By now it should be a familiar tale: the once-great North American city, booming with industry and immigration, hits a rough patch.
Soon enough the long-overburdened infrastructure starts to crack, then crumble.
Taxes go up. Businesses balk and depart for greener pastures. Less taxes come in.
The people soon follow. Tax revenue drops even more. And now the real estate market is in decline.
The city is less appealing. Even fewer people want to live there. Off they go. Rinse. Repeat. It’s a vicious cycle.
Okay, so that was a bit of an exercise in hyperbole and surely not applicable to a world-class city like Toronto.
Except on a much smaller scale, is it perhaps a cautionary tale?
The second largest financial centre in North America, Toronto is Canada’s business and financial capital and North America’s fastest growing technology market.
We are the functional brain of organizations — where world talent is attracted, recruited, hired, and put to work.
And it’s to all of our benefit.
Home to some of North America’s fastest growing populations, Toronto’s population increase has little to do with birth rates and everything to do with net migration, both from within our borders and beyond.
Why is that interesting?
Because the people coming immediately contribute taxes that keep our potholes filled, transit running, and the lights on in our schools, libraries and rec centres.
And for Toronto — a city required by law to keep a balanced budget — those taxes are critical to funding operations.
Property taxes and Municipal Land Transfer Tax — once referred to as the Toronto’s “budget-balancing golden goose” — comprise a significant percentage of the city’s revenue.
As long as people are selling up as property values rise, that revenue is a certainty.
But what if that were to change?
Today, in the wake of COVID-19, corporations may be rethinking their relationship to their workforce.
Having been forced to pivot their staff to a work-from-home model as much as possible, many of these same companies are now identifying that productivity didn’t take the hit they feared, and may now, instead, opt to shrink some of their operational costs by slashing their office footprints.
If employees can work from home — wherever that home may be — wont this change the nature of hiring, retention, and of office culture?
Will top talent even need to move their life to Toronto?
What about the ecosystem of support services that line the PATH and sustain our downtown office buildings?
The dry cleaners, the 30-minute manicure spots, the expensive juice bars — what about them?
Of all the businesses who have taken a hit through the emergency shut down, it’s hard to imagine they will have an easy time bouncing back, if at all.
The last four months have been a crash course in remote community building.
We rally together on Zoom calls, commiserate about the challenges of child-wrangling without parks or play dates, and collectively rely on one another to mask-up and stop the spread of this virus.
Community now matters more than ever.
But it seems that community can now be forged pretty easily outside of the 416 and 905.
Muskoka and Collingwood, as examples, are seeing record-breaking sales figures in recent days — people have evidently determined that if they can work from anywhere, they might as well do it where their dollars stretch further and they have more room to spread out.
A bi-weekly trip down to head office in the city doesn’t seem bad at all.
We can really only begin to guess at the ripple effects such a shift might initiate.
And not all of them are negative — if people being able to work remotely drives populations back to the smaller communities where Amazon has decimated Main Street, that’s a good thing.
Restaurants and retail will rise to meet the demand — it’s an opportunity for small businesses.
But in such a scenario the challenge for Toronto will be how to make up the void — a void already unfathomable following months of economic shutdown.
In terms of financial impact, the estimated burn rate for the city at the height of things was $65 million per week. Months of deferred property taxes for homeowners will be the extra kick.
Shrinking commercial footprints will mean shrinking property tax revenue.
Fewer people riding the TTC downtown to work will mean a substantial hit to fare revenues.
A decrease in demand for housing in the downtown core means an eventual decline in property values. Fewer people transacting real estate purchases means a hit to the land transfer tax revenue.
The golden goose will have stopped laying its eggs.
So, it seems to me that maybe people should stop complaining about companies bringing in talent from beyond our borders and recognize that it may well be what props up our economic recovery.
The alternatives are definitely going to anger you more.
— Lackie is a second-generation Sales Representative with Chestnut Park Real Estate and has been helping her clients navigate the challenging Toronto market since 2011
Vancouver real estate: what $1 million can buy in Canada's most expensive city – Straight.com
More than five years ago, Vancouver resident Eveline Xia sparked a social media campaign about housing in the city.
It went with the hashtag #DontHave1Million.
The message was simple: no million dollars, no home.
That was 2015.
It did not take long before a counter-campaign emerged.
Development company Wesgroup Properties came up with #dontneed1million.
The message was clear: one does not need a million bucks to own a home in Vancouver.
Fast forward to summer 2020, a look at recent transactions shows what buyers purchased for $1 million.
The deals were tracked by fisherly.com, a real-estate market monitoring site.
The transactions count among the total of 114 different home purchases made from July 25, 2020 to the time of this writing at mid-morning of Sunday (August 9).
One was a two-bedroom, one-bath townhouse listed by RE/MAX Select Properties.
The Mount Pleasant property at 2932 Sophia Street sold for $1 million after seven days on the market.
Featuring a front garden and private backyard patio, the townhouse was originally listed for $890,000.
“Steps to the restaurants, breweries, and shops of vibrant Main St, this stunning corner unit has been lovingly restored from top to bottom – including new kitchen, bath, hardwood floors, gas fireplace, custom built-ins, and more,” the listing proclaims.
The townhouse is part of a “heritage complex” in Mount Pleasant.
Next on the list was a condo unit in the trendy neighbourhood of Kitsilano.
RE/MAX Select Properties listed 209-1868 West 5th Avenue for $988,000.
The two-bedroom, two-bath condo is part of the Greenwich West project of Polygon Homes.
The corner-unit property sold for $1 million after six days on the market.
“Excellent location (96 walk score) close to shops, gourmet restaurants, transit, Arbutus Greenway and Kits Beach,” the listing boasts.
Third on the list was a condo unit at the downtown Telus Garden development.
Jovi Realty Inc. listed 2201-777 Richards Street for $1,148,000. The listing was terminated on July 13.
A new listing on the same day reduced the price to $1,098,000. It sold on July 28 for $1 million.
The two-bedroom, two-bath property comes with a den.
The listing acclaims that the 891-square-foot condo “opens to an outdoor wrap-around balcony with a captivating cityscape view”.
This Week’s Top Stories: Toronto and Vancouver Real Estate See More Sales, and Delinquencies – Better Dwelling
Time for your cheat sheet on this week’s most important stories.
Canadian Real Estate
CMHC: Toronto And Vancouver Real Estate Delinquencies Rise, While The Rest Of Canada Falls
Toronto and Vancouver mortgage delinquencies are rising, while the rest of the country falls. The national rate of delinquencies reached 0.29% in Q1 2020, down 3.3% from last year. In Toronto it went the other way, hitting 0.11%, up 10% over the same period. Vancouver also saw a similar trend with delinquencies rising to 0.13%, up 8.33% from a year before. Each market has a unique range of delinquency rates, so it’s less important what the rate is, than what the change is. On the national level, things are improving – especially in places like Montreal, where it’s at a multi-year low. Toronto and Vancouver? Not so much.
Nearly 1 In 4 Canadians Have Now Used CERB, Canada’s Emergency Benefit
A lot of Canadians have used the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) since its inception. There were 8.51 million unique applicants as of Aug 2, up 3.25% from a month before. That’s about 22.42% of the total population, and 47.71% the size of the active labour force.
Canadian Households See Almost A Year Of Net-Worth Gains Wiped Out
The first quarter delivered a major hit to household net-worth across Canada. Canadians saw the aggregate estimate of net-worth fall to $11.29 trillion in Q1 2020, down 3.78% from the previous quarter. This is the largest single quarter decline in a decade, only last being beat by the one made in Q3 2008. For those about to check your timeline, that was just a couple of quarters before the Great Recession.
Canadian HELOC, Credit Card, And Auto Loan Delinquencies Rise To Multi-Year Highs
Mortgage delinquencies dropped at the national level, but they climbed in other segments. Auto loans made the biggest climb at 2.14% in Q1 2020, up 16.94% from last year. HELOCs also made a substantial increase to 0.17%, up 6.25% over the same period. Mortgages are actually the only major segment of credit to not reach a multi-year high for delinquencies.
Toronto Real Estate
Toronto Real Estate Joins The Flight To The Suburbs, As Inventory Rises In The City
Greater Toronto real estate is seeing a boom in the suburbs, especially detached homes. The local real estate board reported 11,081 sales in July, up 28.92% from last year. The City of Toronto represented 3,577 of those sales, up 15.01% over the same period. New listings failed to increase with sales in the 905, while it outpaced sales in the City. Most of the skew is due to rising detached sales in the suburbs, and a jump of condo listings in the City.
Vancouver Real Estate
Vancouver Real Estate Prices Just Below Pre-Pandemic Levels, As New Listings Jump
Greater Vancouver real estate sales are on the rise, but so are new listings. There were 3,128 sales in July, up 22.3% higher than the same month last year. The number of new listings reached 5,948, up 28.9% from last year. Despite the huge multi-year high in sales for the month of July, the increase in demand was partially offset by the number of sellers.
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Toronto real estate hits another all-time high in July – NOW Magazine
A new report suggests potential Toronto home buyers have doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic
Toronto real estate is still behaving like it’s immune to COVID-19, hitting yet another all-time high in July.
The average home price rose to $943,710, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB). That is a 16.9 per cent year-over-year increase, and 5.5 per cent higher than the previous record from last month.
The new numbers were released just as Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC) released a report suggesting most homeowners are not worried about COVID-19’s economic impact.
“A large majority of mortgage holders do not foresee any difficulty in making ongoing mortgage payments,” says MPC chief economist Will Dunning in a statement.
Dunning’s report, Rapidly Evolving Expectations In The Housing Industry, is the first in a series from the MPC that will track whether COVID-19 erodes Canadian homeowner or buyer confidence.
“What we have seen clearly is that the vast majority of home owners are not feeling a long-term financial impact related to COVID-19, and that potential home buyers are still very much in the market for a home, signs of which are being seen in regions across the country,” he wrote.
Dunning adds that COVID-19 will have a larger effect on the rental market, as the pandemic’s economic impact is more pervasive among younger demographics and people in lower-wage occupations.
Three per cent among respondents who do not hold a mortgage were laid off permanently during the COVID-19 pandemic. That figure drops down to one per cent among homeowners .
More real estate buyers
But even non-home owners are gaining confidence, according to the MPC report; 14 per cent of respondents who don’t own a home say they will likely be purchasing in the coming year. That’s double the seven per cent of respondents who showed similar interest in a survey from 2019.
The leading motivation among those who expect to purchase a home within the next three years (whether they are already homeowners or not) is the need for space while spending more time at home.
“The increased desire to buy homes is only partially due to COVID-19,” Dunning writes in the report. “There is now more confidence that this is a good time to buy a home or condominium.”
Toronto real estate in July
The Toronto real estate market can certainly boost homeowner confidence. On top of the soaring price, sales were at a record high for July: 11,081 homes were sold, which is 29.5 per cent more than July 2019 and 49.5 per cent higher than June 2020.
“Sales activity was extremely strong for the first full month of summer,” says TRREB president Lisa Patel in a statement. “Normally we would see sales dip in July relative to June as more households take vacation, especially with children out of school. This year, however, was different with pent-up demand from the COVID-19-related lull in April and May being satisfied in the summer.”
Low-interest rates and limited listings continue to drive demand in Toronto real estate. There was a huge hike in new listings in July — 24.7 per cent more year-over-year. But the total active listings were down 16.3 per cent since last year.
The demand for detached and semi-detached properties in the 416 area is chiefly responsible for the skyrocketing average home price. Detached homes in Toronto rose 25.5 per cent to an average of $1,541,003. Semi-detached properties climbed 20 per cent to $1,181,014. The average price growth for townhouses, condos and all property types in the 905 did not exceed 14 per cent.
The COVID-19 impact
The Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation’s market outlook expects house prices to decline sharply beginning in the fall.
The CMHC spring forecast suggested that the average home price in Toronto real estate could dip as low as $825,000 in the fall. They also suggest that the average price could go as low as $739,000 in 2021 before rebounding in 2022.
Reasons for the decline include unemployment, a decline in the rental and condo market, low immigration and mortgage holders who can no longer defer payments.
According to the MPC report, 25 per cent of mortgage holders see their property as an investment. Most mortgage holders (72 per cent) feel secure about being able to pay their mortgage. Only five per cent expect to have difficulty. But according to the Canadian Bankers Association, about 16 per cent among those with mortgages in bank portfolios have opted to defer their mortgages or skip payments. That amounts to 760,000 Canadians., acc
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