Daniel Goodfellow has gone from getting help “from the bank of mom” to buy his first condo in 2002 while studying at McGill University, to building a 19-storey student rental development in downtown Montreal that promises affordability to students.
When complete in May 2022, the $48.5 million Le Mildoré at 2025 Peel St. will house about 279 students in 70 apartments. The 85,000-square-foot project is being built by Werkliv Group, which Goodfellow founded in 2012 and now heads as president.
Werkliv has about $200 million in real estate property developments in Montreal, Halifax and St. John’s.
It’s a long way from Goodfellow’s student days when he was looking for a place to stay close to McGill: “The landlords weren’t great and the prices were high.” As a result, he bought a condo on Clark Street and refitted it to house himself and two roommates.
“I thought there was something to it. I had fulfilled my own need and in a way that made sense. I thought I could do it again,” he told RENX, but it took a while to get started: “Real estate is a capital-intensive thing and I didn’t have any.”
By 2012, however, Goodfellow had graduated from the physics program and was doing better with real estate investments than at his job. He quit the job and launched Werkliv, buying two sixplexes in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal and transforming them into student apartments.
Werkliv “pure-play developers”
Werkliv has now done about a dozen student housing projects and has 19 employees. “We are pure-play developers. We go, we develop, we rent it out, we stabilize it and then we sell it. We’re not a player that holds onto our inventory.”
In downtown Montreal, Werkliv’s other student rental apartments, which have been renovated, include:
– the 73,000-square-foot Summerhill at 1575 Summerhill Ave. with 150 occupants;
– the 42,000-square-foot The Marbridge at 1245 Saint-Marc St. with 113 occupants;
– and the 18,000-square-foot The Newport at 2087 de Maisonneuve Blvd. with 50 occupants.
“We densify each unit,” Goodfellow says, with two-bedroom apartments converted into three bedrooms. “This allows the students to divide the rent by more people (and) lowers the cost on a per-head basis.”
Apartments are also furnished, which lowers students’ expenditures.
At Le Mildoré, monthly rents will average $885 in furnished, three- or four-bedroom units of 800 to 850 square feet.
By comparison, Goodfellow says the typical price around McGill for an unfurnished apartment is about $1,000 per month per student in a three-bedroom apartment that rents for $3,000. “Here you have a furnished apartment in a new construction for $885.”
Upbrella used to build Le Mildoré
Le Mildoré (a play on words on the downtown Golden Square Mile area) is being built above a preserved ground-floor facade, a requirement by the city.
Instead of being built with a crane, the building will use technology from Upbrella, in which the roof is gradually lifted using hydraulics, with each floor completed underneath.
“The floorplate is very small, so there’s not a lot of places to put a crane,” says Goodfellow. In addition, given that much of the construction will be done in winter, using the Upbrella system saves a substantial amount on heating costs and makes for a safer work environment.
Le Mildoré’s heating and cooling system will use the domestic water supply to regulate temperatures in apartments. The integrated piping system “is not that dissimilar from a geotech heating and cooling system,” Goodfellow says.
Along with 60 bicycle parking spaces, the building will have a few common study areas and laundry.
“Our focus is on affordability so we put amenities we think students are going to use,” Goodfellow says. “We tend to stay away from things like swimming pools and gyms, things they already have in the university.”
However, study rooms were thought to be useful because there is a lack of study space at nearby McGill.
Werkliv’s other developments
Werkliv also operates The Commodore at 1675 Oxford St. in Halifax, a 33,000-square-foot building with 100 occupants.
Now under construction in the Nova Scotia capital is the six-storey Seymour at 1400 Seymour St. The 170,000-square-foot development will house 491 students, cost about $61 million and is scheduled for completion in September 2022.
In St. John’s, the planned 200,000-square foot Lambe’s Lane at 6 Lambe’s Lane is currently at the permitting stage. It aims to house 700 students.
Atlantic Canada is “an underserved market,” Goodfellow says. Unlike Ontario, which has a student housing market well-served by developers, “we found is there was nobody really paying attention to Atlantic Canada.”
The fundamentals, which include low vacancy rates and affordable prices, “made a lot of sense.”
Goodfellow says affordable student housing is becoming harder to find in cities like Montreal where housing costs are increasing. “More and more students are coming from out of region to an already incredibly tight housing market,” he says.
He notes Werkliv has not suffered any rent loss during the pandemic, instead boasting “zero vacancy and zero delinquency.”
As for future developments, Atlantic Canada, specifically Charlottetown, P.E.I., and other cities in Quebec are on Werkliv’s radar.
“This is what we do,” Goodfellow says of student housing, “We do only this. We do it very well. We’d just like to do more of it.”
Los Angeles Approves Tax Increase on Real Estate Deals Over $5 Million
(Bloomberg) — Los Angeles voters approved a tax on the sale of mansions and other multimillion-dollar real estate transactions to raise money for affordable housing in the second-largest US city.
The measure, known as Proposition ULA, boosts the one-time transfer tax to 4% for property deals between $5 million and $10 million, and 5.5% for transactions of $10 million and above. The current rate on all sales is 0.45%. The increase takes effect on April 1, and will raise an estimated $600 million to $1.1 billion a year.
The ballot measure received support from almost 58% of voters, according to certified results released late Monday by Los Angeles County officials.
Los Angeles faces worsening wealth inequality that several ballot initiatives have failed to quell. While mansions in tony Beverly Hills and Bel Air sometimes sell for more than $100 million, roughly 42,000 people sleep on the city’s streets, inside cars or temporary shelters each night — up about 2% since the pandemic hit.
Los Angeles County residents need 120% of the area median income to rent a typical two-bedroom apartment, according to a report this month by the California Housing Partnership. That’s the highest rent-to-income ratio of any county in the state.
Creating affordable housing and reducing homelessness are top priorities for Mayor-elect Karen Bass, who takes office Dec. 12 and has promised to declare a homelessness emergency on her first day. Despite that, neither Bass nor her opponent in the mayor’s race, billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso, supported Proposition ULA.
The tax increase would affect about 4% of real estate deals annually in Los Angeles, with 72% of its revenue coming from properties that sell for more than $10 million, according to an analysis by the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies.
The measure was backed by trade unions and housing advocates, including advocacy group United to House LA, the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Critics argued the transfer tax could make housing, including rental units, less affordable due to the potential higher buying costs for landlords.
In 2016, LA city taxpayers approved Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure to finance more than 10,000 housing units for the homeless. The measure has so far financed 3,420 completed units and 5,446 homes are under construction, according to the Los Angeles Housing Department.
Proposition ULA will dedicate 70% of funding for affordable housing projects and the rest to homelessness prevention.
Is The Real Estate Market Slowing Down Due To Mortgage Rates?
- Mortgage rates have nearly tripled since this time a year ago.
- However, housing prices have continued to rise, making new mortgages unaffordable.
- Overall, the result is a 41% decline in new loan applications year-over-year.
Over the past year, rising inflation and the Fed boosting interest rates in response have caused turmoil in the housing market. Little more than a year ago, mortgage rates were near record lows. Now, they are around 7%, two to three times higher.
While some markets have seen housing prices fall in response, in most cases, the drop hasn’t been sufficient to keep mortgage payments for new purchases similar. All of this has resulted in higher housing costs for buyers.
We’ll cover what you need to know about mortgage trends for the month and where things might go in the next year.
The COVID-19 pandemic shocked the economy as millions lost their jobs and activity quickly ground down to a halt. The government responded with a combination of stimulus payments and lowered interest rates.
During the pandemic, mortgage rates hit all-time lows, reaching 2.65% in January 2021.
As the country exited the COVID recession and pandemic restrictions eased, inflation began to rise due to factors such as a tight labor market and supply chain issues. Inflation peaked in June 2022 at 9.1%.
In response, the Federal Reserve has boosted its benchmark interest rate to 3.75% to 4% from 0% earlier this year. This has caused mortgage rates to spike.
As interest rates rise, monthly loan payments become more expensive and less affordable without a commensurate drop in housing prices, which has not materialized in many markets.
Mortgage demand has declined in 2022. Applications for new loans have dropped by roughly 41% since one year ago, and refinancing applications are down more than 86%.
December appears to show a continuation of that trend. The last week of November saw a 0.8% reduction in mortgage applications compared to the week prior. December is traditionally a slow month for home sales, exacerbating the issue most likely.
Outside of economic uncertainty and concerns about an oncoming recession, the massive increase in mortgage rates is one of the top reasons mortgage demand has dropped.
Interest rates reached a low of 2.65% in early 2021 and remained relatively low for an extended period, hovering between 2.75% and 3.25% for about a year.
As inflation rose, the Federal Reserve responded by raising its benchmark rates, which increased home loan rates. For the week of December 1st, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the U.S. was 6.49%.
This is far below historic highs, which reached over 18% back in the early 1980s. However, the last time rates exceeded 6% was in 2008, meaning these rates have not been seen for almost 15 years.
The impact that rate increases have on housing prices is immense.
Imagine you have a thirty-year mortgage with a balance of $250,000. At an interest rate of 2.5%, you’d pay $988 each month for a total of $355,680. Overall, you’d pay over $105,000 in interest.
At an interest rate of 7.5%, your monthly payment balloons to $1,748. That means a total loan payment of $629,280 that includes more than $375,000 in interest over the life of the loan.
Today, families need to afford a monthly payment roughly double what they needed a year ago to afford a home of the same price.
In general, as interest rates rise, house prices tend to fall. This can soften the blow of higher rates forcing higher loan payments on new buyers.
Unfortunately, price reductions have yet to materialize for homebuyers as home prices have risen through 2022.
In the first quarter of 2022, the average home sold for $514,100. In Q3, the average home sold for $542,900. This roughly 5% increase is less than inflation, meaning housing got slightly cheaper.
However, many people have not seen wage increases in line with inflation, meaning affordability has not improved.
Renters are also feeling the burden, with rents up 7.8% year-over-year. This means that everyone who still needs to get their rate locked in is dealing with less affordable housing than a year ago.
Is it a good time to buy or sell?
If you own a home and want to sell it or you are looking to buy a home, you might wonder whether now is the right time. The answer is that nobody really knows.
The Federal Reserve has boosted interest rates in response to rising inflation. The Fed may continue on this path by pushing rates even higher, or it may ease off the accelerator if inflation starts to fall.
It’s also uncertain whether housing prices can continue to increase at their current clip. Many major banks and real estate firms are predicting falling prices over the next year. The decline in mortgage applications indicates less demand, which may force price reductions.
If you’re trying to buy, you’re gambling that the Fed will stop boosting rates or that reduced demand from buyers will force motivated sellers to slash home prices.
However, if you’re on the other side of the equation, you’re likely hoping the Fed will stop increasing interest rates, making the mortgage payments on more expensive homes more affordable.
You also have to hope that fears of a recession don’t become true, leading to fewer potential buyers for your home.
Buying a home is an essential part of the American Dream. Understandably, it feels out of reach for many of us right now. Recent increases in interest rates, with little change in housing prices, have put this out of reach for man. The fall in mortgage applications illustrates that.
For investors, tracking the real estate market is essential. Even if you’re not looking to buy a house, a weakening real estate market can give you an excellent opportunity to purchase land-focused investments at a discount.
If you are trying to buy a house, you need to monitor home affordability and keep your other investments liquid enough to make a down payment on short notice.
Q.ai takes the guesswork out of investing, while keeping your assets relatively liquid. Until you’re ready to make your purchase, our artificial intelligence will scour the markets for the best investments for all manner of risk tolerances and economic situations. We also diversify your investments by bundling them up in Investment Kits that make investing both simple and strategic.
Best of all, you can activate Portfolio Protection at any time to protect your gains and reduce your losses, no matter what industry you invest in.
Big real estate companies face cybersecurity gaps
Despite the fact that most Canadian real estate companies now build smart tech into their buildings to monitor, manage, and maintain many functions, such as heating, lighting, elevators, power meters and fire alarm systems, very few have invested to ensure these systems can’t be hacked, finds new research from KPMG in Canada.
A survey of 17 of Canada’s biggest publicly traded and privately owned real estate organizations, representing more than $160 billion in real estate assets, found that nearly 80 per cent of Canadian real estate companies do not proactively monitor their operational-technology (OT) network or devices for cybersecurity threats or vulnerabilities.
Half (50 per cent) do not have an inventory of their OT assets and about a quarter (22 per cent) have an inventory that’s incomplete or not updated regularly, the research found. Patches – a key control to resolve new vulnerability – are rarely done and usually in ad hoc manner.
“Smart or intelligent building technology is commonplace in the industry today and holds many benefits, but it also comes with risks that could result in significant health and safety issues,” says Tom Rothfischer, Partner and National Industry Leader for KPMG in Canada’s Building, Construction, and Real Estate practice. “It is critical that these measures are built into their systems right up front. But the reality is that most companies now find they are playing catch-up to seal the security gaps.”
The research found that most real estate companies have a cybersecurity program with the majority having very small in-house teams responsible for key cybersecurity activities. However, their roles and responsibilities aren’t clearly defined. And, while the board is regularly informed on the organization’s information-technology posture (that is, the ability to predict, prevent, and respond to cyber threats or attacks), they are not kept up to date on the OT posture. Only about 10 per cent of the companies report on their OT security posture or OT readiness.
The survey did find that the majority (83 per cent) have segregated their information- and operational-technology networks, reducing the risk of cyber attackers moving between networks.
“This is an important first step, but it can’t be the only step,” says KPMG’s John Heaton, a cybersecurity partner. “OT and IT networks typically do not have the same protection mechanisms. As well, many OT devices run on older versions of software that are no longer supported.
“The last thing you want is for attackers to infiltrate and insert malicious code into your systems to modify or take over the controls and cause a malfunction,” he says.
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