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What playing Monopoly during lockdown can teach Canadians about real estate and cash flow – Financial Post



Everyone loves a good board game, especially when the internet goes down. In our house, during such times, it’s the tried, tested and true game of Monopoly that often appears on our dining room table. I’ve found that of the many lessons the game teaches, managing cash flow is the key to winning.

My secret strategy — hopefully my family doesn’t read this — is to begin by going after the rail roads: owning all four leads to a $200 charge per hit, which adds up fast and provides an excellent source of cash flow.

I also concurrently use my initial cash hoard to go after the low-to-medium-cost properties but I’m careful not to overdo it so that I can afford to add houses and/or hotels. This really helps build up a nest egg of liquid assets that keeps me in the game.

Trouble usually finds those who either buy too many properties or the most expensive ones, leaving them without enough money to convert those landing spots into cash-flow-generating assets. It then comes down to the roll of the dice.

While the saying goes it’s better to be lucky than smart, I find that being smart means playing the odds and increasing one’s luck. As in the game of Monopoly, Canadians are in love with real estate but often end up making the same mistakes as those in the game do, leaving themselves at the mercy of a dice roll when economic trouble hits.

Instead of keeping a close eye on managing their cash flow and building up a safety net, Canadians have instead gone on a buying binge so significant that residential real estate now accounts for approximately 60 per cent of our net worth, compared to only 40 per cent in the U.S., according to Statistics Canada and U.S. Census Bureau data.

As a result, household spending in Canada is also at 29.5 per cent of disposable income compared to 16 per cent in the U.S., according to OECD National Accounts Statistics. This doesn’t leave much of a cash hoard as deposits, mutual funds, and stocks account for only 28 per cent of Canadians net worth compared to 40 per cent in the U.S. Meanwhile, our household debt as a per cent of net disposable income is at 182 per cent compared to 105 per cent in the U.S.

This helps explain Statistics Canada figures that show that 20 per cent of mortgage borrowers do not have enough liquid assets to cover two months of mortgage payments

So what happens if such a borrower loses their job, or becomes unable to collect rent from an income property or rent it out as an Airbnb?

According to the Canadian Bankers Association, so far more than 700,000 Canadians have opted to defer or skip payments. Should things get worse, unfortunately offloading some of these properties may not be an option with April home sales in Canada falling 57.6 per cent from the same time last year and posting the lowest volume of transactions for the month since 1984, according to CREA.

Then there are those telling investors to buy even more residential real estate within their investment portfolios. While this makes sense for larger multi-family offices and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, remember that they have significantly more cash flow with a lot less liquidity needs and as a result have a much greater ability to stay in the game than you do.

For the average Canadian, it’s not too late to change one’s strategic positioning. A great place to start is by determining how much of one’s balance sheet consists of liquid and illiquid assets and, most importantly, identifying any risks to cash flow. While this approach isn’t as much fun as immediately buying Boardwalk or Park Place, with a bit of luck and some smart repositioning you may not only be able to own them one day but also have the ability to turn them into the powerhouse cash-flow machines they can become.

Martin Pelletier, CFA, is a Portfolio Manager at Wellington-Altus Private Counsel Inc. (formerly TriVest Wealth Counsel Ltd.) a private client and institutional investment firm specializing in discretionary risk-managed portfolios, investment audit/oversight and advanced tax and estate planning.

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This is what $1-million will get you in real estate markets across Ontario – CTV News Toronto



Both the Canadian and Ontarian real estate markets saw a record-breaking first quarter in 2022, with housing prices reaching new heights and sellers remaining well-positioned.

As of March, the average price of an Ontario home was $1,052,920. In the Greater Toronto Area, the average price is sitting at $1,269,900.

The Greater Toronto Area isn’t the only area breaking real estate records in the first quarter of the year either — prices of detached homes in the four Golden Horsehsoe communities — Barrie, Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo and Oshawa  — all surpassed $1 million for the first time.

The rise in prices is indicative of a larger national trend. Since last year, the national average home price climbed by more than 20 per cent to hit a record $816,720 in February.

With so many price tags hovering around the $1-million mark, buyers might be wondering how far a budget of that amount could get them across Ontario’s real estate markets.

Well, it depends on where you’re looking.

Here are a selection of Ontario real estate listings for under $1 million.


117 North Bonnington Ave can be seen above. (RE/MAX)

Address: 117 North Bonnington Avenue, Toronto, ON.

Property type: Townhouse

Asking price: $999,900

Bedrooms: Three

Bathrooms: Two


22 – 93 Gage Ave can be seen above. (RE/MAX)

Address: 22 – 93 Gage Avenue, Kitchener, ON.

Property type: Condo

Asking price: $829,000

Bedrooms: Three

Bathrooms: Three


533 Mountbatten Crescent can be seen above. (RE/MAX)

Address: 533 Mountbatten Crescent, Windsor, ON.

Property type: Detached home

Asking price: $999,900

Bedrooms: Four

Bathrooms: Three


59 Janey Avenue can be seen above. (RE/MAX)

Address: 59 Janey Avenue, North Bay, ON.

Property type: Detached home

Asking price: $779,900

Bedrooms: Five

Bathrooms: Three


711 Spring Valley Drive can be seen. (Google Maps)

Address: 711 Spring Valley Drive, Ottawa, ON.

Property type: Detached home

Asking price: $999,900

Bedrooms: Four

Bathrooms: Three


23 Windsor Circle can be seen above. (RE/MAX)

Address: 23 Windsor Circle, Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON.

Property type: Townhouse

Asking price: $999,900

Bedrooms: Four

Bathrooms: Four


2316 Falconcrest DrIve can be seen above. (RE/MAX)

Address: 2316 Falconcrest Drive, Thunder Bay, ON.

Property type: Detached home

Asking price: $969,000

Bedrooms: Four

Bathrooms: Four


908 Halle Street can be seen above. (RE/MAX)

Address: 908 Halle Street, Hearst, ON.

Property type: Detached home

Asking price: $750,000

Bedrooms: Four

Bathrooms: Two


1177 Crumlin Sideroad can be seen above. (RE/MAX)

Address: 1177 Crumlin Side Road, London, ON.

Property type: Detached home

Asking price: $999,000

Bedrooms: Five

Bathroom: Three


207 Dunsmore Lane can be seen above. (RE/MAX)

Address: 207 Dunsmore Lane, Barrie, ON.

Property type: Detached home

Asking price: $999,000

Bedrooms: Six

Bathrooms: Four

With files from CP24’s Chris Fox. 

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Prime Retail Real Estate Is Hot And Retailers Will Pay More For It – Forbes



As if retailers don’t have enough challenges with ongoing supply chain issues, recruiting and retaining staff and shoppers spooked by rising prices, now they have another worry. Prime retail real estate is in high demand and rental rates are rising accordingly.

That’s good news for REITs and other retail real estate owners and property managers but bad news for retailers that have to work rising real estate prices onto their balance sheets. It’s the simple economic law of supply and demand.

Retailers are opening new stores far faster than they are closing them, creating a fierce fight for the best spaces. At the end of 2021, the National Retail Federation reported that major U.S.-headquartered retailers announced more than 8,100 new store openings, more than double the 3,950 closings planned.

Through January 2022, a month popular for retailers to announce their opening and closing plans, the gap between the number of openings and closings is even wider – 1,190 openings to 742 closings, according to Coresight Research.

Simon Property Group, the largest U.S. mall property owner, just reported its occupancy rates reached 93.3% at the end of March, up from 90.9% last year.

In the earnings call, CEO David Simon said it had signed more than 900 leases for over three million square feet in the quarter and added there was a “significant number of leases in our pipeline.” Given its positive outlook, SPG also raised its previous guidance.

Demand exceeds supply

Real estate investment firm JLL Capital Markets has just completed a study of the trending retail real estate markets and I sat down with Danny Finkle, retail co-leader in JLL’s capital markets and co-head of its Miami office, to discuss the findings.

“Retail follows consumers, rent growth follows both, and investors follow all three,” he said. “It all comes down to diminishing supply with a consistent and growing demand from the user in the retail space.”

Reducing supply is a low level of new retail development which is not likely to turn around soon due to the rising cost of construction and building materials. Adding another complication is the large amount of existing square footage in malls, open-air retail centers, and other spaces that have been repurposed for alternative uses.

Driving increased demand for space is retailers’ recognition that even with a strong e-commerce presence, they need to maintain an equally strong brick-and-mortar presence. So even established retailers that may have reduced their existing retail fleet are starting to open new stores again.

And digitally-native B2C retailers are now making tracks to physical retail which is creating even greater competition for prime retail space.

Reducing supply is the overall low level of new retail development which is not likely to turn around soon with the cost of construction and building materials going through the roof. Adding further complication is the amount of existing square footage in malls, open-air retail centers, and others repurposed for alternative uses.

Where it’s hot

Eight markets top the list in growth potential, according to JLL’s analysis:

· Nashville, showing over 60% growth in rental rates since 2011;

· South Florida, up nearly 50%;

· Austin and Tampa both at 39%;

· Denver at 37%; and

· Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth and Raleigh-Durham around 30%.

Among major cities, Chicago is an outlier with net absorption rates significantly higher than number two Washington, DC, followed in order by Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City trailing the pack.

“Retailers need to be where the people are and while workers will eventually return to downtown urban areas, right now we have to pay attention to where people are moving, as well as working,” he shared.

Where it’s not

A recent analysis of Census data conducted by Brookings Institute showed an “outsized” decline in the size of the nation’s 56 major metropolitan areas (defined as exceeding one million residents). People are moving to smaller metro areas in droves with even stronger growth to non-metropolitan areas.

The biggest losers were New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago in 2021 and Boston, Miami, Washington, DC, Seattle, Minneapolis-Saint Paul and Philadelphia all went from growth in the 2019-2020 period to a decline in 2020-2021.

Retailers will need to keep their ear close to the ground as to how the trend in work-from-home, either full-time or increasingly part-time, changes the traffic patterns in the nation’s downtowns. They also may be able to grab attractive urban retail spaces on the cheap in the meantime.

As for retailers looking to secure suburban retail spaces, Finkle says the market will remain very competitive.

“If you look at the amount of new retail development, it is a minuscule percentage, at a 50-year low. And the prospect for new development on a go-forward basis is also remarkably low. It’s hard to believe that anyone is going to build a new enclosed mall in the near future.

“But people still want to get out and shop and retailers need to be there for them,” he concluded.

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Real estate market on P.E.I. shows only slight signs of cooling –



There are signs P.E.I.’s red-hot real estate market could be starting to cool — but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier to break into the Island’s competitive real estate market.

Nationally, the market showed signs of cooling in March as both the number of homes sold and the average selling price declined compared to the previous month. But that’s not the case on P.E.I. 

“The flattening hasn’t necessarily hit us yet here,” said James Marjerrison, the newly minted president of the P.E.I. Real Estate Association. 

“But I would not be surprised, with rising interest rates and record highs, that there would be a bit of a flattening period — I just haven’t seen that just yet.” 

The latest stats show prices continue to rise, for now. According to the P.E.I. Real Estate Association, of the 194 homes or units that sold on P.E.I. in April, the average price was a record $414,742, up more than 20 per cent from April 2021.

Low inventory

Despite those record prices, there were fewer homes sold in April on P.E.I. — almost 23 per cent fewer compared to last April’s all-time record sales. During the first four months of 2022, there were nine per cent fewer home sales than the same period last year. 

James Marjerrison, president of the P.E.I. Real Estate Association. (Submitted by James Marjerrison)

That’s because, in part, there were fewer homes available to sell — what agents call low inventory. The number of new listings on the Island in April, at 265, was down more than 17 per cent from April 2021.

None of which is good news for buyers hoping the market cools so they can buy their first home or move up to a larger home.

“If housing prices were to fall a bit or if there was a bit of a correction, you might think that it could make it more affordable for people getting into the market,” said Marjerrison.

“But if interest rates continue to rise, that could put more pressure on affordability in terms of the monthly payment and the stress test, so that could level it off.” 

Buyers might need to come up with a bigger down payment to keep their monthly mortgage commitments more manageable considering the higher interest rates, he explained. 

“It’s a bit of a shell game when you’re juggling interest rates and house prices.” 

‘Blessing and a curse’

Shaun Cathcart, a senior economist with the Canadian Real Estate Association who spoke to CBC P.E.I. from his home in Ottawa, said prices are rising more slowly than they were a year ago, which represents “a very slow topping out.” 

“Our forecast is for things to sort of flatten out and to some extent … they kind of have been,” he said.

‘More affordable markets tend to be more immune to [mortgage] interest rate increases like this,’ says Shaun Cathcart, a senior economist with the Canadian Real Estate Association based in Ottawa. (CBC)

The spike in mortgage rates in March saw more expensive markets in Canada cooling quickly in April. 

“Not so much in P.E.I.,” Cathcart explained. “More affordable markets tend to be more immune to interest rate increases like this.” 

The wild card for the Maritime provinces of P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is buyers coming from outside the region who have just sold their homes in a hot market, and have plenty of money to spend, he said. They don’t care about mortgage rates, he said, because homes are still comparatively very affordable.

“It’s a blessing and a curse that it can keep activity going at a higher level than you’re seeing elsewhere in Canada, where we’ve seen some big slowdowns, but it’s also not great for locals competing for an almost record-low inventory of homes for sale.” 

‘Going to make it worse’

Marjerrison said he has heard from potential buyers who have decided to keep renting until real estate prices come down.

If Cathcart’s predictions hold true, those buyers could be waiting a very long time.

Fewer homes for sale on P.E.I. means prices have continued to rise, CREA says. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

In fact, he said the current market could make it even more difficult for locals who’ve been priced out of the market in the last few years. 

“I think it’s going to make it worse,” Cathcart said.

“Typically what happens when markets slow down is you get a disconnect between buyers and sellers: sellers still want what the house across the street sold for last year, and buyers are not able to offer as much, or not willing to, and so what happens is the transaction doesn’t happen.”

Low inventories will rebuild as those homes sit on the market longer, he said, and prices will eventually flatten. 

Affordability is going to come by way of decreasing the scarcity of homes.— Shaun Cathcart— Shaun Cathcart

“You go from everything selling to multiple offers, to the nicest homes still getting their asking prices and some of the other ones sitting around,” he said.

“That’s what I would expect: a flattening out of prices and a more normal number of sales. And that’s what our forecast is for most places in Canada.” 

Mortgage rates will drive the change, Cathcart said. Bank rates that were 3.3 per cent last month have risen almost a full percentage point in one month, to 4.1 per cent. 

“The market’s getting out in front of what the Bank of Canada is expected to do, which is to go from the overnight rate of one per cent right now to close to three per cent by the end of this year,” he said.

Fixed mortgage rates at banks have already priced in that prediction, he said. 

The good news is if you are looking for a mortgage now, interest rates are unlikely to rise much more, he believes.

“It’s just going to be the variable rates playing catch-up with that over the rest of the year,” he said. 

‘It’s going to increase inequality’

The combination of all these factors will hit first-time buyers the hardest.

Homeowners have had several years of building huge amounts of equity in their homes, Cathcart said, which means those looking to move will continue to outbid first-timers. 

“If anything, it’s going to increase inequality, which is already terrible,” he said. “Where the haves can continue to have and move around, and the have-nots, it just makes it harder for them to acquire their first home … It’s unfortunate.”

Cathcart said CREA has been encouraging politicians to invest more in new housing. It’s the only way they see the housing crunch being alleviated, he said, but it’s easier said than done. 

He believes the key is higher-density multi-unit development such as townhouses with “less space for cars and more space for people.” 

“Affordability is going to come by way of decreasing the scarcity of homes, because the population is just going to keep on increasing” with international immigration, he said. 

The scarcity of homes in turn has put, and will continue to put, pressure on rental markets, Cathcart said, and price low-income Canadians out of even renting. 

“Maybe it’s a little bit depressing … but these are things we have to think about,” he said. 

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