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Where Will Muskoka's Red-Hot Real Estate Market Go From Here? – Toronto Storeys



In case you haven’t been paying attention all summer long, real estate across much of the province has made a COVID comeback — and then some. 

And Muskoka real estate certainly hasn’t been a stranger to this increased activity

Both July and August have set records for sales and pricing in the cottage country region, as pent-up buyer demand from the spring spilled over into the summer months. 

But as September arrives, and with it, the end of summer, many interested in Muskoka real estate are left wondering: What comes next?

READ: The Power of Pocket Listings: Inside ‘Unlisted’ Muskoka Real Estate

I think it’s going to go one of two ways,” says Ross Halloran, Broker at Sotheby’s International Realty. “Essentially, it’s the pragmatic approach vs the Pollyanna outlook.”

Halloran, who has been a top agent in the Muskoka region — as well as in Haliburton and in The Kawarthas — for years now, leads a team of nine agents who have now seen one of their busiest summers on record. Something Halloran certainly wasn’t expecting back in March when he went to his team and told them, “Listen, this is going to be a brutal summer.”

It has turned out, of course, to be very far from brutal (unless you’ve been looking for a last-minute rental property) for many in the region, particularly sellers. Buyers, however, have had some troubles, simply given the lack of inventory available. 

On Muskoka’s ‘Big 3’ lakes — Joseph, Rosseau, and Muskoka — there are a limited number of properties to begin with. Lake Jo has somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,200 cottages, Lake Rosseau another 1,400 or so, and Lake Muskoka, by far the largest of the three, has approximately 4,400 properties to choose from. Over all, that’s little more than 7,000 cottages, only a fraction of which will be for sale at any given time. As Halloran points out, a popular expression in the region is “God isn’t making any more waterfront.”

Add to the equation an earth-stopping (or at least travel-stopping) pandemic, and demand has surged to an all-time high. 

But what exactly does that mean for the fall, winter, and into the spring and summer of 2021? Well, two paths seem to have diverged in a (Muskoka) wood, and the market is still deciding which one it will choose…

Pragmatic Approach: Balance Yourself

Image: Muskoka District Rentals

With the onset of COVID-19 and the travel restrictions that quickly followed, many sellers who were prepared to list their property in the spring settled back into their cottage for one more year, according to Halloran. It was a perfect place for people to bring their families during the initial stages of the pandemic. 

But now, as summer comes to an end, the old question of selling their property raises its head once again. And with market demand raising prices to an all-time high, the chance to sell may be even harder to pass up for those who were already planning to do so before COVID came along. 

“Of course, so much depends on a second wave,” Halloran admits. If a second wave occurs this fall, more and more people will continue to be affected by job losses and the end of government subsidies, and will find themselves facing an unsteady economy; many could be forced to choose between keeping a house in the city or keeping a recreational property rather than holding onto both.

If more and more cottagers side with the city after enjoying a final hurrah with their Muskoka  property this summer, a high number of cottages could hit the market quickly in the fall. Combine this with the potential for buyers to back off if a second wave arrives, choosing to see how the economy plays out, and the chances for a balanced market certainly seem feasible at this point. 

Pollyanna Outlook: Muskoka Sells Itself

Muskoka real estate
Ross Halloran/Sotheby’s International Realty

The influx of people that rushed to secure a Muskoka experience this summer — either through buying or renting — will, simply put, fall in love with the region. 

“The weather has been amazing up here this summer,” says Halloran. “For many, this summer was like an immersive trial experience.” 

In fact, Muskoka was so busy with new buyers and renters that Halloran feels most of the “economic impact on cottage country [due to COVID] has been mitigated by the demand and influx of new people.” 

“You can’t even buy a boat in Muskoka right now – they’re on back order for 6 weeks,” he adds.

And while seasoned cottagers found themselves surrounded by ‘newbies’ this year, many members of that freshman class will consider permanently incorporating Muskoka living into their future.

“This is part of their vision for their new life moving forward in COVID,” says Halloran, alluding to the possibly forever-changed office climate that will now allow employees to spend more and more of their time working remotely. 

Current demand certainly seems to suggest that people have found ways to spend their summer up north. And nothing right now seems to suggest that where people can choose to be on any given day of the week is about to change. If this freedom from the office keeps up, the Muskoka market could reach unprecedented levels of demand.

“In early spring and summer of 2017, most properties were selling at or above list price. At the time, I didn’t think we’d see that for another decade. In fact, heading into this summer, we were predicting a similar year to 2019, one that might transition from a sellers’ market toward or into a balanced market. The reality is that [2020 has] been a sellers’ market all the way through, with incredible demand and almost no product.”


As for Halloran, which way does he think the market’s going to go? 

“I’m a pragmatist: hope for the best, plan for the worst,” he says chuckling. 

“But it would be wonderful to see people suddenly experience Muskoka in different seasons and to get hooked on it.”

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LACKIE: Real estate market going through 'recalibration' of supply, demand – Toronto Sun



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Buyer confidence is always the wild card. We have seen this time and time again, but most recently in the early days of the pandemic: the market ground to a halt and the buyers brave enough to venture out were looking for deals.

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That momentary seize up was a blip, it turned out. Once people realized that the pandemic discounts weren’t holding, the market fired back up again.

If you look at the actual TRREB data, as Ackerley did, you will see that in spite of new listings more than doubling since Sept. 1, the number of sales once averaged out to account for the wild summer has stayed relatively consistent.

So, the main thing to watch now is what happens with the inventory balance on the condo market. We need to see how long it takes for this surge of new listings to slow and eventually absorb.

“It’s true the landscape is different, but rest assured, this market is very strong for many reasons, increased population, diverse economy, stable political system, etc. The market is going to rebound. This sort of thing has happened so many times in the past where something causes the market to stall, the media scares everyone, then there’s a period of adjustment, and by the time the masses figure it out, prices are [on the rise] again.”

Only time will tell, clearly, but I think we’d all do well to take a beat before declaring impending calamity on the real estate front.

In the meantime, you may have questions and if our chat is any indication, Rob Ackerley surely has answers. Shoot him a note at – I know I will be.

Brynn Lackie is a sales representative at Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.

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Boeing Prepares Deeper Cuts From Executive Ranks to Real Estate – BNN



(Bloomberg) — Boeing Co. is thinning its corps of vice presidents and winnowing real estate holdings, including a splashy outpost near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as the planemaker works furiously to counter plunging aircraft sales and mounting costs for the grounded 737 Max.

About 170 midlevel executives, 70 of them based at Boeing’s commercial airplane division, are taking a buyout offer that includes a year’s salary, according to people familiar with the matter. The first of the vice presidents and senior managers to accept the terms will leave the company Oct. 2, followed by a second wave later in the year.

The cuts go deeper and wider than the 19,000 jobs pared earlier this year when the coronavirus pandemic sent air travel into an unprecedented collapse. Stemming the cash outflow has become a paramount concern for Boeing, and the company is also wringing savings from investments in futuristic technology as well as its businesses and organizational structure.

Boeing is shedding assets “like King Midas in reverse,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with Teal Group.

The biggest and most controversial of the cost-saving measures mulled by Boeing would be to build the 787 Dreamliner at a single site, most likely its South Carolina factory, and close a second final-assembly line in Everett, Washington.

The decision on production amid a steep plunge in wide-body jet deliveries is expected to be announced as soon next month, according to two of the people, who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Au Revoir Chateau

Boeing also is jettisoning holdovers from the days when it was flush with cash. One example: a lavish executive retreat, modeled after a French chateau, in the countryside near St. Louis. The Boeing Leadership Center is closing indefinitely, with 81 workers from chefs to waiters losing their jobs, according to a WARN report.

Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun and Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith warned in July that the company faced a shrinking market that’s likely to remain depressed for years. The Chicago-based company could see a staggering $23.3 billion cash outflow this year, according to an estimate by Melius Research analyst Carter Copeland, before the resumption of Max deliveries starts to fill the company’s coffers in 2021.

Smith, who’s orchestrating the shakeup, said in August that Boeing needs to be “clear-eyed about the market” and how to mitigate its risks.

Boeing signaled last month that a new voluntary exit offer would take workforce reductions well beyond the 10% it initially targeted. The package was aimed at the commercial aircraft and services businesses, the most damaged by the pandemic, as well as the corporate operation, which employed 37,862 people at the start of the year. Fewer employees in the company’s defense, space and government business were eligible for the buyouts.

NeXt Out

Boeing is trimming research and development spending in part by phasing out Boeing NeXt, a two-year-old unit focused on futuristic concepts from flying cars to a supersonic business jet.

Aurora Flight Sciences, among the highest profile of the ventures, remains a wholly-owned subsidiary with work proceeding “full steam ahead,” a Boeing representative said.

But the company has tapped the brakes on the Autonomous Flight Research Center it had planned to open this year in MIT’s Kendall Square Initiative in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near the university’s campus.

Boeing is trying to sublease about half of the 100,000 square-feet space it had secured, said Peter Conway, director of research for Boston-based Lincoln Property Co., which doesn’t represent Boeing or the landlord. Aurora no longer plans to move its Cambridge-based team to the building, Boeing said.

The company plans to decide by year-end whether to maintain or monetize its stakes in three ventures:

  • Aerion, which is developing a supersonic business jet
  • SkyGrid, which is making an air-traffic management system for drones
  • Wisk, a joint venture with Kitty Hawk Corp., an autonomous flight venture backed by Google founder Larry Page.

“It’s a different world now,” said Stephen Perry, an investment banker who specializes in aerospace and defense deals at Janes Capital Partners. “They’re all cash-draining businesses in the short run, with an uncertain future.”

Boeing, Perry said, needs to focus on its core businesses because it’s “in a fight for survival.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Montreal startup uses AI to set real-estate prices – Montreal Gazette



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The pandemic has been devastating for so many businesses, but it has also provided opportunities for other entrepreneurs. Take the case of Montreal brothers Mark and Jordan Owen. Both saw their lives significantly altered by the COVID-19 crisis.

Mark, 28, was working for a local real-estate development firm and business had ground to a halt in the spring. Jordan, 26, was in a master’s program in real-estate development and city planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and had come back to Montreal in March because all in-person classes had been cancelled.

That’s when they had the idea of starting up a company to produce reusable masks. They founded Bien Aller, named in honour of the Quebec COVID catchphrase “Ça va bien aller.” They created the firm with a friend, Sean Tassé, who had been laid off from his job at a construction-management firm because of the pandemic.

Six months later, they’ve sold about 300,000 masks and they’re still producing them at facilities in Montreal and South Korea. Then the Owen brothers, Tassé and another friend, Benoit Thibeault, had a notion for a more unusual startup. The Owens’ background in Montreal real estate had them thinking that what developers and brokers could really use is a more reliable way to set prices for houses and condos that are going on the sales or rental markets.

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