. McLean, president of the board, in a statement.

Prices also continue to rise rapidly with the average detached home in the city of Toronto up 12.4 per from a year earlier, reaching $1.174 million. Across the Greater Toronto Area, the average detached home is now selling for $910,375.

The average selling price for all home types combined was up 12.1 per cent in March from a year earlier and 13.6 per cent in the first quarter in the same period.

“Demand was clearly not an issue in the first three months of 2016, regardless of the housing market segment being considered,” said Jason Mercer, director of market analysis for TREB, in a statement. “The supply of listings, however, continued to aggravate many would-be home buyers. We could have experienced even stronger sales growth were it not for the constrained supply of listings, especially in the low-rise market segments. The resulting strong competition between buyers has underpinned the double-digit rates of price growth experienced so far this year.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

GTA will lead luxury sales market

Toronto and Vancouver will continue to lead luxury home sales in Canada this spring in both volume and price, and mostly for the same reasons they dominated last year, says a new report released earlier this month.

Sotheby's International Realty Canada cites macro-economic trends including limited inventory and strong demand from both domestic and international buyers in making its prediction.

The realtor says the Greater Toronto Area will lead the $1-million-plus residential real estate market, with continued sales gains and price escalation.

Notable growth is also expected in Vancouver, especially its top-tier residential market, with increases anticipated in the $4-million-plus category.

"Luxury home sales in Toronto and Vancouver will continue to defy gravity this spring," Brad Henderson, president and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty Canada, said in a statement.

"Both markets have the potential for significant gains and we expect heightened demand and insufficient inventory to drive price escalation and sellers' market conditions."

The report said steady economic growth indicators in Quebec have contributed to market balance in Montreal, where sales of top-tier detached single-family homes, attached homes and condominiums are expected to remain comparable to 2015 levels.

But continued economic uncertainty in Calgary due to troubles in the oilpatch will increase the number of homes available and contribute to declining prices in both the top-tier and conventional markets in Alberta's largest city, it said.

The weak Canadian dollar has made real estate more attractive to domestic and foreign buyers. But Sotheby's says other market fundamentals have had and will continue to have greater impact on the $1 million-plus real estate market across Canada this spring.

In Vancouver, the first two months of the year saw sales of homes valued at more than $1 million increase 23 per cent year-over-year to 771 units, of which 557 were single-family home sales - a 16 per cent increase.

While the GTA remains attractive for foreign investors and immigrants, local and domestic demand will remain the primary drivers in that market, according to Sotheby's.

Already the Toronto market has seen a 63 per cent, year-over-year increase in sales of $1-million-plus homes - up to 1,646 units, of which 1,486 were single-family homes.

By comparison, the sale of homes priced $1 million or more rose 23 per cent to just 80 units in Montreal in the first two months of the year. That's the same number as in Calgary, where the figure represented a one per cent decrease from the same period in 2015.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Homes in Toronto suburbs now the hottest commodities

As one of Canada’s most active real estate markets, Toronto housing has seen enormous price growth in the post few years, breaching the $1.2 million mark in February. However, while the metropolitan luxury sector remains the primary attraction for foreign investors, the suburbs have recently established themselves as the most desired location for buyers.

Statistics from the Toronto Real Estate Board revealed that home resales in the “905” suburban area increased by 23 per cent over the past year, almost twice the growth rate in the in-city sector. In Milton alone, average prices for detached homes spiked up by an unprecedented 42 per cent.

“It used to be rare that in the 905 we would see multiple offers and product going for over asking price, firm deals with no conditions. Now, offers with eight, 10, 12 other agents are almost normal,” a Richmond Hill real estate broker S.Z. told The Globe and Mail.

S.Z. said that ever since last fall’s market shift that placed the spotlight on the suburban area, many local agents have been pleasantly surprised. Better market conditions such as reduced unemployment and low interest rates have played a major part in this change-especially since the suburbs contributed to around half of GTA’s job growth and three-fourths of immigration.

Other experts pointed at the development of more off-city higher-tier real estate as a driver for greater interest in the suburbs, in turn spurring the continuous growth in average GTA housing prices.

“Most families or couples in the old days weren’t really buying $1-million properties. But it’s almost like that is the price point for a lot of people now,” a GTA real estate agent explained.

And even though most of their wealth is still parked in luxury suites in the city, overseas buyers are increasingly noticing the potential of the suburban sector, with some sellers even requesting advertising space in foreign-language newspapers.

“They see our market as a safe market to put funds in and they’re coming in and they’re putting their money into homes,” S.Z. said.

Monday, March 7, 2016

CRA's $5,000 reminder to first-time buyers

The Canada Revenue Agency has issued a reminder to first-time buyers that they could qualify for $5,000. The agency says that those who bought a home in 2015 and were first-timers; or are eligible for the disability tax credit or bought the home for a relative who is eligible; may be able to claim the credit. It is also highlighting the ability for some buyers to take up to $25,000 out of their retirement savings plan under its Home Buyers’ Plan. Again, those with disability tax credit eligibility do not have to be first-time buyers to qualify. Eligible buyers should claim through their tax return.

Monday, February 8, 2016

GTA REALTORS® Report Record Year For Home Sales

The second best sales result on record for December capped off a record year for TREB MLS® home sales in the GTA. Toronto Real Estate Board President Mark McLean announced that there were 4,945 sales reported in December bringing the 2015 calendar year total to 101,299 – a substantial 9.2 per cent increase compared to 2014 as a whole. Strong annual sales increases were experienced for all major home types last year.

"Home ownership is a quality long-term investment that families can live in while the value increases over time. A relatively strong regional economy in the GTA coupled with low borrowing costs kept a record number of households – first-time buyers and existing homeowners alike – confident in their ability to purchase and pay for a home over the long term," said Mr. McLean.

"If the market had benefitted from more listings, the 2015 sales total would have been greater. As it stands, we begin 2016 with a substantial amount of pent-up demand," continued Mr. McLean.

The average selling price for 2015 as a whole was $622,217 – up 9.8 per cent compared to $566,624 in 2014. The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark Price was up by a similar annual rate of 10 per cent in December. GTA home price growth was driven by the low-rise segments of the market, but condominium apartment price growth was generally well-above the rate of inflation as well through 2015.

"TREB will release its official 2016 outlook later in January, but suffice to say that the demand for ownership housing is expected to remain very strong in 2016. Despite stricter mortgage lending guidelines and the possibility of slightly higher borrowing costs, on average, there will be many buyers who remain upbeat on the purchase of ownership housing," said Jason Mercer, TREB's Director of Market Analysis.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Slimmed Down Heat

Keeping warm in winter months can lead to big fat heating bills – unless you slim down using some of these ideas.

Buy a Programmable Thermostat
Every degree you lower your thermostat cuts your energy bill by 3%. Turn down the heat at night or when you leave the house.

Reseal Windows
Weather stripping around windows and doors wear down allowing cold air to blow inside. Seal gaps with self-sticky sponge insulation.

Change the Filters
Replace or clean furnace filters four times a year to help your furnace run at peak efficiency.

Install Door Sweeps
Add sweeps to your exterior doors to help save as much as 5% on your heating bill.

Insulate the Attic
An attic needs at least 12 inches of blown-in insulation to keep the house warm. Your attic also needs to be sealed with a vapor barrier and ventilated so moisture can escape.

Seal the Ducts
Inspect for escaping air by running a hand along the metal ducts while the heating system is on, and bond any breaks with silver metal tape.

Go Tankless
Upgrade from a traditional water heater to a tankless model, which heats water only when you need it, not all the time.

Turn off Exhaust Fans
Leaving kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans on for too long can suck warm air out of the house.

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Down Payment Conditions - 5% to 10%

The federal government is boosting the minimum down payment for higher-priced homes in Canada effective in the new year.

Homebuyers are currently required to put down a minimum of five per cent to qualify for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation insurance - protection that lenders insist on when providing a mortgage worth more than 80 per cent of the home's value.

Starting in February, CMHC will require a 10 per cent down payment on the portion of any mortgage it insures over $500,000. The five per cent rule remains the same for the portion up to $500,000.

"We recognize that, specifically in the Toronto and Vancouver markets, we have seen house prices that have been elevated," Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters, "and we want to make sure we create an environment that protects the people buying homes so they have sufficient equity in their Once the new rules are implemented in 2016, someone looking to buy a $750,000 home would need to have a minimum down payment of $50,000, which is what you get when you add five per cent of $500,000 and 10 per cent of the remaining $250,000.

Monday, January 4, 2016

House Sense - Prevent Dryer Fires

Few people are aware of the danger that clothes dryers can pose which is one of the reasons that dryer maintenance is so often overlooked. Fires can occur when lint (a highly combustible material) builds up in the dryer or more commonly, in the dryer’s exhaust duct. This blockage causes excessive heat to build-up in the dryer.
Some warning signs that your dryer vent may be blocked are:
1. excessive heat in the laundry room
2. a musty smell
3. clothes that are still damp after a cycle
4. a large amount of lint and debris
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important that you take steps to clear your vent right away.
Keep Your Dryer as Lint-Free as Possible
1. Use a lint brush or vacuum attachment to remove accumulated lint from under the lint trap and other accessible places on a periodic basis.
2. Every 1-3 years, have the dryer taken apart and thoroughly cleaned out by a service technician.
3. Clean the lint trap after each load.
If you regularly clean out your dryer’s exhaust vent, you’ll not only significantly reduce a very common fire hazard but you’ll also save money as your dryer will last longer and run much more efficiently.
Before You Go…
1. Never let your clothes dryer run while you are out of the house or when you are asleep.
2. Thoroughly read manufacturers instructions regarding the safe use of their dryers.
If all else fails, you can always go back to an old-fashioned clothesline. There have never been any reported clothesline fires!

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