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What does a 'historic correction' mean for Waterloo Region's real estate market? – Waterloo Region Record



WATERLOO REGION — RBC is predicting a “historic correction” for Canada’s real estate market, but Waterloo Region may already have experienced the greatest impacts.

In a recent report, the major bank said it expects the national decline in both house prices and sales activity from the market’s peak earlier this year to its expected trough in mid-2023 will exceed anything seen in previous downturns.

Interest rate hikes are pushing the cost of home ownership higher and making it harder to obtain financing, and some prospective buyers are sitting this round out. Lower demand lowers prices, especially as the number of listings slowly rises from historic depths and supply gradually increases.


On the whole, national average prices could drop by 17 per cent or more from this past winter’s highs, the report said, with home sales dropping 42 per cent from records set earlier this year.

But in Waterloo Region, prices have been falling as quickly as they rose in recent months.

Average sale prices reported by the Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo associations of realtors have fallen between 21 and 24 per cent from February to June, rates that have already exceeded RBC’s national predictions into next year.

“I truly think the worst is behind us,” said Val Brooks, president of the Cambridge association. “We needed to see a correction.”

The region has experienced big price drops — the overall average has dropped more than $250,000 in Cambridge between February and June, for example — but it also saw some of the greatest increases as prices spiked.

“That kind of puts it into perspective, in my mind,” Brooks said.

Regionwide July statistics are expected next week from the new Waterloo Region Association of Realtors, as the Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo groups amalgamate. A president for the new association is still to be appointed.

July and August are traditionally quieter months for real estate, and current Kitchener-Waterloo association president Megan Bell thinks we could continue to see a dip in sales and prices.

But September and October are usually the market’s second-busiest time of year, and that’s when sales and prices could see a bump again.

“I think that’s going to be a really good indication of where the region is going,” Bell said.

A diverse job market and a “big small-town feeling” make it an attractive destination for buyers, she said.

“We offer a unique real estate perspective … I think that’s going to keep bringing buyers to this region.”

The overinflated prices punctuated by aggressive bidding wars and condition-free offers seen earlier this year did not make for a healthy market, Bell said.

That historic correction forecast by RBC can also be seen as a return toward normalcy. “The more balanced the market is, the better it’s going to be for everybody,” she said. “It’s more of a predictable market.”

Brooks noted that, despite the significant drop from February’s peak, prices are still higher now than they were a year ago.

The overall Cambridge average price in June of $795,299 came in 5.6 per cent higher than that in June, 2021, while the overall average in Kitchener and Waterloo was $791,674, up 4.2 per cent year-over-year.

“If we hadn’t had the great increases and we only looked at a year ago, the market has improved,” Brooks said.

“I do feel we’re returning to a balanced market. I certainly can’t say we’re there yet.”

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Bank Crisis Could Cast Pall Over Commercial Real Estate Market – The New York Times



The market hadn’t fully rebounded from the pandemic. Some worry that another slowdown could add to fears of a recession.

The fallout from the recent banking crisis spurred by the collapse of two banks — and concerns about the health of a third — is bubbling up in the market for commercial real estate lending, as borrowers fear that banks will pull back. That could slow down construction activity and increase the likelihood of a recession, analysts and real estate experts said.

Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank imploded in the same week. First Republic Bank teetered for days before its shares partly recovered on Tuesday. Both Signature and First Republic are large lenders to builders and managers of office buildings, rental apartments, shopping complexes and other commercial properties.


First Republic has the ninth-largest loan portfolio in that market in the United States, and Signature had the 10th largest before it collapsed, according Trepp, a commercial real estate data firm.

Midsize and regional banks like Signature and First Republic not only provide the bulk of commercial real estate loans to businesses, they are also part of a far bigger market. Banks typically package the loans they make into complex financial products and sell them to investors, allowing the banks to raise more money to make new loans.

That means that a pullback in lending can also alter the behavior of investors. Commercial real estate contributed $2.3 trillion to the nation’s economy last year, according to an industry association. And because the industry hasn’t fully rebounded from the blow dealt by the pandemic, analysts worry about a fresh slowdown.

“It is a perfect storm right now,” said Varuna Bhattacharyya, a real estate lawyer in New York with Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner who mainly represents banks.

Lenders are pulling back from making new loans, said Varuna Bhattacharyya, a lawyer at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.Gabby Jones for The New York Times

“We were already in a place with a much lower rate of originations,” Ms. Bhattacharyya said, referring to new loan applications that banks process. “It’s hard not to feel a bit of panic and anxiety.”

Ms. Bhattacharyya said lenders would become even more cautious about writing loans for any new construction projects other than the highest-profile “trophy deals.”

The fear among borrowers is that banks will become more conservative about lending. And although the panic appears to have mostly stabilized for now, the specter of bank failure could haunt the decisions of regional banks for months.

For much of last year, commercial real estate lending had begun rebounding from the depths of the Covid-19 lockdowns, when new loan applications almost came to a standstill in the fourth quarter of 2020. By comparison, the annual rate of commercial real estate loan origination by dollar volume grew 18 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to Trepp.

Even before the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation stepped in to take over Silicon Valley and Signature, a noticeable slowdown in lending to the commercial real estate industry had begun in January.

On an annual basis, the rate of commercial real estate loan growth this year had already been cut in half compared with last year, said Matthew Anderson, a managing director at Trepp. He said some of the slowdown was the result of interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve, which were starting to take a bite out of commercial real estate activity.

And lending has probably tapered off further since the collapses of Silicon Valley and Signature, Mr. Anderson said. “How long and deep the impact will be remains to be seen,” he said.

A New York branch of First Republic Bank, a big real estate lender whose stock tanked in recent days.Gabby Jones for The New York Times

The universe of commercial real estate includes loans for new construction, mortgages and loans specifically for managing multifamily apartment complexes. The so-called securitized products containing loans that banks make are called commercial mortgage-backed securities — a more than $72 billion market last year. But it’s a different story in 2023, with issuance of those bonds down 78 percent from a year ago.

Daniel Klein, president of Klein Enterprises, a commercial real estate management firm based in Maryland, had been talking to several banks recently about a construction loan for a new project. But just the other day, after the banks collapsed, one of the banks suddenly pulled a term sheet for a loan, he said.

Mr. Klein, whose family-owned business manages about 60 shopping centers, offices and apartment buildings, said that the bank had offered no explanation for its decision, and that he did not know if the trouble in the banking sector had been a cause. He said he expected loan terms from lenders to get more onerous in the coming months, as midsize banks get skittish after the Signature and Silicon Valley Bank collapses.

“Banks in general are being more conservative than they were six or nine months ago,” he said. “But we have been pretty fortunate. We have many long standing community banking relationships.”

Banks have become more conservative in lending, said Daniel Klein, president of Klein Enterprises, a commercial real estate management firm.

Regional banks are a critical part of the commercial real estate ecosystem because their bankers invest a lot of time into forging relationships with real estate developers and managers, said Michael E. Lefkowitz, a real estate lawyer with Rosenberg & Estis in New York. Large banks do not tend to provide that kind of “high-level service” to middle-market real estate firms.

Some of the concerns of real estate lenders eased a bit when the F.D.I.C. announced on Sunday that it had sold substantially all of the remaining deposits at Signature Bank to a subsidiary of a peer, New York Community Bancorp, which is also a major commercial real estate lender. The banking regulator took over Signature on March 12 after business customers — including real estate firms and crypto investors — began pulling money out of the bank.

Before its collapse, Signature was one of the biggest commercial real estate lenders in the New York metropolitan area.

In buying some of Signature’s assets, New York Community Bancorp picked up about $34 billion in customer deposits, down from the $88 billion that Signature had before the bank run, an indication of just how many customers fled the bank before regulators stepped in on March 12 to stem the bleeding.

Even with the sale of banking deposits to New York Community Bancorp, there are worries about whether other banks will fill the void left by the collapse of Signature.

New York Community Bancorp acquired about $12.9 billion in loans from Signature, the F.D.I.C. said, but most were business loans to health care companies and not part of Signature’s large commercial real estate portfolio. That means the F.D.I.C. still needs to find a buyer for Signature’s core commercial real estate loan portfolio.

A spokesman for the F.D.I.C. said that the organization “has not characterize the types of loans left behind” and that they would be “disposed at a later date.”

“I think this means that Signature’s commercial real estate portfolio is still up in the air,” Mr. Anderson of Trepp said.

Construction in Lower Manhattan.Gabby Jones for The New York Times

An indicator that Trepp uses to measure the risk of default to loans held by banks on office complexes found that those facing the most distress were in San Francisco — where First Republic is based.

Banks are likely to cut back on lending to preserve capital in order to strengthen their balance sheets in anticipation of further Federal Reserve interest rate increases and renewed calls for regulators to get more aggressive in monitoring risk taking by banks. Any pullback in new lending could affect the start of commercial developments and push the economy closer to a recession.

As bank regulators work to stabilize the financial system, they will also need to keep an eye on banks holding too many commercial real estate loans in their portfolios — something that can create its own set of problems in a slowing economy.

A report late last year by Moody’s Investors Service, the credit rating agency, found that 27 regional banks already had high concentrations of such loans on their balance sheets. The report said the issue could become problematic for banks if the economy fell into a recession.

A construction site in Manhattan on Monday. The banking crisis could slow down building activity.John Taggart for The New York Times

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Gisele Bundchen Reacts to Reports Linking Her to Jiu-Jitsu Teacher and Billionaire Real Estate Developer – TooFab



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Simcoe County’s real estate market shows signs of recovery



Real estate experts paint a cautiously optimistic outlook after a year of downward market trends across the country.

Trends in Simcoe County show an increase in viewings and buyers re-entering the market after key interest rate hikes from the Bank of Canada warded off many last year.

Lance Chilton, the broker of record at Re/Max Hallmark Chilton Realty, calls the local market “more or less balanced.”

“Inventory conditions are the same as they once were in 2018,” he noted.” From 2020 to 2022, prices rose to about 43 per cent, which was rather rapid.”


Chilton said key interest rate hikes eventually bottomed out the local market by about September – that’s when home prices that peaked at around $1 million dropped to about $730,000.

“Since then, it’s recovered by about five per cent,” Chilton said. “In fact, we actually saw showings increase for the first time in about six months.”

The Barrie and District Association of Realtors (BDAR) confirms that showings have picked up again, with people getting that “spring fever.”

However, the one key issue that remains is low inventory.

“We saw prices dip because of interest rates and people pulling out of the market, but we never saw that supply come back online,” said Luc Woolsey, BDAR president, adding the situation creates multi-offer bids.

“So there’s still a lot of people having to come in firm, waiving conditions and inspections because they’re having to compete.”


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