President’s Toronto SUN Column: Condo Living An Affordable Alternative

Author: Toronto Real Estate Admin / Category: Toronto Realtor

TREB President’s Column as it appears every Friday in the Toronto Sun’s Resale Homes and Condos section.

September 19, 2014 — If there were ever a city aware of the dangers of falling victim to its own success, it’s Toronto, where on any given day you’re likely to encounter a water cooler discussion about house prices.

Millions of people share a love of the Greater Toronto Area and together we have built an amazing city that routinely receives top marks in global rankings. This year alone, our city has earned the titles of world’s most tax-competitive, intelligent, resilient, and youthful in various independent studies. Most recently, we were named the world’s fourth most livable city in a ranking by the Economic Intelligence Unit, a British research and analysis firm.

As a result of our city’s popularity though, the cost of owning a home in the GTA has grown exponentially in recent years. In July, the average price of a GTA home was $550,700. Compare that to the average price of $395,414 five years ago and the result is a 39 per cent increase.

Despite these staggering numbers, there’s no reason to be discouraged if you haven’t yet taken the plunge into the housing market. Condominium living offers affordable alternative to low-rise housing that boasts the convenience of a maintenance-free lifestyle with proximity to countless business opportunities and entertainment options.

As evidence of its popularity, you need only to look to the skies: downtown Toronto is a veritable fairground of cranes putting together the latest enticing approach to urban living. In fact, there are now more high-rise buildings under construction in Toronto than anywhere else in North America. Currently 130 developments are underway here compared to 91 in New York City.

When you compare the average cost of a detached home to that of a condominium apartment it’s no wonder so many people have embraced the condo lifestyle. In July, an average detached GTA home would cost you $695,745 whereas an average condominium apartment would run you $357,345.

Based on a five-year fixed rate mortgage with 4.79 per cent interest amortized over 25 years, these costs represent the difference of a monthly mortgage payment of $3,963.72 for a detached home compared to $2,035.82 for a condominium apartment.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recently released the results of its 2013 Condominium Owners Survey and the findings illustrate just how much we have come to embrace this housing type.  The survey found that more than 58 per cent of investors living in the Greater Toronto and Vancouver Areas plan to keep their last purchased condominium unit for more than five years, which shows confidence in the market’s long-term outlook.

If you’re considering the purchase of a condominium apartment either as an investment or a first home, I encourage you to talk to a Greater Toronto REALTOR®. In addition to searching resale offerings in the Multiple Listing Service®, they can access a database of new home developments throughout the GTA and provide you with information on government programs to put your goals within reach.

Be sure to visit as well, where you’ll find updates on the market, open house listings, neighbourhood profiles and much more.

Paul Etherington is President of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 39,000 REALTORS® in the Greater Toronto Area.

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GTA REALTORS® Report Toronto MLS Housing Figures

Author: Toronto Real Estate Admin / Category: Toronto Realtor

TORONTO, September 16, 2014 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Paul Etherington announced that Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 3,297 sales through the TorontoMLS system during the first 14 days of September 2014.  This result represented an 8.3 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2013.  Year-to-date sales through September 14, at 68,731, were up by 6.6 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. 

“The sales result for the first two weeks of September showed strong growth for most major home types, indicating that home buyers continue to find homes that meet their needs and budgets.  With a lot of buyers active in the marketplace relative to the number of homes for sale, average selling prices were up strongly for most low-rise and high-rise home ownership options,” said Mr. Etherington. 

The average selling price for September mid-month sales was $555,890, which represented an increase of 8.1 per cent compared to the average price for the first two weeks of September 2013.  Average price growth was strongest for single-detached and semi-detached homes. 

The average year-to-date selling price was up by 8.5 per cent year-over-year to $562,244. 

“Average prices in the low-rise market segments, including singles, semis and towns, continued to experience the impact of strong competition between buyers.  It is also clear that while the condo apartment market segment remains comparatively better supplied, there are enough buyers relative to available condo listings to prompt very strong average price growth for this type of ownership housing as well,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis

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President’s Toronto SUN Column: Be Aware Of Extra Costs When Moving

Author: Toronto Real Estate Admin / Category: Toronto Realtor

TREB President’s Column as it appears every Friday in the Toronto Sun’s Resale Homes and Condos section.

September 5, 2014 — Given the fact that tens of thousands of homes change hands throughout the Greater Toronto Area each year, it’s easy to forget that buying a home is a complex process to which the phrase “the devil’s in the details” aptly applies.

It is one of the many reasons why each year close to 200,000 homebuyers and sellers choose to work with a Greater Toronto REALTOR®, who can offer advice on all of the details that are important to keep in mind, from protecting your interests with offer clauses to changing the locks once the process is complete.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 study ‘Homeownership and Shelter Costs in Canada’ approximately 25 per cent of Canadians spent one-third or more of their income on shelter, and our city’s average monthly shelter costs were the nation’s highest at $1,366 that year.

As such, in addition to preparing for some of the standard expenses involved in a real estate transaction such as moving and legal services, it’s wise to set aside extra funds for a number of other homeownership costs you may not yet have considered.

If you’re moving into a first home and it’s a freehold property be sure to keep in mind outside maintenance. Ideally, you should plan for the purchase of a snow blower and as an essential you’ll need a lawn mower. If you’re buying a new home there’s fencing to consider and in a mature neighbourhood don’t forget that tree trimming might be needed. If it’s a condominium you’ve chosen be prepared for the eventuality that maintenance fees may increase.

Inside, elements that are less apparent are often most vital to a well operating home. As such, consider allotting some funds for cleaning the air ducts and servicing the furnace, air conditioning and fireplace units. Even minor repairs and cosmetic fixes like replacing cabinet hardware, faucets or light fixtures can add up. 

It’s a well documented fact that adding a fresh coat of paint to your new surroundings offers one of the best returns on investment when it comes to renovations but even a few gallons of paint, brushes, rollers and drop cloths can set you back several hundred dollars.

While window coverings are often included in a resale home transaction you might find that they don’t match your style, and replacement can be costly.  Similarly, you’ll likely discover that your beat up sofa just doesn’t do justice to your new space, so be sure to set aside some funds for new furnishings as well. Remember that there will also be set-up costs associated with transferring your television, phone and Internet services.

While there are a multitude of details to keep in mind and extra costs for which to prepare, homeownership is still the best investment, and buying a property in the GTA is a particularly wise decision.  In study after study Toronto consistently ranks among the top cities in the world when measuring key factors such as resiliency, intelligence and tax competitiveness.  As well, it’s the only investment in which you can live while it appreciates.

To learn more about the process of buying and selling a home talk to a Greater Toronto REALTOR® and for updates on the market, open house listings and more be sure to visit

Paul Etherington is President of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 39,000 REALTORS® in the Greater Toronto Area.

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August 2014 Housing Starts in Toronto

Author: Toronto Real Estate Admin / Category: News Bulletin

TORONTO, September 9, 2014 — Housing starts in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) trended lower at 30,093 units in August compared to 32,449 in July according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR)1 of housing starts.

“A decrease in apartment starts lowered the total starts count in August, following elevated activity during the previous month. Such variations are a common occurrence in high rise construction and not suggestive of a long term trend. Most apartment starts occurred outside the downtown core, pointing to the rising popularity of high rise homes in suburban neighbourhoods,” said Dana Senagama, CMHC’s Toronto Senior Market Analyst.

CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of the housing market. In some situations, analysing only SAAR data can be misleading in some markets, as they are largely driven by the multiples segment of the markets which can be quite variable from one month to the next.

The stand alone monthly SAAR was 24,113 units in August, down from 38,405 units in July. The decrease is mainly attributed to lower starts in the multi-unit segment.

Markham recorded the highest number of starts in August mainly due to more apartment starts. Oakville recorded the second highest number of high rise starts. The City of Toronto had less starts activity, mainly due to fewer apartment starts.

Preliminary Housing Starts data is also available in English and French at the following link: Preliminary Housing Starts Tables

As Canada’s national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 65 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable housing solutions. CMHC also provides reliable, impartial and up-to-date housing market reports, analysis and knowledge to support and assist consumers and the housing industry in making informed decisions.

1 All starts figures in this release, other than actual starts and the trend estimate, are seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) — that is, monthly figures adjusted to remove normal seasonal variation and multiplied by 12 to reflect annual levels. By removing seasonal ups and downs, seasonal adjustment allows for a comparison from one season to the next and from one month to the next. Reporting monthly figures at annual rates indicates the annual level of starts that would be obtained if the monthly pace was maintained for 12 months. This facilitates comparison of the current pace of activity to annual forecasts as well as to historical annual levels.

Follow CMHC on Twitter @CMHC_ca

Information on this release:

Market Analysis Contact:

Dana Senagama

Media Contact:

Beth Bailey

Additional data is available upon request. 

Source: CMHC
1 Census Metropolitan Area
2 The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR).
Detailed data available upon request

Source: CMHC

Source: CMHC

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President’s Toronto SUN Column: Think Of Home Ownership As Forced Savings

Author: Toronto Real Estate Admin / Category: Toronto Realtor

TREB President’s Column as it appears every Friday in the Toronto Sun’s Resale Homes and Condos section.

August 29, 2014 — If you have ever felt like your life is on somewhat of a financial treadmill, take heart: you’re not alone.

According to a study released this month by the financial institution Tangerine, 46 per cent of Canadians gave themselves a grade of C or lower when asked to evaluate their 2014 savings habits.  The same number of respondents also revealed that they don’t have a savings plan to set aside funds on a monthly basis.

These findings aren’t surprising when combined with the results of another recently released study by the Fraser Institute, an independent public policy research and educational organization headquartered in Vancouver. It found that approximately 42 per cent of the average Canadian family’s income is consumed by taxes.  Specifically, the study found that the average Canadian family earned $77,381 last year, which was then depleted by $32,369 in taxes.

Even more concerning is the fact that the total of all taxes, which includes income tax, payroll tax, sales tax, and property tax to name just a few, exceeded the combined average amount spent on food, shelter and clothing by almost 16 per cent.

While it may be reassuring to know that your financial struggles aren’t out of the ordinary, the statistics do nothing to change the fact that building a solid foundation is vital to your long-term financial health. 

Fortunately, homeownership offers a savings solution while also offering a number of other benefits. Since we all need somewhere to call home, it serves a dual purpose, providing shelter and working as an excellent long-term investment. Making regular mortgage payments represents a method of forced savings: as you pay down the principal on your home loan, and your property’s market value appreciates, your home equity builds, setting you on a path to greater financial structure, even if you count poor budgeting or excessive spending among your vices.

In addition to compelling you to take a disciplined approach toward your financial future, homeownership offers several other benefits that are equally important.  A 2012 study conducted by Habitat for Humanity Toronto for example, found that its respondents, who had recently transitioned to homeownership as a result of its initiatives, reported feelings of improved health, pride of ownership and ties to the community.

To help you make the transition to homeownership, a number of government programs are available. These include the five per cent down payment program, which allows you to purchase a home with a down payment of just five per cent by obtaining mortgage insurance provided you qualify for a five-year fixed-rate mortgage, and the RRSP Homebuyers Plan, which allows first time homebuyers to buy or build a qualifying home by making a tax-free withdrawal of up to $25,000 ($50,000 for a couple) from RRSPs that have been owned for at least 90 days provided the funds are repaid into an RRSP with 15 years.

If you have a question about the home buying or selling process, please email Paul at

Find more information on the housing market, plain language explanations of commonly used real estate forms and more at

Paul Etherington is President of the Toronto Real Estate Board, a professional association that represents 39,000 REALTORS® in the Greater Toronto Area.

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