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Here's what first-time homebuyers need to know about the Sask. real estate market – CTV News Regina

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With housing inventory levels at an all time low and prices on the rise, prospective first-time homebuyers in Saskatchewan are feeling the effects of an uncertain market.

For the past six months, Sydney Morin, a 23-year-old nursing student who is heading to school this September, and her partner have been looking to buy their first home, to no avail.

“It’s a weird in-between time right now,” said Morin.

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Morin currently works part time and rents a duplex in the Cathedral area in Regina.

“It kind of just dwindled down slowly,” Morin explained. “We weren’t really seeing anything that we liked and kind of got disheartened with the whole process.”

“It’s just kind of at a standstill right now.”

Morin is hopeful market conditions will improve, but industry experts are warning some of the current challenges are likely to continue.

THE CURRENT CLIMATE

One issue buyers across Canada are currently dealing with is the rising cost of homes. Over the past two years, the benchmark price for a typical residential property in Regina rose by 14 per cent.

The benchmark price for a Regina home in May of 2020 was $287,800. As of May 2022, that figure now sits at $328,200.

Chris Guerette, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Realtors Association (SRA), is one of the many leaders in the industry warning that the immediate future is looking difficult for those entering the house hunt.

“What we’re seeing is a market that is quite busy here in Saskatchewan. We’re seeing in our recent numbers that sales have dipped,” Guerette explained.

“That’s really the reality of some headwinds that we’re all experiencing across the country in terms of inflationary pressures and interest rates that are rising. But what’s important to note is our inventory levels are still also dropping, so it’s not providing much relief.”

Peter Fourlas, a realtor and associate broker who has worked in the Regina area for the past 14 years, has his own theory on the market’s current state.

“I think with a decrease in the interest rates, the last few years, a lot of those buyers came out of the woodwork to purchase,” said Fourlas. “So it’s keeping our inventory levels at an all time low. Specifically from 2016 to 2020, when we had a severe overage of inventory.”

Records from the SRA seem to support Fourla’s theory. Annual house sales for the Regina area in 2016 totaled 2,828 with a remaining inventory of 1,215 homes at the end of the year.

Fast forward to 2021, sales increased to 3,731 – more than 900 higher than at the start of the overage in 2016 and 700 higher than the year previous.

Sales in 2021 were record breaking in the 10 years of available data. The remaining inventory in Regina at the end of year numbered 1,252 homes.

Regina’s population rose from 215,105 in 2016 to 249,217 in 2021 according to Statistics Canada.

Demand and population have largely increased while inventory has only done so marginally.

Besides inflation, a shortage of housing is the prevalent issue that the Saskatchewan Housing Continuum Network (SHCN) is currently preparing for.

Immigration and natural growth in the province is expected to add 220,000 residents by 2030, increasing Saskatchewan’s population to 1.4 million, according to the Saskatchewan Growth Plan.

The SCHN estimates that the province will have to build anywhere from 95,000 to 141,000 housing units to accommodate this projected growth.

However, only 98,000 units have been built in Saskatchewan since 1990.

“We know that if we want to meet those growth goals… we have to squish that same amount of units into a much shorter period, roughly eight years,” Guerette explained.

This comes as Canada as a whole is experiencing a housing deficit of approximately 1.8 million units according to Guerette.

Ontario’s housing gap is currently listed at 650,000 units. Alberta’s is estimated at 138,000.

Saskatchewan is not alone in this issue, and while there is not a detailed plan in place at this time, Guerette believes the goals are still very much in reach.

“We think it’s still very possible to go there,” she said. “But we need to start having those conversations now.”

SO HOW DO YOU BUY A HOUSE?

Skott Enns describes himself as a ‘matchmaker.’

Enns has worked as a licensed mortgage broker since 2012, and acts as an intermediary between his clients and the various lenders he works with.

One of the main issues Enns sees is credit history, or lack there of, with prospective first-time buyers.

“The reality is that when someone’s coming in and they want to borrow $300,000 or $400,000, a lot of what the lenders base their decision on is the credit history that the client has,” said Enns.

“If that client has zero credit history, it’s going to be an uphill battle to get them the mortgage.”

Poor decisions with credit cards and bills are another prevalent issue that Enns sees frequently.

“A lot of this is not taught in high school, and a lot of people’s parents don’t educate kids on this either. You know, people were stupid with credit,” he explained.

“They chose not to make the credit card payments, they chose to wait and not pay the phone bill, and it went to collections. So I mean, that can also be an uphill battle as well.”

Another important aspect of the home buying process is the down payment.

“I will say my average mortgage amount is in and around $300,000. So I mean, at least from my numbers, first time homebuyers need to be able to save up a minimum of five per cent. So you’re going to want to have $15,000 to $20,000 saved up.”

The process of both finding and buying a home can be explained as a multi step outline:

  • Initial meeting with mortgage broker: Discuss options and start the process on mortgage pre-approval.
  • Fill out pre-approval application (employment, down payment plan, etc.).
  • Broker sends other documentation that your bank (the lender) will need.
  • All paperwork has been filed (including a credit check): broker issues an official pre-approval letter.
  • Time to go house hunting: broker may refer a realtor, home insurance specialist, and lawyer.
  • You’ve found a house: the realtor sends your broker the purchase contract.
  • Update paperwork (if needed): decision on whether to choose fixed or variable rate mortgage.
  • Submit paperwork to your lender: response should come within 3 – 5 business days.
  • All conditions satisfied (down payment, employment, credit etc.): paperwork is sent to lawyer of your choice.
  • Lawyer will call a week before possession: remind you to sort out property taxes and fire insurance. The lawyer will need a bank draft of the down payment.
  • A couple days before possession, the lawyer will need some final signatures on the remaining paperwork.
  • Day of possession: either the realtor or lawyer will give you the keys to your new home.

FIXED OR VARIABLE?

An important concept in the financing of a home is whether to use a fixed or variable interest rate mortgage.

Enns is a believer in variable rate mortgages due to their flexibility, a reason he attributes to around 80 per cent of his clients utilizing variable interest rates.

“As of right now, in many cases, there’s about a two per cent gap between fixed and variable,” he explained.

“If five year fixed is in the low four per cent, five year variables are really in the low two per cent.”

The advantage of a variable interest loan is that the buyer can utilize declining interest rates, because as rates fall, their loan payments decrease as well.

On the other side of the coin, buyers will also be paying more as interest rates rise.

“Within this last year, they’ve increased quite significantly,” said Enns. “Now, for the most part, everything’s going to be about four per cent.”

The advantage of lower interest rates may be taken away with the current climate, but as Enns sees it, flexibility still reigns supreme.

“If you are breaking your variable rate mortgage, for whatever reason, the penalty for getting out is only a three month interest penalty, which is the smallest penalty that you’ll ever pay when you’re breaking the mortgage,” he said.

As the name suggests, fixed interest rate loans do not have a changing interest rate. The buyer is guaranteed the same payment no matter where the market shifts. This security comes at a cost however, as there are typically large fees attached if the buyer wants to get out of the loan.

“Anytime you hear horror stories of people that have their bank charging them $15,000 or $20,000 to get out of their mortgage; those are all fixed rate mortgage penalties,” said Enns.

A SHIFTING PROBLEM

Regina’s ever shifting soil, wreaks havoc on many parts of the city, compromising foundations, causing structure problems and adding roadblocks to a market that is already difficult to enter.

Morin witnessed the effects of the “Regina gumbo” first hand during her month’s long home search.

“Generally, a lot of them had structural issues,” she said of the houses she viewed.

“The issue with ours was, we purchase a home for $240,000, $10,000 under our pre approval rate, and to fix the foundation is $50,000 or even more than that. We don’t really have that money obviously to fix it upfront, or we can’t add more than $40,000 worth of renovations into our mortgage.”

“You’re just kind of stuck with it unless you have that money. So, it’s just kind of finding one that isn’t horrible.”

Fourlas’ restated that there needs to be a lot of caution around structural issues in Regina’s housing market.

“My job is always to ensure that they’re making a good decision for now, but as well as that five years down the road, 10 years down the road,” he said about his interactions with clients. “That’s why it’s really important to worry about the structure of the home, first and foremost, over the aesthetics.”

“Because the aesthetics are changeable. The structure is the staple of that home.”

THE FUTURE

Even with market pressures, uncertainty, and lack of supply, the outlook of those in the real estate industry is positive for the long term.

A main component of this cautious optimism is the fact that Saskatchewan now has the most affordable housing in Canada, recently beating out New Brunswick for the title.

“We’re still a province that, compared to our neighbors, is still relatively affordable,” said Guerette. “So when we take a look at what those options are, we want to make sure that we have a housing continuum that has a lot of choice.”

The benchmark price of a residential home in Regina as of May 2022 is $328,200. That figure has been rising since the start of the year, but it, along with interest rates, are bound to normalize.

“We will see interest rates decreasing again in a couple of years. Likely, once the Bank of Canada realizes that maybe they increased rates a little bit too aggressively,” said Enns.

Even with increases in prices, Enns believes that the situation is manageable even for those entering the market for the first time.

“I don’t want it to be seen like I’m saying this is the end of the world scenario, because I don’t believe it is,” he said. “It’s just sort of is what it is.”

Looking to the future, Morin has cautious optimism that she and her partner will be able to move into a starter home. Maybe not in the coming months, but perhaps in the coming years.

“I don’t know if it will get worse. I hope it doesn’t. But I could see it happening,” she said. “I sort of have that attitude just based off of it being six months and we’re still looking and still kind of holding out.”

“But I think one day, I will be able to own a home.”

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Through Parvis, Real Estate Investment Opportunities Abound – Storeys

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As we collectively ride the ongoing inflation rollercoaster, it’s only natural — and wise — to consider how you can make your financial foundation as stable as possible.

For many, investing is a preferred way to protect and grow wealth. And in the last several years, Canadian real estate has seen an unprecedented boom in interest from all angles, including the investment realm.

Today, investors are increasingly keen to stake claim on real estate assets as a means of diversifying their portfolio. Understandably so, considering the Canadian market’s demonstrated fundamentals of low supply and high demand lend themselves to steadily increasing value.

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Making the sourcing and securing of such assets easy, Parvis Invest – a Canadian marketplace for real estate investing – offers a portfolio of curated, high-quality real estate developments to its investors through a user-friendly platform.

READ: Money Matters: This Online Marketplace Makes Real Estate Investment Easy

Parvis’ selection of real estate products is strategically built via direct collaboration with developers and property owners, plus team insights, analytics, and industry data. Opportunities also undergo vetting by the company’s Investment Committee, which has insight and experience from the worlds of real estate development, private equity, tech, law, and finance.

Capturing the essence of Parvis’ curated offerings, a new 24-storey condo development called Centra invites investors to get in on the ground floor of something special in Surrey, BC. The building’s developer, Everest Group, boasts a team with more than 150 years of combined experience in international real estate and construction management, with more than 30 successfully completed projects and over 1,000 acres of land developed.

The project, five months into its 24-month building schedule, brings 164 residential condominiums — plus three townhomes and two levels of underground parking — to one of Canada’s fastest-growing cities (and the fastest-growing in BC; Surrey’s population is expected to more-than double in the next decade).

Located at 13868 101 Ave, the building is near a host of restaurants and shops, as well as Simon Fraser University, Memorial Hospital, and Skytrain access. Downtown Vancouver is just a short drive away, serving spots to tuck into for a bite, a live show, or an afternoon of shopping. And at the end of the day, residents can comfortably return to their lush, green, and calm family-friendly neighborhood.

For investors, Centra’s risk profile is classified as moderate to high level of risk, because it’s a new construction building. Two factors that help de-risk this project, relative to comparable new developments, are that over 80% of its units are pre-sold, and Parvis investors will receive a preferential equity return of 17.5% IRR. The Parvis equity return is in priority to the remaining equity invested.

Even further assurance is provided by way of a corporate guarantee by Everest, and personal guarantees by its directors. The condominium’s minimum investment is $20,000, with a total equity raise of $18,500,000.

By spring 2023, Parvis will also introduce its secondary market, which will give investors the chance to liquidate and sell their investment ahead of time, should they wish — big moves, for a traditionally illiquid asset class. For Centra, there are no transaction or management fees for investors to pay, and in the case one chooses to sell on Parvis’ secondary market, the seller only pays 1% commission.

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Centra (Parvis)

Also currently available for investment is a fully-tenanted residential building in Kitchener, Ontario, classified under the Parvis Core Plus Strategy, which typically features a longer investment horizon with a low to moderate risk profile for investors, and a targeted IRR of 9% to 16%. The building is located at 199 Ahrens Street, is home to 16 units ranging from one to three bedrooms, and was purchased by its developer below market value.

Renovations to the interiors by Mike Beer Investments, plus repositioning of the building and property, promise to increase its annual rental income by nearly double — and the financing for these upgrades is already in place.

This building’s minimum investment is $10,000, with a five-year investment term, and an average projected annual return of 16%. The product’s total equity offering is $1,700,000.

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Kitchener (Parvis)

Within walking distance of several parks, cafes, restaurants, and shops, the address is perfectly situated just north of downtown Kitchener’s main strip. And with GO Transit also only steps away, residents have day trips at their fingertips.

Like with Centra, there are no transaction or management fees related to this building for investors, and in the case one chooses to sell on Parvis’ secondary market when the option opens up, that 1% seller commission comes into play.

It’s no question that 2022 was filled with trials, and ended with uncertainty for many sectors. But through marked financial growth, multiple instances of professional recognition, and licensing approvals secured, Parvis came out of last year an anomaly: exceptionally grounded, stable, and strong.

If these are the attributes you want to see in your own investment portfolio, Parvis can help you get there.


This article was produced in partnership with STOREYS Custom Studio.

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Historic Muskoka Resort Hits the Market for $12M – Storeys

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Written By
Erin Nicole Davis

An iconic Muskoka resort has just hit cottage country’s real estate market. 

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For those looking for a new business venture in the summertime hot spot, Windermere House has just been listed for $12M.

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Windermere House

The sprawling, long-time landmark sits on Lake Rosseau — one of the “Big Three” Muskoka lakes — and is known for its quintessential Old Muskoka charm mixed with modern luxury and amenities. Beloved by both tourists and local cottagers, the picturesque resort has been synonymous with Muskoka tourism since 1870. 

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Windermere House

Known as ‘The Lady of The Lake,’ this 56-room resort hotel sits in a prime location in the Village of Windermere, overlooking the stunning lake. Offering a dose of timeless charm, its historic features include original stone architecture, a charming veranda, and classic Muskoka-style windows. The hotel features several food and beverage outlets, full-service spa capabilities, and a 3,200 sq. ft. of function space that ranges from a private boardroom to state-of-the-art conference facilities. 

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Windermere House

With quintessential cottage country recreation front and centre, the 6.62-acre resort features a heated outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, sand beach, marina, and golf course. 

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Windermere House

The new owner of the property will have the opportunity to take up residence in Windermere Cottage, the traditional four-bedroom private cottage with a separate entrance from Fife Avenue that can also be rented as an additional resort property. Or, as the listing highlights, there’s also the option to personalize a penthouse “cottage” suite within the hotel. 

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Windermere House

The Muskoka chair-filled property includes three detached staff houses, an older, staggered row-style 10-plex, and ample on-site parking. 

While its price tag isn’t within reach of everyone, considering that most of the sprawling cottages on the lake sell for upwards of $5M — coupled with its inevitable income-generating potential — the property may be considered a steal for someone in the market for a breezy new business venture.

Find the full listing here.

Written By
Erin Nicole Davis

Erin Nicole Davis is a born and raised Toronto writer with a passion for the city and its urban affairs and culture.

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Toronto building home to historic pub to be converted into new hotel – blogTO

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Toronto is getting a new hotel by expanding an old hotel that has spent decades not being a hotel. I know, very confusing, but I can totally explain.

A four-storey building that has stood at the southwest corner of Church Street and Richmond Street East for over 140 years could soon undergo a significant transformation.

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The building at 124 Church Street was originally constructed as a hotel in the 1880s, and after 14 decades, a developer has filed plans to bring the property back to its roots with a renovation and expansion supporting a new boutique hotel.

M&G Hotels Limited has big plans for the property, filing a minor variance application that calls for a YY Architecture Studio-designed addition extending the building’s roofline and providing additional space for hotel and other hospitality uses.

This address has been home to McVeigh’s Irish Pub since 1962, and despite major changes on the horizon for the property, it looks like the bar will maintain its presence in the building, and be left practically undisturbed through the renovations.

Plans for the site show little modifications in store for the first two levels of the existing building, aside from a new elevator shaft and other small changes.

The current space occupied by McVeigh’s is listed simply as “existing bar” and “existing kitchen” in plans, a good indication that the establishment will maintain its long-term presence at the intersection.

New floors would be added above the current parapet, bringing the existing four-storey building to an increased height of six levels.

A total of 24 hotel suites are planned on levels three through six, topped by a new rooftop bar and terrace.

The rejuvenated hospitality property will reportedly operate under the branding Clover Hotel, and this will not be the first time that the site or even the current building has been home to a hotel.

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Diagram of the proposal showing additional floors and rooftop bar space. Image via City of Toronto development application.

The southwest corner of Church and Richmond has been home to bars and hotels since the mid-19th century, and the current 1882-built structure was originally constructed as a hotel, replacing an earlier timber hotel building dating back to the 1850s.

Opened as the Windsor Hotel and later renamed the New Windsor Hotel in the early 20th century, the building was maintained as a hotel into the 1960s.

Plans to expand the building and open a hotel are just some of the big changes happening to the property.

The existing building at 124 Church Street stands as the lone holdout against a huge condo development now under construction that will soon tower over the property’s south and west elevations.

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