2020 set to be red hot for real estate in the GTA

Housing website Zoocasa recently got a decent amount of media attention when they released a blog outlining reasons for 2020 being a very hot year for real estate. In summary, Zoocasa is pointing to a lack of supply as the main reason prices will soar this year. Zoo is also making the point that the measures implemented to cool the rapid price growth from 2016-2018 are now well and truly spent. The foreign buyer tax and stress tests are not going to cap prices anymore, the market has priced them in and found ways to accommodate the extra burdens.

The TREB is echoing Zoocasa’s prediction and argue that buyers are now back and much more engaged in the market than before. The psychology of the market has shifted from perceptions of lukewarm activity to a once again hot and steamy outlook and prices are on the up. The market had a brief re-balancing away from sellers to buyers but has now shifted back to being a much more assertively sellers’ market. The average home price in Toronto is now just over $910K, this includes homes and condos medians.

All the data points to sales and prices now having fully hit the highs which inspired the drastic and sudden government intervention in the market some years ago with the foreign buyers tax and the stress tests. Tembo predicted that a recovery, if ignited, could easily have the market rapidly gain back the ground it lost. And we were right. What has been impressive is that the recovery has occurred at a faster pace than even we imagined. Both Vancouver and Toronto have led the way in making sharp gains and returning to the historic highs experienced in the last boom.

Nothing is pointing to a sudden and massive increase in supply. Even though the provincial government is extremely pro-development, there is little capacity in the market to build tens of thousands of extra homes and condos to meet demand. Developers have no reason to swamp the market when they can continue to anticipate and pocket bigger and bigger gains. Interest rates will remain low. There is also some possibility that the Feds will move to make it easier for people to take on mortgage debt given they are in minority government and need to bolster their standing with swing voters.

A snapshot of Toronto’s economy & construction sector as we wrap up 2019

In this blog post, Tembo will give its readers an overview of the state of Toronto’s economy and its major financial indicators. In this way, Tembo hopes to reveal the overall good shape, flexibility, and versatility of Toronto’s economic state. All in all, Toronto’s economic indicators are very positive.

The Macro-Economy

  • Unemployment is at 6.9%, slightly higher than the national figure but still a decent number, remember that population is rising by 70,000, placing pressure on job creation.
  • Mean hourly wages in Toronto meet provincial and national averages, at $29.
  • GDP is growing by roughly 2%, at the rate of inflation, it’s projected to stay at this amount for the next several years. The economy had a strong growth spurt from 2014-2017
  • Toronto’s economy boomed from 1998-2001, averaging rates of well over 5% in those years
  • There are 1,572.4 million jobs are in Toronto, contributing to an office vacancy rate of 4.1%, there have been only 10 business bankruptcies in our City this year
  • The industrial vacancy rate is 1.5%, down from 5.5% in late 2013
  • Consumer prices rose by 1.7% this year
  • Retail sales in Toronto will exceed $32 billion for 2019, most of which was cars and car parts

Buildings under construction

  • There are 246 mid and high-rise buildings under construction in Toronto as of October 2019, up from 202 in October of 2018
  • The pace of building continues to rise, Toronto is competing with New York City for the title of most mid to high rise construction in North America
  • 2022 will be a giant year for construction in our City as there are a huge number of supertall buildings that will be completed in that year
  • These will include the 83 floor The One building at Yonge-Bloor, YSL Residences at 85 floors just down the street, and Sugar Wharf Tower D on Queens Quay which will reach 70 floors
  • This article from the Financial Post has lots of information and an interactive video of some of the supertall structures that are being built right now: https://business.financialpost.com/real-estate/property-post/vertical-city-80-new-skyscrapers-planned-in-toronto-as-demand-climbs

Housing

  • Disappointingly, housing starts in Q3 2019 were 9% lower than in Q3 2018 but are up 11.5% from Q2 2019
  • There were roughly 5,000 housing starts in Q3 2019, most of which were apartments and condos
  • The average house price in our City is $925K

Most analysts and experts consider Toronto’s economy to continue

to remain healthy and reasonably stable in the coming years. Analysts believe the biggest threats are high debt levels, a rapid rise in interest rates, or a severe recession from abroad.

Canada’s population is exploding

Out country has had an interesting history of immigration stretching back hundreds of years. Throughout the late 19th century, immigration was modest compared to modern levels.

Annual immigration averaged roughly 25-50,000, topping 130,000 in the early 1880s but then falling to 80,000 in the 1890s and dropping precipitously in the late 1890s and early 1900s. A huge surge then occurred from 1902 to right before the start of the first World War. With the prairie provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan admitted to Confederation, elites recognized the urgent need and positive opportunity of settling the Western prairies and activating the agricultural potential of the region. Sizable grants of effectively free prairie land were advertised to European migrants, particularly those from Ukraine, Germany, and Poland, on the condition of long term settlement and productivity inducement. 400,000 people entered the country in 1912, an all time single year record.

In the 1920s and through the Second World War immigration began to fall until it recovered in the post-war boom. Over the last 20 years immigration levels have been high and steadily increasing, with both main political parties supportive of the trend. Average increases varied from 200-250,000, but the current Liberal Government has shown a zeal to increase this number further to 350,000+. Statscan has released data that shows recent increases in population have hit all time historic highs that have topped the traditional pre-WW1 figure of 400,000. From August 2018 to July 2019 the population of our country increased by 531,000. 60% of those immigrants settled in Ontario and British Columbia. These kinds of increases show that our immigration system is moving aggressively to address the most serious demographic issue we have; an aging population. Hopefully many of the new entrants are family sponsorship individuals who have likely been waiting for years to join with family members who are already here.

One can imagine the impact of this population increase on a housing market that is already squeezed from demand pressures. Even if immigration levels fall from this record high, they will still be significant in the years to come. The consensus on high immigration levels is shared by most of the political class, big business, and a significant chunk of the population. This won’t change anytime soon. Record high immigration are the new norm and this will continue to fuel rapid growth and housing prices. 

On Canada’s Wealth

There has been a fair amount of media coverage over the last few days from an interesting, recently released stat from StatsCan on Canadian net wealth. It seems we’re a lucky country – our net wealth has topped $11 trillion, and our economy produces goods and services worth near $2 trillion.

Toronto Banks
The $11 trillion net wealth number was not a surprise for experts, but what has piqued the interest of observers has been the real estate component of that huge net wealth figure. The value of real estate represents over 75% of our net wealth, or just under $8.8 trillion. 
Over the last decade, real estate rose from comprising roughly 62% of Canada’s net wealth to the aforementioned figure. Canadians are much more dependent on real estate for their wealth than Americans – in the US, real estate has generally held steady at just over 70% of net wealth. This statistic corresponds to the general macro-economic trend that has continued in Canada over the last decade, where low interest rates and government policies have leaned on real estate and construction to drive growth. Low interest rates, strong demand, and the inability of the private sector to consistently build enough housing has all acted as fuel to real estate prices, and thus equity and net wealth.

Canadians Are More Dependant On Housing For Their Wealth Than Ever Before

Most Canadians hold the view that inevitably over the long term, their home equity will continue to rise. Many baby boomers and older Canadians are depending on this (rising) equity to supplement their pensions for consumption in retirement and to pass resources on to their children and grandchildren. This belief in relentless home price increases should have been tempered given the turbulence the national real estate market experienced over the last year and a half. The stats show that we are more dependent on housing for our wealth than ever before in our history, and even more so than our real estate crazy neighbours to the south. What we must all remember is that so much of this wealth is based on debt, and that debt needs to be serviced through discipline. 

Rental Housing, We Need It

toronto skyline

The rental vacancy rate in Toronto is at a record low of 1.1%. In other words, there are few, if any, vacant rental units available in the rapidly growing city. Prices for a bachelor apartment now exceed $1,500 and condo rent is also rapidly increasing to reach $2,000 in many cases. The lack of affordable rental housing, once plentiful, consistently built, and widely appreciated in Toronto, is crunching and distorting the real estate market. From the 1950s to the early 1980s, rental apartments were consistently and routinely built. Much of the existing rental stock was built in the 1960s.

Why Building More Rental Housing Is A Good Idea

There are many financial disincentives to building rental housing. Permits are hard to come by, government intervention has interfered in building plans; mandating certain number of affordable units, and it is easier and more profitable in the short term to rapidly sell newly built condo units. Rent control measures recently introduced by the outgoing Liberal government in Ontario will make disincentives to build rental housing greater as it adds red tape to removing troublesome, potentially costly tenants. The new PC government will maintain these rent control measures, but also have the opportunity to introduce measures to spur new rental housing development.

Are We Paying Too Much To Rent?

Tenant organizations and groups have released polls showing that over half of Toronto rental tenants are reporting that they feel that they pay too much in rent. More affordable rental housing will help young millennials, student, and families save for an eventual condo and house purchase. It will also take some pressure off the condo market, under huge pressure to meet demand which is showing no signs of abating. Most housing experts believe that a heathy rental vacancy rate should be from 3-4%, four times present levels.

top ten median rent across canada

Now Creative Group September 13, 2017 No Comments

Bank of Canada tightening tough on Markets

The Bank of Canada’s (BOC) decision to raise interest rates by a quarter basis point again last week came as a surprise to many and solidified the reality that the Bank has taken an aggressively hawkish position on the cost of money. The BOC had already reversed a historically unprecedented 7-year policy of record low interest rates on July 12th by topping the rate up to 0.75%. The second-rate rise in less than 2 months sent the value of Canadian dollar up but also had a direct impact on increasing mortgage costs and making business and commercial lending more onerous on borrowers as well. 

Canada’s big five banks immediately responded to the hike by announcing that their own respective mortgage rates would increase as well. The increase will have a powerful impact on the national housing market. In some regions where recent changes already had a significant cooling effect, the increase will only further make borrowing costs higher, particularly for first time buyers trying to enter the market. The move will also dissuade better prepared buyers who already have equity in the market from buying more or better-quality housing as equity growth and buying demand cools due to loss of market dynamism.

30% of Canadian homeowners who have variable rate mortgages will now have to adjust their household spending to make ends meet. While the rate rises may seem insignificant, the pace of the rate increases means that incrementally more expensive borrowing costs will accumulate and add up. This month’s increase also suggests that the Bank will likely increase rates again in October, as this matches the now emerging pattern of accelerating rates and lines up with the BOC’s increasingly hawkish and tightening rhetoric, and market expectations.

Why?

Many are scratching their heads as to why the BOC is raising rates so quickly. Inflation is very low at 1.2%. The BOC is known and respected throughout the world as one of the most successful inflation targeting Central Banks. This reputation was earned in the late 80s and early 90s as the Bank increased and maintained very high interest rates to break the back of double digit inflation caused by the 80s stock market and credit growth booms. The effect of these rapid rate rises on real estate, borrowing costs for consumers and businesses and consumer spending will be adverse. Tembo has several ideas.

First, the national economy is experiencing a big growth spurt and GDP growth rates increased by 4.5% in the second quarter. This was largely due to strong consumer spending, made affordable by a stable and healthy job market, some modest wage gains, and cheap borrowing costs. By raising rates, the BOC expects growth to cool to more sustainable medium to long term levels while sending signals to consumers to spend and borrow more Conservatively. There is also a broader international push by Central Banks to end the era of dirt cheap money, and the BOC, in the trendsetting style its admired for, is charging ahead.

Now Creative Group August 24, 2017 No Comments

Buying A New Home Vs. Buying A Resale

There are many decisions to make when beginning your search for a home in the current real estate market. Not only do you have to consider financial aspects such as your budget and mortgage costs, it is also important to consider the type of home and area that you would like to live in. There are advantages and disadvantages to purchasing both a new development as well as a resale property.

Move-In Date

From the time of purchase, new homes can take years to build and are often met with delays that prolong your move-in date. If you are looking to make a quick move, purchasing a resale home is your best option as you are able to secure a move-in date within a reasonable time frame.  On the other hand, purchasing a home that will be built within a few years from the purchase will allow the buyer to save more money over time for the down payment and closing costs. Depending on your needs and financial situation, it may be best to purchase a new development and make smaller payments until closing.  

Warranties & Costs

New construction homes in Canada are typically protected by a warranty, which will cover any costs related to issues with the construction and maintenance of the home. In Ontario, these concerns are addressed through the Tarion Warranty Program. This allows homeowners to save on costs and protect themselves financially from any damages related to the assembly of the home. Resale homes do not come with such a warranty, leaving any maintenance or fixes to the expense of the purchaser. Older homes may also require more maintenance over time, as the lifespan of the furnace and other appliances may be limited.

Customization

Depending on what you are looking to do with the home, either option may be feasible. New homes have limited options when it comes to design and available upgrades, whereas older homes can be purchased for a lower price and remodeled to meet the exact needs of the home owner. Some individuals purchase homes as investment properties, which can be renovated and resold. If you are looking to flip a house or customize your dream home, purchasing an older home may be in your best interest. Whereas others may prefer to select a model from a new development and move right into a brand-new home.

There is no definite answer to determine which type of home to purchase. Purchasing a new home versus a resale home is dependent on the buyer’s needs and preferences. Depending on the location and necessary amenities, some may prefer to purchase an older home as opposed to a new development, and vice versa.

Now Creative Group July 5, 2017 No Comments

Canada’s real estate reliance

As our nation celebrates 150 years of straddling the world’s stage, Tembo has decided to prepare a blog outlining how important the real estate sector has become to our national economy and prosperity.

Historically, the bedrock of the Canadian economy has been primary resources. The cycle has been simple. A resource is discovered or harvesting begins, within a short period of time extraction then begins to boom. The boom provides wealth and opportunity and attracts migration, and then the process matures, the resource declines in value or is depleted or made obsolete by market changes: thus paving the way for a new staple to be collected. The first of these resources was Atlantic cod in the 15th century, then fur and pelts, then lumber, and eventually, minerals and oil by the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

By the end of the Second World War, the Canadian economy began to aggressively industrialize and the service sector began to grow expansively. Suburbia sprouted and real estate began to boom and grow as a major sector. From the late 1970s to the present, the post-war industrial components of the economy have gradually withered away. Manufacturing has especially declined in southern Ontario, due to higher costs, relentless foreign competition, and a decline of productivity and innovation.

High oil prices from 2003-2015 helped the economy boom, but as those prices collapsed real estate has taken oil and manufacturing’s place as the main economic engine for the country. Statistics show that most of the strong economic growth the country is currently experiencing comes from four major sources: finance/insurance, real estate/rental/leasing, construction, and professional/scientific, three of these four are real estate related. Manufacturing, farming, fishing, and forestry were sources of economic contraction. Without real estate, Canada would be in a recession.

Businesses are pouring money into real estate and new construction is soaring, while renovation activity is also growing strongly. Increases in housing wealth and home equity are also prompting consumers to borrow more money, spend more, and even leverage the purchase of vacation homes or homes for rental income and investing. Real estate has become so robust that recently, the national housing agency, the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) declared it would transfer a special $4 billion dividend to the Federal Government over two years. Soaring property transfer and land taxes are one of the main reasons the deficit prone Ontario Liberal government recently tabled a balance budget for the first time in over a decade.

Overall, the importance of construction, housing, and its financially related business has never been more fundamental to Canadian governments, consumers, and households.

Now Creative Group May 2, 2017 No Comments

More on the Ontario Fair Housing Plan

Last week, Tembo released a blog outlining some of the basics of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan; a 16-point government initiative by the province of Ontario to cool the housing market in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. In this blog, Tembo will explain other components of the plan and what the government of Ontario has been doing in the last few years to manage the real estate market.

The Fair Housing Plan will work with real estate agents and consumers to review rules agents follow to ensure real estate transactions are fair. The government mentioned the desire to strengthen real estate standards and to end the practice of double ending and to educate the public about the practice. Double ending occurs when a real estate agent represents both the seller and the buyer in a transaction.

Another aspect of the plan is to create a Housing Advisory Group which will meet quarterly to provide the government with advice on the real estate market and to provide feedback on the effects of the plan’s other points. This group would be diverse and would include economists, academics, and developers among other specialists.

The province will also work with the federal government to improve reporting requirements so that appropriate provincial and federal taxes are paid on the purchase and sale of real estate. Finally, the government will create an updated Growth Plan for the growing housing needs of the Greater Golden Horseshoe area. The updated Growth Plan will focus on increasing densification of existing suburban and urban areas and to ensure enough land is freed up for development without reducing protected green spaces.

Actions already taken

The government has already exempted first-time homebuyers from paying land transfer tax on the first $368,000.00 of the cost of their first home. Increasing land transfer taxes on high value ($2 million properties). Increasing zoning space for affordable housing, selling off surplus government land, and increasing the collection of real estate data are other measures the government has taken up recently.

Have you sold your home, and now can use an advance on your equity before closing day, perhaps you need money for renovations?  Tembo Financial can help!  Tembo offers this unique service to homeowners in Ontario and the GTA. You could receive your money in as little as 48 hours with no credit check and no appraisal* for expenses that matter to you.  Don’t wait, start today!

*Subject to qualification