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The struggle to make Toronto real estate affordable – NOW Toronto

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Brokers and urban planners debate how a home vacancy tax and other efforts to make housing affordable will play out in 2021


2020 has been a very fascinating year when it comes to Toronto real estate. Our housing market reacted in unexpected ways to a global pandemic that hit the economy hard.

Just when you think Toronto house prices couldn’t get any higher, they keep getting higher. There are so many condo units sitting vacant and more being built. All the while, the need for affordable housing gets more urgent.

Time will tell if the vacancy tax the City of Toronto plans to introduce will shake things up in a positive way, and whether immigration will resume, fuelling a post-pandemic housing rush.

One thing is for certain: Demand for housing remains high, but the city needs a greater diversity of housing options while taking environmental concerns into account.

To discuss these issues, we gathered a panel of Toronto real estate experts: two brokers, Odeen Eccleston from WE Realty and Meray Mansour from RE/MAX Hallmark, and two urban planners, Paul Demczak from Batory and Cheryll Case from CP Planning.

Our experts discuss what’s in store for Toronto real estate in 2021, what types of housing should be built and where, and the urban planning and affordability challenges ahead. Watch the whole conversation in the video or read condensed and edited excerpts below.

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NOW: The Toronto real estate market seemed to ignore the pandemic as the prices kept going up this year. But at this point, the condo market especially is at this weird standstill. There’s too much supply, not enough demand. We’re seeing an overwhelming amount of listings but the prices are slipping just a little, as if they don’t want to admit that they should be going down.

Meray Mansour: A lot of these condos were purchased by foreign investors. They’re just kind of sitting there. I guess these foreign investors don’t need to sell them. They’re riding the wave of the pandemic. I think that the vacancy tax is going to help that a lot and also increase the supply in the homes as well.

Cheryll Case: We’re dealing with a really complicated system. People invest in land for personal value: a home for their family and/or investing for their future well being. Once you met those two goals, it becomes an ego issue. Your family needs are met. You have enough money for your savings, for a safe and comfortable retirement. Maintaining your house value, not renting at lower or not selling it for longer, becomes an ego thing. And that is actually quite destructive.

Paul Demczak: I want to maybe dial it back. We have this hierarchy of planning. In the late-90s, early-2000s, we were building on average upwards of 30,000 detached units annually. And then around 2005 or 2006, the province introduced a bunch of legislation, including what’s known today as the Ontario Greenbelt. What that basically said is “stop building out and build up.” That number of detached housing units has significantly gone down ever since that that time in 2005 to the point where we’re building way less than 10,000 units annually detached. Right now we’re hovering around five thousand units annually this time of year. And then the condos are trying to make up some of the shortfall in terms of the lack of supply. In my humble opinion, we need to build a lot more. And ideally we’re building more of a mix of housing.

Odeen Eccleston: When things get back to normal, whenever that may be, we’re expecting hundreds of thousands of people and they’re going to need places to stay. They’re going to have to make some revisions to that Greenbelt section to allow developers to essentially build.

NOW: Cheryll, does that jive with environmental development then to be able to get building more on the green belt?

CC: No, not at all. The Greenbelt is such a precious space for environmental reasons. Planning is a complex thing. We have to think about the social, the economic and the environmental. From the environmental standpoint, we do so much damage to our planet. So if you develop in the Greenbelt, for example, you’d be you’d be furthering that damage by requiring more travel time between place and work. You’d be doing more damage also because a lot of the neighbourhoods in our cities are designed extremely poorly. If you’re living in a neighbourhood where you have to drive to the grocery store, that’s a neighbourhood that needs more density. You need to be able to have a grocery store within walking distance.

“The amount of work that goes into a seven-unit affordable housing project is the same as a 300-unit condo.”

Urban planner Paul Demczak on the zoning process

PD: We need much more supply. How do you do that within the confines of what is allowed to be developed? How do you actually get more supply where land is limited? It’s challenging to go through the zoning process. For example, I’m working on a more affordable housing site. I think we’re doing seven units on that project. To be candid, the amount of work that goes into a seven-unit affordable housing project is the same as a 300-unit condo. It’s an extremely convoluted process. It’s become more convoluted I would suggest since 2005, in some ways that are good and in other ways that’s challenging for issues like this.

CC: The process is intense. One of my project partners that I work with, they were wanting to build affordable housing in Little Jamaica, which we know is a neighbourhood that is at risk of gentrification. And we were looking at options to redevelop these properties that we have under our ownership. The zoning process and the zoning policy said that you can only build a townhouse.

In some areas, maybe you can build it as affordable. But for this specific case, those townhouses would have to be sold for $1.2 million if built. So not affordable and not what we want.

OE: That’s a great example. Somebody can have the most altruistic and benevolent aspirations to do affordable housing, such as that property owner. Our company was trying to work with him in order to materialize that dream. But the sheer cost of doing business, as you explained, Cheryl, it makes it extremely difficult just to to call them affordable.

@justsayrad


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LACKIE: Toronto real estate defying all conceivable expectations amid pandemic – Toronto Sun

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Article content continued

It was a perfect storm.

By the end of 2020, rental transactions in Toronto were down 20% from the year before. Average rent, down 5% across the GTA, fell a full 15% in the downtown core alone.

Notwithstanding the broader social and economic concerns of this moment we’re in, it is finally a good time to be an apartment hunter.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

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Now, prospective tenants considering a move have options — units without thoughtful floor plans, outdoor space, a great view and daytime sun will languish. So would-be landlords are doing all they can to sweeten the deal — everything from signing incentives to rent rebates, to free parking, cable and Wi-Fi — anything to be competitive.

The question is then, how low can it go and how much longer can we expect this to last?

Given that the current state of things is a direct result of the fallout of the pandemic economy, it’s a safe bet that recovery will depend on how long it takes for life to return to some semblance of normal.

Simply put: this is a COVID problem – not a standalone crisis of the rental market. Once vaccines are widely distributed, universities and workplaces reopen, and Toronto reclaims its position as a hub for business, culture, and nightlife, it is a certainty that things will stabilize. And when it does, we will be reminded of the looming crisis we were bracing for prior to the pandemic — a housing supply falling well behind keeping pace with population growth and new immigration.

@brynnlackie

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With the real estate market still growing, here's how to invest this year – Financial Post

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This article was created by StackCommerce. While Postmedia may collect a commission on sales through the links on this page, we are not being paid by the brands mentioned.

Investing in real estate has always been considered a smart move, and with so many Canadians in search of better housing thanks to the pandemic, the moment is right to strike. RBC estimates home resales in Canada increased by 13 per cent last year and predicts sales will hit an even higher level in 2021. Clearly, there is money to be made, but understanding the real estate market requires skill and know-how.

Every good investor takes time to study their intended market before making a move. Investing in a home for your entire family is considerably different from nailing down the perfect time for buying a building to flip when the demand is high. If you have ever considered purchasing an investment property, you’ve probably struggled with deciding which type of home is the right one to pour your money into. Not to mention all the other important questions you’ll need to answer for an endeavour as big as this one.

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'Enamoured with the Hammer': Toronto real estate agent rhymes about downtown Hamilton loft – TheSpec.com

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The career trajectory of Arty Basinski is a somewhat head-spinning affair. First he was a musician, writing his own songs and playing in bands. This didn’t pay the bills, though, so he went into real estate.

Early in his newfound profession, after struggling for a few months, he had a breakthrough — why not advertise the properties using the power of song?

The plan worked. Now, Basinski’s listings go viral online on a semi-regular basis, thanks to the music videos he makes for his clients.

First it was “Lil Yellow House,” a duet he performed with the owner of a semi-detached bungalow in Toronto’s east end. The video amassed over 66,000 views on YouTube and the house sold for just under asking price within a week.

His latest work is a promotional video for a mixed-use building in downtown Hamilton, which includes two apartments above a recently-abandoned vape store.

In “Loft Mi Casa,” which had just over 1,000 views on YouTube as of Jan. 22, Basinski makes the case for buying real estate in Hamilton.

www.LoftMiCasa.com for all the details on this Hamilton Storefront Property

It opens with a shot of Basinski standing before the Toronto skyline, CN Tower in the distance, evidently down on his luck. A man in a leopard-print onesie kicks him in the stomach for slapstick effect.

“Leaving T.O., I’ve got nothing left to give. The bills are piling up, I can’t afford to live,” he tells us.

So off he goes to Hamilton, westbound along the QEW, to the land of cheaper real estate.

“I’m enamoured with the Hammer,” the Torontonian rhymes. “Luxury condos are advertising; watch construction from your patio — quite mesmerizing.”

Basinski’s musical background has been a boon for his real estate career. “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, being a musician myself,” he told The Spectator. “Oddly enough, I didn’t make it as a musician, but the real estate game turned me back into one, I guess.”

He composes most of the music himself with help from his clients, many of whom have musical hobbies. The chorus in “Loft Mi Casa” — seemingly salsa-inspired, impressively catchy — was recorded in his client’s home studio. The client sings the hook.

When he’s not selling property or rapping about it, Basinski is part of a roving circus act. He drums, he juggles, he spins sticks lit on fire and he walks around on stilts — sometimes all at once.

His novel approach to advertising lends itself to commercial property especially, which can take between six months and a year to sell, he said. “It takes so long to sell commercial storefronts, so you have to keep the property at the forefront of people’s minds. You have to come up with new ways to get people to remember these properties.”

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In addition to two apartments and storefront, the Loft Mi Casa building, at 17 John St. N., includes a storage room and an outdoor patio. Its namesake loft boasts a 25-foot-high ceiling and mezzanine bedroom with a walk-in closet.

A “ROI guarantee,” said Basinski. That’s return on investment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made properties harder to sell, so Basinski has also offered a few incentives. If you find the hidden cat in the 3D walk-through posted to his website, he’ll shave off $5,000.

Jacob Lorinc

Jacob Lorinc is a Hamilton-based reporter covering business for The Spectator. The funding allows him to report on stories about education.

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