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.
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.
Statue of A.J. Casson by Beverley Cairns in Elora, Ontario
Today’s post won’t be about Mississauga, but instead about a day trip we took from there. Today was a glorious, warm, and sunny fall day, and it was also a holiday, being Canadian Thanksgiving. We had already finished with the big dinner earlier on Saturday, and so we decided to go on a “fall foliage tour” to a couple of our favourite southern Ontario places. After spending time taking in the sights of Belfountain & Erin, Ontario, we then headed west to the lovely town of Elora.
The weather was great, and although it’s been a couple of years since our last visit, it is gratifying that not too much has changed in this quaint village. Elora is located about 100km northwest of Mississauga, in a scenic area near the Grand River, and near a very deep gorge known as the Elora Gorge. There are a lot of artists who live here, and the town is indeed known as an artists colony.
While wandering the quaint boutiques in the downtown area, we found a lot of public art on display – there were quite a few to be found in various locations with a Halloween theme, but also this guy – an interesting statue of A.J. Casson, by local artist Beverley Cairns. This is in a park near the centre of town.
The material appeared to be some sort of clay or ceramics….
A.J. Casson was a renowned Canadian painter, and a member of the ‘Group of Seven’. There were other works of art in the park, but this particular sculpture had a definite presence – you could really ‘feel’ it, standing nearby, kind of quirky, in a very attractive way. The good citizens of Elora are a lucky bunch.
It’s so gratifying to see great public art such as this, especially unexpectedly in a small town in rural Ontario. Kudos to the artist, Beverley Cairns, it’s really a great piece, and to the local folks and politicians who made it possible. It makes an already special place even better. One last pic:
If you haven’t been to Elora yet, or if it’s been a while since you’ve been there, it’s definitely worth the short drive, and the public art is a bonus.
Enjoy public art? Does it have a place in our cities and towns? Do you like this sculpture? Share your thoughts in comments below, we’d love to hear from you!
The City of Mississauga continues to make interesting additions to its public art program, with another new and colourful project coming on stream last month. This one is titled “Tree Quilts”, and it is bringing a splash of colour and whimsy to the intersection of Hurontario St. and Burnhamthorpe Rd. W.
Tree Quilts consists of decorative wrapping of 11 trees located in the median of Hurontario St., which are part of a larger group of trees which are normally wrapped in regular brown burlap to protect them against the elements each winter. These 11 trees have been wrapped in colourful fabrics and quilts, which were custom made by the artist. Created by Toronto based design studio Fugitive Glue, these bright and colourful quilts have brightened up the intersection, and have been bringing smiles to Mississauga residents since their unveiling.
People that I’ve talked to seem to like the splash of colour that the quilted wraps bring to this busy part of Mississauga, in the heart of the city, and directly across from Square One shopping mall. They certainly do make an impact when you first see them. This public art display will disappear when the trees are unwrapped in the spring; hopefully they will return next year. Fugitive Glue is a collective of artists and designers, under the direction of founder Jano Badovinac. They have a website here. My only complaint? I wish that all the trees had been wrapped this way!
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