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LACKIE: Real estate seemingly immune to social, economic perils of COVID – Toronto Sun

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Think this new appetite has anything to do with six months of working from home with our spouses and children?

If the TDSB is going to be remote learning by November, is it worth sacrificing comfort — and potentially sanity — to stay?

I took an incredibly important business call in my basement furnace room this week. It’s essentially a closet with a burnt-out light bulb, but I realized my kids wouldn’t be able to find me there. It is now my happy place.

Whereas once a family might have contemplated a move to Pleasantville and then spent the next three months touring weekend open houses until they landed on “the one,” COVID seems to have changed that too.

People are much more comfortable doing the legwork from their cars and seeing only the homes they think they have fallen for.

And now it can happen fast.

I have one client who drove by “something cute” in Collingwood one weekend, had me in to appraise his condo the following Tuesday, offered on a different house in Creemore by Thursday, and had a firm offer on his condo two weeks later.

“Who knows if I will even have a job in six months” he said, “better make a move now while I still can.”

See?

Buyers have changed.

— 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@brynnlackie

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Real estate agents seeing trend of Toronto homeowners moving to Guelph – blogTO

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The pandemic has changed nearly everything about the way we live and work since it first arrived on our doorstep back in March, and local real estate agents say it’s having a major effect on where and why Torontonians are deciding to purchase properties, too.

While living in the city has long been in high demand due to its proximity to workplaces, restaurants and other appealing cultural attractions, it seems many once die-hard Toronto residents are now picking up and moving to a different, more affordable and spacious market: Guelph. 

“From my perspective, the Toronto to Guelph wave is real,” Adam Stewart, a real estate sales representative with Chestnut Park West in Guelph, told blogTO. 

“In any real estate market there is a natural flow of incoming buyers and outgoing sellers, but when it comes to the sheer volume of people in the GTA looking to now capitalize on the equity they’ve amassed in their homes in recent years with the newfound option for many to now work remotely, the time for many is now to find smaller, more affordable communities within arms reach of the city.”

In the past 12 months, Stewart says about 50 per cent of his transactions have involved buying activity from former Toronto residents.

And with a recent listing he had in one of Guelph’s most desirable neighbourhoods, called Old University, he says about 80 per cent of inquiries about the property were from interested Toronto buyers who were clearly motivated to make the jump out of the GTA market and into Guelph. 

This trend, according to Stewart, is being caused by a number of factors. One such reason is undoubtedly that work has become remote for many as a result of the pandemic, meaning that concerns of living close to the office are no more.

“But the fundamental and underlying reason is that buyers looking at market like Guelph have reached a point where the city has served its purpose,” Stewart said, adding that the pattern of Torontonians moving to Guelph and the Kitchener-Waterloo area is actually a long-term trend realtors have been seeing for a while.

“Once a decision is made to leave the city, buyers are either looking to establish new roots, or return home to their childhood community, or even many that have studied at the University of Guelph decide to return. I guess the analogy I try to explain is that the cup is overflowing in Toronto, and that the overflow of Torontonians will have a natural attrition that leads to communities like Guelph.”

Over the past three to four weeks, Stewart said he’s been having conversations with GTA buyers about why they’re choosing to relocate to Guelph, and he is consistently hearing the same things.

“With COVID-19, we now find ourselves able to work from home, and we’re ready for a change,” he said his buyers have repeatedly told him. 

“Certainly as companies continue to adhere to social distancing and keeping their employees and workforce healthy, employees are finding more autonomy particularly in professional services to establish new work-from-home routines…and in many cases that new home office, means a new home altogether.”

The unaffordability of Toronto’s housing market and the overall cost of living also evidently play a role in this phenomenon, according to Stewart, which is why it’s something that began before the pandemic even arrived.

A number of buyers that have owned real estate in Toronto for more than 20 years have also seen significant appreciation in the value of their homes, he said, allowing them to trade in their $1.1M, 1,300 sq.ft., semi-detached homes in communities like Riverdale for some of the best real estate on the market in Guelph.

Members of the baby boomer generation meanwhile often tend to be looking to downsize at this stage of life, which Stewart says sometimes attracts them to one of the 55+ purpose-built communities in the Guelph area, like the Village By The Arboretum.

Natalka Falcomer, a VP with Chestnut Park in Toronto, on the other hand, says the most common exodus phenomenon she’s witnessed lately is the ultrawealthy buying waterfront properties to escape the city as it lost its cultural allure due to the lockdown.

Aside from this, she says those who have young children and are employed by companies that totally ascribe to remote working are also looking for a different option, but this was also true pre-pandemic.

“As a result of uncertainty with respect to how many of us will work in the future, we are not seeing the exodus from urban centres as widely as we originally anticipated,” Falcomer said.

She noted that people moving out of smaller homes and away from the city was happening pre-COVID-19, though the pandemic did accelerate this change to at least some extent.

And while Falcomer says she does believe that more and more workplaces will transition to a remote style in the coming months and years, this certainly does mean that every single person will therefore choose to the leave the big city and all that it has to offer.

“The hustle and bustle of the city, the convenience of picking up fresh bread down the street, and walking your children to school has its draws,” she said. 

“What is more interesting is whether we will continue to favour detached homes with backyards post-pandemic or if buyers will be drawn back to the convenience of condominiums.”

For right now, Stewart said the main things homebuyers seem to be looking for when purchasing a property are outdoor space, lots of light exposure, a den or office,  and large kitchen areas “to make sourdough bread.”

But while these things may be easier to find in a smaller city like Guelph, Falcomer says the exodus trend isn’t quite widespread enough to actually have a concrete effect on Toronto’s hot housing market — because buyers than can afford it will likely choose to stay.

“This trend of moving outside of urban centres, while interesting, will not materially dent the Toronto market. Just flip through the sales stats. What draws people to Toronto extends beyond simply the office; it’s the culture of the city, the convenience and, frankly, the fact that we are internationally known to be an appealing place to invest and to live,” said Falcomer.

“The bigger threat to the Toronto market is turning the tap off on immigration and any further COVID-19 waves which spur lockdowns, job loss and fear,” she continued. 

“This is a bigger threat because, as NYC is currently experiencing, an unconscionable number of businesses rely upon people being in the city. These businesses pay taxes, which supports our infrastructure. If we abandon our city now, this could cause the crumbling of the services we need, such as the TTC, and spur a true exodus — and for good reason.”

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Fitzrovia Real Estate Collaborates with Cleveland Clinic Canada to Provide Virtual Care to Residents – Canada NewsWire

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Cleveland Clinic Canada to provide all Fitzrovia properties with on-demand virtual care for its residents through its Express Care ®Online service

TORONTO, Sept. 29, 2020 /CNW/ – Fitzrovia Real Estate Inc. (“Fitzrovia”) announced today that Cleveland Clinic, a global healthcare leader, will provide all residents virtual access to world-class healthcare through its Express Care Online® service. Express Care Online is a virtual appointment service that allows individuals to access a Cleveland Clinic Canada clinician for non-emergency medical issues.

Each Fitzrovia property will provide residents access to a designated space in their building where they can receive a private and confidential virtual medical exam using Express Care Online® and TytoClinic™ remote diagnostic tools. All residents over the age of two will be able to be assessed for a variety of medical concerns includes screening for COVID-19.

Fitzrovia Real Estate strives to be a leader in lifestyle programming for residents with healthcare forming a key pillar. With the enhanced requirements surrounding COVID-19, access to virtual care will provide an added layer of comfort to Fitzrovia residents.

“Our strategic collaborations continue to be an important part of our company. At a time when convenient access to quality healthcare is critical to our well-being, we are proud to work with Cleveland Clinic Canada to provide world-class care for our residents. We care deeply about our residents and this complimentary offering illustrates our commitment to their safety and well-being.” said Adrian Rocca, CEO, Fitzrovia Real Estate.

The Waverley, Fitzrovia’s first purpose-built rental building (located at the northwest corner of Spadina Avenue and College Street to Fitzrovia residents in Toronto), will debut the virtual clinic amenity for residents. The building will be complete in late 2020 and will include 166 upscale suites with 1, 2 and 3-bedroom options.

Fitzrovia’s partnership with Cleveland Clinic Canada is the latest in several corporate partnerships where the company is committed to enhancing its resident living experience.

About Fitzrovia Real Estate

Fitzrovia Real Estate Inc. is a vertically integrated developer and asset manager of class-A apartment buildings across select neighborhoods in the Greater Toronto Area. Fitzrovia partners with public institutions, pension plans and high net worth investors who have an investment bias towards long term cash flow generating assets. In addition to focusing on traditional asset management, Fitzrovia focuses on driving income through active lifestyle management and exceptional customer service offering residents unique lifestyle choices that redefine urban living. Our customer-first approach means all design and construction decisions are deeply rooted in consumer insights to ensure our resident needs are not only met but exceeded. We differentiate ourselves through high quality design and innovative amenity programming combined with a strong desire to reimagine the resident experience. This is our competitive advantage. At Fitzrovia we think differently and build differently.

For more information, please visit: fitzroviarealestate.ca, follow @FitzroviaRealEstate on Instagram

SOURCE Fitzrovia Real Estate Inc.

For further information: Media Contacts: Fitzrovia Real Estate: [email protected]

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Will Canadian Real Estate Prices Decline? Not Likely – RE/MAX News

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The strength of the Canadian real estate market has continued to prove itself time and time again during the pandemic. While we’re not out of the woods yet, we are expecting continued growth for the duration of 2020, with an active market for the foreseeable future and balanced conditions at the national level into 2021. This is great news for Canadians.

So why all the fear mongering by the CMHC?

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Chief Economist Bob Dugan, told reporters at a press conference recently that the agency stands by its previous forecast in May that warned of a decline in Canadian house prices between nine and 18%.

“I’m not convinced that we have a sustainable basis for housing demand in the economic disturbance that’s going on related to COVID-19,” Dugan said. “That’s why I say I stand by the forecasts.”

We expressed our concerns over CMHC’s predictions in the spring, and Dugan’s latest statement continues to raise eyebrows – ours, and other industry insiders as well, as the Canadian housing market stays on its upward course.

While I can appreciate some of the reasoning that went into CMHC’s prediction, especially in the spring when so much was still unknown,  . The market data doesn’t support such a steep price decline, especially with the two largest real estate markets of Toronto and Vancouver continuing their upward momentum. The Prairies are facing different circumstances and challenges due to the resources sector, however Ontario and BC are expected to offset slower activity in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Canadian Real Estate Prices Have Remained Resilient

Nobody could have predicted the success of the Canadian real estate market in the wake of COVID-19. At the height of the pandemic, March and April 2020 experienced dramatic declines in activity, but transactions quickly resumed across the country as real estate professionals and consumers alike adapted to social distancing measures and embraced technology to continue transacting, despite disruptions to the economy and every facet of daily life.

Last month we at RE/MAX Canada revised our forecast for national average house price in 2020, increasing it to +4.6% from our original expectation of +3.6% at the end of last year.

In terms of declining prices, “the impact was on rent as opposed to home ownership,” said Benjamin Tal, Chief Economist at CIBC World Markets. His optimism in the Canadian housing market was due to continued low interest rates and strong pent-up demand. “Eighty per cent of jobs lost were in the service sector. Many of them were low-income and many of them were renters. So, the impact was on rent as opposed to home ownership,” he noted.

Economists Aligned in Strength of Housing Market

RBC Economics recently reported that a large-scale decline was unlikely. “The pandemic completely disrupted normal seasonal patterns by shifting activity from the spring to summer. With pent-up demand now largely exhausted, we see activity cooling later this fall. This should let some of the steam out of prices though not to the point of causing outright declines on a large scale.”

TD’s Beata Caranci also commented on Canada’s “swoosh” economic recovery and the housing market. The level of unemployment suggests the housing market should not be as active as it is. However, when you look at income levels, it all makes sense. Incomes today aren’t behaving like we’re in a recession, Caranci explained, and incomes are being supported at the same or at higher levels than in previous recessions. So, there’s a complete disconnect between the employment rate and income levels, which is adding fuel to the housing market.

So, if the real estate industry disagrees and economists disagree, just where is the CMHC getting its insight to support such a steep decrease?

Recently the Ontario Real Estate Association surveyed Ontarians, finding a strong majority think housing is an important (60%) or somewhat important (32%) contributor to the provincial economy recovery. They are now pushing on governments to help stimulate the market with incentives like a “Land Transfer Tax Holiday” to help get more homes on the market and address some of the supply issues the province in currently facing.

I do think we may see a “hangover” from the busy market we’re experiencing right now, but overall as we head into 2021, I think a prediction of more balanced conditions across the Canadian housing market is warranted. But an 18% decline in prices is highly unlikely.

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