The Canadian government made changes to the approval process effective October 17th, 2016, for buyers who have less than a 20% down payment. These buyers are now required to qualify under higher interest rates than previously. We have created a short video to explain the new mortgage rules as they pertain to CMHC, and other loan insurers in Canada. Here is the video:
It remains to be seen as to what effect this will have on our booming Canadian real estate market, but for high-ratio buyers, they will now qualify for about 20% less than they did prior to October 17.
The throngs of people who visit Celebration Square have a new piece of public art to enjoy. A large sculpture of painted steel, shaped like a giant book, was recently unveiled at the southeast corner of the square in the heart of Mississauga.
Entitled The Book, the sculpture features an open book with a red cover and pages that appear to be billowing in the wind. A few feet away from the book itself is a separate page which has become detached from the book. Artist is Ilan Sandler, who runs an art studio located in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The sculpture has been in existence for a while – it was previously located along the north side of Highway 401, adjacent to Pearson International Airport. It was recently relocated to the Square One location and unveiled on May 10.
In a local interview, Sandler explained that the sculpture is covered with symbols, which symbolize early alphabets.
The centre of the pages show clusters of Roman letters. Surrounding each one of them are figures of various alphabets which predate the Roman system. The Book celebrates the history of the English language, and its alphabet.
Originally commissioned by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), the sculpture was always planned to be eventually moved to a more pedestrian friendly site.
Sandler has other public art commissioned in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Toronto, as well as in Denmark, and South Korea. Born in Johannesburg (South Africa) in 1971, Ilan Sandler and his family immigrated to Toronto six years later, in 1977. Sandler studied at the University of Toronto, where he received a B.Sc. in Physics, and at the Ontario College of Art and Design, where he completed an Honours Fine Arts certificate. In 2000 he was awarded an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He then went on to teach at the University of the Arts and Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, and most recently at NSCAD University where he held a SSHRC Research/Creation Fellowship until 2011. He is currently running Sandler Studio Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Book is just one more reason to visit Celebration Square, and is sure to become yet another identifiable landmark in the area.
One of the hottest topics in real estate circles in Canada these days is the proportion of offshore buyers, and if and how they are inflating prices in local markets. This month, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has released a report which investigates the extent of foreign ownership in the condominium markets of Canada’s major cities. One of the interesting stats to come out of the report is that foreign ownership of condos tends to be higher in newer buildings – those built since 2010 in the cities of Toronto and Vancouver.
CMHC reports that the rate of foreign ownership in the overall Greater Toronto Area (CMA) is less than 2% for condominium projects completed before 1990, but foreign ownership rises to 7% for condos completed since 2010.
For Toronto, foreign ownership of condos is highest in the downtown core of the city, where the numbers approach 10%. CMHC does note that the methodology used for their study allows for some leeway in the exactness of the numbers.
The foreign ownership totals are higher in Toronto, somewhat surprisingly, than they are in the Vancouver area, where foreign investors count for less than 2% of the projects built before 1990, a number which increases to about 6% for those completed since 2010.
Also interesting to note, there are some fairly large statistical jumps from 2014 to 2015 – for example, in the overall Toronto CMA, foreign ownership of condos in that single year jumped nearly a full 2 percentage points – from 5.5% to 7.4% – for buildings completed 2010 or later. It’s important to remember, however, that some of these numbers can be skewed by condo construction completions, and when there are a large number of completions in a single year, the foreign ownership numbers will grow correspondingly. The growth in foreign ownership of condos, nevertheless, as shown by these CMHC statistics, is obviously real , and hard to ignore.
So what are we to make of foreign ownership of condos, and how does it affect our local market in the Greater Toronto Area? I think that the numbers are still relatively low, although certainly 10% foreign ownership of newer condos in the downtown core of Toronto will have a effect on the market. Toronto’s growing role as a global city brings added pressures on real estate market pricing, it’s a simple matter of supply and demand. That new offshore investors are most interested in newer projects indicates that attention is being paid to many of the latest condo project launches, many of which are being marketed globally. It appears that the word is getting out there that Toronto, and its environs, are a good, stable, and safe place to invest. Going forward, I believe this trend will continue.
We went to check out Saks Fifth Avenue at CF Sherway Gardens this afternoon, which opened on Feb 25th. This is the second location of the Saks brand in Canada, after the downtown Bay location, which opened a week ago.
The Sherway Gardens store is located in suburban Toronto (Etobicoke), and is about 143,000 square feet in size. The store occupies three floors, in a space previously occupied by Sears Canada (east end of the mall). The mall seemed busier than usual, even for a Saturday afternoon, and the parking lot was full when we got there in the late afternoon. When we eventually got inside, there were large crowds of people.
We approached the store from inside the mall, and just at the entrance, we came across two metal statues of horses – one fully grown, and one colt, created by local artist John McEwen. They feature his trademark ‘stars’ incorporated into the metalwork, and are quite intricate in their design. The artwork is titled ‘The Miracle’. Between the two sculptures there is a fountain. We saw several people taking selfies in front of the statues.
Entering the Saks store, first impressions: extremely luxurious, with a very American vibe to it – which is a good thing, in my opinion. The store was busy, lots of people milling about, and we saw quite a few people purchasing goods. We first spent time on the main floor, which features shoes, accessories, & perfume, and the selection seemed vast. There are designer highlighted areas with every brand I have ever heard of, and many that I haven’t heard of. Everything from Gucci to Prada, Dolce & Gabbana to Stella McCartney, from Armani to Jimmy Choo.
I am no fashionista, but my girlfriend, who was with me, was impressed. Prices are not cheap, but these are some of the highest-end goods on the planet.
Next we went up to the second floor, which is dedicated to women’s fashions. At the top of the escalator there is an interesting display.
The second floor features another vast selection to choose from, with everything from lingerie to furs. This is not a bargain discount store, but we managed to talk to a couple members of the staff, and they were very friendly and welcoming.
Next, back down the escalator to the lower basement level, for a look at men’s fashions. Lots of high quality stuff here, including everything from business attire to casual, shoes, ties, and so on. The basement level is not quite finished, and although the men’s section is open, they are still finishing a Saks Food Hall, which is planned to open by March 7. On this lower level there were staff serving hors d’oevres, which we sampled, a nice touch!
There is a functioning restaurant on the main floor, Beaumont Kitchen, operated by Oliver & Bonacini, which we somehow managed to miss (too dazzled by those Stella McCartney purses, I guess)!
I think one of the biggest eye openers for most Canadians when they shop in the U.S., is that there always seems to be a much greater variety and selection of merchandise available there. Today at Sherway Gardens we saw a lot of high end merchandise which may have been difficult to find here in Canada prior to the entrance of Saks into the Canadian market. I mentioned some of the well known brands, but there are literally dozens and dozens of lesser known brands with large displays in this store. Overall, I think Saks brings a very upscale addition to CF Sherway Gardens, and we wish them success. They are a class act all the way.
I was recently interviewed by Point2Homes, a large internet real estate web portal, about the state of the Mississauga real estate market…. here is an excerpt from the Q&A session:
1. How has the Mississauga real estate market performed last year, and what are your expectations for 2016?
The Mississauga real estate market mirrored the overall Greater Toronto Area(GTA) in 2015. We saw very strong demand throughout the year, with multiple offers and bidding wars being the norm. There was an acute shortage of listings for freehold properties, and with nowhere left to build in the City of Mississauga, detached homes increased by about 9 percent during the year. What’s even more remarkable is that, on average, the average selling price for detached homes was 100% of the asking price – in other words, on average, throughout 2015, buyers were obliged to pay the full asking price for a detached home.
High-rise condos, where there are still many being built, especially in the Square One area of Mississauga, saw price increases of 5 percent overall. This is strictly a reflection of supply and demand, for unlike detached homes, there are many new condo projects coming on stream. Condos performed very well in 2015, in spite of the record number of new projects being completed. The average condo in Mississauga sold at 98% of asking price throughout 2015. Rental rates are also at record highs, something that condo investors can appreciate.
The strength in this long bull market has been built on three pillars: low interest rates, which make higher priced properties affordable; an overall good economy in southern Ontario, where most people have jobs; and immigration, where on average, 100,000 people move to the GTA on an annual basis. As long as these three pillars remain in place, my expectation is that the strength in the market will continue.
For the rest of the interview, check here.
Mississauga Real Estate in 2015
Here is my latest video on the Mississauga real estate market, providing a summary of what happened in 2015, and what to expect in 2016.
In a nutshell, the market provided a 9.5% gain in prices for “freehold” properties – i.e. detached homes, semi-detached homes, and freehold townhomes. The condominium market, specifically centered around the Square One shopping mall in Mississauga, showed a 6.5% percent increase, which is still a very healthy rise in spite of many new condo completions in the area.
Future Predictions for 2016
We predict a continuation of the strong market in 2016, based on the three underlying principles which have supported the market over the last few years:
1.) continued low interest rates
2.) continued decent economy in southern Ontario
3.) continued strong immigration into the Greater Toronto Area
As long as these three principles, or “pillars” as they are described in the video, remain in place, it is our estimation that the strong real estate market should continue in 2016.