Canadians invest in home renovations to improve quality of life, not to add value in current Canadian real estate market
- Challenging Canadian housing market conditions put additional importance to home renovations since the start of COVID-19, both for those looking to stay and those selling
- More than half of Canadians renovated their home in 2020 with the intention of living in it, with 29% renovating to enhance their lifestyle for non-essential reasons (aesthetic and/or recreational purposes) and 29% doing so for essential reasons (safety and maintenance)
- Only 16% of Canadians said they renovated to increase the market value of their home in order to sell within in the next one to three years
A new report by RE/MAX Canada is shedding light on shifting consumer trends in home renovations and the perceived return on investment (ROI), as impacted by COVID-19 and historically tight conditions across the Canadian real estate market. The RE/MAX 2021 Renovation Investment Report found that more than half of Canadians renovated their home last year for personal or “non-ROI” purposes, with three in 10 (29 per cent) choosing to renovate for non-essential “lifestyle” reasons, such as recreation-inspired projects.
A Leger survey conducted on behalf of RE/MAX Canada found lifestyle impact to be the top reason for renovating during the course of the pandemic, ahead of motives such as making essential renovations to accommodate life in lockdown (17 per cent), or to increase the value of the home with the intention of selling in the next one to three years (16 per cent).
Despite the trend of home renovations for personal use and enjoyment, 59 per cent of Canadians still said they always consider the return on investment that a renovation will have on their home’s overall market value, so while there is a current renovation trend based on lifestyle aspirations, practicality is never far from the surface.
“The notion of the home as an investment continues to be an important consideration for Canadian homeowners; however, they clearly value the home for what it is meant to be: a place to live and enjoy spending time,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “The pandemic has influenced virtually every aspect of our lives, including what Canadians want and need in a home. The uncertainty also compelled many sellers to move to the sidelines or renovate their home to accommodate current quality-of-life needs, which has further tightened conditions across many Canadian real estate markets.”
This lack of inventory is expected to be a continuing factor in the spring housing market across Canada. In its market outlook for 2021, RE/MAX identified seller’s market conditions in 82 per cent of regions, with a noted spike in demand for single-family dwellings putting additional pressure on already limited supply.
“Canadian real estate has continued to perform above and beyond expectations, with an increased opportunity for sellers to see a strong return on their investment given current demand,” says Christopher Alexander, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “As we’ve seen over the past year, strong seller’s markets continue to dominate many regions across Canada, with homes selling in record time and at record prices. While the impact that specific renovations have on ROI will vary by regional conditions, the Canadian housing market has generally shown us that you can’t go wrong with anything that improves your home in any way.”
With this in mind, nearly one year after the start of cross-country lockdowns, Canadians are still making renovation decisions based on pandemic living, with over half (55 per cent) of survey respondents stating that they have already done or would like to do a home renovation within the next year. Of this group, 35 per cent say they would opt for minor renovations, such as painting.
RE/MAX brokers across Canada were also surveyed for the report and identified fresh paint and landscaping as two upgrades that yield a high ROI, despite being low-budget and minor in nature. This is in alignment with and good news for the nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadians who said they would want to keep their home improvement budget below $10,000, even if the guaranteed ROI was at least 10 per cent. Three in 10 Canadians (31 per cent) would bump up their spending from $10,000 to just under $50,000, and only four per cent would consider spending more than $50,000.
Sixty-five per cent of RE/MAX brokers surveyed also claim that kitchen upgrades, including cabinets, countertops and appliances, yield the highest ROI for sellers, with 87 per cent of brokers naming the kitchen renovation as the top home improvement resonating with buyers in the Canadian real estate market.
Renovations and Canadian Real Estate: Regional Market Insights
In Western Canada, Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria, homebuyers want the move-in-ready experience, with homes that are already entirely renovated being most in demand. Given this, sellers in these regions have the potential to see a large return on their renovation investment. In Greater Vancouver, outdoor improvements are one of the optimal ways for homeowners to get the best ROI, with landscaping among the top five renovations to undertake. It’s also one of the most common renovations that homeowners in this region are taking on themselves, versus hiring a professional to do the work.
Throughout Ontario, RE/MAX brokers are reporting that listings are selling quickly, regardless of their condition or renovation status. Regions including Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton-Burlington, Niagara, London and Kingston/Napanee saw a strong shift toward outdoor upgrades and amenities in 2020, specifically the addition of a pool or larger exterior living area. Much of this demand was prompted by COVID-19 and the desire for more recreational space within the home – a trend that is not anticipated to be a permanent one. Bathroom renovations and new flooring are highly regarded as yielding the best return on investment. Across markets such as Mississauga, Thunder Bay, London, Barrie and Ottawa, painting is noted by RE/MAX brokers as the top renovation that homeowners are doing themselves, as well as one of the best ways to also see an improvement on ROI.
In Atlantic Canada provinces, RE/MAX brokers also placed importance on upgraded kitchens, but noted flooring upgrades as one of the best renovations for homeowners to get optimal ROI in regions including Fredericton, Saint John and St. John’s. Meanwhile in Charlottetown, roofing upgrades and landscaping are two of the top renovations that can be done relatively quickly to improve ROI, along with painting, as echoed across nearly all regions surveyed. In Saint John, the finished basement is one of the most sought-after renovations by buyers and creating more open-concept spaces is noted as one of the top three ways for sellers to get the best return on their investment.
Consumers’ Understanding of ROI
Only 51 per cent of Canadians claimed to have a thorough grasp of the renovation process and nearly half either don’t know or disagree that they have the understanding needed to make ROI-enhancing renovation decisions. Furthermore, 50 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they expect their REALTOR® to advise them on the right renovations to take on if they expressed interest in doing so when purchasing a home. This reliance on external professionals to guide home-buying decisions is anticipated to continue.
Additional highlights from the 2021 RE/MAX Renovation Investment Report
- When it comes to the renovations that yield the best return on investment, Canadians see these as the best renovations to undertake:
- 70% of Canadians state redesigning larger spaces, such as kitchens or washrooms
- 56% of Canadians state minor updates, such as refreshing paint
- 55% of Canadians state landscaping the outdoor space
- 50% of Canadians state changing the home layout, including adding rooms or knocking down walls
- 32% of Canadians state updating décor and furniture
- 49% of Canadians prefer to contract out most or all of the renovation work
- 33% of Canadians consider themselves to be very capable when it comes to home renovations, and don’t need professional help
About the 2021 RE/MAX Renovation Investment Report
The 2021 RE/MAX Renovation Investment Report includes data from RE/MAX brokerages. RE/MAX brokers and agents are surveyed on insights and local developments. Regional summaries with additional broker insights can be found at remax.ca.
Leger is the largest Canadian-owned full-service market research firm. An online survey of 1,540 Canadians was completed between February 4-7, 2021, using Leger’s online panel. Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members nationally and has a retention rate of 90 per cent. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Forest Gate buys Niagara Falls shopping centre | RENX – Real Estate News EXchange
Forest Gate Financial Corp. has acquired a Niagara Falls shopping centre as the newly formed investment firm begins building a portfolio and executing on its strategy to acquire a diverse range of properties.
The Mount Carmel Centre was purchased from a private investment group for $37 million. The 30-acre site at 3930 Montrose Rd. is occupied by a shopping centre with tenants that include Food Basics, The Sleep Factory, Tim Hortons, Swiss Chalet and Harvey’s, among several other retailers and food, beverage and service providers.
“We really believe in the Niagara Falls market and think this is an excellent opportunity for us,” Forest Gate chief executive officer and managing partner Dan Marinovic told RENX. “We like the site because it’s a very large property that we feel we can add value to.”
Forest Gate will manage the property, which is in close proximity to a residential neighbourhood and Mount Carmel Park. Niagara Falls has natural attractions, a strong tourism industry and a manufacturing base.
The city will benefit from improved GO Transit service, which Marinovic believes will make it an attractive location for people looking to work remotely while seeking a more affordable and relaxed lifestyle than can be found in larger markets.
Forest Gate seeks variety of asset classes
While there are no immediate plans for redevelopment, the Mount Carmel Centre site is large enough to accommodate future multifamily and mixed-use development.
Forest Gate is establishing a stand-alone purpose-built rental apartment vertical and Marinovic said it has close to 500 units under management or in its acquisition pipeline.
The company is looking to add at least 1,000 units annually over the next several years. It’s targeting value-add opportunities in Southern Ontario communities like Niagara Falls where there’s access to public transit and pleasant environments for living and working from home.
Forest Gate is also seeking income-producing industrial and retail properties, as well as development and redevelopment opportunities.
The Vaughan-headquartered boutique real estate private equity, private debt and advisory investment firm was launched in March by Marinovic and partner and chief financial officer Frank DelZotto to deliver premium risk-adjusted returns on its own and in partnerships with developers, builders, investors and capital providers.
Forest Gate can be nimble in making acquisitions and Marinovic is excited by the momentum the company has achieved in its first six months.
“We’re big believers in the Canadian real estate landscape, especially as things start to normalize and we get immigration back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Marinovic. “We’re looking at very significant growth over the next 12 months.”
The Forest Gate team
Marinovic was most recently chief development officer of Dream Unlimited, where his responsibilities covered finance, development, construction and operations. Before joining Dream in 2013 he was vice-president of finance for First Gulf, the commercial real estate arm of Great Gulf, for seven years.
DelZotto was previously a partner at BDO Canada LLP for 19 years.
Forest Gate just hired Justin Hawkins, formerly First Gulf’s senior manager of development and planning, as director of development. Hawkins worked for RioCan REIT, Dream and SmartCentres REIT before that.
Vaughan-based home-builder Treasure Hill Homes is a partner in Forest Gate. Forest Gate’s advisory board is comprised of Marinovic, DelZotto, Treasure Hill president Nicholas Fidei and Treasure Hill CFO Mark Caruso.
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A record-setting residential real estate deal takes centre stage in the latest episode of Behind the Headlines.
To hear the full podcast with OBJ publisher Michael Curran and editor David Sali, please watch the video above. Prefer an audio version of this podcast? Listen to it on SoundCloud or Spotify.
MC: We know the business audience likes big numbers, and this is a big number: a quarter of a billion dollars. This is a three-building rental apartment complex in Westboro, and it sold for $267 million. We think it’s the largest residential real estate deal in Ottawa history. Dave, tell us about it.
DS: CBRE brokered this historic deal. It actually took three of their offices – Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal – working together to get this deal done. That’s how big it was. The buyer is Homestead Land Holdings out of Kingston. They already own a couple of dozen properties in Ottawa along with dozens more across the province. As Nico Zentil of CBRE’s Ottawa office told me, it is just very rare that you would see a property of this scale ever come on the market in Ottawa because we have a pretty tightly controlled market here. This is part of Homestead’s play to expand its footprint here – they also recently filed an application to build a 25-storey apartment tower with 235 units near Baseline and Greenbank. Clearly, they’re wanting to go big in what they think is going to be a big bounceback for the Ottawa rental market. Zentil said the properties were hotly pursued and got multiple bidders. That’s a testament to the strength of the Ottawa residential market right now.
As you know, last year wasn’t great for the rental market in Ottawa. With the pandemic, two big groups that are normally pretty steady, reliable renters – students and new immigrants – well, there weren’t many of those coming to the capital last year, so that caused a little bit of a dip in the rental market for sure. But the general consensus seems to be that things are ready to bounce back.
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