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Toronto’s real estate market is heating up, with July setting a new year-on-year sales record

Red-hot Toronto real estate sales continue in July – TREB

Duffie Osental
Mortgage Broker News

Toronto’s real estate market is heating up, with July setting a new year-on-year sales record.

Figures released by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) revealed that the Greater Toronto Area saw 11,081 sales in July 2020 – a 29.5% increase over the same period in 2019 and a new record for the month of July. Additionally, sales were up by 49.5% compared to June 2020 on a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis.

Read more: TRREB’s March sales figures show “clear break” between pre- and post-COVID-19 periods

The numbers also showed that total new listings were up on a year-on-year basis by 24.7% – but this annual growth rate was less than that of sales, which means market conditions tightened on average compared to July 2019. Additionally, active listings at the end of July were down by 16.3%.

“Sales activity was extremely strong for the first full month of summer,” said Lisa Patel, president of TRREB. “Normally we would see sales dip in July relative to June as more households take vacation, especially with children out of school. This year, however, was different with pent-up demand from the COVID-19-related lull in April and May being satisfied in the summer, as economic recovery takes firmer hold, including the Stage 3 re-opening. In addition, fewer people are travelling, which has likely translated into more transactions and listings.”

According to TRREB, the overall average selling price was up by 16.9% year-over-year to $943,710. On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, the average selling price was up by 5.5% compared to June 2020. Price growth was strongest for low-rise home types, notably within the City of Toronto. Despite more balanced market conditions in the condominium apartment market segment, year-over-year price growth remained in the high single-digits.

“Competition between buyers continued to increase in many segments of the GTA ownership housing market in July, which fueled a further acceleration in year-over-year price growth in July compared to June,” Jason Mercer, chief market analyst at TRREB.



Copyright © 2020 Key Media

Maintenance issues – you can pay now or pay even more later

Maintenance issues – pay now or pay more later

Tony Gioventu
The Province

Dear Tony:

Our strata council is trying to cut corners on costs this year as we have experienced dramatic increases in our insurance costs.

As an owner and council member, I am concerned that we are not meeting the requirements of our basic operations. And possibly exposing ourselves to even higher claims that could result in damages to strata lots and common property that, in the end, will simply cost us more.

A recent decision to eliminate the landscape contractor resulted in a ground floor flood last week, as the irrigation system was not being maintained through July, which was a routine part of the scheduled maintenance and servicing.

The flood resulted from a leaky sprinkler head that was reported to council in early July and not addressed until an owner reported their patio filling with water.

The damage to the strata lot was nothing more than a wet carpet, but, as a strata council member, at what point do we, the council and the corporation, start to take on liability for bad business decisions?

The council has basically taken the position that they will address problems as they arise.

— Kyle J. ,White Rock

Dear Kyle:

As a property owner and council member, you have the legislated obligation under the Strata Property Act to maintain and repair common property and common assets.

Your owners’ also approved a budget — including landscaping services — which is also a lawful instruction to implement the contracts wherever possible.

Regardless of the size or type of a strata corporation, annual operations plans are the best method to ensure the obligations of inspection, maintenance and repairs are implemented.

An operations plan will summarize the components and assets of your strata corporation — which can easily be converted from your depreciation report — and identify what level of service or inspection and maintenance is required as part of your annual operations. As well as what components or systems are managed on a long term basis.

If your strata corporation fails to maintain common property and common assets, and an owner suffers a loss, the owner is likely in a position to seek damages against the strata corporation either through the courts or the civil resolution tribunal.

If you have failures relating to building systems or assets that result in insurance claims, your insurance provider is likely going to advise you of this risk, put you on notice of increased costs for claims or advise you of their inability to renew your insurance.

Common areas of neglect for strata corporations are drainage and sanitary systems, roofing systems and electrical systems. Most items that are out of sight are often not a priority, but these key components often result in avoidable claims and damages, and significant disruption to owners.

Sanitary lines and drains, for example, should be flushed professionally at least every three years — if not more frequently. Likely due to the increased occupancy periods this year with the pandemic restrictions, there has also been an increase in sewer backups. Sewer backup is one of the most severe problems, and accessing buildings during the lockdown is a greater problem as the plumbing contractor will require access to strata lots as well.

Still, the most common attributable factor is simply ageing building systems that are neglected. General inspection and maintenance of operational building components are the best methods to prevent losses, claims, unnecessary damages, and, in many cases, often extend the life of building components.

Roofing systems cover 100 per cent of our investments, yet most property owners undertake inspection or maintenance on an annual basis. A qualified inspector or roofer can identify deficiencies and damages that can be easily and quickly addressed to ensure good performance of the roofing system and extend the life of the roofing system if routine service is conducted.

Routine maintenance of hot water boilers will extend the life of the boilers and ensure they perform at their best efficiency levels, reducing energy consumption and cost. If your roof fails, this is now an emergency repair. Damages have been caused; the cost for after-hours response is significant, and the repair is short term rather than a coordinated approach to maintenance and renewals.

The attitude of waiting until a component fails before we have to fix it is a false economy. Create a schedule of all your building components and determine what services you require and the frequency of servicing.

© 2020 Postmedia Network Inc.

How far Covid-19 assistance Canadians can cover some expensive

Will the next iteration of COVID-19 assistance keep Canadians in their homes?

Clayton Jarvis
Mortgage Broker News

Three hundred and forty-three billion dollars. It’s not often you hear numbers like that associated with Canada. Even the country’s largest infrastructure project, the LNG colossus going up in Kitimat, B.C., is estimated to come in at $40 billion, and that’s over a years-long timeline. But that $343 billion is all ours: It’s now the estimated budget deficit for the Canadian government for 2020 alone, and that’s not even counting the deficits being run at the provincial or municipal levels.

Propping up an economy while a pandemic tries to pull it down sector by sector is expensive work, particularly for a country with a tax base as small as Canada’s. But the heavy lifting isn’t over yet. Millions of Canadians are still out of work, tens of thousands of small businesses are expected to close, and a “devastating” second wave of COVID-19 infections is still very much in the cards for the fall, which, in case you haven’t looked at a calendar in a while, is only weeks away.

The government will inevitably need to keep spending, but without knowing the future, deciding how much aid Canadians still require, and what the feds can afford to keep doling out, is a complicated guessing game.


What’s up with CERB?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit has been sending $2,000 a month to Canadians since the application process began on April 6. Originally scheduled to last sixteen weeks, CERB was extended for another two months at the beginning of July. That means anyone who started receiving CERB funds in April will see their benefits dry up in September.

As of July 26, over 8.4 million Canadians had applied for CERB, resulting in government cheques totalling almost $63 billion.

CERB has been controversial, to say the least. Some describe it as a “lifeline” responsible for keeping millions of Canadians housed and fed, others point to the rampant abuse of the program by recipients who experienced no job disruption. As provincial economies opened up in June and July, some critics felt the amount of money being sent to CERB recipients was disincentivizing them from returning to work. National Bank of Canada found that in some industries CERB replaced more than 80 percent of the average worker’s lost income. It increased the average income of accommodation and food service workers by 19 percent.

“That is a tremendous disincentive,” says Michael Gregory, managing director and deputy chief economist at BMO.“There are a lot of anecdotes of businesses starting up and having a hard time finding the labour they need.”

But Gregory insists that turning off the taps isn’t an option.

“Cold turkey? No. Having had the economy on this life support – ‘liquidity support’ is a better term – just to cut it off immediately would not be an appropriate response,” he says.

RateSpy founder Robert McLister says Canada isn’t even close to being in a position to cut CERB completely.

“Canada is still down almost 2 million jobs, has over a half-million more on permanent layoff and not seeking work, has millions more with reduced hours or earnings, and has one of the highest unemployment rates in the G20,” he says.“Fiscal support is Canada’s respirator. You don’t want to pull the plug until the country’s breathing on its own.


What about CEWS?

The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy provides more of a clue as to which basket the government may be shifting its eggs into. The program, which covers up to 75 percent of employee wages for eligible businesses, has been extended twice, first until August 29 and again until December.

The extension means CEWS is locked in far longer than CERB, signaling the government’s intent to both get Canadians back to work and Conservative critics off its back.

“It’s going to be critical for the economy, one way or the other, that we transition Canadians off the (income support) and onto the wage subsidy,” RCB economist Colin Guldimann told Reuters.

But if businesses continue faltering throughout the summer, or a second wave of COVID-19 flares up in the fall and causes more of them to close, their workers may not have wages left to subsidize.


The new scenario – EI

On July 31, the Trudeau government announced it would be transitioning CERB recipients to the federal employment insurance program in September. Details were scant, but Trudeau insisted  

“EI should cover every Canadian who is looking for work, and for those who don’t qualify for EI right now, like gig or contract workers, we will create a transitional, parallel benefit that is similar to Employment Insurance,” the Prime Minister said.

Under the new EI plan, recipients will be allowed to earn money while receiving benefits. The updated system will reportedly make allowances to broaden eligibility and relax the number of work hours needed to qualify.

According to Gregory, this was the government’s best remaining option.

“Right away, you take it from being an emergency response to being a part of the normal response with a little more latitude or flexibility, which could be cheaper for the government anyway,” he says.

It may be cheaper than CERB, but an expanded EI program means the government will still be on the hook for billions and billions of dollars if Canadians cannot return to their jobs. That can’t go on forever. The U.S. allowed its $600-a-week expanded unemployment insurance program to expire on July 31, with no alternative proposed, despite the country’s inability to get COVID-19 under control and get Americans back to work.

McLister, though, doesn’t think Canada will have the option of ending financial assistance until the COVID-shaped crater in the job market fills itself back in.

“Fiscal prudence is out the window,” McLister says,“and our leaders are too invested to pull out early. They’ll happily keep spending taxpayer money until most, or all, jobs come back.”



Copyright © 2020 Key Media

Juniper West at 2049 Highland Drive, Kamloops 675 multi-family and single-family homes by Juniper West Development Ltd

Juniper West: A master-planned community in Kamloops

Michael Bernard
The Province

While COVID-19 has caused many real estate markets in British Columbia to drop like a yo-yo, there is one Interior city where home prices have held steady this year.

The city of Kamloops, a long-established centre for forestry, mining, healthcare and tourism, has experienced consistent growth over the last five years. That is a comforting fact for Doug MacKenzie, whose company’s sprawling 250-acre master-planned community, on the quiet outskirts of this city of 100,000 located four hours by car northeast of Vancouver.

Juniper West’s masterplan—adopted by the city in 2007—calls for a total of 675 multi-family units and single-family homes with panoramic views of the Thompson River Valley. So far, about 476 homes and homesites have been developed by Juniper West and its construction arm, Juniper Builders, said MacKenzie, Juniper West’s general manager.

“It’s a fairly steady real estate market. We are starting to see a lot of growth with families moving to our community from the Lower Mainland and a lot of local families and families from Alberta. There is still a lot of good value relative to other areas of the province.”

A quick comparison with Kelowna to the south confirms what MacKenzie says. B.C. Real Estate Association statistics for May show that the median detached house price in Kamloops is $562,500, well below the $672,000 detached home median price for Kelowna and its surrounding zone. The gap is even greater when compared to Metro Vancouver, where average detached home prices exceed $1 million. Median townhome prices show similar differences between Kamloops and Kelowna for May: $314,500 versus $495,500.

At Juniper West, first-time buyers can get into the real estate game with a 1,700 square feet three-level townhouse in Juniper’s 50-unit Ridge development for just under $400,000. A single-family home, ranging between 2,500 and 3,000 square feet and with complete landscaping, can be bought for $668,000 and up.

What draws people to Kamloops is the semi-arid climate, relatively mild winters and its healthy focus on both winter and summer sports. Within walking distance of Juniper West, for instance, is the Kamloops bike ranch, a popular site for recreational and competition biking. Sun Peaks, considered one of the province’s leading ski mountains, is just a 50-minute drive away. Kamloops itself has several stable employers, including Interior Health and the 250-bed Royal Inland Hospital together, have 1,400 employees, Highland Valley Copper (1,300), the school district (2,200) and Thompson Rivers University (1,100).

The Ridge, a 50-unit development, a collection of three-level townhomes, is configured in eightplexes. The modern design homes feature bright open floor plans with custom millwork throughout.

There are two kitchen cabinet styles to choose from with quartz countertops. An optional kitchen upgrade includes all stainless-steel appliances, including a hookup for a natural gas range. There is a 48-inch electric range fireplace in the living room, complemented with a two-stage high-efficiency gas furnace and air conditioning. Flooring includes high-end laminate flooring throughout the main living areas.

Outside, the homes are sheathed in Hardie board-and-batten siding with a brick masonry veneer and aluminum railings enclosing 300-square-feet of outdoor living space. Each home has a garage for a single vehicle, plus an outside parking space and a visitor space. There are also outdoor gas BBQ hookups.

Juniper Builders is currently offering Qu’Appelle Boulevard, a collection of 20 single-family homes available in four different designs, with and without basements. The homes also allow for legal suites that can serve as mortgage helpers. The homes range in size from 1,325 to 1,950 square feet not including basement space.

Mark and Taylor Paynter have just purchased in The Ridge. “We were renting in Aberdeen, a neighbourhood on the western tip of Kamloops,” said Mark. “We’ve been here for four years now, and we have quite a few friends who live up in the Juniper area. We know that it is a very family-friendly and active community, and it’s safe, warm and welcoming.”

Mark, a law enforcement officer, and Taylor, a teacher, are originally from Prince Edward Island and came out a few years ago for a fresh start. They were attracted to Juniper West because there are lots of young people within a few years of their age. Taylor said she had a contract at the local elementary school and loved it. “There are great kids and great families there, and it really contributed to our decision to buy there.”

Chris and Bre Crowell, who have a two-and-a-half-year-old boy and a one-month-old girl, moved into a five-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family home in Juniper West. “We owned a duplex in another neighbourhood,” said Chris, who is a civil engineer. “We wanted our own yard and not to be sharing a common area with our neighbour. We also decided we wanted something newer, and we didn’t want to deal with the headaches and the expense of an older place.”

The community was a big attraction for them, said Bre. “It has a good community feel. It has a convenience store, lots of parks and lots of young families.”

Juniper West, Kamloops

Project address: #103-2049 Highland Drive, Kamloops

Project Scale: A total of 675 multi-family and single-family homes and building lots in a 250-acre master-planned community with panoramic views overlooking the Thompson River Valley in Kamloops, located 250 kilometres northeast of Metro Vancouver. Located eight minutes to downtown Kamloops, the subdivision includes an elementary school and daycare, grocery store plus parks and green spaces.

Prices: From $225,000 for fully serviced single-family lots; from $398,800 for 1,700 sq. ft., three-bedroom townhomes, and $668,000 for single-family homes starting at 2500 sq ft. with options for fully legal rental suites.

Developer: Juniper West Development Ltd. /Juniper West Builders Ltd.

Architect: Various, including Richard Hunter, Architect and Bergman Home Designs.

Sales Centre: #103-2049 Highland Dr., Kamloops

Centre Hours: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and by appointment on weekends.

Sales phone: 778-471-2981

Sales contact: Doug MacKenzie, General Manager

Website: JuniperWest.com

Completion date: Continuous completion

© 2020 Postmedia Network Inc.

Despite of Covid-19 22.3% increase of home sales compare same month last year

A case of the haves and the have-nots’: Vancouver home sales and prices jump in July

Jessy Bains

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t pushed Metro Vancouver home buyers to the sidelines the way many expected, at least not yet.

Instead, the latest data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) show 3,128 homes were sold in July, a 22.3 per cent increase from the 2,557 sold during the same month last year. Sales were 28 per cent higher than last month, when 2,443 homes changed hands.

Sales were 9.4 per cent above the 10-year July average.

“We’re seeing the results today of pent up activity, from both home buyers and sellers, that had been accumulating in our market throughout the year,” said Colette Gerber, REBGV chair, in a release. 

“Low interest rates and limited overall supply are also increasing competition across our market.”

The benchmark price for all types of homes is $1,031,400, 4.5 per cent higher than July 2019 and 0.5 per cent higher than last month.

The surge in activity is taking place against the backdrop of a job market with millions still out of work, and an economy with a long way to go before getting back to where it was before the pandemic.

“It boils down to a case of the haves and the have-nots, if you have money during this pandemic, and still have steady employment, you view it as an opportunity to buy, and that’s exactly what is happening,” David Hutchinson, Sutton Group West Coast Realty realtor, told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“I am not expecting this trend to continue, this pent-up demand will recede, and listings will accumulate.”


Like Toronto, the transition to working from home is helping to lead to a shift out of condos. 

“Some condos in good locations that are still well-priced seem to be struggling, while detached is definitely the hot market–the opposite was true not too long ago, oh how the market shifts,” said Hutchinson.

“Nevertheless, I do get more inquiries into the outlying suburbs’ market — even out to Mission and Naramata — where one can get some acreage and space between the neighbours, and still put some equity in the bank for a rainy day.”

There were 12,083 homes for sale through the MLS system, 15.1 per cent fewer than the same month last year (14,240) but 5.8 per cent more than last month (11,424).


© 2020 Yahoo Finance Canada

Access to transit is more valuable, home buyers are willing to pay extra.

Home buyers willing to pay extra for SkyTrain proximity

Kenneth Chan

Marine Gateway Vancouver 

New data shows home buyers in Metro Vancouver are still willing to pay for the premium of being within close walking distance from a SkyTrain station.

While there is currently an aversion to public transit, the health crisis has only had a minimal effect on buyers’ willingness to pay for the above-assessed value for an apartment, according to real estate marketing and analytics firm Roomvu.


For every kilometre away from the closest station, buyers are likely to pay 0.61% less over assessed value in the initial COVID period (March 15 to May 30) — down slightly from 0.63% in the pre-COVID period (January 1 to March 14).

“There was a strong relationship between the distance from the closest transit location and the percentage differences between sales price and assessed value,” reads the report.

“The result clearly indicates that apartment units close to the stations are still being sold at a premium over their assessed values in the post-COVID lockdown period.”

The distance penalty per km from the closest station is highest for Burnaby North (+3.7%), followed by Burnaby South (+2.1%), Vancouver East (+1.9%), New Westminster (+1.3%), Vancouver West (+0.7%), North Surrey (+0.1%), and Richmond (-0.3%).

“It looks like access to transit got more valuable over the course of time,” said Thomas Davidoff, economics and professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, in a statement.

“Prices of transit-friendly homes rose over the course of the year in spite of the far-reaching negative economic consequences of the pandemic.”

On average across the region, most apartments sold are priced above their assessed value, with the final sales prices for these homes at 4.4% above the assessed value, with buyers willing to 4.6% above assessed values during COVID compared to 4.3% before the pandemic.


© Copyright 2020 DailyHive