Collins Condos News

Great Gulf set to acquire Mirvish Gehry project in Toronto’s Entertainment District

Posted on October 03, 2017

Posted in Toronto Real Estate, Toronto Rental Market

Great Gulf announced today that it has reached an agreement to acquire the two-tower Mirvish Gehry project on Toronto’s King West.

“We are very excited to add this signature project to our Great Gulf development portfolio. It will be Toronto’s first internationally acclaimed development from one of the world’s most celebrated architects, Frank Gehry,” says Great Gulf Homes President Christopher Wein, in a media release announcing the acquisition.

First announced in fall 2012, the ambitious proposal from David Mirvish and famed Canadian architect Frank Gehry originally included three towers. However, current approved plans scaled back the proposal to two towers, with a 92-storey west tower and a 82-storey east tower. A total of 1,949 residential units will be spread across the two buildings.

“It’s a magnificent development opportunity and aligns well with our vision to build iconic state-of-the-art developments. Toronto is truly a global city and this development will continue to build our reputation on the world stage. The entire team at Great Gulf is excited to work with Frank Gehry to realize the bold vision and legacy of David Mirvish,” says Great Gulf’s Wein.

The Toronto-based developer has 12 developments (including Mirvish Gehry) either selling, renting or in registration in southern Ontario, including the recently completed Number One Bloor, one of the city’s tallest condo towers. It remains unclear if the development plans will change in any material way following the acquisition, though the language used by Wein and Ed Mirvish Enterprises President David Mirvish indicates it will remain true to the original vision for the project.

“I believe the project will do honour to the history of the people in the city who built it to what it is today and will continue to project Toronto’s possibilities onto the world stage. Ed Mirvish Enterprises and Projectcore will move forward to support Great Gulf’s efforts throughout the process as they fulfill Gehry’s vision for Toronto,” says Mirvish, in the media release.

Ontario’s potential rental housing crisis in 11 statistics

Posted on October 03, 2017

Posted in Toronto Rental Market, Toronto Real Estate

Photo: James Bombales

Earlier this week, the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) published a major report prepared by Toronto-based real estate market data firm Urbanation on the state of the Ontario rental market with a focus on the province’s largest region, the GTA.

A number of the report’s key findings will come as no surprise to those who have recently searched for rental housing in the city and surrounding region. Demand for rentals has hit multi-decade highs, according to the report, “driven by robust economic and population growth, job creation for prime renter cohorts, and a decline in homeownership affordability.”

While the report makes some encouraging observations on expected increases to the rental supply, the housing advocate concludes that a significant supply shortfall will remain and likely worsen unless the pace of construction ramps up quickly to meet demand.

Without policy action, the FRPO expects Ontario renters, especially those in the GTA, will experience mounting challenges in finding suitable housing.

Here are 11 stats from the report that illustrate the difficult market conditions that the province’s renters face:

1. The vacancy rate for purpose-built rental buildings sat at a 15-year low at the end of 2016. It was 2.1 per cent in the province and 1.3 per cent in Toronto.

2. The vacancy rate for Toronto condos — many of which are purchased by investors and added to the city’s rental pool — was even lower at the end of last year, sitting at a seven-year low of 1 per cent.

3. Eighty-five per cent of purpose-built rentals in Ontario are over 35 years old. Upgrading this aging existing stock will require a significant investment from rental owners, possibly to the tune of $5 billion over the next 5 years, the report estimates.

4. When looking at the age distribution of renters, the 25 to 34 year old demographic made up 21 per cent of total renter households in Ontario, making this cohort the “prime renter age segment.” The 35-44, 45-54 and 65+ age segments each made up 19 per cent of the total. Over the next five years, however, the prime 25 to 34 year old segment will see “accelerated population increases” thus further increasing demand for rentals.

5. Immigration to the Greater Toronto Area represented 30 per cent of Canada’s immigration total. Ninety thousand immigrants came to the region in 2016 and a similar number are expected to arrive in 2017. As the report notes, the majority of recent immigrants rent when they arrive.

6. After hitting a five-decade high in 2011, the homeownership rate in Ontario is expected to “flatten or decline in the next 10 years.” Affordability issues, higher interest rates and stricter mortgage policies are all expected to contribute to this trend.

7. By mid-2017, the cost disparity between owning and renting in the GTA remained at its highest level in more than five years.

8. On the rental supply side, purpose-built rental development reached its highest level since the 80s in both Ontario and the GTA. However, after the new rent control measures were unveiled as part of the province’s Fair Housing Plan, the rate at which new purpose-built rental buildings were proposed slowed when compared to previous quarters, with some projects originally proposed as rental even indicating a change to condominium.

9. On the rental demand side, the report forecasts that rental demand will outweigh supply by approximately 57,500 units over a 10-year period, or 5,750 units per year. This unit total “does not necessarily represent the level of additional rental development required to bring the market into a state of balance, but rather represents a level that keeps conditions from worsening over time.”

10. There is only one rental unit under construction per 1,000 GTA residents. In Vancouver, the ratio is over three rental units while in Montreal, it’s two units.

11. According to the report, rental starts need to double immediately and eventually triple from current levels just to satisfy demand.

RioCan Proposes Four Buildings at Queensway and Islington

Posted on September 29, 2017

Posted in Insider


Survey finds what new home buyers really want in their house

Posted on September 10, 2017

Posted in Walk in closets

The Canadian dream of owning a single-detached home is very much alive.


Sat., Sept. 2, 2017

These are the missing ingredients for a Toronto real estate crash

Posted on September 07, 2017

Posted in Toronto Real Estate

Home prices in Toronto are falling, sales activity is drying up and anxious owners continue to list properties — all things that would likely be happening amid a full-on market crash.

But as TD Economics sees it, the Toronto real estate market isn’t crashing in response to Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan, which was announced in April and included a foreign-homebuyer tax as well as more robust rent control measures.

TD Bank’s economics department does expect prices to fall, sure, but only back to where they stood about a year ago.

“An important nuance to understand is that a critical feature of a market crash is missing in this cycle,” reads the report, authored by TD Chief Economist Beata Caranci and Senior Economist Diana Petramala.

“Listings shot up in the GTA following the policy measures, not because homeowners suddenly became incapable of affording their homes, but because speculative activity is being squeezed out,” the TD economists continue.

Missing ingredients of a potential Toronto housing crash include households increasingly falling behind on mortgage payments and rising unemployment rates, TD suggests.

Citing Equifax and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation numbers, TD says that as of 2016’s final quarter, 0.1 per cent of Toronto households had fallen more than 90 days behind on their mortgage payments.

“Canadians have been taking out record amounts of debt to fund the purchase of relatively expensive homes,” Caranci and Petramala cede. “But, what sometimes gets overlooked is the fact that low interest rates have allowed mortgage holders to pay down their principal at an accelerated rate,” they note.

TD suggests on average mortgage holders should be able to shoulder higher mortgage payments that come as a result of rising interest rates.

“With the unemployment rate holding low, it is unlikely that households will be forced to sell in the near-term,” the TD economists state. “It’s important to remember that interest rates are rising because the economy is doing better,” the report reads.

The Bank of Canada increased its historically low overnight rate last month by 25 basis points — something it hadn’t done in seven years — in response to the economy’s adjustment to an oil price shock that roiled it.

With the overnight rate, an influencer of the mortgage market, currently at 0.75 per cent, many observers anticipate the central bank will hike the rate again before the year’s over.

But mortgage rates, still hovering at historically low levels, aren’t expected to rapidly rise, which bodes well for the market. “Should it prove otherwise, this could be a recipe for a harder landing,” the report adds.

All these Toronto malls could be getting redeveloped

Posted on August 22, 2017

Posted in Insider

Rendering: What the site of Toronto’s Galleria Mall may one day look like if a development application moves forward.

A redevelopment deluge is hitting shopping mall properties across Toronto not only because of rising land values but also the threat online retailers are posing to bottom lines, an industry expert suggests.

“I think that one of the big redevelopment waves right now are shopping centres,” Craig Patterson, founder and editor-in-chief of Retail Insider, an online trade publication, tells BuzzBuzzNews.

“As real estate prices have gone up and developable land has become less available, I’m seeing shopping centre landlords looking at their shopping centre real estate as being prime land for intensification,” he adds.

BuzzBuzzNews has identified eight Toronto shopping mall sites currently slated for such intensification, and that total doesn’t include properties in the nearby surrounding GTA, such as the Promenade Mall.

Patterson says malls are a “gold mine” for redevelopment because of the GTA’s level of population growth as well as the fact that they are so often sitting on large, well-located sites to begin with.

“Cadillac Fairview, Oxford, Ivanhoe Cambridge: these landlords are already getting in on the residential game — or they’re partnering with residential developers,” says Patterson.

“A natural progression in the realm of shopping centres is for these large landlords that are out to make money to look at intensifying their shopping centre sites by adding housing and other uses to it,” he continues.

And although retail remains an “overwhelmingly physical experience” in Canada and the US, e-commerce continues to grow, and so mixing retail with condos makes a lot of sense, Patterson explains.

“When you’re building 2,000 homes with potentially 3,000 extra people or more living directly on your shopping centre site, talk about a way to fight e-commerce.”

Here are eight Toronto shopping malls that could see at least part of their properties converted into housing.

Bayview Village Shopping Centre

QuadReal, which handles investment manager bcIMC’s real estate assets, envisions an expansion of this mall at Bayview Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East, a plan that includes more than 1,100 residential units, additional retail space and pedestrian-friendly common areas.

Galleria Mall

Dubbed Reimagine Galleria, Freed and ELAD Canada’s proposal is based on tearing the 70s-era mall down but would replace it — and its 700-spot parking lot — with even more retail square footage, 11 mixed-use towers containing 3,416 residential units and a brand new community centre and park land for the Wallace-Emerson neighbourhood.

Eglinton Square

Kingsett Capital, the current owner of Scarborough’s Eglinton Square at Eglinton Avenue East and Victoria Park, wants to erect several mixed-use high-rise towers on underused parts of the large commercial plot of land. The existing Eglinton Square Mall would be maintained and flanked by more than 1,600 residential units.

Humbertown Plaza

First Capital Realty and Tridel’s award-winning plan for the Humbertown Plaza transforms an Etobicoke strip-mall into a master-planned community, one that could boast new condos, townhouses and seniors residences amid community-based amenities like a day care, health club and, of course, retail.

Yorkdale Mall

In May this year, Oxford Properties proposed three possible multi-phase mixed-use proposals for a chunk of Yorkdale Mall’s 14-hectare site, more than half of which is currently dedicated to surface parking. Considerations include retail, office, hotel and residential elements.

“They’re planning for the future and for uncertainties by saying that they need a certain level of flexibility within their design for Yorkdale so that they can be ready for the next big thing,” says Retail Insider’s Patterson.

Bridlewood Mall

If completed, this redevelopment would add a 12-storey residential tower (with retail at grade) to the Bridlewood Mall site at Finch Avenue East and Warden Avenue. It’s among the more modest of the current mall-intensification plans taking root in Toronto.

Cumberland Terrace

This derelict, three-storey mall in Yorkville is one small piece in a dramatic — albeit at this time only potential — reshaping by Oxford Properties of the immediate area. The site plan application, submitted in August 2014, features a 54-storey residential skyscraper with 575 units and much smaller two- and four-storey buildings with retail, parking and amenities.

Agincourt Mall

North American Development Group plans to raze the aging Scarborough Mall in favour of a new, 26-acre mixed-use community. The builder plans to bring 250,000 of retail space alongside a public park and residential units.

Here’s how much Canadians are spending on U.S. real estate

Posted on August 17, 2017

Posted in Insider

Photo: Joe Busby/Flickr

With elevated house price growth in Canada’s hottest markets, Toronto and Vancouver, more Canadians are opting to buy affordable properties across the border.

From April 2016 to March 2017, Canadians spent a record $19 billion on residential properties in the United States — more than double the total of $8.9 billion in last year’s report, according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest report, published on Tuesday.

Even though inventory shortages continue to drive up US home prices, Canadians are still turning to the south in an effort to find affordable vacation homes.

“Some of the acceleration in foreign purchases over the past year appears to come from the combination of more affordable property choices in the U.S. and foreigners deciding to buy now knowing that any further weakening of their local currency against the dollar will make buying more expensive in the future,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in a statement.

During the April 2016 to March 2017 period, a total of 284,455 properties were sold to foreign investors, up 32 per cent from 2016.

Canadian buyers accounted for 33,819 of those properties compared to 26,851 in 2016. For a third consecutive year, China led the way with the most foreign purchases. During the period studied by NAR, Chinese buyers made 40,572 purchases in the US.

After foreign investment from Canadians dropped from 2015 to 2016 in the US, due to the weakening Canadian dollar, this year’s heightened activity is believed to be temporary considering the red-hot activity in Toronto and Vancouver.

“We expect to see continued strength and demand from Canadian buyers. However, we do think it’s just probably an anomaly and we’re going to get a pullback. There’s a lot of unrest and uncertainty over this time period,” Ken Fears, NAR senior economist, tells BuzzBuzzNews.

From April 2016 to March 2017, the majority of Canadian buyers were choosing to invest in the southeast and southwest areas of the US, particularly in Florida.

Canadians spent slightly more on homes in the US compared to last year. The median price tag of a home Canadians purchased was $288,615, up from $222,310 in 2016.

Affordable options and a warmer climate are the top reasons why Canadians consistently make the top three list of foreign buyers in the US, explains Fears.

“The home price appreciation is quite strong in Canada relative to the United States and there’s always this long-term driver of warm weather. But also you get a lot more for your money [in the US] in terms of square footage and kind of proximity to amenities,” says Fears.

Overall, foreign buyers and immigrants spent $153 billion on homes, a notable 49 per cent increase from $102.6 billion in 2016. This is a record high in the history of the report.

For a fourth straight year, China maintained its top position, spending $31.7 billion on US properties.

Canary Commons the next building at Canary District

Posted on August 17, 2017

Posted in Insider

9 stats you should know about Toronto’s housing market in July 2017

Posted on August 16, 2017

Posted in Insider

Photo: James Bombales

“Never before have so many homes changed hands across the Greater Toronto Area in the month of July,” read the first line of our coverage of the monthly Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) data released for July 2016.

That was then, this is now.

According to data released today by TREB, GTA home sales in July 2017 came plummeting back to Earth, down 40.4 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier. Meantime, new listings climbed again on a year-over-year basis, though July’s percentage increase, at 5.1 per cent, was significantly lower than the 15.9 per cent increase observed in June.

In a media release accompanying the data, TREB pointed to homebuyer psychology and the unreliable nature of summer market statistics as reasons for the steep decline, which continued a trend of year-over-year drops that began in April of this year and accelerated in May and June.

“We generally see an uptick in sales following Labour Day, as a greater cross-section of would-be buyers and sellers start to consider listing and/or purchasing a home,” says TREB CEO John DiMichele, in a statement. “As we move through the fall, we should start to get a better sense of the impacts of the Fair Housing Plan and higher borrowing costs.”

Not everyone in Toronto’s real estate community is convinced that the expected post-Labour Day boost in activity will come to fruition this year.

In a recent episode of BuzzBuzzNews’ weekly Facebook Live broadcast, 15-year Toronto market veteran Chris Borkowski, a broker with Re/Max Hallmark, said he believes market conditions are going to be even more buyer friendly following the September long weekend.

“The only advice I hear every agent giving their client right now is, ‘Wait ‘til September,” he says. “I think come… the day the long weekend’s over, you’re going to see eight million listings… I believe there’s going to be a few weeks of smokin’ deals for buyers.”

Either way, it remains an interesting time to be a housing market observer in Toronto. Here are 9 more key statistics that came from TREB’s market data release for July 2017:

1. There were 5,921 homes sold in the GTA in July 2017, down from 9,929 sales recorded in July 2016, a record amount for the month.

2. According to TREB historical data for the month, July 2017’s total was also considerably lower than any July in the last 5 years. TREB recorded 9,880 sales in July 2015, 9,198 sales in July 2014, 8,544 sales in July 2013 and 7,570 sales in July 2012.

3. There were 556 detached homes sold in the City of Toronto, also known as the 416 region, in July. That’s down 41.7% from the previous year.

4. But that didn’t stop the average sales price of a detached home in the 416 from continuing its upward march. The average detached home price was $1,304,288, up 8.5 per cent from July 2016.

5. However, the rate at which prices increased slowed markedly from previous months. For instance, between July 2015 and July 2016, the average detached home sales price in the 416 saw a 20.7 per cent increase.

6. While all housing types (detached, semi-detached, condo apartment and townhouse) saw significant year-over-year sales declines, price increases remained robust for condo apartments and townhouses. Average condo apartment prices rose 24.6 per cent year-over-year to $532,502 while the average townhouse went for $707,269 in July.

7. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark, a steadier guide to price ebbs and flows, was up 18 per cent year-over-year in the GTA. But, on a month-over-month basis, the benchmark price was down 4.6 per cent.

8. Active listings in the GTA were up 65.3 per cent year-over-year, rising from 11,346 in July 2016 to 18,751 last month.

9. Despite this, Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis, believes housing supply remains an issue in the GTA. “Looking forward, if we do see some would-be home buyers move off the sidelines and back into the market without a similar increase in new listings, we could see some of this newfound choice erode,” he says in a statement.

“More evidence” Toronto’s Housing Correction Will Mirror Vancouver’s

Posted on August 10, 2017

Posted in Insider

Photo: James Bombales

Both Vancouver and Toronto showed signs of cooling after their respective provincial governments introduced foreign-homebuyer taxes for the cities and their environs — and chances are, the similarities won’t end there.

So suggests BMO Senior Economist Sal Guatieri in a recent research note.

“Seemingly ignoring the government’s Fair Housing Plan, new condo sales in the Toronto CMA blasted to record highs of 12,138 in Q2, a whopping 62 [per cent] above year-ago levels,” Guatieri writes in the note, titled “Toronto’s Sky-High Condos.”

The economist observes that the number of condo projects launched over that period “surely helped,” but for Guatieri, the Toronto condo market’s recent performance means one thing:

“More evidence that Toronto’s housing ‘correction’ is likely to follow in Vancouver’s soft-landing footsteps… barring an economic shock.”

Some have suggested that Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan, which the foreign-homebuyer tax is part of, will have a greater impact on the market than BC’s foreign-buyer tax for Metro Vancouver did.

That’s because the former measure comes in an environment of rising interest rates following the Bank of Canada’s decision last month to increase the overnight rate by 25 basis points, the first hike in seven years.

Regardless, Vancouver’s condo market has shown resilience of late, a year after BC first introduced its levy of 15 per cent on foreign homebuyers.

It helped lift prime residential real estate prices in Vancouver by 7.3 per cent on a quarter-over-quarter basis in Q2, according to real estate consultancy Knight Frank.

None of the 40 other markets Knight Frank tracked over that period could match that growth.

Now, it appears Toronto’s condo market is also displaying signs of persistent demand.

In the second quarter, inventory levels sunk to a 15-year low, according to the latest figures from condo market research firm Urbanation.

This pushed prices up 28 per cent annually “after controlling for unit size,” says Guatieri, even as the Toronto housing market reacted to Ontario’s sweeping policy measures.

It remains to be seen what role higher interest rates will play.