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'Bad things happening' in Ontario real estate market as homebuyer complaints surge –



When Carla Vanderdeen-Fenech started shopping for a home in Hamilton in late 2020, she knew it would be competitive.

What she didn’t expect was to live in a friend’s basement for five months despite having made a healthy down payment on a $1.1 million house. Vanderdeen-Fenech contends her family wouldn’t be in a basement if agents weren’t breaking the rules to milk as much money out of buyers as possible.

The 40-year-old says she’s coming forward with her experience to warn others as the pandemic-era housing market continues to intensify.

“If we weren’t robbed of a home, somebody else was … this is why I said to my husband, ‘We have to speak up, we have to file a complaint, because this is wrong,'” Vanderdeen-Fenech said.

Vanderdeen-Fenech filed a complaint to the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) earlier this year when she says a local listing agent broke the rules by sharing the price of a competing bid.

After her family sold their house in Mississauga in November, they stayed in their friend’s basement looking for a home. They had their eye on a $1.1-million home on Hamilton Mountain — a brick-and-stone house with a fireplace, a two-car garage and lots of space for her three kids, two of whom have special needs.

WATCH: The economic dangers of skyrocketing home prices:

Housing sales and prices hit year-over-year record highs in the Greater Toronto Area and experts warn it is a dangerous pattern across the country, threatening the overall economy. 2:04

Vanderdeen-Fenech and her husband offered $1,100,017 on the home in early February for a 9 a.m. deadline, she said in her RECO complaint. She said there were 23 other offers on the home, which was listed at roughly $900,000, and the listing agent needed 48 hours to choose one.

She says the listing agent called her realtor at 2 p.m., two hours after her offer expired, saying hers was “one of the top five, and we had the largest deposit.” But there was a bid for $80,000 more, the listing agent said, so Vanderdeen-Fenech needed to do better. 

Vanderdeen-Fenech shared her story on the condition that CBC News didn’t name the agent, because she said she didn’t want to ruin his career.

She says the listing agent encouraged her to make a higher bid because he’d hoped the competing bidders would use his son as their buying agent. But the competing bidders used someone else instead.

“When they’re disclosing information they shouldn’t be, someone is getting robbed of a home,” Vanderdeen-Fenech said.

“If he had an offer $80,000 more than ours at 9 a.m., when all offers were presented, why didn’t he take it? Why is he calling us five hours later?”

Sold for less than higher bid

The listing agent also assumed Vanderdeen-Fenech was from Toronto, she said, and told her “you Toronto people have all the money.”

Vanderdeen-Fenech didn’t raise her bid. In the end, the home did not sell for $80,000 more than her offer.

Rob Golfi, an agent with ReMax Escarpment Golfi Realty Inc., says what happened to Vanderdeen-Fenech is not an isolated incident.

“I see that happening … [agents] say, ‘OK, do better.’ Well, do we have to do better?” he said in a phone interview.

“There’s a lot of bad things happening out there, but it’s hard to prove.”

The Real Estate Council of Ontario says given the hot housing market, complaints of all kinds are at a historic high. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

The listing agent in the Vanderdeen-Fenech case isn’t on the Golfi team.

The agent declined an interview, but his office said it hopes a review shows he is “100 per cent innocent.” Vanderdeen-Fenech’s buying agent also declined to comment.

Complaints like Vanderdeen-Fenech’s are becoming more common. Brian Buchan, a spokesperson for the Real Estate Council of Ontario, says given the hot housing market, complaints of all kinds are at a historic high.

From this time last year to the first quarter of 2021, complaints from homebuyers have jumped 38 per cent, he says, which is “one of the largest jumps we’ve seen.”

The number of disciplinary actions hasn’t increased. Of those complaints, 38 per cent led to administrative action (like having an agent pay a fine and take educational courses), while five per cent led to prosecution (like losing their licence).

“In a hot market, there’s more people involved, more room for complaints, whether that’s disappointed people in a bidding war or some undesirable behaviours,” Buchan said. “We want to be at a place where only five per cent of the complaints actually have serious consequences.”

If true, agent could lose licence

Buchan said the council is reviewing Vanderdeen-Fenech’s allegations and is in a “fact-finding and discovery phase.” After that, RECO will decide if it needs to investigate.

But if the allegations are true, Buchan said, it is “clearly” a violation of the rules.

The code of ethics states an agent can disclose the number of offers but cannot reveal the substance of an offer or who is making it.

If the listing agent did break the rules, the possible outcomes range from coming to a resolution with the complainant to the agent losing their licence.

Donna Bacher, president of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB), said in a written statement the board hasn’t heard or received any complaints about similar conduct among its members.

Home buyers don’t know all the rules

Vanderdeen-Fenech’s family did eventually find a home in Hamilton. They expect to move in at the end of April.

Even so, she hopes her experience will help others.

“Some buyers truly don’t realize what’s allowed and not allowed,” she said. 

“This is unacceptable and … maybe listing agents who have been conducting [business] this way will say, ‘I better shut it down before I get complaints against me.'”

Attention home buyers, sellers and agents: We want to hear from you!

We hope you’ll use this form to tell us about your experiences in the real estate market and whatever pressing issues are on your mind in Hamilton, Niagara, St. Catharines and Burlington.

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Evergrande’s Proposed Shift From Real Estate To Electric Vehicles Fails To Convince – Forbes



Hui Ka Yan has finally revealed his plan to save China Evergrande. He wants the embattled property developer to shift its focus from real estate to manufacturing electric vehicles, but skepticism abounds.

Despite having never sold a vehicle, Hui’s aim is to turn away from Evergrande’s main business and become an EV maker within the next decade, the state-run Securities Times reported late Friday evening, citing an internal meeting held on October 22.

The proposal sent shares of his Hong Kong-listed EV unit, China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group, soaring as much as 17% on Monday before closing the day with a gain of 11.4%. But the company still trades at just a fraction of its peak market value of $86.7 billion that it reached in mid-April after tumbling 94% since then.

Analysts, however, have expressed their skepticism. It remains unclear whether Evergrande, now close to collapsing under $305 billion in total liabilities, has the expertise or capital to compete in China’s increasingly crowded EV field.

“Evergrande used to have a strategy of buy, buy and buy,” says John Zeng, a Shanghai-based director of China forecasting at consultancy LMC Automotive, referring to the property developer’s previous EV-related acquisitions. “Its approach was very simple and unpolished, and no one really knows how much technology it has mastered. ”

Hui currently has a net worth of $11.6 billion that is largely based on dividend payouts received over the years. He was a former steel factory worker when he first established Evergrande in 1997. Although he had no prior experience in producing EVs when he first announced his ambition to do so in 2019, he has since funneled more than $1 billion into a series of acquisitions that saw him gain control of National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS) and buy a majority stake in battery maker Shanghai CENAT New Energy. The company said its first EV model Hengchi would be delivered from its Tianjin factory early next year, according to an October 11 post published on Evergrande’s website.

But its EV unit warned less than a month ago that it was encountering a “serious shortage of funds,” according to a September 24 stock exchange filing. The company said it had “suspended paying some of its operating expenses and some suppliers have suspended supplying for projects.”

Evergrande itself warned last week that there was “no guarantee” it will be able to meet its financial obligations. The company did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

Even if Hui eventually manages to begin producing EVs, how he would sell them is another question with no clear answer, says Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight.

“Building a sales channel from scratch is very capital intensive, and Evergrande doesn’t appear to have channels of its own,” says Zhang. “Plus, its current model is a concept car that is still quite some distance away from mass manufacturing and selling.”

Justin Tang, head of Asian Research at New York-based investment and advisory group United First Partners, says the billionaire may simply be trying to boost investor confidence. Hui also pledged during the same meeting to deliver Evergrande’s unfinished properties to homebuyers, saying the company “in principle” won’t buy land over the next ten years, and would reduce the scale of its property development business “by a large margin,” according to the Securities Times report.

The company said separately via its WeChat public account that its 40 real estate projects in places including Guangzhou and Foshan are progressing “smoothly and orderly.” Last week, Evergrande narrowly avoided default by paying a $83.5 million bond coupon just before a 30-day grace period was about to expire.

But Evergrande faces more interest payments down the road, and $3.5 billion of its offshore bonds are expected to mature in March. The cash-strapped company has been struggling to raise funds through asset sales and other means, and market doubts over whether it can meet its debt obligations continue to persist.

“Where is the money coming from?” asks Tang, adding that Evergrande “doesn’t have time as a friend,” and its proposal of saving itself by making cars has “lots of questions but no real answers.”

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Massive Montreal real estate deal would include several malls for $5.7 billion – CTV News Montreal



A major real estate company has made a deal to buy and privatize, for $5.7 billion, the major real estate fund Cominar, which holds some of Montreal’s biggest shopping malls, among other properties.

Cominar owns Place Alexis Nihon, Rockland Centre, Complexe de la Gare Centrale and several other malls in Laval, Longueuil and elsewhere in Quebec.

Overall, it owns 310 office, commercial and industrial buildings in Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa.

In a press release issued Sunday evening, Cominar announced it has entered into a purchase agreement with Iris Acquisition II LP, an entity created by a consortium led by Montreal-based Canderel Real Estate Property.

As part of the consortium arrangement, Groupe Mach Acquisition, based in Montreal, would acquire commercial and office buildings valued at approximately $1.5 billion.

Under the agreement, the buyer proposes to pay $11.75 per share, which is a premium of 16.3 per cent over Cominar’s volume-weighted average price per unit for the 20-day period that ended Friday.

It also represents a premium of 63.2 per cent over the closing price on September 15, 2020, the day before the announcement of a strategic review process by Cominar.

The transaction has the unanimous support of Cominar’s board of trustees and of the special committee of the board, which is made up of independent trustees, it said.

“We believe that this transaction provides significant value, certainty and liquidity to our shareholders, and we’re convinced that it is in the best interests of Cominar,” said René Tremblay, Chairman of Cominar’s Board of Trustees, in the press release.

Canderel CEO Brett Miller says the transaction would also benefit Cominar tenants as it would “leverage the resources of the Canderel platform and a group of investors led by Quebecers with the long-term view of opening up opportunities for growth and development in the communities where Cominar operates.”

Groupe Mach, for its part, sees an opportunity to increase its “leadership position in Quebec in all categories of real estate assets” by adding buildings from Cominar.

“The acquired properties will be incorporated into Groupe Mach’s integrated operations and management system with the goal of preserving the long-term interests of the various stakeholders,” says its president and founder, Vincent Chiara.

The parties say they believe the transaction could close in the first quarter of 2022.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 24, 2021. With files from CTV News.

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Kelowna remains iconic real estate hotspot – Kelowna Capital News – Kelowna Capital News



A summer like no other may be a common refrain to describe the unprecedented sales rush in the Central Okanagan real estate market this year.

The good times are likely to continue well into the future for the real estate development industry in our region, but likely not at the robust levels seen over the period from last fall through the summer, says Scott Brown, CEO of Fifth Avenue/Epic Real Estate Solutions.

Brown, whose firms specializes in multi-family home development sales, says Kelowna remains an iconic lifestyle option for larger urban centre residents, with buyers in Ontario and further east now having a buyer impact on the marketplace.

He said Kelowna remains the magnet for real estate buyers looking for that increasingly cherished commodity of the Okanagan lifestyle.

He describes homeowners this past year looking at what community they live in, the home they have, the ability to work remotely, and thinking they want something different, an outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to spend more time at home because of travel restrictions.

“You are seeing that impact felt in the Greater Victoria area and in the Central Okanagan. The question for many is the ferry versus the Coquihalla as which you prefer to deal with. The summer fires this season in the Okanagan also adds an element to that decision,” he said.

But despite the smokey skies and driving access challenges in winter months on the Interior highways, Brown says the trend in Kelowna’s popularity is expected to continue, calling the city “second-tier size with first-tier lifestyle.”

“There is a hip factor to Kelowna like you see in some similar cities like an Austin or Charleston in the U.S. It is a great place to live for the young and old, it has an international airport and growing entrepreneurism,” said Brown.

As that popularity continues, Brown says land limitations will affect the supply and demand relationship that fuels housing costs, causing a spillage affect as people eye neighbouring communities like Penticton, Vernon, West Kelowna and Peachland as financial affordability alternatives to the Okanagan lifestyle.

“It is going to spill both north and south. I really feel right now Penticton is about where Kelowna was four or five years ago and I see big things happening there. Penticton could be the place we are all talking about next summer,” he said.

Brown was commenting on the local real estate scene as the keynote speaker for the Kelowna chapter of the Urban Development Institute monthly luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 21.

Brown said projects his firm was involved with this past year enjoyed heated sales traction this past year, causing the company to expand its workforce by 300 per cent to ramp up and meet the buyer demand.

One anecdote he noted from the One Water Street East Tower downtown Kelowna high-rise development, of the 228 pre-sales only 20 buyers have put their units up for resale since construction was completed.

“That is despite a significant appreciation in the value of those units since the presales were done. That tells me those owners love living here, love owning here and love keeping those units as a rental asset in the marketplace,” Brown said.

Another advantage of the Central Okanagan, Brown noted, is the current transfer of wealth inheritance for our aging population of baby boomers, which Brown says is estimated at $13 trillion worldwide.

Where some of that potential investment money filters out across Canada will have a lot to do with the lifestyle, he said.

“You see people in the Lower Mainland saying this is not the city I grew up in anymore. It has changed and people start looking elsewhere,” he said.

Also adding to higher density development opportunities, he added, is a new younger generation not wanting to live as their grandparents did – asset rich as a homeowner but lifestyle poor.

“This generation wants it all so the priority for them won’t necessarily be to want that single-family home but a more affordable option,” he said.

While the real estate bubble may look to solid foundational building blocks to continue rapid growth in the short term, Brown is often questioned about potential threats to the current boom times in the real estate industry.

He cited a hike in interest rates, which Brown expects to see happen as the economic recovery from COVID fuels inflation, but not for another 18 to 24 months while that recovery takes place.

The other issue remains a global economic collapse similar to what happened in 2008.

“In the end you can’t worry about things you can’t control. If there is another global collapse we will figure it out. What I like to say about real estate is I am pretty certain about what will happen today, what will happen tomorrow but not so much about the day after that,” he said.

READ MORE: Kootenay real estate buyers coming from outside the region

READ MORE: Kelowna named top city for real estate investment

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