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Cities Face Long-Term Neglect, Not Just A Real Estate “Doom Loop”

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There’s been a sudden spike in worrying about city problems created by declining commercial real estate (CRE) values, especially urban office buildings where increased working from home (WFH) has reduced in-office work. But instead of a CRE “apocalypse” or “urban doom loop” that some are predicting, we may just see increased economic and budget pressures, the latest chapter in America’s long-term neglect of its cities

Although the “doom loop” argument highlights real challenges, it’s a mistake to suggest American cities were in great shape prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This framing appears in a widely-discussed recent essay in the New York Times by Thomas Edsall, “How a ‘Golden Era for Large Cities’ Might Be Turning Into an ‘Urban Doom Loop’.”

As my new book Unequal Cities (from Columbia University Press) points out, American cities have suffered persistent inequality for decades. It’s true that pre-pandemic, American cities were doing better in many ways—lower crime, growing populations, and appreciation from some scholars and policy makers that cities are important drivers of the nation’s economic innovation, prosperity, and growth. But it wasn’t a “golden era.”

Edsall relies on an excellent recent paper from Columbia University professor Stin Van Nieuwerburgh, which views significantly increased WFH as permanent, with “broader implications for investors in equity and debt markets, productivity and innovation, local public finances, and the climate.” He contrasts a troubled urban future with recent decades, “which were in many ways…a golden era for large cities.”

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The urban “doom loop” would start with increased WFH reducing urban jobs and commercial real estate values, leading to lower tax revenues and reduced city services (including police, transit, and sanitation), leading to more WFH, etc. Edsall seems to endorse the view “that the shift to working from home, spurred by the Covid pandemic, will bring the three-decade renaissance of major cities to a halt, setting off an era of urban decay.”

Van Nieuwerburgh also has a first-rate recent paper with New York University’s Arjit Gupta on falling CRE values in New York, where they introduced the concept of an “office real estate apocalypse.” As I discussed here in September, their strong empirical work is sobering, but also looks like a worst case scenario that doesn’t envision much potential mitigation from alternative uses of excess office space.

There’s no question WFH has slowed office use, especially in some central business districts, and that slowdown in turn is hurting commercial real estate values and city budgets. Of course, the Federal Reserve’s continuing interest rate hikes and apparent pursuit of a recession to fight inflation aren’t helping either.

But there are two problems with the “doom loop” discussion. First, real estate markets always fluctuate. Edsall’s essay quotes Harvard economist Ed Glaeser on potentially dire urban scenarios from CRE problems. But Glaeser also notes “conventional economic theory suggests that real estate markets will adjust to any reduction in demand by reducing price” and that’s not always a bad thing. If financial markets have over-valued CRE assets, then there will be a correction, but not necessarily an “apocalypse.”

Underused office buildings, including older and less competitive ones, still have value. I’ve written about how they can be converted into residential real estate or other uses. Edsall does quote the great urbanist Richard Florida, who notes that “downtowns and the cities they anchor are the most adaptive and resilient of human creations; they have survived far worse.”

University of Southern California economist Matthew Kahn (whose work should have been referenced in Edsall’s essay) sees expanded WFH as a force that can revive cities, especially older second-tier ones. This could lead to a more balanced national economy with wider opportunity not concentrated in a few superstar cities.

And contrasting a mythic urban “golden age” against the pending “doom loop” is dramatic, but misleading. America’s metropolitan form and politics are consistently biased against cities, and urban inequality has been persistently high for decades.

Cities anchor regional economic prosperity but are surrounded by literally hundreds of politically independent suburbs which reap many economic benefits without fully sharing costs. Cities bear a disproportionate share of those costs—education, poverty, crime, aging infrastructure, a constrained tax and revenue base—reproducing inequality and racial discrimination. Federal and state policies and aid also disfavor cities, making it very hard for them to fight inequality on their own.

Of course, a commercial real estate meltdown will make cities’ problems even harder to solve. A CRE meltdown and attendant city budget and social pressures would be another episode in how badly we treat cities and their residents. But America always has disliked and disfavored its cities, and we shouldn’t view current urban problems through distorting rose-colored glasses that see a lost “golden age” for American cities.

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Saskatoon Real Estate: 6 most expensive house lisitngs | CTV News – CTV News Saskatoon

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Housing sales have been dropping in Saskatoon. However, sales are still higher than the 10-year-trend according to the Saskatchewan Realtors Association (SRA). For those searching for something a little above average, the Saskatoon market still has some of the top luxury homes to offer.

Here are six of the most expensive homes in the region.

 

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(Realtor.ca)

(Realtor.ca)

A four-bedroom, six-bathroom home in the Nutana neighbourhood. The property has direct access to the South Saskatchewan River and offers captivating views. Over four-thousand square feet spread over three levels, including a developed basement. It also has an in-ground pool, courtyard and a dock at the river’s edge. The open-concept kitchen contains a butler’s pantry, coupled with a formal living and dining room on the main floor.

 

(Point2Homes.ca)

 

(Point2Homes.ca)

A four-bedroom, three-bath luxury home overlooking the South Saskatchewan River. This property was custom created to make the most of the breathtaking view. It offers floor-to-ceiling windows, an ultra-private rear courtyard with a built-in cooking area, a basement that has a space for a live-in nanny suite and a home gym. It also has a unique high-heel style bathtub in the master bedroom. 

 

(Realtor.ca)

(Realtor.ca)

This five-bedroom, four-bathroom home offers views of the South Saskatchewan River. It is also automated, which means you can control elements through your phone, such as windows, temperature, surround sound, lighting and security system. There is also a four-car garage on the property, a second-flood deck and landscaping.

 

(Point2Homes.ca)

(Point2homes.ca)

A five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home that offers a lot of space and comes completely furnished, except for the piano. In the basement, there is a theatre room, powder room, and storage room. The main level features a powder room, pantry and kitchen with Miele appliances. In the yard, there is a ground-level patio and a triple garage that offers direct entry to the basement.

 

(Realtor.ca)

(Realtor.ca)

One of Saskatoon’s original mansions, this 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom home was designed by Frank P. Martin, a well-known architect from the 1900s. Renovations have kept the original plan while updating the wiring, plumbing and more. This home features a private rooftop patio, a third-floor self-contained suite that is separate from the rest of the home, and the original carriage house with a loft.

 

(Realtor.ca)

 

(Realtor.ca)

This four-bedroom, three-bathroom home was built in 1962 by George Kerr in the Mid-Century Modern Style. It includes a large art studio, a floating staircase, a 20-foot ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows. It offers views of the green space in Grosvenor Park and is a short walk to the University of Saskatchewan.

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This Week’s Top Stories: Canadian Real Estate Prices Rise Sharply In Some Markets, BoC Sees Further Declines – Better Dwelling

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This Week’s Top Stories: Canadian Real Estate Prices Rise Sharply In Some Markets, BoC Sees Further Declines  Better Dwelling

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Top 10 real estate sales in North and West Vancouver 2022

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Wine room? Check. Heated driveway? Check. Infinity pool, boat lift, putting green? Check, check, check.

While the real estate market took a cooler, even icy, turn in the last six months of 2022, that doesn’t mean that sales of luxury real estate vanished on the North Shore.

Au contraire!

In fact, those for whom the mortgage “stress test” isn’t a worry were still flexing a certain amount of buying power. Buyers at the high end of the market favoured large mansions – most clocking in at around 10,000 square feet – along with large lots, waterfront or expansive water views. Finishing touches like outdoor fire places, movie theatres, gyms, spa rooms and hot tubs didn’t hurt either.

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Here’s a look at the top 10 real estate sales of 2022 on the North Shore.

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This five-bedroom, seven-bathroom luxury estate at 2910 Park Ln. on the Altamont waterfront sold for $21.5 million on Aug. 10. It was the top real estate sale in 2022 in West Vancouver.| Zealty.ca

1. 2910 Park Lane

According to public real estate records, the top sale on the North Shore last year was an iconic five-bedroom, seven-bathroom luxury estate at 2910 Park Ln. on the Altamont waterfront which sold for $21.5 million on Aug. 10.

The 14-year-old, 9,400-square-foot home sits on a lot of almost half an acre of high-bank waterfront, including 98 feet of shoreline.

The home was built in 2008 by its former owner Mossadiq Medaly, a former chair of BC Hydro and a leader in the renewable energy industry, on the site of an apple orchard formerly owned by a member of Vancouver’s Woodward family.

Designed by architect Peter Grant, the home features luxuries like an elevator, indoor-outdoor speaker sound system, in-floor heating system, heated driveway, five fireplaces, infinity pool, floor-to-ceiling windows and a professional music room.

The luxury home, assessed at $14 million, was originally listed for sale at about $30 million.

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A home at 754 Beachview Drive in North Vancouver sold Sept. 8 for $14.9 million. | photo Zealty.ca

2. 754 Beachview Drive

A deluxe six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home at 754 Beachview Dr. was the only home in North Vancouver to make the Top 10 sales list. The luxury home on three-quarters of an acre was assessed at just under $12.55 million this year. The 8,850-square-foot home sold in September for $14.9 million.

Features of the oceanfront mansion include an infinity pool, 10-person hot tub (now that’s a party!), golf putting green, dock with boat lift, four-jet-ski slip and private ramp. Inside features double height ceilings, Miele appliances, movie theatre, billiard area, gym, sauna, steam room and wine room.

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This modern mansion at 2975 Palmerston by architectural firm Battersby Howat in West Vancouver’s Altamont neighbourhood sold for $14.75 million in February. | Zealty.ca

3. 2975 Palmerston Avenue

Located in West Vancouver’s sought after Altamont neighbourhood, this distinctly modern mansion by architectural firm Battersby Howat sold for $14.75 million in February after just 24 days on the market. The six-year-old, 10,000-square-foot three-storey house on a landscaped half-acre lot sold for close to its asking price of $14.88 million. The home features floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors that create a dramatic open feel leading to spectacular garden views. Outside, a hot tub and pool beckon. The home also boasts an array of technology for controlling lighting, a private elevator, security system, air conditioning and garage parking for five vehicles.

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This home at 1335 Chartwell Drive, in West Vancouver’s British Properties, sold for $12.8 million July 23. | Zealty.ca

4. 1335 Chartwell Drive

Homes in the British Properties are among those often sought out in the higher echelons of the real-estate market. It’s all about the views up here, and showing off luxury details. The fourth-highest sale on the North Shore, at 1335 Chartwell Dr., which sold for $12.8 million July 23 after just 15 days on the market, ticks those boxes. A one-year-old custom build, the six-bedroom, eight-bathroom 10,000-square-foot house features a “grand foyer” with a 20-foot hand-painted dome ceiling rising above a crystal chandelier. Italian tile, Miele and Wolf appliances, four marble gas fireplaces and a wine cellar, theatre, sauna, gym, pool, hot tub and heated driveway complement the bling.

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This 8,000-square-foot Mediterranean-inspired home in Altamont sold for $11.8 million on April 11. | Zealty.ca

5. 2919 Mathers Avenue

A “health and wellness wing” including a massage room, separate “staff quarters,” “butler’s pantry” and a 27-foot, 11,000-litre tropical aquarium are among the unique features of the fifth-highest property sale on the North Shore in 2022 at 2919 Mathers Ave. The seven-bedroom, 11-bathroom 8,000-square-foot Mediterranean-inspired home on almost a half acre in Altamont sold for $11.8 million on April 11 after 55 days on the market. That’s significantly less that the original asking price of $14.3 million. An integrated Band & Olufsen audio visual system, fitness room, infinity pool and jacuzzi complete the package.

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This contemporary 5,300-square-foot home next to McKechnie Park sold for $11 million on Feb. 18, 2022. | Zealty.ca

6. 3704 McKechnie Avenue

A contemporary custom-built home, nestled among trees on a “trophy property” backing on to McKechnie Park, this three-year-old 5,300-square-foot home at 3704 McKechnie Ave. sold for $11 million on Feb. 18, 2022 – less than the asking price of $12.8 million.

The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home on a third of an acre in Westmount features an open floor plan drenched in light with all rooms offering sweeping ocean views.

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This home at 2860 Mathers was the seventh highest real estate sale on the North Shore in 2022 at $10.7 million.

7. 2860 Mathers Avenue

A 17-year-old 12,000 square-foot home on Altamont’s “Golden Mile” was the seventh highest real estate sale on the North Shore last year. The three-storey, seven-bath, six-bedroom home at 2860 Mathers Ave. sold for $10.7 million, considerably below the $14 million asking price, on April 20, after 75 days on the market. The modern concrete home features a wine room, gym and indoor swimming pool and has geothermal heating and cooling. There are also solar panels for hot water, a rainwater reclamation system and a heated driveway.

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This British Properties mansion at 1022 Eyremont Dr. sold for $10.5 million Sept. 18. | Zealty.ca

8. 1022 Eyremount Drive

If a mini golf course and elevator are among the luxurious touches you expect in home, this one-year-old British Properties mansion fits the bill.

The almost 10,000-square-foot home at 1022 Eyremount Dr. features gasp-worthy views of the ocean, city and Lions Gate Bridge. The five-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion is billed as having “every imaginable luxury” including a walk-in wine cellar/cigar room, billiard area, home theatre and sauna, as well as five fireplaces. It sold for $10.5 million Sept. 18, after 69 days on the market, a relative bargain compared to the asking price of $16 million.

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This home at 1578 Chippendale in the British Properties sold for just under $10.3 million April. 15. | Zealty.ca

9. 1578 Chippendale Road

Amazing views from the British Properties are the key feature of this 9,700-square-foot 23-year-old home on a huge flat lot at 1578 Chippendale Rd. The three-storey, six-bed, five-bathroom mansion sold April 15 for just under $10.3 million. Almost 300 feet of frontage allows for a “massive street presence.” A library, sauna and media room are also among the features of the home.

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This 73-year-old home on the West Bay waterfront in West Vancouver at 3874 Marine Drive sold for $9.8 million. | Zealty.ca

10. 3874 Marine Drive

This two-storey, four-bedroom four-bathroom home on the waterfront in West Bay at 3874 Marine Dr. is the smallest of the top ten homes to sell last year at 3,700 square feet. It’s also the oldest at 73 years. But what it lacks in sheer size it makes up for in gorgeous west coast character on a spectacular 17,600-square-foot property that slopes gently to the water’s edge. Tiered patios, a waterside pool and boathouse lead down to about 80 feet of natural shoreline. There’s also tranquil gardens a pond and gazebo. Inside features large rooms with stunning views, all in a comfortable home.

This home was the only one on the North Shore’s top ten sales that sold for under $10 million last year, fetching $9.8 million on Sept. 17, after just 17 days on the market.

 

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A pool on the water’s edge is one feature of this 73-year-old home on the West Bay waterfront in West Vancouverat 3874 Marine Drive sold for $9.8 million. | Zealty.ca

 

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