Toronto Condo Market Hot Again + Housing Debt Alarms Bank of Canada

In Toronto: Condo market competitive again and home sellers thinking about cashing in on a hot market wonder where they could afford to buy.
Elsewhere: Bank of Canada worried about Canada debt due to housing prices, pandemic lumber prices add to housing costs, and the allure of 1930s Swedish housing projects. 


Toronto's condo market heats up (National Post)

Buyers coming to the condo market expecting to snag a deal this spring are going to be disappointed. That’s according to John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty. “It’s become very competitive,” he says. “People who are thinking they are just going to go in and buy something for $30,000 under asking are going to be really surprised. That’s not the market today; that was the market in October.”

Lackie: Dilemma of Toronto real estate market for sellers is you have to buy too (Toronto Sun)

For the many who have ridden the countless ebbs and flows of Toronto real estate over the last thirty-some-odd years, there have been ups and downs but, if you squint, there has mostly been a slow and steady climb. However, now that houses are no longer just homes but also investment vehicles, for homeowners needing to capitalize on their biggest asset to fund retirement, the important question of if and when to cash-out has always loomed large.

Successive budgets show affordable housing is clearly not a priority for Ontario (Toronto Star)

It’s no wonder, then, that successive Ontario governments have not been paying attention to the affordable housing crisis in the province. From 2014-15 to 2018-19, at a time when housing unaffordability soared, the government spent less than 0.3 per cent of its annual total expenditures on housing programs meant to support Ontario’s most vulnerable people.

Toronto’s waterfront development is back on the table. Let’s get it right (The Star)

So it’s a little concerning when the call for submissions says this: “Waterfront Toronto has already created several iconic parks, such as Sugar Beach, and is looking for the Quayside Development Partner to match that inspiration.” 

To be sure, that’s a charming and whimsical park with its pink umbrellas. But it gets outsized attention because it’s a tiny (literally) oasis amid a sea of waterfront development. Surely that can’t be the standard for any future plan that aspires to create a world-class waterfront destination.

Toronto lockdown brings humans and raccoons together – neither's happy (The Guardian, UK)

Raccoon attacks on residents are up 62% as some people act ‘foolish’ but others are enjoying seeing their furry neighbours.


Mounting debt 'worrying' as Canadians stretch to chase rising home prices, says Bank of Canada governor (Financial Post)

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said he’s seeing “worrying” signs in Canada’s hot housing market, in which households are taking on increasing levels of debt to chase rising prices.

Housing policy must 'break the psychology' to cool prices: BMO (BNN Bloomberg)

“The reality is we’ve gotten to a point now where it looks like the expectations of price gains are fueling more speculative activity and the fear of just simply missing out on the market altogether is pulling demand forward and making things even more exaggerated at this point,” said Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, in an interview.

Millennial buyers in Vancouver tripped up by a frantic market (The Globe and Mail - Paywall)

More than a year later, it clearly didn’t turn out that way. After a few months’ pause, as the world caught its collective breath, it has been “off to the races” for anyone who still has a job and has either saved enough money or has mom and dad’s help for a down payment on a property. Bidding wars are commonplace. Properties are selling for well over asking. The fear of missing out on record-low interest rates has triggered panic buying. Added to the tension is the fact that the millennial age group is now entering their forties, and the older ones among them want to lay down roots. The concern is that many are taking on more debt than they can afford in the rush to get into the market.

Record-high lumber prices add as much as $30K to the cost of building a house (CBC News)

As if Canada's housing sector wasn't already irrational enough, a pandemic-induced lumber shortage is pushing the price of building a home even higher. The cost of basic lumber like two-by-fours has doubled since 2018.


Less than a day after real-estate agent Andrea White listed a three-bedroom home for sale in Sacramento, Calif., in March, she received an all-cash offer. The buyer—who had not even seen the home in person—was ready to pay $520,000, Ms. White said. That was $21,000 above the asking price and 37% more than the seller had paid for the ranch-style home only two years ago.
To drag their projects across the finish line, some developers have been slashing prices by as much as half, which could be the equivalent of millions of dollars less per apartment than originally intended. That is in addition to now-typical concessions like free common charges, free parking or a cash credit to pay for an interior designer.

How California Set Off a Backyard Apartment Boom (CityLab)

Four years later, ADUs account for a growing share of homes built across the state. California homeowners built some 12,000 backyard flats in 2019 — more than double the number permitted just two years earlier and a ten-fold increase since the state passed its preemption laws. Unlike other categories of housing in California, the numbers for new permits for ADUs are rising — with growth likely to continue thanks in part to efforts by local governments to help them go up quickly. In some cases, very quickly.


Why Stockholm's 1930s Housing Projects Are Now in High Demand (CityLab)

The apartments inside — rarely exceeding two bedrooms and often with just one — exemplify an internationally admired modest-but-comfortable Scandinavian style. Look at their interiors in real estate listings and you find design tics that seem all but uniform across Sweden’s middle class: white walls, pale wood, ferns, shaggy textiles and a rigorously muted palette in which, if someone wants a daring pop of color, they’ll probably go for beige.

Europe’s chance to lead the green technology race (Financial Times)

Rather than private VC firms backing the ideas coming out of a Palo Alto garage, this requires commitment at governmental level to drive the societal shifts required to achieve wholesale transformation; regulations to force changes in supply; subsidies to drive demand, and vast fiscal spending to create the infrastructure required to transition the economy from fossil fuels to renewables in the future.

Top Photo Credit: iStock/Getty/AnjelaGr

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