Cost concessions needed to build enough houses to meet B.C. demand, say real estate groups
Real estate companies say cost concessions will need to be made if they are to do everything they can, as quickly as they can, to help alleviate the province’s housing crisis.
More than 1,200 people, including developers, building owners and investors attended the Vancouver Real Estate Forum on Wednesday. Topics of discussion included rising construction and labour costs, post-pandemic building-use trends, and how to prepare for an influx of housing demand propelled by immigration.
“Development groups like ours are actually very good at designing properties to meet the needs of the people that are looking for accommodation,” David Podmore, president of Concert Properties, told Global News.
“But the one thing in the current circumstances that we really can’t do a lot with is the cost of land. The cost of land is very, very high.”
Podmore, who spoke at the forum, said there’s a “real opportunity” for private industry to partner with governments to tackle the housing crisis, but it’s going to take “a lot of concessions,” no matter who is involved.
“One of the models that really should be explored is making land available on a leasehold basis,” he suggested.
“Government would have to look at bringing down the cost for, and the development community have to get comfortable with working on the leased land, which would revert see at the end of the lease, which might be 80 years or might be 99 years, but they shouldn’t lose control of the land at any point.”
The province announced a multibillion-dollar, four-point housing plan earlier this week, aimed at cracking down on soaring real estate prices, increasing construction and creating more rental units.
Highlights of the ‘Homes for People’ project include a promise of legislation that allows up to four units on a single traditional housing lot, a tax on the proceeds of house-flipping, and a forgivable loan of 50 per cent of the cost of basement suite renovations, up to a maximum of $40,000 over five years, if the secondary suites are rented at below-market rate for at least five years.
It also includes measures to speed up permitting and reduce development costs, with a goal of leveraging the private sector.
The plan is expected to cost $4-billion investment in the first three years and $12 billion over a decade.
Podmore said he has found the Eby government’s approach to the crisis “encouraging,” and hopes municipalities will do what they can to reduce fees for developers as well.
Mark Kenney, president of CAPREIT, said the province also “seems to understand” the affordability and supply challenges, and the pressure required to crack down on the problem.
“The world wants to come to Canada and the world wants to come to B.C.,” he said.
“The three big cities in Canada — Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal — they have to have the capacity and the municipal willingness to put more units in play, so lots of talk about development fees, lots of talk about taxes. All of these costs do not build more supply.”
Canada aims to bring some 465,000 new permanent residents to the country in 2023. It’s unclear how many will wind up in B.C., although the province saw high levels migration in 2021, with more than 100,797 new residents settling in. It was the highest annual total since the 1960s.
“Our housing supply is not meeting population growth, so if it’s not meeting population growth, we can’t begin to address affordability,” said Brad Jones, senior vice-president of Wesgroup Properties.
“So we need all levels of government to work together and target immigration. We have a shortage of construction workers, we should be targeting skilled trades — we should be targeting those types of groups that will help us solve that problem.”
Jones also addressed the cost of building in B.C.; a recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) report found various government fees and charges account for between seven and 20 per cent of building costs in Vancouver alone.
“That’s far, far more than anyone’s making in profit delivering housing,” he said, referencing the higher end of the scale. “I think it really boils down to time and cost.”
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon has said the B.C. government is doing what it can to reduce costs and red tape, and expects to have more than 100,000 homes built or under construction in B.C. by 2027. The province is on track to meet its goal of 114,000 new units over 10 years, he added.
Luxe $9m South Yarra sanctuary for sale with six-car basement garage
A winning collaboration by some of the best in the business has produced this luxurious modern sanctuary in a prized lifestyle location.
High-end builder Agushi teamed with celebrated Workroom architects and Nathan Burkett Landscape Architects on the private inner-city residence.
The four-bedroom, five-bathroom house at 12 Rockley Rd, South Yarra has hit the market with a $9m-$9.5m asking price.
Largely crafted from concrete – which even features on the sculptural curved staircase that links the home’s three levels – and marble, it delivers sophisticated interiors with carefully framed garden views.
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When at home, a mirrored lift, infinity pool with in-floor cleaning and a six-car basement garage provide the ultimate in convenience.
But it is the state-of-the-art automation that paves the way for a lock-up-and-leave lifestyle.
The technology has been a game-changer for vendor and interior designer Georgie Coombe-Tennant and her husband, Mark.
It has transformed the way they live, doing away with the need for front door keys and allowing them to turn on the oven remotely, let the postie in the gate while sitting on a ski lift or turn on the sprinkler from Europe.
“We had always had old traditional homes and renovated them, and we just felt like it was time for something modern,” Mrs Coombe-Tennant said.
“We saw Bear (Agushi’s) work and my expression for his work is that everything is so resolved.
“He has not left a single detail out of it. If you think of something you would need in a home it’s there.”
She has delighted in decorating the home, which she said offers loads of space despite having a townhouse feel.
“I found the home is so easy decorate and furnish because you have got this beautiful blank canvas and you can put any amount of colour or neutrality into in,” she said.
As well as three living areas and four bedrooms, the two-year-old home has the luxury of two home offices with desks crafted of the same grey Damastas marble that features in the lavish kitchen and bathrooms.
The main open-plan living zone screams entertainer thanks to a series of full height sliding doors linking it to a covered outdoor dining space with a built-in barbecue, a conversation pit and north-facing sun deck.
A second ground floor lounge room provides another breakout space, perfect for curling up beside the fire.
Despite its proximity to Chapel St and Toorak Village, Mrs Coombe-Tennant said the home felt secluded.
“I guess with South Yarra people are always worried about noise and things like that but it’s very, very quiet, it’s really secretive. No one knows it’s here,” she said.
“Once we are in that front door you don’t hear a single sound, but you have got everything on your doorstep.”
RT Edgar Toorak director Sarah Case added that it was rare to find homes of this calibre created specifically for a lock-up-and-leave lifestyle.
“This home has every luxury we’ve come to expect from Agushi, who’s renowned solid concrete construction, superior quality, generous spaces and meticulous attention to detail, while providing for a modern way of living with a lift to all levels, stunning pool and six-car garage,” Ms Case said.
“From the magnificent marble kitchen to the beautiful bedrooms and the poolside outdoor spaces, every aspect has been thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of even the most discerning buyer.”
Mr Agushi said he prided himself on building homes with “over specced” insulation, glazing, solar panels and smart home integration.
Expressions of interest close on June 15 at 5pm.
According the latest Proptrack Home Price Index, national home prices continued to stabilise in April after rising for the fourth consecutive month, rising 0.14 per cent.
A grandmother's van life and where housing investors live: This week's top real estate stories – The Globe and Mail
Here are The Globe and Mail’s top housing and real estate stories this week, with the lowest mortgage rates available in Canada today, commentary from our mortgage expert and one home worth a look.
The housing crisis chose van life for this 57-year-old grandmother
Terri Smith-Fraser, a nursing assistant, was renovicted from her Halifax apartment last spring when the cost of rent for her two-bedroom apartment more than doubled. Unwilling to be a burden on her adult daughters or find a roommate, she decided van life – usually associated with the young and adventurous – was her only viable option. Suddenly a bronze 1998 GMC Savana purchased in January, 2022, was home.
“I’m a grandma. I’m not a 20-year-old nomad snowboarder. I’m just your regular person who goes to work every day, and I live in a van,” Ms. Smith-Fraser told The Globe and Mail.
Three reasons why mortgage refinances are disappearing
Mortgage refinances have fallen off a cliff. They’re down by 32 per cent, according to the latest data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). People still need to refinance, but there are three reasons why they can’t, Robert McLister writes in his column:
- Tumbling home values
- Soaring rates
- The stress test
And here’s what to do about it if you’re in this boat.
This week’s mortgage rates: Markets price in another dose of tough rate medicine
“Higher for longer” is again the buzzphrase in Canada’s rate market. So much for the mini-U.S. banking crisis, which drove rates lower for all of two months, McLister writes. Now we’re dealing with a U.S. debt ceiling mess and persistently disappointing inflation indicators, not the least of which is stubbornly low unemployment. Both those factors have been driving rates higher.
Four in five Ontario housing investors live in the province: Statscan
More than 80 per cent of individual home investors in Ontario live in the province, according to a new report from Statistics Canada. Just 3 per cent of individual home investors reside elsewhere in Canada and 16 per cent live outside of the country, reports Rachelle Younglai.
The story is the same in British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which does not reflect the spike in investor buying that occurred during the COVID-19 real estate boom. The study provides a window into investor buying patterns, which have come under scrutiny as home prices and rents have soared across the country.
Home of the week: An urban manse on Toronto’s Humber River
From the street the home is an imposing two-storey stone manse at the top of a circular driveway with bay windows flanking the formal entrance. The foyer is a festival of detailed millwork and wainscotting that continues into the central hall and then into the formal rooms flanking the entrance. All of the doorways and windows in this space have modest arches, which adds a bit of Hobbit-like character.
The second floor has more of the original woodwork and arched windows, and the landing at the top of the stairs is generous enough for another formal sitting area with ravine views, and a balcony.
What do you think is the asking price for this house?
a. The asking price is $7.59-million.
LACKIE: Busy Spring in Toronto Real Estate – Toronto Sun
This has been a busy, bustling spring for the Toronto real estate market.
There are people who will say it’s all an illusion. A perfectly coordinated dance between snake oil selling realtors and their greedy clients, all unified in pumping a market currently back on its heels as means of personal enrichment.
How does that saying go — never let the truth get in the way of a good story?
They will say it makes no sense that the market should have any signs of life at all given the rollercoaster of the last 18 months (slash, the three years since COVID, if we’re being honest) and that with rates high and staying there, and prices still high and mostly staying there, we are looking at the furthest thing from a healthy marketplace.
And perhaps it’s all relative — things feel particularly energized because in comparison to last fall, we are actually seeing some action out there.
Houses in dodgy pockets fetching upwards of 20 offers, buyers seemingly undeterred by the needles on the street just steps away from the front door.
Cute houses in great pockets drawing multiple offers and landing peak-of-2022 prices.
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LACKIE: Blame the sellers, not just their agents
Sellers who may have wondered if the time-was-now realizing they didn’t want to miss their moment.
There are many utterly baffled that the market has held. That prices have held. That the pain of 2022 didn’t reset the playing field.
They are adamant that any attempt to explain it by pointing to how grossly insufficient our inventory levels are is really just distortion and manipulation. The idea somehow being that people can be scammed into engaging and thus what we are really looking at is a mirage.
They think our problems will be solved if buyers simply stay home. Refuse to show up to houses that are underlisted. Refuse to engage in multiple offers. Refuse to pay a dollar more than list price. Refuse to pay realtor fees. Refuse to participate.
Legislate agents into listing at market value. Legally obligate sellers to accept any offer that meets the price they chose to list at. Cap realtor fees. The list goes on.
Absent from all of this is the reality very much apparent on the ground: for all of the noise and anger, Toronto has not enough houses and more than enough willing participants who are capable of driving a marketplace.
By this time next week, we will have stats to support that the spring market is very much here and with it I expect we will note a sharp increase in transactions and a notable bump to average sale prices.
Is it a seasonal blip that will fizzle out as temperatures rise? Entirely possible. But even just a return to some seasonal rhythms in our marketplace would be a welcome return to normalcy.
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