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Frustrated home buyers are calling on Realtors and lawyers to reveal the ‘true’ rental status of properties after some investors have been left with hefty renovation bills.

Realtors and lawyers should be forced to disclose any changes in a city’s bylaws that may affect the viability of renting a property. That is the call from one frustrated landlord in Winnipeg who recently made such a request to the local city council.

The investor made the appeal after discovering that the basement of her property was deemed unusable as a dwelling unit due to a current bylaw. She says that she was never told this during the sales process and is now facing a $7,000 bill to become compliant.

The appeal was subsequently denied by city council officials.

Speaking to CREW, Reg Kehler, a RE/MAX agent in Winnipeg, says that knowing it would be used as a rental property, “a majority” of Realtors would have discussed such bylaws with the buyer. “I'm surprised that her real estate agent didn't point out to her that the basement windows weren't up to code,” he says.

Kehler adds that many opportunistic investors took advantage of a quiet Winnipeg real estate market during the long, cold winter and late spring. “There were very few home buyers out during that time but a lot of investors came in to maximize on that,” he says. “Now that the weather is changing, we are seeing a lot more activity in recent days.”

Sunday, 20 April 2014 21:38

Office rush to spur condo demand

Written by Grainne Burns
The return of corporate businesses to downtown areas is expected to boost a demand for condo units.

The increasing demand for office space in downtown cores is set to put further pressure on already tight rental markets for residential properties in key urban centres.

Many companies that migrated to the suburbs to avail of less expensive rental rates in recent years are now returning to the downtown areas, according to Matt Elkind from the Condo Store Realty in Toronto.

“Companies found that what they were saving on rent, they were losing in higher costs on employee retention,” says Elkind. “This is a huge concern and big cost for employers so it is more feasible, for many reasons, for them to return to the downtown area.”

This, he tells CREW, will create a greater demand for housing in the downtown core. "People will naturally follow the jobs, and we are anticipating a lot of demand for condo units from young professionals with respect to this.”

According to Collier’s International GTA report, the average vacancy rate across the GTA dropped by two basis points to 5.8 per cent for the first quarter of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013.

“The migration of suburbs and uptown tenants south along public transportation lines, coupled with demand for smaller parcels of office space in premium locations, are likely to push vacancy rates in other sub-markets upwards,” says John Arnoldi, executive managing director, Toronto Region with Colliers International.

Over 5.4 million square feet of office space is currently under construction in the GTA alone.

Thursday, 17 April 2014 12:00

Housing correction could trigger recession: BMO

Written by John Tenpenny
A sudden and sharp correction in the housing market could have a devastating impact on the Canadian economy overall, enough to trigger another recession, says a new BMO report.

The analysis by senior economist Sal Guatieri finds that even a 10% correction — what many would call a soft landing — could sap as much as one percentage point from gross domestic product growth, or basically halve the current growth rate.

The findings stems from an analysis on the contribution of the brisk housing market on the Canadian economy between 2002 and 2007, when prices rose five percentage points faster than incomes.

According to the BMO, the rapid escalation in home prices and construction added 0.56 percentage points to annual growth during those six years, and “lifted household wealth, confidence and borrowing ability.”

But now, with home values at or near record levels throughout the country and many economists predicting some kind of correction, the opposite scenario would unfold from a price and accompanying construction drop.

“This suggests a moderate correction could have a meaningful slowing effect,” Guatieri says in a report issued Friday.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 16:00

Household debt holding back the economy

Written by Jamie Henry
Canada's economy will grow only modestly over the next two years given high household debt levels and a cooling housing market, forecasts a Reuters poll, suggesting continuing strength in the country's rental market.

The Canadian economy will grow 2.3 percent this year and 2.6 percent next year, according to the median forecast of 33 economists surveyed.

Those predictions are almost unchanged from January's poll and lower than forecasts for the United States, which is expected to grow 2.7 percent in 2014 and 3 percent in 2015.

Economists lowered their forecast for annualized growth in the first quarter of this year to 1.7 percent from 2.2 percent in January's poll. Forecasts for the remaining quarters of this year and the first half of next year were nearly unchanged.

"We don't have much potential on the domestic side, at least in the near term, to move our economy at a rapid rate owing to elevated household debt and a cooling housing market," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Monday, 14 April 2014 21:42

Rental wars heating up

Written by Grainne Burns
More renters are being forced to battle it out and pay extra for units in urban markets.

The low level of inventory may frustrate opportunistic investors but some are enjoying the benefits of limited housing in major city centres.

An increasing number of people are engaging in rental wars, according to a new RE/MAX report, especially in Toronto and Calgary. Both cities have a vacancy rate of between one and two per cent, with potential home buyers finding it increasingly hard to find affordable rental units with the fear that this situation could postpone their ownership plans.

In Toronto, inventory has reached a record low, with average sale prices increasing by almost 8 per cent year-over-year in March.

However, with more sellers and buyers coming out of the long winter hibernation, many are expecting the situation to ease somewhat.

A new housing trend is also sweeping Vancouver as first-time buyers seek alternative routes to get their toe on the property ladder. The RE/MAX Spring Market Trends Report 2014 says that faced with rising prices, more buyers are snapping up 400 sq. ft. studios which are selling in the $150,000 price range.

“These entry-level condos have even led to the development of entire new lines of multipurpose furniture designed specifically for efficient spaces.”

Monday, 14 April 2014 02:13

Investors need to spam it out, warns agent

Written by Grainne Burns
As investors use more creative tools to find properties and joint venture partners, one agent is advising clients to be more careful and selective.

In a bid to find unlisted properties and potential joint-venture partners, more landlords are using mail campaigns to increase their market potential and position within the market.

While reaching out in this manner is advocated by industry insiders, some could suffer the wrath of the law if they do not abide by new legislation.

A new anti-spam law – that will require express consent of newsletter subscribers – will come into effect July 1, 2014 with investors scrambling to become compliant.

“Newsletters are a great way to increase your contact list and increase your brand awareness but you really have to be careful about not over diluting your message,” advises Alex Prasoulis, owner of iListRealEstateBrokerage.

Any unsolicited electronic message sent after July 1 may be considered a “commercial electronic message,” and – under Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) -- any CEM sent will be prohibited unless its receiver has provided consent.

“Whenever I am trying to target potential clients for my newsletter, I always get their consent whether that is through email or phone,” he tells CREW. “I have been doing my newsletter for six years and have found that a monthly mail shot is a lot more effective than weekly. You need to get a good balance and make sure your message is clear and effective.”

Monday, 14 April 2014 04:36

Investors to flock to Regina

Written by Grainne Burns
With a booming local economy and promises of positive cash flowing properties, more investors are willing to take the jump into Saskatchewan.

This year could provide big opportunities for investors with more stock available in Saskatchewan, with prices also stabilizing.

Increased supply to the market has stabilized prices in the province, with investors also influenced by the region’s booming local economy with almost full employment.

The average home price in Saskatoon was about $351,000 at the end of February, up about six per cent from 12 months ago ($332,000), while Regina’s house prices dropped by 3.2 per cent during the same period. With so many new opportunities in the market, Canadian Real Estate Wealth is hosting a special event to help investors get a greater insight into the local market.

The one-day conference will take place on Saturday, May 31at Double Tree by Hilton in Regina.

A number of top tier speakers will offer exclusive information on the province’s property market. Saskatchewan Local Economists will host a report on the province’s market outlook, while Regina Real Estate Investing Club & Saskatchewan Investors Real Estate Network will argue whether is it better to invest local or follow the international deals.

Acclaimed author and real estate coach Julie Broad will examine how to get money for your real estate deals while investor Stefan Aarnio shows how you can attract and work with a joint venture partner.

Check out http://regina.theinvestorforum.ca for further information.

Friday, 11 April 2014 04:12

Time for law changes, says landlords

Written by Jamie Henry
Landlords across the country are calling for a bad tenant registry and changes in legislation to protect them against rogue renters

More renters are taking advantage of legal loopholes and tenant-friendly municipalities, and leaving landlords with unpaid bills and lost revenue.

A B.C. couple made national headlines this week for failing to pay for rent for almost two years, and cheating six landlords out of rent.

Landlords in the province are calling on the Residential Tenancy Branch to keep a record of all bad tenants and to provide this information to potential landlords, but they are arguing that privacy laws make this registry an impossible task.

Speaking to CREW, Kalya Andrade from Ontario Landlords Watch says every legislative act should be reviewed as, at the moment, it is lies very much in favour of the tenant.

“There are a lot more tenants who are targeting landlords that they can take advantage and use the legal loopholes to get away with it. We are coming across more and more cases like this and something needs to be done. Unfortunately, the politicians simply do not want to help the landlords,” says Andrade.

As reported by CREW this week, condo tenants are calling for help against demanding management boards and landlords.

Wednesday, 09 April 2014 23:11

Former finance minister Jim Flaherty passes away

Written by Grainne Burns
Former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty passed away today (Thursday, April 10). The cause of his sudden death has not yet been confirmed.

Canada's 37th finance minister, Flaherty stepped down from his post on March 18. While the Quebec native suffered from a rare but treatable skin disorder, Flaherty said at the time of his resignation that his health played no part in his decision.

Flaherty served as Canada’s finance minister from 2006-2014. He played a leading role in the government’s attempt to cool the property market, introducing a range of controversial mortgage rules that restricted many investors.

While many in the real estate industry felt punished by his measures, others argue that his intervention saved the country from the jaws of a property bust.

He is survived by his wife, Christine Elliot – who represents Whitby-Oshawa in the Ontario legislature -- and his three children. Flaherty was 64.

Thursday, 10 April 2014 02:04

Albertans ready to buy

Written by Grainne Burns
Fearing further price rises in the future, more Albertans are ready to get their cheque book out this year and buy.

Following a tough year for the Alberta housing market, more locals are intent on getting on the property ladder, according to a new RBC home ownership survey. The province’s housing supply crisis was severely affected by the catastrophic floods last year, which, in turn, contributed to rising prices.

Over half of those surveyed in Alberta say they believe home prices will increase this year, with over 30 per cent saying they are likely to purchase, up from 22 per cent in 2013.

"We saw a drop in purchasing intent last year in Alberta, so this renewed intent in 2014 shows that people in the province are confident in their ability to get into the market and invest in a home," said Don Peard, regional vice-president, mortgage specialists, RBC.

Across Canada, 41 per cent of those in the 25-34 year old age group are intending to buy, up from 25 per cent in 2013 with more than half of whom will be doing so for the first time.

The Prairie region also saw a significant increase in home purchasing intention, up by 9 per cent to 21 per cent in 2014. This level of optimism was also notably felt in Quebec (up 10 per cent), Ontario (up 10 per cent), Atlantic Canada (up 9 per cent) and B.C. (up 2 per cent.

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