Real Estate Qualms

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Another option to home ownership is to get into the condo market. The lack of listings in the single-family housing market has persuaded many potential buyers to take another look at high-rises available. Tim Hudak, the Ontario Real Estate Associations’ (OREA) chief executive offer, said lack of housing supply is the driving factor behind rising prices in the GTA and “it is easy politics to scapegoat foreigners for increasing housing costs.” Owners of condo units are much more willing to rent them out instead of selling because the rental market is very strong, while investors keep buying new developments.

The plan to expand the Go train system to fifteen minutes, all-day two-way service could increase some Toronto area property values up to 12%. It could also make housing up to 18% more affordable in some areas of the region, according to a study commissioned by TREB (Toronto Real Estate Board).

Toronto is already well served by transit, it will not see the same rise in value and improvement in affordability. Areas that stand to benefit from the increase in property values are those located outside the city, such as Brampton, Hamilton, Milton and Guelph to name a few. Housing affordability has become an “increasing middle-class problem across the region,” with more than one third of the Ontario population under housing affordability pressure. “When you improve transit you are allowing families a better choice of properties across the region. They can live further out from the job centres. At the same time there’s a balancing act because when you’re looking at developing land on the outside of density areas it costs a lot more money,” said Paul Smetanin.  

Average rents have grown at their fastest rate in the condo rental market since 2011. Last year represented a “dramatic acceleration” from the 4.2% rent-price growth recorded during the same period in 2015, according to Urbanation. A widening gap between the price of single-family homes and condos has pushed many first-time home buyers into the less expensive condo market. The disparity between the cost of owning and renting has discouraged some tenants from becoming homeowners, according the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), said in a recent Toronto market analysis. “The undersupply of rentals in the GTA continues to worsen throughout the year, causing rents to surge along with home prices and further deteriorating housing affordability across the region,” wrote Shaun Hildebrand, Urbanation’s senior vice president. As mentioned in my previous article “A New Year. More Appreciation” I discussed the possibility of allowing more developments on a portion of the Greenbelt and Mr. Hudak also agrees. Mr. Hudak, has urged Ontario’s Liberal government to reassess its plans for expanding the Greenbelt. Adding more protected land would add more stress to the market and further drive the demand and prices higher. “Government-imposed barriers are restricting builders from bringing more housing supplies online,” he mentioned in a previous statement.



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