Well… who could have imagined that 2020 would be like that? Rumours of a flu like virus circulating early in the year led to one of the biggest pandemics in recent memory. Lockdowns, restrictions, business closures and dramatic contractions to GDP around the globe.
So what does the future have in store for us?
Toronto real estate remained remarkably strong throughout the year. That said, there was some weakness in the condo market due to AirBNB restrictions and a general malaise associated with small spaces and pandemic restrictions. There was some repositioning of the market as people moved to the suburbs for greater space and greater affordability. This drove up prices in areas outside Toronto as well as in the recreational markets like Muskoka, Collingwood, Prince Edward County. Etc.
As vaccine rollouts begin around the globe, what can we expect this year? Firstly, the “fix” will not happen overnight. This will be a long term process that will continue throughout 2021 and likely into 2022. Pandemic restrictions will remain in place that will affect the way we do business, the way we conduct ourselves socially and our society in general. As far as the real estate market goes, there are a number of predictions. Some are predicting an appreciating market and some are predicting the bursting of the real estate bubble. This latter prediction is something that some have been suggesting for many years going back to the first part of the 21st century. One thing to keep in mind is that real estate is a long term proposition. The ebbs and flows of the market matter little if one’s view is long term, which it should be.
We are firmly set in our views that normal life will eventually return to cities around the world, Toronto being no exception. Will we shake hands again? Will we greet one another with kisses on the cheek? Will we once again become accustomed to living in small spaces so that we can be in the heart of vibrant cities offering exciting surroundings and the lifestyle that urban centres have to offer? We believe so. 🙂
Yorkville is a neighbourhood and former village in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is roughly bounded by Bloor Street to the south, Davenport Road to the north, Yonge Street to the east and Avenue Road to the west, and is considered part of “The Annex” neighbourhood officially. Established as a separate village in 1830, it was annexed into Toronto in 1883. Yorkville is diverse, comprising residential areas, office space, and an array of shopping options.
Within the Yorkville district is one of Canada’s most exclusive shopping districts, anchored by the Mink Mile along Bloor Street. In 2006, Mink Mile was the 22nd most expensive street in the world, with rents of $208 per square foot. Yorkville had rents of $300 per square foot in 2008, making it the third most expensive retail space in North America. In 2008, the Mink Mile was named the seventh most expensive shopping street in the world by Fortune Magazine, claiming tenants can pull in $1,500 to $4,500 per square foot in sales.
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Below is an interesting article by the World Economic Forum about the future of cities post pandemic. While opinions may vary, it aligns with our way of thinking which is one of the reasons why we posted it. Cities and urban centres have always been the life blood of our existence. New York City, London England, Paris France, Toronto etc. This period will simply be a reset rather than a death knell for cities. This will provide opportunities for those seeking to purchase some “price adjusted” properties over the next few quarters. Could we then see the roaring 20’s of the 21 century? 🤷🏻♂️ This is a possibility given the likely pent up demand for human interaction, travel and the like. Check out our featured listings for luxury properties in Midtown Toronto. https://erikaandmark.ca/featured-listings/
The world of urban living and working may appear to be in flux, but its foundations are deep and secure. Contrary to some predictions made in the midst of this terrible pandemic, a dynamic and reimagined future is taking shape in which the world’s major cities will thrive, characterized by vibrant and distinctive office, cultural, retail and residential profiles.
But should we believe in this view when faced with global news footage of near-empty streets and shops and a reluctance to return to city centres?
Future historians will be tempted to ascribe the roots of all sorts of change to the year 2020, but many of the choices we make in reimagining the future of downtown living and working will be driven by trends that have been gathering momentum for far longer.
The rapidly growing global consensus around the extraordinary importance of sustainability has, for example, been further heightened by COVID-19 as it highlights the fragility of our planet and societies. Elsewhere, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has enabled this year’s massive shift to remote working. Another major driver of change, identified as a top priority by an increasing number of our clients, is the need to improve the human experience of the workplace.
So what, we might ask? All that has been thrown out of the window by this pandemic. Retail’s future is online, people don’t want to work in offices anymore and they’d like to move their homes out of city centres too. While that will be true for some, for very understandable reasons, it is far from being true for all.
JLL carried out some eye-opening global research in May, when lockdowns were in place across much of the world and when we might have expected the preference for remote living and working to be at its height. With 3,000 respondents across North America, Europe and Asia, our survey found most people have a strong affinity with the workplace and, once safe to do so, would like to return to working in the office, albeit with increased flexibility to work from home one or two days per week.
In fact, as this JLL global research piece on The Future of Office Demand suggests, post-pandemic demand for office space may not look so different from recent years. Instead, the way that space is used will change. Far lower occupancy levels will be offset by dedicating more space to each workstation with employees dividing their time between home working and the office. We will see even greater emphasis placed on creating the best possible human experience, with more focus on supporting learning and development, creativity and collaboration – the real reasons people and businesses want to work together.
How might that all look and feel? Larger offices will continue to evolve to support multiple workstyles and settings. Some may even feel like miniature urban centres, offering entertainment, education, food and fitness options, and overnight accommodation.
Urban allure for the young and creative
Drawn not just by better employment opportunities, but also by the allure and variety of metropolitan social and cultural scenes, we predict the long-term trend toward urbanization will continue over the next decade. Cities concentrate creative energies and foster innovation, providing expedited career development opportunities in the process. This, aligned with their vibrant cultural and social scenes, will continue to act as a magnet, particularly for the young. Cities will continue to offer higher quality and wider ranging healthcare provision compared with rural areas. The combination of these factors means people needing more space to live and work.
In cities, the rapid rise in home working will see radical new approaches to apartment design, accommodating comfortable and productive home workspaces that do not intrude into bedrooms and sitting rooms. Companies may provide incentives or subsidies to help their employees kit out these spaces. Local community facilities, shared creative spaces and convenience retail will also evolve and flourish. Reliable, high-capacity internet connectivity will become essential.
In cities such as New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, we can expect massive new investment in public transport to provide more space, better air filtration and greater reliability. The old model of crowded commuter services will need a rethink. Solutions and money will be found for this, with governments prioritizing the employment and all-round benefits it provides even as public borrowing is stretched to record highs.
Away from the office
Destination retail, tourism and leisure will re-emerge strongly in the post-pandemic world, especially once transport systems can return to full capacity. This is unquestionably a tremendously difficult time for the hospitality and travel industries. Many more businesses are likely to fail, even where governments are providing substantial assistance. However, assuming we can avoid significant second waves and a vaccine is not beyond reach, people’s innate desire to socialize, enjoy culture and share experiences will eventually drive renewed growth. We already see the early indicators of that wherever lockdown conditions are eased.
Some areas of the economy – life sciences, logistics and online retail to give three examples – are coping well through the pandemic, with many businesses in these areas showing significant growth. From the real estate perspective, we expect that to continue and stimulate demand. Logistics space, science parks and transport hubs will all provide out-of-town employment and investment opportunities.
In many countries – the US and much of Europe included – we are likely to see a step back from “just in time” supply lines leading to more local manufacturing and warehousing of vital goods, food, PPE and medicines. Hospitals, care homes and assisted-living facilities will also be another major area of focus for real estate development and investment.
Shaping the future of real estate
The world will look different in the coming years; our cities and urban centres especially so. COVID-19 will hasten many of those changes, but the overriding trends and forces for change were already well established before this horrible disease gripped the world. Much about the way we live and work will be transformed. For most, hopefully, that will be an improvement and lead to more fulfilling and rewarding lives and careers.
While offices will evolve, they will remain the beating hearts of the central business districts in major cities across the globe, supporting a lively hinterland of retail, leisure and cultural attractions. This, in turn, will sustain the attractiveness of urban living.
This is an unprecedented opportunity for the real estate industry, which bears a great responsibility to make a success of all this. It is all about shaping the future of real estate for a better world.
Having been in this business for several years, there are some interesting things that we have seen and some general misconceptions that seem to exist.
One is the fundamental misunderstanding of commissions. Generally speaking, commissions are paid by sellers, be it homeowners or developers. Those wishing to sell properties hire an agent to represent them and showcase their property to prospective purchasers. When that property is sold, the seller pays commission to both the agent that they hired (listing agent) and the agent that brought them the buyer. (Buyer agent) As a purchaser, you are not responsible for paying commission. There is an exception to this rule that plays out very infrequently but occurs when one is under contract and the seller is not paying standard commissions.
Further, some believe that going directly to the listing agent or directly to the developer is a savvy move that is going to pay dividends. Sadly, this is rarely the case. Going directly to the listing agent allows said agent to improve their rate of commission by what is called “double ending the transaction”. This means that through multiple representation, (you and the seller client) the listing agent will be able to secure a larger portion of the total commission as a buyer agent isn’t involved. It also means that as a buyer, you are largely unrepresented and your interests take a back seat to those of the seller. In the case of pre-construction, the developer pays a commission to the agent representing the buyer. Erika and I often use this commission as a form of leverage to negotiate more favourable contract terms and/or upgrades on our clients behalf. We essentially share a portion of that commission with you through upgrades. Absent the commission, (no agent, no representation) this ability doesn’t exist. Additionally, Erika and I offer a number of other pre construction services
Now, onto the subject of BRA’s. Buyer Representation Agreements. 😮 Let’s hear from the Real Estate Council of Ontario… RECO about BRA’s. Click this link to learn more… BRA. While it may feel like one is being “locked in” with a B.R.A., it is really only clarifying the responsibility of the parties involved. Signing a B.R.A. contractually ties you to the agent and the agent to you. With a formalized agreement, the agent owes you a fiduciary responsibility. Fiduciary. Generally speaking, B.R.A’s are signed for a 90 day period but can be longer. Anything longer than 6 months requires a specific acknowledgment.
Please reach out if you have any questions or comments. We’re always available and are happy to help.
REAL ESTATE MARKET REPORT NOVEMBER 2020: TORONTO REGION
The Toronto and area residential resale market continued its torrid pace in November, defying all expectations and forecasts. It wasn’t, however, homogenous in its performance, with different housing types and areas performing at dramatically different levels.
Overall, reported sales for the greater Toronto area were up a scorching 24.3 percent compared to November 2019. Last year, 7,054 residential properties were reported sold. This year that number jumped to 8,761. That number was driven primarily by the sale of ground-level properties, detached, semi-detached, and townhouse homes. Sales of these types of homes increased in both the City of Toronto and the 905 region, and correspondingly, so did average sale prices.
In November, the average sale price for all properties sold across the greater Toronto area came in at $955,615. This number was more than 13 percent higher than the $843,307 achieved in November of 2019. In the City of Toronto, the average sale price was even higher, coming in at $979,224. These numbers would have been even higher if not for the lagging performance of condominium apartment sales in the City of Toronto.
Once again, as in previous months, resale data indicates that market activity has shifted from the City of Toronto to the 905 region. The 905 region includes Halton, Peel, York, Durham, Dufferin, and Simcoe Counties. Of the 8,761 reported sales for the greater Toronto region, 5,729, or 65 percent, were in the 905 region. What we also witnessed in November was the average sales price gap between the City of Toronto and the 905 region is narrowing. For the third straight month, average sale price gains in the 905 region far outdistanced gains in the City of Toronto. The average price increase for all property types in the City of Toronto was 5.5 percent. In the 905 region the average sale price jumped by 14 percent. Even if condominium apartment sales were extracted from these numbers, gains in the 905 were at least double the average sale price gains in the City of Toronto.
Except for condominium apartment sales in the City of Toronto the entire resale marketplace continued to move at a torrid pace. In November, all sales across the greater Toronto area sold (on average) in only 19 days, 26 percent faster than the 24 days it took last year. The pace for semi-detached properties in the City of Toronto was even more hectic. All semi-detached properties sold in only 14 days. Toronto’s eastern districts, which include the popular Riverdale, Leslieville, and Beaches trading areas, saw semi-detached properties sold in only 11 days, and (on average) for 109 percent of their asking price. The average sale price for the combined eastern districts for semi-detached properties exceeded $1 million, with substantially higher average sale prices in the most popular neighbourhoods. Similar results were achieved in Toronto’s western districts. Because of higher price points, Toronto’s central district sales were a little slower (20 days) but still managed to achieve sales prices that were 102 percent of the asking price.
It should be noted that the high end of the market also put on a strong performance. Throughout the greater Toronto area, 356 properties with an average sale price of $2 million or more were reported sold in November. This compares with only 199 sold in the same category last year. On a year-to-date basis, 3,363 $2 million plus properties have been reported sold. Last year, at the end of November, 2,171 properties at this price point were reported sold. This year’s sales represent a 55 percent increase in high-end property sales compared to 2019.
If there is a dark spot in the greater Toronto resale marketplace it’s condominium apartment sales in the City of Toronto. In November, sales were flat, and average sale prices fell off by 3 percent. Unfortunately, that’s not the whole story. Inventory levels are increasing dramatically. In November, 2,943 new condominium apartments came to market (some of these were no doubt new listings of units that hadn’t sold and were being re-introduced to the market, often at lower asking prices). Last year, only 1,629 new listings came to market. November’s new listings increased the total number of active listings to 5,018, 194 percent higher than the 1,707 condominium apartments available to buyers at the same time last year.
On a more positive note, by the end of November, year-to-date, 88,026 properties (all types) were reported sold for the greater Toronto area. Total sales for 2019 were only 87,753. Notwithstanding the pandemic, and its negative impact on our society, our businesses, and our health and safety, with December still to be counted, 2020 will be the Toronto and area’s best year for resale house sales since 2016. Astonishing.
As agents, we have first access to product launches throughout the city. We represent our valued clients and do our best to secure inventory as it’s released. We also assist in the negotiation process in an effort to ensure that our clients get the best deal possible. It is important to understand that our services come at no cost to you, our client. We represent you and only you when dealing with the developers.
We maintain open lines of communication with the developer and update our clients on important dates with regard to deposits, pre delivery inspections, occupancy dates and so on. We visit the sites periodically to monitor the progress of construction and forward photos to our clients.
With educations in architecture and experience in construction, we assist with choosing finishes and interior design considerations to create the space that you envision. We also have a number of associations with designers and general contractors for the larger projects.
We will be present for your pre delivery inspection to provide our guidance and assistance to those who would like it.
We have contacts with moving companies and also offer a product called MoveSnap. This is a concierge moving service that makes your move as stress free and as seamless as possible. https://erikaandmark.ca/what-is-movesnap/
We want to ensure that our clients are well looked after. That the experience of purchasing a home is as enjoyable and as stress free as possible.
The City of Toronto has “An Official Plan”. It is a policy framework that directs and manages physical change. It establishes a vision for the the future of the city and details policies to shape the social, economic and natural environment to ensure the City of Toronto’s continuing success as an urban place.
Zoning is the way governments control the physical development of the land and the kinds of uses to which each individual property may be put. Zoning laws typically specify the areas in which residential, industrial, recreational or commercial activities may take place. More specifically, zoning laws place restrictions on land use and the size, height, location and use of buildings and structures.
New Development 🚧
The expectation of the city planners is that developments will conform to The Official Plan and to the Zoning By Laws of the day. Developers’ submissions to the city are reviewed by city planners for compliance prior to being given the go ahead to start construction. This process involves a number of steps including town hall meetings and consulting with local residents. This process will ultimately determine what the built form will look like. Once the zoning approval has been granted, the developer will submit for a site plan approval and construction will begin. The timeframe for this process can take several years.
Most projects, depending on the scale, will take approximately three years to complete.
Pre Delivery Inspection 👷🏻♂️
At some point prior to occupancy, one will have the opportunity to do a pre delivery inspection. This is essentially an inspection of the unit that you have purchased to ensure that it is to your satisfaction and to point out any deficiencies that may exist. Erika & I are happy to be part of this process.
Interim Occupancy 🤷🏻♂️
Once your unit is ready and you are given the go ahead to move in, you enter a period of interim occupancy. Interim occupancy is the period of time between the day you occupy your unit (move in) and the day you take ownership (close). One of the reasons for interim occupancy is to allow the builder to focus on the sold suites and some of the common elements before the building is registered. This period can be anywhere from three to eighteen months.
Final Closing 🍾
The final closing occurs once the developer is ready to register the condominium and transfer ownership to the individual unit purchasers. At this point, interim occupancy ends, the building is registered and homeowners can secure a mortgage, rent or sell their suite. The property management company will also take over at this time.
It was no surprise that October’s resale market results continued the record pace that began in June. Reported sales hit a new high in October, with 10,563 residential properties trading hands during the month, a 25 percent increase compared to last year. Not only were sales volume at record levels, but average sale prices also continued their steady upward march. Last October, which was a strong month, 8,445 properties were reported.
This October there was also a sharp rise in the average sale price. Last October the average price for all properties sold was $851,877. This year the average sale price increased by almost 14 percent to $968,318. Depending on the location the average sale price was even higher. In the City of Toronto, the average sale price came in at $1,025,925. This number is startling when it is remembered that it includes 1,438 condominium apartment sales or 40 percent of the 3,514 properties that sold in the City.
The Toronto and area residential market is now all about fragmentation, a phenomenon driven by the pandemic and the psychological and physical impact that it has had on the residential market, both locally and throughout North America. People’s desire for more space, coupled with technological advances that allow people to work remotely, have untethered buyers from dense, crowded urban regions, allowing them to move to new marketplaces. That movement is clearly reflected in the October data.
There were 3,514 properties reported sold in the City of Toronto, (including condominium apartments). That represented a 6.6 percent increase compared to the 3,295 that sold last year. In the 905 region of greater Toronto, 7,049 were sold in October. Last year only 5,196 properties were reported sold in the same month. The year-over-year increase in the number of sales in the 905, namely 36 percent, dwarfs the increase in sales in the City of Toronto. Clearly, buyers were active in Toronto’s 905 region. No doubt a large part of those buyers were former City of Toronto condominium apartment dwellers looking for ground-level properties.
The exodus to the suburbs and the 905 region is no more evident than the impact it has had on both the condominium apartment and rental markets. In October, 1,438 condominium apartments were reported sold in the City of Toronto. Last year 1,575 were sold. This decline of 8.5 percent is one of the first declines we have witnessed in more than 10 years. Condominium apartments have been Toronto’s only affordable alternative. Detached and semi-detached properties, given their stratospheric increases in average sale prices, have been beyond the financial reach of most buyers, especially first-time buyers.
Declining sales usually mean declining average sale prices, unless the decline in sales is due to a decline in inventory. Unfortunately, condominium apartment supply has skyrocketed. In October, 4,494 new listings came to market, bringing the total available inventory at month end to 5,719 condominium apartments. By comparison last October only 2,213 new listings came to market, 50 percent fewer than this year. At the end of October last year there were only 2,098 condominium apartments available for sale, 63 percent fewer than this year. It is not surprising therefore that the average sale price for condominium apartments, namely $668,161, was almost 1 percent less than a year ago. Rentals of condominium apartments are suffering the same fate, with rising inventories and declining monthly rental rates.
Detached and semi-detached property sales were robust in October, increasing by 20 and 30 percent respectively as compared to last year. The average sale price for detached properties increased by more than 11 percent and semi-detached by only 5 percent, to $1,470,857, and $1,154,087 respectively in the City of Toronto.
It should be noted that the high-end of the market has been performing exceptionally well. Across the greater Toronto area, 488 properties having a sale price of $2 Million or more were reported sold in October. In 2019, only 254 were reported sold in this category, a year-over-year increase of 92 percent. The majority of these sales were ground level properties, with only 20 condominium apartments falling into this category.
As we move towards the end of 2020, without any anticipated change to the economic and psychological conditions that have given rise to the exceptional, though fragmented market that we have experienced for the last five months, all expectations are that it will continue, particularly if interest rates stay at their historically low rates, and if governments keep the pandemic damaged economy liquid. The fragmentation will continue to see strong demand in the 905 region and in the secondary markets surrounding the greater Toronto area. We can expect condominium apartment sales and price pattern so clear in October to continue: both sales and average sale prices will continue to decline while inventory levels will approach historic highs.
For some, the prospect of buying one’s first home can seem daunting. Fortunately, real estate professionals are here to help and guide you through the process. Some things to consider when going down the road to home ownership are as follows.
Finances. While one can buy a home with as little as 5% down, 20% is preferred. This is to avoid having to get an insured mortgage through the Canada and Mortgage and Housing Corporation. In addition to the deposit money, one will need additional monies set aside for closing and moving costs that can easily exceed $20,000 given the entry level prices in the more sought after areas of Toronto. There are a number of online tools for estimating closing costs, land transfer taxes etc.
Location. Urban or suburban? Urban living is generally associated with large cities and metropolitan centres. This choice will offer the broadest choices of housing types but usually with higher prices. Suburban living is typically made up of newer developments, shopping centres etc. Prices may or may not be lower than those of the urban dwellers but one often gets more living space for money spent.
Needs… What are your housing requirements? ie. Number of bedrooms, bathrooms, parking etc. Do you need to be close to transit and so on? These considerations combined with your budget will determine your direction in terms of the type of property that you seek. For example… If you are a single professional and a first time home buyer, one may want to consider a condominium. The entry level pricing is generally lower with a lifestyle that is conducive to busy young professionals. For couples and families, semi-detached, townhomes and detached are all considerations.
Wants… Somewhat less important than needs are one’s wants. Do you want amenities? Do you want a pool or a gym? Do you want a garden or a detached garage to use as a workshop? Do you want everything on one level or are you happy to walk up and down stairs? Again, all of these things will combine with your needs and your budget to direct you to the appropriate housing type.
Maintenance. One consideration that our clients have mentioned is their willingness to maintain their home. Condominiums require the least maintenance followed by newer homes and lastly, old homes. Given the latter choice, homeowners are forced to either learn quickly or have a good handyman at the ready. That said, there have been many great books written on do-it-yourself home maintenance. Some jobs can be learned quickly and are fairly straight forward while others should always be left to the professionals. Either way, home ownership is a rewarding experience.
While Erika and I are Real Estate Sales Representatives, we have taken on a number of construction projects in the past. This experience comes from the challenges of home ownership. When I bought my first house in Leaside in the late nineties, I had no skills whatsoever. My house needed work and I rose to the challenge. I hired professionals to remove a load bearing wall and install pot lights, but I took on the challenge of installing a new kitchen and bathroom. Did I make some mistakes….yes. Did I create the nicest kitchen in the city….no. But, was I proud of my creation and was I building “sweat equity” in my home….yes. Fast forward twenty years and Erika and I have done numerous kitchens, bathrooms, additions and new builds.
“Every challenge you face today makes you stronger tomorrow. The challenge of life is intended to make you better, not bitter.”
Roy T. Bennet
Please reach out if you have any real estate related questions. We’d love to hear from you.