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RENX's Top-30 CRE stories of 2019 – Real Estate News EXchange



The PwC Tower at Southcore Financial Centre is Toronto is one of the prime assets in the Canadian Core fund in partnership with RBC GAM and BCI. (Courtesy RBC GAM)

It was close … very close. But the largest commercial real estate transaction in Canadian history beat out the ongoing WeWork saga as RENX’s top commercial real estate story of 2019.

The massive $7B investment announced in March involved three organizations, The British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), RBC Global Asset Management Inc. and Quadreal Property Group, and resulted in the creation of the RBC Canadian Core Real Estate Fund.

The deal involves 40 of BCI’s Canadian real estate assets. Once the entire transaction is complete (it is happening in several phases), BCI will retain 50 per cent ownership in the properties and the other interest will be held by the fund.

“(Investors) know that BCI will care about the performance, they will care about long-term decision-making and the long-term future of how the partnership and the fund will grow,” RBC’s Michael Kitt told RENX in an interview after the venture was announced.

Major properties across Canada including the PwC Tower in Toronto, Marche Central shopping centre in Montreal and 745 Thurlow in Vancouver, are among the assets.

The transaction tops our annual RENX Top-30 Stories of 2019 list due to its scale, and the fact it was designed to allow small- and mid-level pension funds and other institutional investors to share ownership of trophy-calibre assets.

WeWork’s ongoing saga

The ongoing story of WeWork came in at No. 2 on our list because of its potential future impact. The company has stopped signing new leases and laid off hundreds of employees as a result of its cancelled IPO and a massive meltdown in its valuation. But, a recent multi-billion-dollar lifeline from investor Softbank Corp. has at least bought it some time to restructure.

Can it recover, or is there worse yet to come? Stay tuned in 2020.

IMAGE: An artist's rendering of the proposed Union Park development in Toronto by Oxford Properties. (Courtesy Oxford)

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Union Park development in Toronto by Oxford Properties. (Courtesy Oxford)

Rounding out our top five are three massive Toronto developments – they stand out even during a year of major project announcements in Canada’s largest urban centre. Cadillac Fairview bought out First Gulf and will develop the up-to-$8 billion East Harbour project along the Toronto waterfront, taking the No. 3 spot.

Not very far away, Oxford Properties unveiled plans for Union Park, a $3.5-billion, 4.3-million-square foot mixed-use project across the street from the Rogers Centre. It ranks No. 4.

And No. 5 is the sale of a 60.5-acre former IBM and Celestica campus at Eglinton Ave. East and Don Mills Road, which will lead to millions more square feet of development.  Aspen Ridge HomesDG Group and Metrus Properties made the acquisition and soon after, released extensive development plans for the site.

We hope you enjoy perusing the list, which as we always say is very much open to debate. Even among RENX’s editors, there was a lot of “give-and-take” in determining the 30 finalists and then assembling our Top 10.

For the full RENX Top-30 list…

Listed below are the Top 10 stories, along with links to the original articles.

For additional links, and more details about each of the stories visit our RENX Top 30 Stories of 2019 Newsletter. There, you can see the rest of the articles on our Top-30 list, along with much more information. (Note the Top 10 are in listed in order of importance, while Nos. 11 through 30 are listed by sectors)

Finally, let us take this opportunity to wish every one of our readers, clients and those who’ve contributed to our coverage this year a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

1) BCI, RBC, Quadreal partner on record $7B investment portfolio

2) The rise and fall of WeWork

3) Toronto’s East Harbour project like ‘Canary Wharf’: CF’s Sullivan

4) Oxford plans Toronto’s largest-ever mixed-use development

5) Celestica sells 60.5-acre Toronto campus for redevelopment

6) Blackstone acquires Dream Global for $6.2B

7) Hudson Pacific, Blackstone affiliate buy Vancouver’s Bentall Centre

8) Squamish Nation votes for $3B housing project

9) Fournier retires, Palladitcheff new CEO at Ivanhoé Cambridge

10) Canada’s hotel sector booms, pipeline at an all-time high

RENX Top-30 Stories of 2019 Newsletter

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Real eState

What Is the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)



The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is a Canadian Crown Corporation that serves as the national housing agency of Canada and provides mortgage loans to prospective buyers, particularly those in need.

Understanding the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) serves as the national housing agency of Canada. CMHC is a state-owned enterprise, or a Crown corporation, that provides a range of services for home buyers, the government, and the housing industry.

CMHC’s stated mission is to “promote housing affordability and choice; to facilitate access to, and competition and efficiency in the provision of, housing finance; to protect the availability of adequate funding for housing, and generally to contribute to the well-being of the housing sector.”1

A primary focus of CMHC is to provide federal funding for Canadian housing programs, particularly to buyers with demonstrated needs. CMHC, headquartered in Ottawa, provides many additional services to renters and home buyers, including mortgage insurance and financial assistance programs. CMHC acts as an information hub for consumers, providing information on renting, financial planning, home buying, and mortgage management.

CMHC also provides mortgage loan insurance for public and private housing organizations and facilitates affordable, accessible, and adaptable housing in Canada.2 Additionally, CMHC provides financial assistance and housing programs to First Nations and Indigenous communities in Canada.3

Professionals and Consumers

CMHC provides services to both professionals and consumers. For professionals, CMHC aims to work in collaboration with different groups to provide affordable housing. Services include project funding and mortgage financing, providing information to understand Canada’s housing market, innovation and leadership networks to access funding and talent to spur housing innovation and increase supply, and providing speakers and hosting events for the industry.4

For consumers, CMHC seeks to provide all the tools an individual would need to either buy a home or rent a home and a variety of information and assistance for current homeowners, such as managing a mortgage, services for seniors to age in place, and financial hardship assistance.56

For financial hardship and mortgage assistance, CMHC provides tools that include payment deferrals, extending the repayment period, adding missed payments to the mortgage balance, moving from a variable-rate to a fixed-rate mortgage, and other special payment arrangements.7

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the National Housing Strategy

In November 2017, the Canadian government announced the National Housing Strategy.8 Rooted in the idea that housing is a human right, this 10-year, $70 billion project will largely be administered by CMHC, although some services and deliverables will be provided by third-party contractors and other Canadian federal agencies.9

Strategic initiatives of the National Housing Strategy include:

  • Building new affordable housing and renewing existing affordable housing stock
  • Providing technical assistance, tools, and resources to build capacity in the community housing sector and funds to support local organizations
  • Supporting research, capacity-building, excellence, and innovation in housing research10

History of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

CMHC was established in 1946 as the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation by the federal government in Canada with the primary mission of administering the National Housing Act and the Home Improvement Loans Guarantee Act and facilitating discounts to mortgage companies. Initially, CMHC began by providing housing to returning Canadian war veterans, and toward the end of the 1940s, CMHC began to administer a program providing low-income housing across Canada.11

In 1947, CMHC was responsible for opening Regent Park, a large low-income housing project, and Toronto’s first urban renewal project. By the 1960s, CMHC introduced co-op housing and multi-unit apartment buildings throughout Canada.11

In 1979, the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation changed its name to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

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Real eState

Canadian home price gains accelerate again in May



Canadian home prices accelerated again in May from the previous month, posting the largest monthly rise in the history of the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, data showed on Thursday.

The index, which tracks repeat sales of single-family homes in 11 major Canadian markets, rose 2.8% on the month in May, led by strong month-over-month gains in the Ottawa-Gatineau capital region, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in Hamilton, Ontario.

“It was a third consecutive month in which all 11 markets of the composite index were up from the month before,” said Daren King, an economist at National Bank of Canada, in a note.

On an annual basis, the Teranet index was up 13.7% from a year earlier, the 10th consecutive acceleration and the strongest 12-month gain since July 2017.

Halifax led the year-over-year gains, up 29.9%, followed by Hamilton at 25.5% and Ottawa-Gatineau at 22.8%.

Housing price gains in smaller cities outside Toronto and its immediate suburbs again outpaced the major urban centers, with Barrie, Ontario leading the pack, up 31.4%.

On a month-over-month basis, prices rose 4.9% in Ottawa-Gatineau, 4.3% in Halifax and 3.7% in Hamilton.

The Teranet index measures price gains based on the change between the two most recent sales of properties that have been sold at least twice.

Canada‘s average home selling price, meanwhile, fell 1.1% in May from April, Canadian Real Estate Association data showed on Tuesday, but jumped 38.4% from May 2020.


(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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Bank of Canada seeing signs of cooling in hot housing market



The Bank of Canada is starting to see signs that the country’s red hot housing market is cooling down, although a return to a normality will take time, Governor Tiff Macklem said on Wednesday.

The sector surged in late 2020 and early 2021, with home prices escalating sharply amid investor activity and fear of missing out. The national average selling price fell 1.1% in May from April but was still up 38.4% from May 2020.

“You are starting to see some early signs of some slowing in the housing market. We are expecting supply to improve and demand to slow down, so we are expecting the housing market to come into better balance,” Macklem said.

“But we do think it is going to take some time and it is something that we are watching closely,” he told the Canadian Senate’s banking committee.

Macklem reiterated that the central bank saw evidence people were buying houses with a view to selling them for a profit and said recent price jumps were not sustainable.

“Interest rates are unusually low, which means eventually there’s more scope for them to go up,” he said.

Last year, the central bank slashed its key interest rate to a record-low 0.25% and Macklem reiterated it would stay there at least until economic slack had been fully absorbed, which should be some time in the second half of 2022.

“The economic recovery is making good progress … (but) a complete recovery will still take some time. The third wave of the virus has been a setback,” he said.

The bank has seen some choppiness in growth in the second quarter of 2021 following a sharp economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of the year, he added.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Julie Gordon; Editing by Peter Cooney and Richard Pullin)

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