I got some blowback last week when I suggested that while quite clearly the housing market is in the throes of a strong correction, life and real estate continues on.
But notable to me is the fact that even amidst all of the scary headlines and all of the well-founded doom and gloom, there are still real estate deals happening in this city. And while as far as I can tell, the who and the how and the why has shifted from the who and the how and the why that drove that wild market that already feels like a distant memory, I’m not sure what we’re seeing should be written-off as anecdotal outliers.
Transaction volume is down by half compared to this time last year. Interest rates currently stand at levels inconceivable less than a year ago. New homeowners are stressed, would-be home buyers are spooked, and everyone else is trying to figure out how worried they need to be.
But here’s what I am observing in real time: buyers are absolutely still out there.
Our transaction volume may be down by half, but the remaining half of what was truly record-levels is not inconsequential. It maybe just feels that way.
Case in point: I listed an adorable house in a central Toronto neighbourhood last week. The perfect starter home for first-time buyers. It would have been an absolute bun fight last winter.
I wasn’t sure how it would go. And because of that, I left nothing to chance. We shined her up, I spent a small fortune on staging, the photos were perfect. We did all the things.
Never would I have guessed that we would end up with twenty-five groups braving the miserable cold to come to the open house. And these weren’t people just out killing time on a Sunday. These were buyers, with parents in tow, and home inspection reports in hand, armed with their questions and their critical eye. The same buyers that are supposedly priced out or debilitated by the fear of catching falling knives.
Offer night yielded four offers. But unlike the offer nights of days prior, these prospective buyers weren’t armed with letters to the sellers and waving their bank drafts around. They were cool. They had conditions. And their numbers were conservative. Even in competition.
And this experience tracks with what I am hearing from my colleagues: the buyers still out there will participate at the right price. They will come forward when they’re good and ready. There is no FOMO. They will offer on things, sure, but will walk if it’s not right for them.
And this will be how the prices continue to grind downwards.
So while yes, the market has slowed right down, I wonder if the stasis is also due to the logjam of sellers determined to wait out these unfavourable conditions.
I suspect that once reluctant acceptance of new-new normal settles in, we will see inventory rise and sales volume increase. But I feel pretty confident in saying that it will be quite a long time before sellers leave the table feeling like heroes again.
More tall towers being proposed, approved and completed in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey and Coquitlam
There are 20 development projects with towers over 45 storeys that are selling condo units, under construction or near completion.
Developers are seeking approval for two 50-storey towers in the same block where Surrey city council recently gave the greenlight for what will be its tallest building at 67 storeys.
He added that with increased land and construction costs, developers are motivated to use all the density they can get and build taller towers. However, there is also a point where it stops making sense to push higher “because things like the cost of structural systems increase as you go higher.”
Across Metro Vancouver, there are more than 20 towers over 45 storeys that have been approved by municipal governments, according to data from Zonda Urban market analyst Justin Lee. More than half of these are in Burnaby. Five are in Coquitlam and Port Moody, while Downtown Vancouver, New Westminster and Surrey have one each.
After these, there are 40 more tall-tower projects that have been publicly presented to city councils and are in some stage of seeking approval. Most are in Burnaby and Surrey, followed by Downtown Vancouver and Coquitlam.
“We’ll see if economic conditions allow for them to be built,” said Dikeakos, whose firm is working on the new tall tower approved in Surrey and other projects.
In late 2019, Pinnacle International Development made a proposal for a site near the Lougheed SkyTrain Station. It had three towers including one that would be 80 storeys and 250 metres tall. They would be the tallest buildings in Western Canada. Some more details were presented to Burnaby city council in May 2022 for towers of 80, 76 and 73 storeys, but the project has not progressed further with the city.
Metro King by Anthem Properties is a proposal for a 66-storey tower between Kingsway and Hazel streets across from Metrotown that is nearing a final decision by the City of Burnaby.
This pipeline of potential projects is happening as cities have focused on adding density to sites near transit stations and town centres, according to Dikeakos.
“The taller buildings in these types of developments that you are going to be seeing tend to be real, mixed-use ones, meaning they have a commercial base with significant office or hotel use where the first 15 to 20 storeys are commercial even before you get to the residential portion,” he said.
“One of the interesting changes that we’re seeing is that because these developments are being done near transit sites, cities are requiring less parking,” said Dikeakos. “If we had to do the same amount of parking required a few years ago, the depth of these excavations would make them completely unfeasible. (When) we’re not required to do as much parking, it allows us to do these taller towers and still make some financial sense.”
Even though developers are motivated to deal with increasing land and construction costs by building higher, there is a turning point. It will obviously be different for each project, but Dikeakos said that for the Station Square project, it was somewhere at the 52- to 55-storey height.
Historic Muskoka Resort Hits the Market for $12M
An iconic Muskoka resort has just hit cottage country’s real estate market.
For those looking for a new business venture in the summertime hot spot, Windermere House has just been listed for $12M.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Toronto building home to historic pub to be converted into new hotel
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.
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.
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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