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News (1451)

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Friday, 19 September 2014 01:48

Unrealistic buyers need to get finance in order

Written by Grainne Burns

Home buyers may have big aspirations and bank balances but they are still coming up short when it comes to making bids.

While most home buyers expect to pay the big price tags in urban markets, their level of market expectation is still far removed from reality.

According to the latest Bank of Montreal Fall Home-Buying report, four in 10 potential homebuyers can expect to pay a whopping $83,556 (21 per cent) more than what they had initially planned.

Naturally, buyers in tight urban markets have to pay the higher price. A majority of those surveyed from Toronto planned to spend about $630,000, have to increase that figure by an average of $100,000 to get their desired property.

Buyers, however, have become more accepting of the fact that they will have to pay top dollar with eight in ten of those surveyed saying they now have a better understanding of current prices. They are also changing their buying strategy to suit their strategy.

“By shifting toward semis and townhomes and away from detached and condos, buyers appear to want their cake and eat it too - a backyard for the kids to play in, but also something that won't break the budget, notably in Vancouver and Toronto," said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets.

Ryerson University in Toronto has developed a new program of study that centres on several aspects of real estate – from buying and selling it, to managing it and marketing for it. The program, which is only the third of its kind in the country, will instill a strong business sense in its students, many of whom will go on to careers as real estate investors.

“Real estate is an area of study that can help the economy, the students and the industry,” Dr. Cynthia Holmes, who helped to create the undergraduate degree program, tells CREW. “It’ll help the economy by having a well-educated work force in the area. The students who graduate with this degree will have a broad business background and will have an understanding in everything from economics, to accounting to marketing and other areas.”

Holmes says this program can help draw a group of young, eager and well-trained individuals to careers the real estate industry, something many believe is sorely needed.
While Holmes says most experienced investors are excellent, new investors can benefit from the stronger foundation and business management skills that the undergraduate degree can deliver.

The program is set to tackle a broad range of real estate sectors – students will go on to careers in real estate appraisals, urban planning, or real estate law, to name a few – and its introductory course material draws directly from the Ontario Real Estate Association’s educational literature, Holmes says.

“OREA has been an excellent partner with Ryerson,” Holmes says. “They helped with educational materials and they’ve provided a scholarship.”

Thursday, 18 September 2014 05:37

Daily Market Update

Written by Steve Randall

Vancouver’s rich are getting richer… Chinese developer makes first purchase in Canada… Vancouver commercial sector driven by smaller deals… Why brokers are so valuable for renewals…


Vancouver’s rich are getting richer

New figures show the extent of price increases for Vancouver’s highest-value properties, the top 1 per cent. Using data from Crown valuation corporation BC Assessment, the top 1 per cent now means a home above $5,586,000. In the five years from 2008 to 2013 there was a 65.4 per cent price increase, and there has been a similar growth in prices of those in the top 5 per cent in the city. Although these increases occurred through the financial crisis there seems to be no shortage of high-end buyers, especially from other provinces and abroad. The latest assessments show the most expensive home in Vancouver is the waterfront mansion owned by athletic clothing magnate Chip Wilson which is worth a staggering $54.2 million, up from $34.2 million when it was being built. Read the full story.


Chinese developer makes first purchase in Canada

Chinese property giant Greenland Holding Group has made its first investment purchase in Canada following high profile acquisitions in London and New York. Greenland has purchased a two-tower condo project in Toronto called King Blue and has said that it is just the start of its Canadian portfolio. The company sees Canada as a growth market, Toronto in particular. Read the full story.


Vancouver commercial sector driven by smaller deals

The sale of commercial real estate over $100 million is fairly non-existent in Vancouver currently. The so called ‘big trophy’ deals typically involve large institutions but it is smaller, private investors that are most active in the market. A mid-year report by Avison Young shows that offices are the most active part of the commercial sector in Vancouver, accounting for almost half of all sales, with retail next and industrial units some way behind. Experts say that Vancouver has relatively little in the way of office space, compared with Toronto for example, so businesses are less likely to seek a move. Read the full story.


Why brokers are so valuable for renewals

With our busy lives we strive for things to be easy and that will often apply to mortgage renewals too. It might seem an easy option to sign and return the renewal form and let the lender take care of the rest, after all the rate they are offering seems ok. Writing in the Globe and Mail, wealth adviser Ted Rechtshaffen of TriDelta Financial points to the importance of shopping around. He was offered a renewal that was 2 per cent higher than a deal he was able to get elsewhere and when he phoned his existing lender he was offered a far better deal. He was also told that a lot of people just accept what is offered. Some people may phone around but clearly a broker is an even better choice and the story highlights how important it is for brokers to follow up with previous clients as their renewals approach. Read the full story.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014 11:42

New site opens boundary information for investors

Written by Vernon

Investors across the Greater Toronto Area are being reminded to check the official boundaries of a property during the home buying and selling process, in an effort to reduce the prevalence of boundary disputes.

“Everywhere I go, everyone has a boundary story for me,” says Saša Krcmar, executive director of Krcmar Surveyors. “Somebody has an issue with a boundary then you start to feel the emotions come out.”

The issue of boundary disputes can easily rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs should the issue go to court. In British Columbia, for example neighbours found themselves ordered to remove an in-ground swimming pool that was placed over their neighbour’s property. In Ontario, a court case revolving around a strip of land about a foot wide spent four years in the court system and cost $100,000 in legal fees.

“If you have a problem with, say, heating, it’s a limited amount of money to deal with it,” Krcmar says. “But you can’t easily fix a boundary problem. If neighbours don’t like each other, how do you fix that? You don’t feel comfortable in your own home anymore. It hits you on a different level.”

A report compiled by Krcmar Surveyors revealed that almost half of residential properties in Toronto have boundary-related issues, whether that means a fence built technically on a neighbour’s property or a tree or structure that extends beyond the owner’s lot.

Krcmar Surveyors has 216,484 plans in its database for the GTA, and has made the results of those surveys available through its new site The site enables investors, property owners and potential buyers to purchase an up-to-date survey of a property. Krcmar says the site will help people to understand where their property boundaries are, mitigating any issues before they become problems.

“It starts with a survey plan. That will show you where the boundaries are supposed to be,” he says. “It’s a more objective starting point versus the emotional – ‘he ripped down my hedges, she took down my fence’. It’s a starting point.”

Wednesday, 17 September 2014 04:59

Daily Market Update

Written by Steve Randall

Canada needs tighter lending rules… Builders concerned about rising development charges… Which moving expenses are tax deductible?... And data confirms that foreign buyers are taking over…


Canada needs tighter lending rules

The outgoing boss of the Toronto-Dominion Bank says that Canada needs tighter lending rules to stem the high levels of consumer debt encouraged by the low interest rates. Ed Clark says that it’s not something that banks would chose to do on their own; a unilateral approach would only make that bank uncompetitive; it needs to come from the federal government. Of course the government has stepped in, not once but four times since the financial crisis, but Clark believes there is more that could be done. He steps down as CEO in November and will be succeeded by the current COO Bharat Masrani. Read the full story.


Builders concerned about rising development charges

In a few weeks time builders in Ottawa will be faced with increased municipal charges for their developments. The fees, which cover everything from roads and sewers to the light railway project, will rise by 30 per cent inside the Greenbelt and 22 per cent outside it. This will add an extra $5,000 to each single unit. In Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver this may not be such an issue; the extra cost could be absorbed into the overheated prices, but in Ottawa there has already been a slowdown in construction. Not all experts think that the extra costs will have such a high impact though. There is a school of thought that extra development fees are seen by buyers as a good thing, because they are spent on improvements in their city. Read the full story.


Which moving expenses are tax deductible?

The Canada Revenue Agency has issued guidance to clarify when moving expenses can be offset against tax bills. For example moving home in order to take up a new job or work location may be a deductible expense, however moving on renewal of an existing contract under the same terms is almost certainly not. There is also an example in which an employer moves an employee to another location and the employee moves home from a rented property. He is not allowed to terminate the lease early and continues to pay it while also paying for a home in his new location. The rules would have allowed a deductible expense if he had cancelled the lease but not if he continued to pay the rent. The technical interpretations of the rules will perhaps prompt buyers to seek advice from an accountant as a layperson’s view of what is meant may differ from that of the CRA. Read the full story.


Foreign buyers are taking over…but it’s Canadians in Florida

The National Association of Realtors in Florida has confirmed that Canadians are still the number one buyers of property in the state. The new report shows that US$2.2 billion was spent by Canadians in the Sunshine State last year, accounting for 31.6 per cent of all international transactions. Even though there has been a shift towards buying recreational homes in domestic markets these figures show that we still like a bit of southern sunshine; Canadians are the top foreign buyers in Florida for the seventh year in a row. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater is the favourite place to buy followed by Naples and Fort Lauderdale. Prices are typically below US$200,000. Read the full story.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 04:08

Calls for bigger fines for “slum” landlords

Written by Grainne Burns

Frustrated tenants and city officials are calling for greater fines and stricter rules against landlords that fail to maintain their properties to a legal standard.

The only way to rid “slum” landlords from the system is to enforce greater obstacles and restrictions so they would not be tempted to leave properties in a state of disrepair.

That was the call from one city officials and locals in St. John’s, Newfoundland, after a couple were fined almost $20,000 for failing to comply to the minimum structural and electrical requirements.

The deputy mayor of St. John’s, Ron Ellsworth, said he was looking for $5,000 per infraction. This would have combined to a total bill of $125,000 for the Irish couple that now reside in Dublin.

Tenants from the six-unit property on Cashin Avenue have been complaining to the city for many months as the Irish couple have reportedly returned to their hometown and have failed to communicate with any party. The property has been shut down and remains boarded up.

Locals have called on the city to allow the landlords six months to pay the fine and if not paid, tear it down and sell the lot.

They believe such a deterrent will force landlords to maintain their properties and pay the fines handed out.

As more university towns and cities report a shortage of housing stocks, investors are being encouraged to finally embrace the property type.

With lines of over 25 at viewings and willing to pay over the asking price to secure rooms, investors are being told to wake up to the concept and profits now being offered in student rentals.

From Vancouver to Edmonton and Scarborough, many university student bodies have said housing levels are now at crisis levels with more stock required to accommodate the country’s growing student population.

Almost one million full-time students enrolled in 82 university institutions across Canada in September 2013, with almost half of that number hailing from outside of the universities’ host communities.

Canada has also been attracting a high number of international students, with almost 300,000 people now currently studying. This number, which has increased by 94 per cent since 2001, is set to rise to 450,000 by 2022.

“Almost all universities country-wide need more accommodation,” says Derek Lobo, CEO and sales broker at Rock Advisors. “The student market is one of the most under-served yet is the one of the best opportunities.”

He points to the rental returns in St. Catherine’s as a good example for investors. A four-bed townhouse there could be rented to a family for $1,300 per month but landlords could get $2,000 by charging per door to students.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 05:27

Daily Market Update

Written by Steve Randall

Consumer confidence defies the stats… Vancouver edges towards taxing vacant homes… When is a mortgage too big?...


Consumer confidence defies the stats

With the latest figures from CREA showing that house prices increased again in August; a 2.1 per cent rise year over year; you might expect that consumer confidence in the housing market would also be high but it’s not. In fact the weekly barometer of confidence published by Bloomberg Nanos shows that expectation of continued price rises is flagging and is now at its lowest point since April. In July the survey recorded a record high with 47 per cent of respondents believing that there would be house price rises in the next six months; last week that figure was at 38 per cent. The majority, 48.1 per cent, think that prices will stay the same. Despite these figures, the overall level of confidence in the economy was higher, while confidence in job security and personal debt was down. Read the full story.


Vancouver edges closer to tax on vacant homes

With a mayoral election looming there could be consensus on the hot topic of vacant housing in Vancouver. The idea of a tax on those who buy property in the city and leave it vacant was proposed by candidate Meena Wong who moved here 34 years ago from Hong Kong. She may not be the favourite to win the election but her ideas have appealed to those concerned about rising prices in the city and foreign investors’ role in the hot market conditions. Now other mayoral candidates have expressed interest in the idea, although they suggest more data would be required to get a clear picture of the situation. The chief economist for the BC Real Estate Association says there are a lot of unanswered questions about the idea and is not sure that it would yield much in the way of funding for affordable housing; a key part of the proposal. A scheme in London, England which allows councils to charge a 50 per cent premium on vacant properties after two years has seemingly done little to dissuade foreign investors leaving property dormant. Read the full story.


You can get a big mortgage, but should you?

We know that prices are increasing faster than incomes, and we know that market conditions are attracting people to become owners, but are too many people overstretching their household finances? Writing in the Huffington Post, accountant and trustee in bankruptcy David Hoyes asks how much mortgage is too much risk. He says that affording monthly payments, including all the associated costs, is one part; equity in the home is another. Analysing the data from bankrupts, Moyes says that most have high ratio mortgages, with over 90 per cent having a mortgage debt at least 80 per cent of their home’s value, 70 per cent had 10 per cent equity or less and a staggering 64 per cent had no equity in the home at all. He suggests that anything below 10 per cent equity puts owners at high risk of insolvency with little room for manoeuvre if things go wrong. He is calling for CMHC backed mortgages to require a 10 per cent down-payment rather than the current 5 per cent requirement. Read the full story. 

Monday, 15 September 2014 04:50

Daily Market Update

Written by Steve Randall

Bank report shows price increases for a 9th consecutive month… Consumer finances cause concern… Developers consider the needs of pet owners… And Edmonton condo owners could face jail if they don’t demolish their buildings…


Teranet-National report shows increase for 9th consecutive month

The latest figures from Teranet-National Bank exceeded the historic average for August, with a 0.8 per cent increase for repeat sales of single-family homes. After a 4.9 per cent rise in prices in July, there was a 5 per cent increase in August, bucking the forecasts of many experts who were expecting a slow-down. The report from Teranet showed price gains in all but one of 11 territories surveyed; Montreal was the only one to see decline, with Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto seeing the biggest increases. Year-over-year price rises were largest in Calgary and again all but one saw increases, with Quebec City bucking the trend with a slim drop.


Consumer finances cause concern

The average Canadian household has increased its level of debt against disposable income. New data from Statistics Canada reveals that debt including mortgages has edged up from 163.1 per cent of disposable income in the first quarter of the year, to 163.6 per cent in Q2. The average since 1990 has been 119.7 per cent but was 164.1 per cent towards the end of last year. With central bank rates low, interest payments made up a smaller percentage of disposable income in Q2 than at the start of the year. Mortgage debt has risen by more than income; 1.4 per cent against 1 per cent; and is a major concern for the economy when interest rates eventually rise. The total Canadian mortgage debt is $1.17 trillion. Read the full story.


Developers ‘paws’ for thought; the influence of pets

Condo developers are taking the lead when it comes to the needs of pet owners in Vancouver. As the thirst for condos has grown, often from those would traditionally be heading to single-family homes, developers have had to provide more for family living; that means considering children but also pets. Where once the condo development would target young professionals with facilities such as gyms, now you are increasingly likely to find a dog walking run or pet spa! There is also a shift in the attitude towards pet owners in the rental market, with more landlords accepting four-legged residents, although numbers are still small. It would seem that there is a marketing opportunity for developers and realtors in targeting pet owners and being proactive in providing information on condos with pet facilities and also the proximity of homes to city dog-walking parks, vets and other animal-friendly facilities. Buyers will certainly appreciate the effort, especially if they’ve been chasing their tails trying to find the purr-fect new home! Read the full story.


Owners told to pull down their buildings or face jail

Condo owners in one development in Edmonton face the prospect of heavy fines or up to six months in jail if they fail to comply with a city order. The owners of the Penhorwood condos were evacuated in 2011 due to safety concerns but were then allowed back. The city then issued a demolition order on the buildings, something the residents said they could not afford to comply with. As legal action from the residents seeks to cover costs and compensation, this latest demand from city officials could cost each resident $100,000 or a jail term. Read the full story.  

Friday, 12 September 2014 05:28

Daily Market Update

Written by Steve Randall

Realtors report buyers from Asia account for up to 90 per cent of purchases in some markets… Canmore offers perfect second home location, but at a high price… And Edmonton’s revitalized downtown centre edges closer…


Foreign investors fuelling price rises say realtors

Realtors say that the Chinese quest for prime real estate is pushing up prices in Vancouver to record highs. With the Chinese government clamping down on corruption many investors in the country are moving their money overseas. Realtors say that as many as half of all buyers in prime markets are from mainland China. Malcolm Hasman of Angell Hasman and Associates says that the level of Asian buyers for property over $5 million is as high as 90 percent.  Developers are actively targeting Asian purchasers; some condo buildings do not have a fourth floor as it’s considered unlucky and wok kitchens are not unusual. Read the full story.


Canmore perfect second home town

The mountain town of Canmore is gaining popularity with purchasers of second homes. With great scenery and sporting environment, the town of just 12,000 residents is a hidden gem in Alberta, 81 km from Calgary. Although it is relatively unknown by those outside the province there is no shortage of demand for property, often from Calgary. That means picking up a bargain second home is unlikely, with the average price for a single-family home at $836,000 while a condo will set you back $400,000.  Read the full story.


Edmonton’s new downtown entertainment centre edges closer

Plans to revitalize the downtown area of Edmonton with a new entertainment arena are beginning to take shape. With the city’s population increasing at a vibrant pace, billionaire Daryl Katz’s new arena will be aiming for more than 2 million visitors each year and will help to bring more visitors to the downtown centre to the entertainment facilities but also to the wider retail areas. The arena is set to open in 2016. Read the full story.


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