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Forget the negativity and doomsday reports, Canadian consumers have never been so confident about the market…apart from one economist.
Everything is bright and beautiful in real estate. Or so believes many people, according to the latest Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index.
Confidence in the market remains near the four-year high as many brush off forecasts of a market slowdown from some analysts.
“Overall confidence remained near a high for 2014 largely on continued positive views on the value of real estate,” says Nik Nanos, chairman of Ottawa-based Nanos Research Group.
However, one economist is also quick to play down any real enthusiasm in the market.
“True, real home prices have had a terrific run for more than a decade. But, that followed an equally long period of fallow. For example, after-inflation national average home prices have risen 76.7 per cent since the first quarter of 2002, an annualized increase of just under five per cent,” Douglas Porter, chief economist writes in BMO’s latest weekly report. “However, in the period from 1990 up until 2002 Q1, real home prices had actually declined 6.4 per cent —that is, real home prices made zero headway for more than a decade, arguably laying the groundwork for a lengthy run.”
When combining the two periods, Porter points to moderate 2.1 per cent price growth since 1990.
“Toronto home prices have run a bit hotter in recent years, partly due to provincially mandated land constraints,” Porter states. “But even GTA real gains have been unremarkable, especially when compared against the incredible boom of the late 1980s and the incredible bust of the early 1990s.”
To further his argument, Porter draws parallels between Canada’s hottest markets and comparable markets around the world.
"Yes, Vancouver is one of the priciest cities in the world, but it shares many of the same attributes as like-priced cities (Sydney, Hong Kong and San Francisco)," Porter writes. "Further down the scale, prices in Toronto=New York, Calgary=Washington, and Montreal=Chicago, none of which seems wildly out of line (although we won’t deploy the “similar attributes” reasoning with these city pairs)."
Confidence remains high especially in the housing market… Wealthy Canadians are attracting more luxury brands to our malls… Iconic building seeks Asian buyers… And south of the border the market stays bumpy.
Confidence remains high as Canadians ignore talk of a bubble
The housing market has once again kept optimism high for Canadians. The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index has been at its highest for four years recently and while many experts may sound a cautious note for real estate, homeowners are less worried. The index isn’t just about housing; job security and other economic factors feature too, but it’s the housing market that is driving the positive note. The number of respondents who expect house prices to rise in the next six months was 44.4 per cent last week; down slightly on the week before. There was also a slight increase in the percentage expecting a decline in house prices in the next half year. With confidence generally high though, there is no suggestion of a slowdown in the market just yet! Read the full story.
Wealthier Canadians bring luxury to our neighbourhoods
Luxury brands have been increasing their presence in Canada over the last few years and the prediction is for more to come. Commercial real estate firm CBRE Group says that its research shows low vacancy rates in the most sought after neighbourhoods and its calling for more malls. Jewellery and designer fashion are among the retail sectors demanding more space in our cities and existing malls in Vancouver and Toronto are expanding to feed the demand. The rise in spending on luxury goods is not universal of course, but growing numbers of Canadians are moving up the income bands (often due to property investments rather than wages) and tourism is also fuelling the demand. Read the full story.
Concerned about foreign investment in our real estate? This won’t help!
When discussions about a housing bubble are taking place, the impact of foreign investment is never far away. Although the forthcoming CMHC report on condo investments is unlikely to show the percentage of foreign investment in our major cities, it has been increasing here and in most major western cities. Chinese investors in particular, with their own housing market weak, have been putting their money into western markets, and it seems that some developers are going direct to those buyers. The iconic Vancouver House, a $500 million, 52-storey development is being actively targeted towards Asian investors. According to the South China Morning Post, two sales offices for the project have been opened in Hong Kong and sales agents have been searching for buyers in China’s cities. With Vancouver house set to become one of the country’s most expensive properties, finding enough domestic buyers may not be possible but the concern is not overseas buyers who are using property here, but those buying and leaving them empty; good for their investment portfolio but not so good for our neighbourhoods or the market. Read the full story.
US housing market slow
New figures released yesterday by the National Association of Realtors show that the US housing market is struggling for recovery. The Pending Home Sales Index fell 1.1 per cent for contracts signed last month, a greater decline than had been expected. This follows a few months of growth. Other recent stats have also been disappointing; new home sales and housing permit applications were both down in the latest figures, although resales were at an eight month high. Read the full story.
Short-term rentals are perfect for helping cover mortgage payments but it can prove more costly and hard work than envisaged…as one part-time landlord is discovering.
From capitalizing on world-class events to wanting help with monthly mortgages, more homeowners are embracing short-term rentals through third party service providers.
And while it’s a good income generator, such part-time landlords are being warned once again that their welcome and hospitality could prove very costly in the end.
This call is being made in light of the “Airbnb squatter” tale in San Francisco. Cory Tschogl rented her condo for 44 days on the service, and two weeks after the checkout date, the guest is refusing to leave. According to Californian law, landlords cannot evict tenants once they have been in place past 30 days so the unruly guest can stay (rent-free, as he is doing) for a while.
“This shows, once again, the risks associated with renting out accommodation on a short-term,” warns Davelle Morrisson from Bosley Real Estate in Toronto. “It’s a great service but you really have to be very careful of who you rent to. Most guests do not stay past two weeks, so anything past that should be an immediate red flag.”
While Airbnb is growing in popularity amongst travellers, the accommodation site is still in legal limbo in Quebec following years of controversy and months of formal consultations.
The law there requires anybody renting out accommodation for less than 31 days to obtain a $250 permit from la Corporation de l’industrie touristique du Québec. Renters must also be covered by civil liability insurance totalling at least $2 million per claim, and must pay a host tax (usually between $2 and $3 a night) to Revenue Quebec.
Many operators, according to officials, are illegal in that they do not have such government approval. Such homeowners could face fines ranging from $750 to $2,250.
Nothing feels better than getting into a neighbourhood BEFORE it becomes a trendy hotspot. But how can you identiify those up-and-coming hotspots? Here is what to look for...
1. Trendy businesses
Look for a surge of trendy businesses moving into an area. Maybe there are more cupcake shops and microbreweries making an appearance, or perhaps the new health food store that everyone seems to be talking about announced a new store in the area. Large businesses especially do a lot more research and analysis of a neighbourhood. So, big businesses moving in often means a lot of homebuyers will follow.
2. Convenient location
Are there any neighbourhoods that already have a subway station or major highway artery, but aren’t getting the attention that other areas are? As cities gentrify, neighbourhoods with strong transportation grids – whether public transport or by highways and bridges – will become more popular.
3. Downsides moving up
Look for regions that have had a sharp improvement in crime rates; as those rates move down, the number of people looking to settle in that neighbourhood will go up. Also look to the new generation of homebuyers, who are likely looking for something different from their parents. While gritty, urban-looking buildings may once have been a turn-off, a new generation might see that as an ultra-trendy hotspot.
Many up-and-coming neighbourhoods have a definable style of home. Maybe it’s the old Victoria properties, or sleek and modern condos. Neighbourhoods with a unique style often become popular over time.
5. Economic development
This one’s a no brainer. If a major corporation just built a new headquarters, it’ll need workers. And a lot of those workers are going to be looking in the neighbourhoods surrounding their place of employment to purchase homes. Other economic drivers, like new highways or extended transit systems, are great indicators that a neighbourhood could experience a surge in popularity.
6. Lots of renovations
It doesn’t hurt to check with local municipal permit departments to see if they’ve noticed an uptick in the number of renovation and building permits for a particular neighbourhood. Several owners giving their homes a facelift is a good sign that the neighbourhood as a whole will get the same treatment over time.
7. Days on market
A decrease in the number of the days on the market is a strong indicator that a neighbourhood is becoming more popular. People are looking to scoop up houses before anyone else – and that’s a great time for real estate agents.
Identify a handful of these up-and-coming areas and position yourself as the go-to expert there. When homebuyers eventually descend on the neighbourhood, you’ll be the agent they turn to.
***Do you want to know the next top neighbourhood in Canada? Canadian Real Estate Wealth is currently compiling the Top 100 Neighbourhoods special issue which will be hitting the newsstands in October. Click here to get your copy before it hits the shops.
New insights into who owns condo investments expected next month… Bank of Canada says REITS may be a better choice than condos for investors… Fracking should be delayed says Nova Scotia university president… And which Canadian city ranks among the world’s richest?
Exactly who owns all these condos? We may be about to find out
A new report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is set to shed some light on condo ownership. With economists concerned over the heat in the market, CMHC is responding to calls for more data on what is driving prices up. Some believe that foreign investment in our major cities is a large factor; this has been the case in some overheated markets elsewhere, for example in London. CMHC’s Condominium Owners Survey is expected next month and is the result of a study conducted last autumn of those who have bought ‘at least one condo that is not their main residence’. It does not look like the report will show the level of foreign investment, and may be in line with a previous study focusing on the intentions of the owners regarding their property (second home, rental market, etc.) and how it was financed. That report was never published as the data was deemed not to be reliable enough. Read the full story.
Bank of Canada says REITS may be better investment than condo
A research note from the Bank of Canada suggests those investing in condos for the rental market could have made a better choice. The note acknowledges that buying into a real estate investment trust (REIT) historically outperforms direct purchase of a condo for rent. The research focuses on Calgary and Toronto and looked at return on investment over various time periods. In Calgary for example, a medium term investment in a REIT of between 3 and 7 years yielded a total return of 78 per cent against a 41 per cent return on a single condo investment. However, for those looking for a shorter investment, the condo saw an 18 to 27 per cent yield over a 1 to 2 year period, while the REIT only managed 11 to 12 per cent. Read the full story.
Nova Scotia should put fracking on hold
The president of Cape Breton University is calling for the proposed fracking activity in Nova Scotia to be put on hold. David Wheeler says the delay would enable more studies to take place into the effects of the exploration for shale oil and gas. Residents in the province protested two years ago against fracking and a moratorium was put in place. Concerns include contamination of water supplies and air pollution; the industry denies the claims. Mr Wheeler says that more research is needed and that once there is enough knowledge for people to make informed decisions local communities should be consulted. As well as the worries about their communities and family lives, some residents are concerned about the possible impact on the value of their homes. Read the full story.
Toronto – Canada’s millionaires’ playground
Only one Canadian city makes it onto the list of the twenty wealthiest cities in the world. Toronto ranks at 15th on a new study into the largest number of millionaires per capita. Just under 2.3 per cent of Torontonians have a net worth greater than US$1 million, a far cry from the world’s wealthiest city, Monaco, where 29.2 per cent are millionaires. It does mean that Toronto beats Paris and San Francisco in the rankings. Of course, if real estate prices continue to rise at the rates we’ve seen in the last year, we could see Toronto in the top 10 one day. Read the full story.
As more buyers flock to the condo market, will some investors capitalize on the momentum and cash out?
Frustrated by the rising prices in single-family homes, hungry buyers are using the condo to get on the property market.
“The new condo market has performed well above expectations in the first half of the year, reflecting a sharp rebound in buyer confidence, a number of highly attractive new openings and a variety of incentives for existing inventory” Shaun Hildebrand, senior vice president of Urbanation said in an official release. “While sales have heated up, prices have remained in check due to competitive supply pressures and an absence of short-term speculation on the part of buyers.”
Almost 6,000 5,992 condo apartments changed hands in the GTA during the second quarter of 2014, marking the third highest volume for a second quarter trailing just 2007 and 2011. The figure also represents a 56 per cent year-over-year jump from the low experienced in 2013. The 12 month total for new condo sales fell in line with the 10-year average, reaching 18,463.
Meanwhile, out of the 105,027 units in pre-construction, under construction or in the occupancy faaises, 18,744 remain unsold. This figure is above historical averages but is down three per cent year-over-year, according to Urbanation.
“Resale condominium apartment sales hit a record high of 5,238 units in Q2-2014, up 12 per cent from a year ago,” the release states. “Listings also reached a new high of 11,246 listings, growing by a slightly slower pace than sales at 10 per cent.”
Based on such figures, many experts believe investors may be motivated to capitalize on this booming interest and sell out.
No Supreme Court hearing for the Toronto Real Estate Board on ‘virtual realtors’ offices’ case… Saskatoon sees rise in construction… Calgary developments designed for the outdoor types… And US new homes sales weaker than predicted.
Court dismisses appeal hearing on TREB case
The Federal Competition Bureau says it has a second chance to force the Toronto Real Estate Board to allow realtors to publish historical data on their virtual office websites. Yesterday the Supreme Court in Ottawa said it would not review a lower court’s decision that a second hearing should take place; TREB won the first round. The competition regulator maintains that not allowing the publishing of data, which is allowed to be communicated by other means, is unfair on realtors who may wish to run a low cost online model. TREB says it has a duty to protect the data entrusted to it by the general public. The case has been ongoing since 2011 and has been through the competition tribunal and the Federal court, which is where it will now be heard again. Read the full story.
Saskatoon construction is on the rise
The year over year figures for building permits in Saskatoon show an increase of almost 300 units to 1,639. The value of the residential sector is up from $288 million for the first half of 2013 to $328 million for the same period this year. Non-residential has seen a decrease of 10 per cent in permits issued with value down $95 million due to fewer high cost single developments. Increased population seems to be driving the rise in home building. Read the full story.
Calgary area highlights the best of outdoor life
New communities in Calgary are making the most of outdoor amenities to give residents that ‘on vacation’ feeling all the time. Mahogany for example, is all about the active lifestyle with an exclusive beach club due next year, hockey rinks, tennis courts and what will be the city’s largest lake. Artesia provides golf lovers with a 27 hole course, Watermark is a BBQ fan’s dream with a full outdoor kitchen and fire pit, while Riverstone provides great fishing. As a nation of outdoor lovers, these are the kind of purpose built communities that are set to thrive. Read the full story.
US new homes sales fall
Sales of new homes south of the border saw a sharp decline in June and May’s figures were revised down. Statistics released from the Commerce Department show an 8.1 per cent decline for June and May’s figures were 12.3 per cent lower than had been predicted. It’s a worrying trend and Fed chair Janet Yellen has expressed concern that the market is still underperforming. Factors for the slowdown include a lack of available land, tighter lending rules and higher mortgage rates. Read the full story.
The buying and renting of recreational homes is reportedly getting tougher with demanding short-term tenants and misinformed agents.
The short-term leasing of cottage homes may be a lucrative business but investors are facing new obstacles as they try to get into the market.
One Muskoka-focused real estate agent is cautioning investors to choose their agents carefully, cautioning against city-dwelling Realtors who think selling an urban condo is the same as selling a waterfront cottage.
“The biggest challenge in Muskoka is that we have agents from the city coming up and trying to sell properties, but they don’t know anything about septic systems, they’re not attuned to actual values,” says Re/Max Realtor Ross McLean. “It creates a challenge.”
Investors should make sure their Realtor knows about a property’s septic systems, and whether the property’s water source is via the lake or from a well. Agents also need to understand the lot coverage, the zoning bylaws and any restrictions by the township.
Realtors should also know what the value of different properties so that investors don’t overpay. McLean points to a listing that he currently has; the current owner used a city agent who didn’t know better and advised the client to overpay for the property.
“Now he’s stuck with the property and he has to come to terms with that. He paid probably $150,000 too much,” McLean says. “That’s why it’s important to use a Realtor who understands the values [of waterfront properties].”
While short-term rentals may be rising for prime properties, so are tenant demands. Wi-Fi is now ranked the most attractive amenity, according to a Trip Advisor survey, as well as a modern entertainment system such as flat screen TV.
Property managers in cottage country say that houses that are pet-friendly and include a cleaning service rent for the highest price and quickest time.
An increasing number of landlords are reportedly not accepting people on social assistance until they receive the proper support system from provincial government.
Provincial governments will pay a heavy price for not having a fair system in place to support private landlords that house those on social assistance.
That is the view of many landlords who are now refusing to accept those on social assistance. “In Cambridge, we have 3,100 families waiting for non-profit housing and yet there are only a few hundred units being built,” says Kayla Andrade from Ontario Landlords Watch. “Investors are shying away until there are better systems in place.”
She says that landlords want a “three strikes and out system” in place. “They should have to pay their rent with social assistance money or their payment gets cut off,” she says. ‘Every landlord I know wants the three strikes and you are out system.”
While recognizing the frustrations of landlords dealing with non-paying tenants, the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) advises landlord not to refuse a rental to someone just because they are on social assistance support.
"To do so would be a serious violation of section 2.(1) in Ontario’s Human Rights Code (likely also in other provinces) and would certainly result in heavy fines and penalties against the landlord (up to $25,000). Landlords should conduct credit checks, income checks and reference checks, but should never consider social assistance support as a ground for refusal. Landlords can also better protect themselves by requiring guarantors and conducting criminal background checks on rental applicants."
Many landlords have cited the growing number of “professional” tenants taking advantage of loopholes in the system and more sophisticated methods to deceive the landlord.
“We are seeing more tenants bring their own credit checks, which are often fake, to landlords that do not cop on that they are false,” she says. “Work papers are also being forged. There are many places now to get these false papers and so it’s easier for them.”
Bank economist concerns over some Canadian marketplaces… Three of our cities reach for the stars… Alberta economy set to overtake Quebec… And why some realtors have a lack of vision when it comes to listings…
Economist warns of bubble, but not everywhere
The chief economist of the Bank of Montreal is showing more caution in the property market, but mainly in two areas. Douglas Porter, who has been positive about the strong market, published a research note yesterday with concern about Toronto in particular but also Vancouver. Mr Porter says that elsewhere in Canada there is an easing of prices or at least an understandable rise due to higher demand from population growth. The three main factors in the over-valued market are ultra-low interest rates, a boom in the numbers of 20-38 year old first-time buyers, and foreign investors. It is the foreign investment that Mr Porter believes Ottawa should tackle by introducing a tax on non-resident real estate purchases. While sounding a cautious note, he still says that he does not predict a market crash. Read the full story.
Canada’s cities reach for the stars
The latest figures from skyscraperpage.com show that Canada has three cities in the top ten cities for high rise buildings. While King Kong may not get the same level of choice outside of New York, Canada does at least offer plenty for lovers of tall buildings. Toronto is second placed behind New York’s 5,894 skyscrapers with 2,005 but that’s almost twice as many as Shanghai in third place. Further down the list in ninth and tenth are Vancouver (664 high rises) and Montreal (628). It should be noted that the Canadian cities on the list have significantly lower populations than their peers; Vancouver is the only one in the top 10 with fewer than 1.6 million.
Alberta’s punching above its weight
With 4 million residents Alberta has a population half that of Quebec and yet the economy is booming and experts predict it will become Canada’s second largest economy within three years; overtaking Quebec. The key of course of oil and gas; not only do they directly boost the economy in the province, but they are creating more jobs which brings more people to the region, and that means more money being spent. The energy business is pretty resilient; manufacturing trends can be volatile, but the demand for oil generally only goes one way and as geopolitical unrest puts pressure on supplies in some regions, the price of oil is never really of major concern to producers. While a mass exodus from other provinces to Alberta is unlikely, it does seem that we are going to see a continued influx into the province with all the pressures on housing that that brings. Read the full story.
A picture tells a thousand words … not all of them complimentary
We know how a great photograph can make a difference to the interest in a property. Sometimes a clever camera angle or just the right light can spark interest in even the less desirable building. On the other hand, occasionally realtors will just show it like it is however bad it may be. A blog called Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos highlights the appalling condition of some homes that get listed. The site has thousands of visitors a day and features photos from all over the world; perhaps it should serve as a training aid for realtors?