Toronto Condo Market doesn’t suck any more.

Toronto Condos up another 7.6%

We’ve been selling a ton of Houses at Spring but this here is all about Condos. In Q4 2013 and in the first month of 2014 we haven’t been able to keep a condo on the market for longer than one week. It’s been a long while since we’ve said that! It feels really good to see Toronto Condo buyers out in droves. Don’t take our word for it, check out the stats. This past December we were so excited to see a 20.7% increase in Condo sales year over year. 

We listed this gem last Wednesday and had it sold with multiple offers on Saturday. We haven’t had a multiple offer on a condo since right after the crash in 2009 when there was absolutely nothing on the market. Of course there have been other units sold with multiple offers that we weren’t involved in. (I know, can you believe we don’t sell every property in Toronto?)

Just to be clear, if your tenant has spent the past two years fist pumping holes into the ceiling you’re going to have to get that fixed and completely freshened up. Buyers are out there, but they’re not compromising on quality, cleanliness, and style. Some below average, cookie cutter condos are still not selling very well.

Toronto Lofts are still leading the pack with a lot of demand and condos in actual communities like Leslieville, Riverside, and some west end neighbourhoods are doing very well. Some interesting Lofts hit the market last week, see if you can find them using our epic search tool. We give you so much more info than the MLS ever could. Happy house hunting…and remember, we’re only an email away.


Fixed or Variable Mortgage? All the Rates look good!

We’ve had some interesting data recently that has some Canadians wearing smug looks. The most gratifying is the hotly-debated report from Environics which indicates Canadians are richer than Americans. It says the average Canadian household was worth about $363,000 in 2011, compared to almost $320,000 in the U.S., a difference of more than $40,000 – dollars that are pretty much at par. Of course, home prices had a lot to do with it. Canada didn’t see the collapse that the U.S. did and skyrocketing values in Vancouver and Toronto did a lot to jack up the national average.
The big credit monitoring firm, Equifax, says Canadians have slowed the speed at which they are driving themselves into debt. It says the rate of debt-growth dropped to 3.1% from 4.4% on a year-over-year basis. Credit card debt is down 3.8% and Canadians are sticking with their existing debt vehicles and not opening new accounts. Mortgage debt isn’t included.
And one dire sounding report that isn’t as bad as it seems from the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. It suggests 48% of the people surveyed would find it “challenging” to meet their mortgage or debt payments if there was a “significant rate hike”. By “significant”, they appear to mean a 3.5% increase over what they are paying now. Rate increases will surely come but, given the current state of affairs, that sort of bump is highly unlikely. Also, keep in mind that “challenged” is not the same as “unable”.

BEST RATES

1 Yr – 2.39%

3 Yr – 2.64%

5 Yr – 2.89%

VRM – 2.65%

Lee Welbanks is a Mortgage Broker with Welbanks Financial Group, Lee will be posting these informative “Market Minutes” each week for you to enjoy. Please remember to the Spring Realty Insider Club list to receive new blog post notifications, featured properties and insider access to Toronto’s hottest new developments right to your inbox. Find us on Facebook and Twitter too!

 


Best Mortgage Rates in Canada for July 18th, 2012

The Bank of Canada left the overnight rate at 1.00% at its meeting yesterday, as was universally expected. This is great news for anyone with a variable rate mortgage, or any product tied to prime like a line of credit or student loan.

More notable was the Bank’s assessment of the global outlook, which was deemed as having deteriorated relative to April.  The weakening in the global environment was cited as a factor restraining growth in Canada; however, the Bank views the domestic economy as continuing to grow at a moderate pace. These factors resulted in the Bank downgrading its 2012 growth forecast to 2.1% from 2.4%. The Bank forecasted that the economy will grow at a faster 2.3% in 2013 (albeit a tad slower than April’s 2.4% forecast) and 2.5% in 2014 (higher than April’s forecast of 2.2%).

The tone indicated that there may be need to reduce stimulus in order for the Bank of Canada to maintain the 2% target rate for inflation, but most economists don’t expect that to happen till 2013. More great news for variable rate mortgages, and anyone with debt tied to prime.  Yields are trending down so there may be some room for some short term decreases to fixed rates.  Sit tight and we’ll see!

Much of this is due to the slowing economic growth in Canada, the U.S. and China, and the unrelenting economic problems in Europe.  These helped to handcuff our central bank.  It has been looking to raise rates in an effort to slowdown the growth of household debt in Canada. But the Bank of Canada did get some relief with Ottawa’s imposition of new lending rules for high-ratio mortgages and new mortgage qualification limits.  The regulatory moves amount to a de facto interest rate increase in the housing sector and, anecdotally at least, appear to be having the desired, cooling effect.

BEST RATES
1 Yr – 2.39%

3 Yr. – 2.69%

5 Yr. – 2.94%

VRM – 2.79%

Lee Welbanks is a Mortgage Broker with Welbanks Financial Group, Lee will be posting these informative “Market Minutes” each week for you to enjoy. Please remember to the Spring Realty Insider Club list to receive new blog post notifications, featured properties and insider access to Toronto’s hottest new developments right to your inbox. Find us on Facebook and Twitter too!


In the market for something special? Toronto’s Landmark Flatiron Building is For Sale!

Most definitely one of Toronto’s most recognizable landmarks. The Flatiron Building has been sitting on this site since 1892. Designed and built by architect David Roberts Jr. for The Gooderham and Worts Company to be used as their head office.

Not only does this building stand as an example of fine late 19th century architecture but is also an ode to the late Paul Oberman; former CEO of Woodcliffe properties and a man who loved the City of Toronto. It is because of his love for this City and passion for our history that this building stands tall and proud today.

Nestled in Toronto’s St. Lawrence community the location couldn’t be more perfect. Update:  The Flatiron Building sold in 2011 for 15.29 million dollars.

Click to view more information about the Waterfront Communities East neighbourhood or browse our interactive map for information on other neighbourhoods in Toronto.

Have you been using mls.ca to search for properties? Stop the insanity!!! It’s time to check out the Spring Realty custom Home Finder. You’ll have to quickly register (don’t worry, we don’t spam!) and once you do you’ll have access to a direct data feed from the Toronto Real Estate Board. We can now provide you with more up-to-date listing info than the traditional MLS system as well as other vital information not listed anywhere else. We have neighbourhood info, school, and transit info too.

 


Toronto’s Glass Walled Condos

Aside from the mustaches the hottest topic in Toronto this November relates to a CBC article discussing the longevity and efficiency of glass walled condos.  Given the city’s enormous building growth (see this great info graphic) this issue resonates strongly with those who live and work in these glass towers.

Replacing glass every 25 years or so certainly isn’t a new concept – but buildings have only recently been constructed with exteriors primarily consisting of glass.  The biggest concern for owners of these properties is whether or not the maintenance fees adequately represent the depreciation of the glass.  Given the reaction by stakeholders to this article we’re thinking that perhaps they do not.  When future expenditures are generally known they can be properly accounted for in the monthly maintenance fees, if not the gap in funding can result in large increases in these costs and thus maintenance fees or a special assessment (lump sum) in order to fund expenses.

One question we have been asked recently is whether we would sell a glass condo given this recent information.  The answer is of course – these buildings offer spectacular views!

As a brokerage which prides itself on transparency and ensuring its clients are well informed we would want to fully explore the buildings’ funding position and check if engineers have properly accounted for the replacement of glass walls in the Reserve Fund Study (an engineering report that is revised every three years and outlines the lifespan and replacement cost of building elements).  The key is ensuring a buyer understands the ongoing costs associated with his or her investment. Timing can be extremely important with condo purchases and some buildings may be a great short term investment but not offer the same returns over a lifetime.

Ontario’s building code will change this January (2012), requiring all high-rise buildings to be 25 per cent more energy efficient than the Model National Energy Code, a voluntary standard for buildings that will become the mandatory minimum in Ontario.   It will be interesting to see how construction changes to reflect increasing efficiency standards.

 


Demographic and Population Change in the Toronto Real Estate Market

When looking at the housing boom in Toronto it’s easy to wonder how all of the properties could be occupied.  Many point to an investor bubble which will burst at some point crashing prices.  There are some  important factors to consider when evaluating the housing market in Toronto.

Population Growth

Under a high growth scenario StatsCan predicts the Canadian population will roughly double in the next 50 years (approx. 2 mortgage cycles).  From 2009 to 2014 Ontario’s population is expected to increase by over 700,000.  The last census showed that approx half of immigrants to Ontario settle in the GTA with 70% of those settling in Toronto.  Population growth will continue to have a strong influence on the demand for homes in Toronto.

Demographics

Over the next 30 years the demographic landscape will change quite dramatically as the baby boomers move through the various stages of retirement.   The peak of the boomers are around 50 years old which is an age where mortgages become paid off, kids are through university, and retirement savings become a priority.  The demographic effect for this dominant group over the next 10-20 years will be a weakening of demand for large family homes and a strengthening in demand for smaller homes with less maintenance (bungalows and condominiums).  Over the longer term we will see a flattening in the age pyramid which should lessen the effects of any given cohort moving through life cycle changes (like we have seen with the boomers).

Freehold Homes

There is almost zero growth in the number of freehold homes (detached, semi-detached, some town homes) in Toronto.   There is very little land within the city limits that can be newly zoned as residential neighbourhoods where these homes could be built.  As a result the main change we see to the housing stock is conversions from smaller homes on large lots (often bungalows) to larger 3 story homes and renovations.  Due to historically low interest rates we see a lot of renovation occurring in this sector.  The increase in home prices has dramatically outpaced income growth but this should be expected given population growth and improvement in the quality of the homes due to a renovation boom.

 

Condominiums

Unlike the freehold home market there has been tremendous growth in condominium developments. Most notably the Concord CityPlace development along the west Waterfront. Other areas that have experienced a growth in condo devel0pments are Liberty Village, King West, Queen West, and the most surprisingly Toronto’s East end (Beach, Leslieville).

The public is concerned with the number of units being built and a potential condo bubble. It is very important to understand that there has not been any significant growth in rental developments so most of these buildings are designed to serve pent up demand for rental units. Some of the CityPlace developments are currently 90% renter occupied. The demand of rental units and the influx of new immigrants to Toronto continue to keep demand for Condos high and supply still relatively low.  The best buys are currently in Toronto’s East communities; Leslieville and the Beach should be on your radar if you’re in the market.

 

Brian Hawrysh – Managing Director – Spring Realty Inc

 


TTC celebrates 90 years of service

Laying the first tracks on Gerrard street

The TTC is celebrating 90 years of service (Sept 1/2011).   Things have come along way from laying the first tracks on Gerrard street (see inset)  and the amalgamation of private and municipal street railways comprising the central system of the Toronto Railway Company, the Toronto Civic Railways’ five municipal routes and three routes of the Toronto & York Radial Railway within the city. Adult fares were set at seven cents and tickets were four for 25 cents.

The first subways were brought across the Atlantic from Britain to the port of Montreal for service from Union to Eglinton Station.  Today the TTC has the third largest ridership in North America trailing only Mexico City and New York City with populations in excess of 8 million.  The newest subway cars built in Thunder Bay by Bombardier hit the Yonge/Univeristy/Spadina line recently which for the first time feature continuous access across the 6 cars and ‘smart’ maps which light up stations as they are served.  The TTC also recently launched a GPS based Next Bus system which is discussed here.

One of the TTC's new continuous access cars.

What has made the TTC great in Toronto is that it’s a service that is used across socioeconomic groups.  On every train in the morning you’ll see businessmen in suits alongside students on their way to school.  The system is safe and reliable.

Unfortunately it’s finances have been in terrible shape since provincial fare subsidies were eliminated under the Harris government in mid-90’s causing it to be the largest Anglo-American transit operator without provincial or federal/state funding.  It’s in desperate need of funding to expand and maintain it’s infrastructure.  Most stations have not been maintained well over the years and are showing their age.  Bottlenecks have formed without any relief for commuters traveling to the downtown core.

The TTC is a great amenity that many potential home owners look to find close by when trying to find that dream home.  We’ve tried to list all local transit options on our Neighbourhood pages which can be accessed via the Neighbourhood and Building Maps. While the current municipal government is looking at service cuts to deal with a funding defect Spring Realty is holding out hope to see some service improvements or infrastructure maintenance for the 100 year anniversary.