A Third CMHC Red Warning, New Rules for Condo Boards, and a Flood of Affordable Vancouver Rentals: Weekly Real Estate News Recap

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CMHC Red Warning Issued For 3rd Time

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has given the Canadian housing market its most-dire assessment for the third time in a row, pointing to “strong evidence of problematic conditions” across the nation. Factors such as slow population growth among young adults, a decline in disposable income, and rising real estate prices are also to blame, according to the Crown Corporation’s quarterly Housing Market Assessment.

Toronto, Vancouver, Hamilton and Victoria are among the most overvalued markets, it reveals, while Quebec joins the ranks of those with overbuilt markets, prompted by a spate of new condo construction. Vancouver, meanwhile, is back in overheated territory, following a few months of slower activity, as demand for condos and townhouses lead to multiple offer situations and rising prices.

However, Toronto stands out as particularly high risk, as there aren’t any underpinning fundamentals supporting price growth says Dana Senagama, the principal market analyst for Toronto at CMHC.

“We continue to see strong evidence of problematic conditions in Toronto’s housing market,” she says. “Economic fundamentals like income and population growth cannot fully explain the rapid growth in house prices in Toronto.”

New Protections and Dispute Process to Come for Ontario Condo Dwellers

An overhaul to the Ontario Condo Act will come into effect on November 1, providing greater protections for owners, stricter requirements for board members and managers, and an easier way to resolve disputes.

Part of Bill 106, the Protecting Condominium Owners Act, the new rules will introduce mandatory training for all condo directors and board members via a three-hour online course, and will affect meeting notices for owners, voting procedures, reserve fund rules, and disclosure requirements for those granting vendor contracts. Members will also need to brush up on financial, legal, construction and administration matters.

The measures are “to provide greater confidence and security for condo owners in their investment and greater stability in their day-to-day lives,” said Government and Consumer Services Minister Tracy MacCharles to a crowd at the Air Canada Centre’s Maple Leaf Squre in Toronto. According to MacCharles, there are 750,000 condo units in the province, owned by 1.6 million individuals and run by 10,000 condo boards.

A new system to resolve issues between residents or the board is especially anticipated; the current dispute resolution requires the hiring of a private mediator, which can be an expensive, drawn-out process that isn’t always effective, says the province. A new agency dubbed the Condominium Authority of Ontario will provide a tribunal for disputes, as well as an affordable resolution process – it will cost $25 to enter preliminary negotiations, $50 for mediation, and $125 to take a matter to the tribunal, with the cost footed by the plaintiff.

The management of condos has been a growing issue in Toronto, as reports of alleged board corruption and proxy fraud surfaced in May by a CBC Toronto investigation.

Here’s $24,000. Now Get Out of My House

In today’s tough real estate and jobs market, adult children remaining in the family home has become commonplace – but that doesn’t mean boomer parents are happy with these living arrangements. In fact, over two thirds of those with adult kids in the nest would pay big bucks if it meant getting them out of the house.

A total of 76 per cent of parents would contribute something financially to help their adult child move out, get married, or live with their partners, finds CIBC’s 2017 Gifting Poll. Of those, 47 per cent would gift $24,000 to help their kids relocate.

“Given the option, almost two-thirds of parents would prefer to give cash rather than have their adult child and partner / spouse live with them,” the CIBC study states.

The poll finds that:

  • 47 per cent of parents would give cash as a financial gift
  • 28 per cent would let their adult child and partner live with them
  • 23 per cent would act as a guarantor on a mortgage

Some Neighbourhoods Dodging Detached Downturn: RE/MAX

Single-family detached homes, once the highest-sought in the GTA, have seen an undisputed slowdown following the introduction of the Fair Housing Plan – sales fell 45 per cent in June, according to TREB – but some neighbourhoods remain unscathed and have even enjoyed double-digit growth, finds a report from the RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic Region.

The report looked at detached housing in 65 neighbourhoods across the GTA, comparing the first quarter of the year to the second (which was post rule change) and generally found reasonably priced houses within a commuter’s distance from Toronto are still performing well.

The township of Brock saw the greatest growth, with prices rising 11.73 per cent from first to second quarter to $562,711. Caledon came in second, with prices up 8.61 per cent to $1,127,414.

However, one of Toronto’s priciest interior neighbourhoods – Rosedale – suffered a whopping 21.9-per-cent decline, to $3,331,250.

While the report finds Toronto continues into buyer’s market territory, Re/Max regional manager Christopher Alexander says it will offer buyers some long-awaited relief. “Buyers had no choices in Q1, buyers faced competition and had no time to make educated, well-though out decisions,” he stated. “The current lull may represent the bests buying opportunity in recent years.”

Newly Built Homes Flew Off the Shelves in June

While the resale market for all home types in the GTA have suffered over the last two months, one housing category seems immune to the Ontario government’s cooling market measures: new construction.

The new homes market performed extremely well in June, with condos in particular reaching a new record, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Their monthly report was compiled via their data partner, Altus Group.

Sales for multi-family units in both high- and medium-rise homes, as well as stacked Toronto townhouses were up a whopping 59 per cent month over month. Sales for all home types rose 23 per cent year over year (28,889 new homes have been sold since the beginning of 2017), sitting 44 per cent above the 10-year average.

“We continue to see that the Province’s Fair Housing Plan in effect since April has had little impact on the new home market,” says Bryan Tuckey, BILD’s president and CEO. “Unlike the resale market, which experienced a slowdown last month, the numbers reflected in the new homes market are quite different.”

He adds that it’s experiencing the classic supply and demand crunch that once plagued the Toronto real estate market, pushing prices higher. Overall steep housing affordability is also leading more buyers to condos: 91 per cent of all new homes sold were condos and townhouses, finds BILD, increasing 89 per cent year over year for condos alone.

According to Altus Group’s Executive Vice-President of Research Consulting Services Patricia Arsenault, a “perfect storm” of factors is contributing to condo popularity such as changing buyer expectations and increased investor interest, as condos have seen strong price appreciation in recent months.

BILD reports the average new unit size is 845 square feet, priced at $742, up from $587 per square foot in 2016, and the average price for all new home types increasing, with the exception of detached homes:

  • Condos: $627,000 (+34 per cent)
  • Townhouses: $1,091,151
  • Semi-Detached: $943,115
  • Detached: $1,761,985 (-9 per cent)

New Plan Brings Thousands of Affordable Units to Vancouver…

A new policy putting fresh focus on creating affordable housing was unveiled by Vancouver’s municipal government on Tuesday, with a plan to build 72,000 new homes by 2026 – an 85 per cent surge in the city’s existing rental stock. A full 48,000 of those will be rentals, with 20,000 purpose-built units, and another 15,000 designated for lower income households.

“We’re going above and beyond what’s ever been done in Vancouver to enable new affordable housing for local residents, matched to realistic, local incomes – housing that people want: rentals, laneway homes, coach houses, duplexes and townhomes in neighbourhoods across the city,” stated Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Vancouver has long been pointed to as the most expensive housing market in Canada, with real estate prices far outstripping the pace of inflation or wage growth. According to June numbers from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the average price of a detached home is $1,587,900. The median Vancouver household income in 2015 was $79,930, according to Statistics Canada – only enough to qualify for a maximum mortgage of $625,394, assuming a 20 per cent down payment.

…But New Federal Tax Rules Could Put Squeeze on Rentals

However, the very same rental dwellings encouraged by Robertson could face tax complications under new Canada Revenue Agency rules that require homeowners to disclose the sale of their principal residence. While principal residences remain exempt from capital gains taxes, any income earning laneway houses or income suites within the lot do not – and taxes are calculated based on the total property value.

That’s an issue, reports Business in Vancouver, considering the average detached house value increased 112 per cent over the past decade in the Greater Vancouver region – and by 140 per cent in the City of Vancouver alone. That could spell out an unmanageable tax bill for sellers with income-generating suites who’ve lived in their homes long term, and didn’t buy at the top of the market.

And it appears the CRA is serious about collecting that revenue; it’s estimated the federal government has lost out on billions of dollars in tax revenue prior to closing the loophole, as sellers did not need to disclose the sale of their principal residence at all. The revenue agency is starting to crack down, including going after several condo property developers in court for refusing to disclose the records of buyers who picked units during the pre-construction phase, and sold them on assignment prior to closing.

The developers, which include PCI Gateway Residential LP and Executive Argos False Creek, are standing firm, citing client confidentiality.

“They’ve (the CRA) requested some information and we are not going to provide or disclose any information on our purchasers or the purchase contracts without being assured that they have proper authority to get that information,” said PCI Gateway President Andrew Grant to Business in Vancouver. “If they have to go to court to get that, then so be it, and if they get that authority, we will co-operate, but only to the extent we’re required to.”

About Penelope Graham

Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor at Zoocasa. A born-and-bred Torontonian and quintessential millennial, she has over a decade of experience covering real estate, lifestyle and personal finance topics. When not keeping an eye on Toronto's hot housing market, she can be found brunching in one of the city's many vibrant neighbourhoods. Find her on Twitter at @pjeg14.

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