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Is Toronto Real Estate Insulated from Recession? – RE/MAX Canada – RE/MAX News

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After the American “Great Recession” a lot of people became worried about another financial crisis. They also fretted over what they can afford when purchasing a home, while banks were not as willing to give loans and mortgages to as many people as they once did. In other words, consumer (and lender) confidence became more cautious because they didn’t want to end up drowning in debt, or worse lose their homes.

However, north of the disaster, Canadians did not seem to be as affected by the recession. Instead, as we often do, we seemed to weather the storm, with less unemployment and a stable economy thanks to our natural resources. Although we tend to suffer when it comes to oil production compared to other oil-rich countries, other areas like lumber, fishing and minerals thrive. All of these things work together to help insulate us from recession.

Economic Considerations

In regards to Canadian housing, when looking at major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, there is a different focus when it comes to the economy. As well for the Canadian GDP, finance, insurance and real estate industry contribute 21% and construction contributes 6%. So, considering the majority of new construction homes are out in the suburbs the economy can fluctuate which in turn affects house prices, while in Toronto’s older neighbourhoods like Rosedale or Leaside homes tend to keep their value. They will at least stay within 10% of their value even as things are going up and down in the construction industry.

Green Construction

Another factor is Canadians are green obsessed. This is a good thing as it will affect demand on the construction of houses. Buyers will seek out eco-friendly houses that also tend to be available at lower home prices regardless of the housing market. Considering that most construction companies and developers rarely focus on eco-friendly options like geothermal heating or solar panels they are still making efforts to ensure the homes they build are energy efficient.

905 Neighbourhoods

You also have to consider Canada’s renovation industry. Because so many homeowners are striving to save money, many are targeting their gas and electricity bills. As a result, they are looking for ways to make their homes more energy-efficient. So, although we can pretend these people are green obsessed, the only green they are worried about are the $20 bills they can stash in their wallets. This is helping to generate business for the Geothermal industry as it offers a quick and affordable investment that will see some payback. It heats in the winter and cools in the winter, perfect for Canadian weather.

Energy-Efficient Renovations

So why does this affect the economy or even the real estate market in Toronto? Well, when looking at the longer term, homes should go up in value thanks to the money people are investing in these types of renovations. As a result, between green renovations and overall home upgrades, people can ask more when selling their newly revamped homes.

High demand areas like Lawrence Park or Davisville Village are prime examples of how renos are contributing to the local economy. Just drive down any street and you’ll see the telltale dump bins and service trucks that show the homeowner is undergoing renovations. They are making improvements that will make their homes more eco-friendly and cheaper to keep comfortable temperature-wise.

Spreading Metropolis

Meanwhile, there is a massive spreading of the GTA, with suburban regions getting further and further away from the core of the city. People seem to be putting their commute concerns aside in order to find affordable homeownership options. Not surprisingly, the local infrastructure is struggling to keep up with extensions to public transportation, but they are trying. As it becomes easier to commute, it has a duel effect by making these areas more appealing, which increases home values in these further out locations.

Despite the horrifying traffic jams people sit in every day, people still choose to buy in Toronto’s satellite regions. This means home sales in these areas bring opportunities for economic growth as more retailers can spread their wings to these faraway suburbs.

The Downtown Condo

So, we’ve got a willingness for people to head to the hills, mainly because there is a shortage of homes in downtown Toronto. They are also not affordable. However, there is also an endless column of construction cranes dotting the landscape of the downtown core. These condos are by no means family-friendly, which means builders will have to start looking at features that will appeal to this buyer. The trend for families to remain city-centric is forcing builders to look for new ideas to appeal to this group including the potential for onsite daycare services.

Pedestrian and Bike Friendly Toronto

As well, as the City of Toronto attempts to make it easier to get around with all kinds of things from bike lanes to bike-sharing, more people are attracted to the idea of staying in the city. As always, the young professionals and hip set will prefer this and will find it worthwhile to spend the extra dough on a condo when they can walk or bike to work in under 30 minutes. Therefore, the construction business will continue to thrive as old buildings are either renovated into lofts or torn down to make room for condos.

The Bubble Burst

If rumours of the imminent bursting of the proverbial housing bubble aren’t exaggerated, now could be a good time to buy. As sellers start to feel the fear, buyers can jump on opportunities and start low balling offers by as much as 10% to 20%. If the rumours prove to be true, sellers who take buyers up on their offers will sigh with relief when the bubble really does blow, and home prices drop by 20% to 30%.

In the U.S. when the bubble burst house prices dropped by 40 to 50% of their average prices in value. The truth is pricing won’t drop that far in Canada or Toronto as we enjoy a more stable economy. Despite this, we aren’t immune to a Canadian real estate collapse, just better poised to weather it if it happens. So, in answer to the question, if Toronto real estate is insulated from recession, the answer is really it depends as always on location. However, despite the threat of recession over the next couple of years, supply and demand in Toronto should help keep home values relatively stable.

Source: http://canada.lilithezine.com/Teas-Leaves-Toronto-Real-Estate.html

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BC real estate: 40% of Cullen Commission focuses on sector – Pique Newsmagazine

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Despite being unable to determine the exact impact money laundering has on home prices, the real estate sector is of top concern to the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C.

Of the 101 recommendations Commissioner Austin Cullen made in his June 15 final report, 40 are directly related to real estate, and several others are ancillary, such as proposals to strengthen anti-money laundering (AML) policies within financial institutions and the asset forfeiture legal regime, as well as greater controls on notaries and lawyers, who process transactions.

Despite the apparent problems in the industry, Cullen poured cold water on prior attempts to peg a precise price increase on homes due to money laundering.

While his executive summary states, “money laundering is not the cause of housing unaffordability,” he clarifies within the report that he examined whether it is “the” cause or “a main” cause — as it may be perceived publicly. Cullen found no such proof but nevertheless concluded the real estate sector is vulnerable.

Cullen said the reasons for increases in housing costs “are many, and they are complicated.” He cites housing supply and demand and interest rates as more proven factors.

Cullen examined the 2019 expert panel report of professors Maureen Maloney, Tsur Somerville, and Brigitte Unger titled Combatting Money Laundering in BC Real Estate, which did prescribe a figure for money laundering in real estate — about a 3.7% to 7.5% increase in prices. But Cullen noted that the estimate came with caveats and uncertainties. The model the panel used was “an exercise in speculation and, ultimately, guesswork,” said Cullen.

Cullen took time to separate what he perceives as a common mistake in the public discourse — that foreign investment and money laundering go hand in hand.

Cullen relied on the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation’s conclusion foreign investment was not a significant driver of real estate prices in Vancouver, based on home ownership data from 2010-2016.

He noted, however, that defining foreign investment can be difficult and “witnesses disagreed about whether foreign investment plays a significant role in Vancouver’s housing prices.”

Simon Fraser University professor Joshua Gordon and University of B.C. professor emeritus David Ley testified how foreign capital can explain the decoupling of local incomes to home prices in B.C. However, such capital may not show up as direct foreign investment in home ownership data; instead, it is foreign money transferred into homes owned by newly established residents or via beneficial ownership structures that can obscure the real picture.

“It became clear as the evidence developed before me that there is disagreement in the academic community about what should be considered ‘foreign ownership.’ Is it limited to beneficial ownership by persons or entities based or resident outside Canada? Or does it extend to purchases made largely with funds earned outside of Canada?” asked Cullen, to which he replied to his questions that “resolving these complex issues is somewhat outside the ambit of my mandate.”

Cullen noted Gordon’s position that it is difficult to determine the origins of foreign capital and, with respect to China, the money being transferred is often escaping capital export controls set by the Chinese government.

He dispelled the notion that foreign investment, particularly from China, is money laundering. And Cullen expressed concern that, in his view, public discourse had reached such a conclusion.

Cullen noted racist stereotyping of investments in real estate originating from China, as University of B.C. professor Henry Yu testified to, must be weeded out from “legitimate policy questions relating to foreign ownership of real estate in the province.”

Cullen concluded that he could make no conclusive finding on money laundering or foreign investment, however defined, is a “primary cause” of home price increases in B.C. and steps to address money laundering should not be viewed as a “panacea for housing unaffordability.”

Ultimately, more study is required on the matter, concluded Cullen.

Ron Usher, general counsel for the Society of Notaries Public, said the conclusions may frustrate some members of the public, however they are not surprising given it is difficult to track money laundering.

“I think people were understandably very interested in that. But I think it’s appropriate for him to say, ‘We just don’t have information.’ Well, of course, we don’t because, you know, people don’t tick a box on a form saying, ‘I got this money from money laundering or a predicate crime,'” said Usher, who followed the daily testimony over two years as an intervenor.

Recommendations run deep into real estate sector

Despite not finding answers to such a significant question in the public discourse over the past 10 years, Cullen lays bare 40 recommendations for the real estate industry, now regulated by the 2021-established B.C. Financial Services Authority (BCFSA).

His recommendations suggest that real estate licensees are largely uneducated on AML measures and that both managing brokers and sub-brokers require education “focusing on the detection and reporting of fraud and money laundering in the industry.”

Cullen also recommends the BCFSA, a government regulator, put in place measures for better data collection and that it implores real estate licensees and notaries to record source of funds information should the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) not do so on a federal level. He also wants BCFSA to mandate AML programs at each brokerage as a licensing condition.

Seventeen recommendations directly relate to mortgage brokers, who are overseen by the Registrar of Mortgage Brokers within the BCFSA.

Cullen wants brokers to have extended criminal record checks and more clearly defined responsibilities, including new reporting mandates under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.

Cullen also recommends all legal owners of mortgage charges are reported and that this information be available through the public land titles registry of the Land Title and Survey Authority. Presently, one is unable to conclusively determine, from flings, all of the owners of a registered mortgage charge.

Cullen is also calling for greater penalties and repayment of profits from proven unscrupulous brokers.

As for real estate licensees, Cullen has recommended employees of developers be brought within the licensing scheme. Today, many developer representatives effectively sell homes (“pre-sale” units) without any regulatory oversight.

Cullen also identified some legal matters to resolve, such as how courts cannot refuse to enforce debts made with funds of suspicious origin. As such, he recommends a source of funds declaration in foreclosure proceedings, at the judge’s discretion. This recommendation stems from Cullen’s examination of numerous foreclosure filings by alleged money launderer and casino cash provider Paul Jin.

Meanwhile, sunshine policies are a prominent set of recommendation for Cullen, namely by populating the B.C.’s Land Owner Transparency Registry with historic data within three years. He also recommends the Land Title and Survey Authority have a clear and enduring AML mandate, including the ability to “more readily” share data with other agencies.

Finally, with all such measures, Cullen recommends the Ministry of Finance analyze how such changes may impact housing prices.

Cullen thirsty for more data

Cullen emphasizes in his report the need for a beneficial ownership registry for both real estate and corporations, with the latter requiring a pan-Canadian approach. Contrary to some witnesses he heard from, such as journalists and Transparency International Canada, Cullen says a small search fee ($5) for beneficial ownership land titles is acceptable if government deems it so for operational purposes. However, Cullen suggests no such fees exist for a beneficial ownership registry of corporations. No fees should apply to law enforcement and regulators, noted Cullen.

With respect to data, Usher said tools such as land title registries, which are “secure and reliable,” are increasingly being used by government agencies. He said Canada Revenue Agency could more easily track land purchases these days to weed out tax evasion and money laundering.

“It’s easy to come up with lots of rules,” said Usher.

“What we really need is a formal process of a notice of acquisition of real estate for CRA and a notice of disposition of real estate for CRA for every transaction.

“We need to get the right information from the right people at the right time,” said Usher.

gwood@glaciermedia.ca

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MiB: Jonathan Miller on Residential Real Estate – The Big Picture – Barry Ritholtz

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This week, we speak with Jonathan Miller, who is CEO and co-founder of the real estate appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel. He is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University’s graduate school of architecture and planning. he also serves on the Mayor’s Economic Advisory panel and the New York State Budget Division Economic Advisory Board. His research and analytics powers the back end of some of the larger real estate brokerage firms.

We discuss the pullback in real estate demand due to rates almost doubling; contact volume is down, and has been trending that way since March. The collapse in inventory is also to blame, as has the fall in affordability.

During most real estate slowdowns, sales activity slows immediately, as inventory rises. But prices tend to take a few years to reflect the new market, awaiting seller capitulation. Miller hopes we might see a faster adjustment given the recent big runup in home equity.

He also explains why it is so challenging to convert urban office towers into residential buildings. Big cities like New York and San Francisco find themselves with a surplus of office buildings that are running about 2/3rds empty, while there are acute shortages of residences at most price points.

A list of his favorite books is here; A transcript of our conversation is available here this week.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business next week Perth Tolle with founder of Life + Liberty Indexes, index provider and sponsor of the Freedom 100 Emerging Markets ETF. The first-of-its-kind strategy uses personal and economic freedom metrics as the primary factors in its investment process. Prior to forming Life + Liberty Indexes, Perth was a private wealth advisor at Fidelity Investments in Los Angeles and Houston and had lived and worked in Beijing and Hong Kong, where her observations led her to explore the relationship between freedom and markets.

Jonathan Miller Favorite Books

Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit by William Knoedelseder

The Reckoning by David Halberstam

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The Main Benefits of SEO For Real Estate Businesses – Intelligent Living

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Since the inception of the internet, the digital panorama has evolved to be quicker and more efficient. People prefer shopping for their groceries, clothes, and daily essentials online. Likewise, home buyers are now looking for properties and realtors online. It does not matter if you have been in the real estate business for a while or are a recently formed business; using SEO techniques for your real estate business can increase its visibility online. The guide can come in handy in understanding SEO’s inner workings and advantages.

What Is SEO?

The process of increasing your brand’s visibility and thus attracting a bigger audience by using marketing strategies and advanced tools is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You will no longer need to set aside a budget for ads or cold calls to secure potential buyers. If you wish to increase the number of unpaid and organic leads, implementing and exercising effective SEO strategies can prove to be extremely valuable.

Using SEO to Boost Your Real Estate Business

One of the fundamental marketing strategies for a real estate business is to develop its virtual presence. You cannot wait for a potential client to come across your website accidentally. This is why effective SEO tips that focus on real estate found at Showcase IDX suggest using up-to-date content and target keywords to raise your website’s ranking. Only in doing so will you be able to generate a constant flow of organic traffic.

Establishes Awareness for Your Brand

Marketers often use the concept of a marketing funnel. Its primary purpose is to gain more customers by generating brand awareness. The key objective of brand awareness is having people recognize and recall your business. One of the numerous benefits of brand awareness is that it helps build a personal relationship with your existing clientele and potential buyers. Having taken this approach, your prospective customers, when faced with a decision between choosing you or a competitor, will probably hire your real estate services.

SEO helps to advance brand awareness and cast a broad net. Countless people will get to know your real estate business and its services. SEO can increase website traffic, grow your audience, build brand relationships, and target potential consumers likely to use your services.

Grows Domain Authority

To build a successful and thriving real estate business, you need to boost your website as high up on the search engines’ results pages as possible. One way of doing so is to increase your domain authority by using the SEO techniques listed below.

Audit Your Link Profile

Link profiles are the list of all the blog posts backlinked on your website. If you wish to score higher, ensure the links come from authority websites as Google prefers these. Whether the link is about a medical topic or fashion, it should always be from trusted websites. An SEO tool can help you locate the weaker links, which can then be replaced with healthier ones.

Post Appealing Content

Engaging content connects emotionally with your audience and can lead to increased organic traffic or bounce rate. To boost your real estate business’s online presence score, create and post engaging content to attract potential clients.

Increased Traffic and Conversions

SEO helps your website focus more on high rankings. It is a budget-friendly option and a reliable way to reach the first few pages and generate more clicks to your real estate website. Often real estate businesses make the mistake of building their website content around widely used terms. They could be commercial real estate or homes for sale. While your website may rank in more result pages, it will not generate any conversions. Moreover, you will fail to secure the potential clients in your locality.

SEO strategies focus their efforts on buyers by home models, neighborhoods, locations, and other specific criteria. It may not yield millions of views for your website, but the visitors are likely to get in touch with you and convert you into longer-term clients.

SEO Helps Target Specific Markets

The real estate market is always changing and to stay ahead of the trends, you should be able to target potential buyers in specific markets. Whether the clients are looking for a home, apartment, or a realtor, SEO can come in handy if you wish to be very particular with your market segmentation. It can attract potential clients by several different means and lead them to different channels according to the services offered by your real estate business.

Improves ROI

If you wish to scale your real estate business to the next level, optimizing your website with SEO will produce a more significant return on investments (ROI). Not only is it effective at increasing lead conversions and click-through rates, but it is also a budget-friendly option. Your real estate website will show up for queries related to property and real estate agents. It enhances the brand visibility, and more people are likely to connect with your business.

Quantifiable Results

The results produced by SEO are data-driven and can be used to enhance the current strategy. You can check whether your blog posts are being shown to the target audience and, if yes, what methods can be implemented to drive them to the call to action on your landing page. SEO for real estate includes the examination of CTR, impressions, clicks, and average time spent on landing pages. The metrics can allow you to optimize your real estate website to convert the target audience into potential buyers.

SEO Strategies That Will Drive More Traffic

Figure Out Your Current Position

To plan ahead, you will need a better understanding of your current position. An SEO audit helps you determine the areas of your website that can be improved. Even though it can be time-consuming, the results will allow you to plan an effective strategy. SEO audit focuses on your website’s rank, whether it is local or international and if the organic traffic is generating leads.

The key areas you should focus on are site structure, page structure, content, links, and usability. You should see an increase in organic traffic to your website once these areas are improved. Build a checklist for SEO audit and regularly test your site.

Build a User-Friendly Website

A user-friendly website is directly related to the user’s experience. It includes posting valuable and engaging content, infographics, pictures, and videos. Increasing numbers of people are now preferring to surf the internet on their mobile and smart devices. Ensure that your website is compatible with an array of devices to provide a seamless user experience.

If you wish to better your chances, consider collecting vast literature on your target audience. It will allow you to build an online platform that caters to the needs and queries of potential clients.

Focus Your Efforts on Local SEO

If you have ever gone on an international trip, you must have observed that Google shows you results based on your current location. While it is tempting to target all audiences, an effective SEO strategy will focus more on locals as they are likely to turn into long-term clients. If your real estate business is located in Texas, publishing content on its history, local attractions, hospitals, and educational institutions can push your website in search queries related to the particular state. If you wish to target multiple states, instead of opting for a general blog post, publish numerous posts targeting each one.

Choose Different Keywords for the Same Topic

It may seem confusing, but you can target multiple keywords for the same topic. Social media real estate ads and real estate ads are essentially the same thing. However, the search results Google yields for these queries are quite different. This SEO strategy can allow you to target a wider pool of audiences. While it may be a quick fix to replace the keywords with new ones for the same blog post, the hack can get you landed in Google’s spam directory, which will tank your traffic and conversion scores.

High-Quality Digital Images

If you wish to increase audience retention, including digital pictures along with your blog will achieve that and act as an effective SEO strategy. Property images are mandatory if you are in the real estate business. Including virtual tools on your website capable of running 3D models and videos of properties will attract more potential buyers. Often, search engine algorithms cannot process images, and to exploit all of its benefits, make sure to optimize it before uploading.

Stay away from SEO practices that violate TOS

Increasing your ranking artificially by disregarding the terms and conditions of a search engine is known as Black Hat SEO practices. If your real estate website has been launched recently, you may be tempted to use the black hat SEO practices, but if caught, it will tank your site’s authority, impose penalties on certain features, and may result in a complete ban. Ensure that your content is always unique, as algorithms are designed to identify any plagiarized content.

Overstuffing your real estate blog posts with particular target words will result in penalties being imposed by the search platform. Inclusion of target words naturally into the article is vital if you wish to rank on a specific search engine.

SEO

Your real estate business’s marketing strategy must include SEO as its core strategy. The process requires a considerable amount of patience as it can take a ton of hard work and time, but the results it yields are far more beneficial and productive than conventional methods. Your real estate business’s success depends on building an effective SEO management system.

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