2018 News Index
New homes sold as Alberta builder fails
More than new 125 new home properties in Alberta are being sold, some at deep discounts, after major homebuilder ReidBuilt was forced into receivership last November.
Stress test gets more stressful
The federal mortgage stress test being applied to all new homebuyers became more stressful this month after an increase in the bellwether five-year mortgage rate. This is the rate that mortgage seekers must qualify at, regardless of the amount of their down payment.
Vancouver developers warned "the end is nigh"
Metro Vancouver condominium developers were warned of a potentially sustained downturn after housing sales in April plunged by double digits compared to a year ago. April is traditionally one of the strongest months of the year, signaling the start of the spring selling season.
Taxes nail costs to new homes in GTA
Rising government taxes, fees and charges now total $186,000 on the cost of a new detached house in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and an average of $121,000 to the price of a new high-rise condo, a new study suggests.
Solid slabs hot for backsplashes
Renovation contractors should take a close look at new trends in backsplashes -- a product that can frame a kitchen makeover and make it pop.
The kids are all right: Genworth
Perhaps to the surprise of many, the majority of young adult Canadians have already bought a home, according to study from Genworth Canada -- the second-largest mortgage insurer in Canada.
Ontario Millennials fear they will never buy
Nearly 70 per cent of young adults in Ontario fear they won’t be able to buy a home and about 58 per cent of all adults agree.
Solution floated for flood-prone homes
Rising water levels threaten homeowners and construction sites from Atlantic Canada to the West Coast. Restoration and renovation companies will no doubt be busy when the water recedes.
Mayor blames "NIMBYs" for high home prices
The mayor of the Metro Vancouver suburban community of Port Coquitlam told a Vancouver real estate conference last week that not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) activists help to keep home starts down and home prices high.
Buyers pick best Ontario builders
Tarion has awarded its annual Homeowners' Choice Awards to builders who received the highest ratings from actual home buyers across the province.
These are the only awards that focus solely on customer service and are based on feedback from homeowners.
Gasp! Big banks compete on mortgage rates
Canada's major banks are currently competing on mortgage rates, a rare occurrence comparable to gas price competition or, perhaps, Sasquatch sightings.
CREA urges ban on home grow-ops
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is urging Ottawa to put the brakes on letting people grow pot at home until it can better regulate it to prevent property damage and higher risks of crime and fires.
CMHC names “vulnerable” cities
What does Hamilton have in common with Victoria, Vancouver and Toronto?
Robot cues CAD to build house in a day
A California experiment has led to developing a robot that can read an architect’s computer aided design (CAD) drawings and build a full-sized concrete house using 3D printing technology in one day.
Zero Emissions centre underway
The Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) in partnership with the City of Vancouver Passive House Canada and the Open Green Building Society are building a Vancouver Zero Emissions Building Centre of Excellence.
Calgary renovator first to take Bitcoin
Trademark Renovations of Calgary is believed to be the first renovation contractor in Canada to accept bitcoins and other cryptocurrency as payment from clients.
Ottawa starved for home listings
Ottawa’s hot housing market is starved for listings, real estate agents say.
“Inventory continues to fall below normal average, but we are still seeing more sales than last year because listings are not staying on the market,” said Ralph Shaw, president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board.
Banks pull trigger on rate hikes
TD bank was the first on the draw but other big banks are expected to also pull the trigger on mortgage rate increases. In fact, one already has.
Bank rate hikes ahead
The Canadian dollar fell sharply immediately after the April 18 release of the Bank of Canada's official statement providing a more bullish forecast for the economy while holding lending rates steady.
Alberta buyers will flee B.C. according to survey
Albertan buyers will be dissuaded from buying vacation homes in British Columbia and may be forced to sell secondary homes they own there because of B.C.’s new speculation tax, according to a Royal LePage survey.
London: Where detached houses rule
According to one national trend, building new, detached houses is taking second place to condo apartment construction across Canada due to demographics and higher home prices.
Top four ways to make landscape pay
Putting an emphasis on landscaping can pay off in new detached house sales, according to an industry organization that cautions builders are ignoring “the family yard which has become an extension of the home.”
Ottawa sales, starts on a roll
Canada’s capital city is bucking an Ontario—even national—trend as Ottawa housing sales and starts came into March like a lion.
Stress test stalls move-up buyers
Realtors and mortgage brokers warn the mortgage stress test that began covering all homebuyers this January is freezing plans of move-up buyers.
Calgary condo inventory declines
First-quarter new condo sales in Calgary plunged 32 per cent from the previous quarter, according to Urban Analytics. The research agency said the new mortgage stress caused both Q4 2017 sales to rise and Q1 2018 sales to drop.
NYC houses homeless in $174-night hotels
New York City plans to spend $1.1 billion to house some of the city’s 60,000 homeless in Manhattan hotels over the next three years.
Home prices poised to increase: Royal LePage
If you are waiting for Canadian home prices to crash, don’t hold your breath, says Royal LePage. The large real estate agency expects prices to start increasing again the second half of this year.
Montreal offers new homebuyer incentive
The City of Montreal will offer eligible homebuyers from $5,000 to $15,000 in subsidies and tax rebates, with an emphasis on those buying new homes.
The program is available to first-time buyers but also to families with young children who already own a home.
Housing starts stable in March
Canadian housing starts posted a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 226,842 units in March, up from 225,804 in February, reports Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
Developers cancel pre-sold condo projects
High construction and financing costs are being blamed as a string of pre-sold condo projects in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have been cancelled by developers before buyers get a chance to move in.
Renos: bold wall colours make statement
Renovation contractors should consider bold wall paint as a final touch on a project, suggests paint expert Bev Bell.
Halifax among top cities for Millennial buyers
Halifax is among the top five cities in Canada for Millennials planning to buy a home, according to a recent national survey by Point2Point Homes.
Kamloops dodges tax bullets
Kamloops, B.C.’s third largest city outside of the Lower Mainland, has been granted exemptions from two provincial taxes that affect homebuyers and owners.
Mike Holmes stands with GE Appliances
GE Appliances Canada has inked a partnership with home renovation experts The Holmes Group. Mike Holmes, along with his son Mike Holmes Jr. and his daughter Sherry Holmes, will work together as spokespeople and ambassadors for the appliance brand throughout 2018.
Home starts, spending to dip: study
New home construction and renovation spending are both expected to dip this year but the downturn will be modest, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
Ontario Municipal Board replaced
After years of complaints that it was too cozy with developers, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has been disbanded and replaced with a new entity, the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT).
Smart locks tough to hack, despite concerns
There can be technical glitches with home smart locks, but the potential of someone hacking in is unlikely, according to Weiser, Canada’s biggest manufacturer of door locks.
Uninsured mortgages climb
Canada’s uninsured mortgage market reached an eight-year high in January as government steps to reduce its exposure to the housing market gained traction, according to data from the country’s banking regulator the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.
Greater Toronto Area home auctions are emerging
What's a resale house in Mississauga, Ontario really worth? Buyers will find out April 10 when On The Block Realty puts a four-bedroom, four-bath resale house up for auction through an online bidding process.
Purple reigns as the hot colour: Really?
According to the experts, purple is the colour of the year for 2018, especially "ultra violet" hues.
Follow up key in new home walk-through
Every home builder knows the drill: The new home is sold, but then comes official closing day. The builder or his or her agent walks the buyer through the house to check all the details.
Chinese can now buy Canadian homes like shoes
Chinese consumers can now buy Canadian homes online through a deal inked with Juwai.com (China’s largest real estate website selling international properties) and JD.com (China’s largest retailer, online or offline).
Index confirms price correction
The most recent Teranet-National Bank house price index has confirmed that Canadian house prices are tracking down. The index for February shows that home prices were down for the fourth time in six months, dropping 0.1 per cent from a month earlier.
High-tech bathrooms trending
Faithful readers may recall a few months ago when we spoofed smart showers controlled by a cell phone, but high technology continues to make waves in bathroom design.
Quebec credit unions toughen mortgage rules
Quebec credit unions are apparently preparing mortgage regulations that will mirror the stress test being applied to federally regulated banks.
Carney joins chorus against B.C. housing tax
Former Conservative Senator Pat Carney has joined the chorus of protest against B.C.’s punitive new “speculation tax” which taxes homes that are left vacant.
GTA new home prices sticking
Sales action may have slowed but new home prices are sticking in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), with new detached house prices up 12.8 per cent from a year ago and condo and townhouse values up nearly 40 per cent.
Surprises in homebuyer survey
According to the Prospective Home Buyers Survey just released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., making an investment is among the top motivators driving Canadian home homebuyers this year.
Pets and renovations don’t mix
As a renovator you have likely had a client with pets. If not, remember this: pets and home renovations don’t mix. It is best to set some ground rules for the clients and their hairy friends before you start pulling the kitchen apart.
New Brunswick losing tradespeople
New Brunswick is facing a skilled construction labour crunch harder and faster than possibly anywhere else in Canada, warned Bill Ferreira, executive director of BuildForce Canada.
33,000 homes are Built Green
Built Green has hit a milestone with more than 30,000 detached houses and 3,380 multi-family units now built under the Built Green banner.
Edmonton ICES condo sales
Edmonton condominium sales have doubled in the past year and analysts say it is all due to the skyrocketing popularity of the new downtown entertainment zone known as the ICE district.
Small-town builders beat the big boys
Small-town British Columbia builders beat major developers and homebuilders from Metro Vancouver during the annual Canadian Home Builders Association of BC (CHBA-BC) Georgie Awards on March 10.
West home prices tower over East
It’s nearly 4,000 miles from Vancouver to Moncton, but as far as home prices ago it is light years in distance.
Cheaper smart windows invented at UBC
University of British Columbia chemistry researchers have developed a simple, cost-effective technique for making smart windows that could lead the way for wide-scale adoption of this energy-saving technology.
Ottawa surges as national housing starts settle
The pace of single-detached house starts in Ottawa surged to an 11-month high in February and multi-family starts increased in Vancouver, but national housing starts moderated in most of the country, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
Longer mortgage amortization urged
Mortgages of more than 25 years would benefit homebuyers and increase competition in the mortgage market, according to a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute.
Quebec, Mohawk hammer construction deal
A new partnership is underway between the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ), the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK), and Tewatohnhi'saktha to help Mohawk workers successfully integrate into the Quebec construction industry.
Vancouver looks to mandate green roofs on new homes
The City of Vancouver, which is aiming to become the world’s greenest city, is looking at mandating green roofs on new residential developments.
Foreign buyers not needed or wanted: RBC
Foreign-home buyers are not needed or wanted in Canada, the president and CEO of RBC—Canada’s biggest bank—told a New York investors conference last week.
Best green builders awarded
Ontario’s best Green Builders were celebrated last month at the EnerQuality Awards Gala (EQ Awards), held at the Universal Eventspace in Vaughan, Ontario.
Asian buyers often dismiss contracts
George Lee, founder and principal lawyer at B.C.-based George Lee Law Corp., claims his Asian real estate clients are often confused and dismissive of legal contracts.
In B.C. you’re a foreign buyer
Under new legislation from the NDP provincial government, any Canadians outside of British Columbia purchasing recreational property are considered foreign homebuyers and will be subject to punitive taxation.
Syrians trained as GTA bricklayers
Syrian refugees to Canada are being trained as bricklayers to help meet a critical shortage in the trade across southern Ontario’s residential construction industry.
Analysts see a soft landing for housing
The Canadian housing market is returning to a normal pace that will result in a “soft landing” for sales and prices, according to Dr. Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Dominion Lending Centres.
Roofing: it's what undercover that counts
Modern roof coverings—from asphalt to metal—all perform well, but it is what is underneath the shingles that often dictates long-term performance.
Chinese buyers: Only 14% eye Canada
Even before the B.C. government boosted the foreign-buyer tax from 15 per cent to 20 per cent and expanded it across southern British Columbia this month, interest from China-based buyers towards Canada was waning, according to a survey by Juwai.com.
Decks seen as top reno payoff
While kitchens and bathrooms remain the perennial money rooms when it comes to renovation payoffs, adding or expanding a deck is now being ranked as high or higher, at least according to U.S. studies.
Housing will bolster Alberta construction
Residential construction and renovation will act as a brake on the decline in Alberta construction work this year, according to BuildForce Canada.
GTA detached sales hit 18-year low
Sales of new single-family homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) hit their lowest level for January in at least 18 years, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).
B.C. budget spells construction jobs
An ambitious, housing-focused provincial budget is calling for a massive multi-year construction pace across British Columbia. The province has pledged to build 114,000 homes over the next 10 years.
$500 million Montreal project set to go
The City of Longueil is plunging ahead with a $500 million mixed-use, transit-linked development that will include more than 500 condos.
Biggest Passive multi-family starts
Spire Developments is building the largest Passive House multi-family development in Canada.
Vancouver developers squeezed by pre-sales
While most condominium developers want the fastest and most pre-sales as possible, selling condos before they are built is causing problems for some Metro Vancouver developers.
Saskatchewan leads start increase
Saskatchewan housing starts rose 123.5 per cent in January 2018 when compared with January 2017—the highest percentage increase among the provinces according to Statistics Canada.
Hamilton hammered as home sales fall
Housing sales fell across Canada in January compared to a month earlier as new stress-test mortgage rules kicked in, but some areas were hit worse than others.
Mattamy makes smart mandatory
Canada’s biggest homebuilder is making smart homes mandatory in all of its new builds.
Vinyl planks a hot housing trend
Vinyl plank flooring is becoming a hot trend in new homes and renovations. A near dead-ringer for wood, the planks are also waterproof and rugged.
LEED farmhouse heating bill $60
Heating a renovated 2,530-square-foot farmhouse in a frigid Quebec winter for $60 a month may seem a miracle, but it is made possible with advanced green engineering.
Will tiny homes catch on?
Alberta and B.C. companies are pitching tiny homes as alternative for residents seeking more affordable but comfortable homes.
Housing starts “stable” as year begins
Canadian housing starts maintained a seasonally-adjusted pace of 224,865 in January, nearly identical to the 226,346 in December 2017, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
Greybrook leaps into Brooklin
Greybrook Realty Partners, in partnership with Fieldgate Homes, has put up $10.9 million to acquire and develop a prime 18-acre parcel of residential land in Brooklin, Ontario.
Hero kitchen renos that work
You are a renovation contractor and a homeowner wants you to transform their kitchen, but they have a shoestring budget.
If you want to remain a hero in their eyes, and perhaps get referrals, there are some ways to makeover a kitchen fast and relatively inexpensively.
Toronto buyers feel mortgage sting
Some are pointing to new federal mortgage regulations for a sharp slowdown in housing sales across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in January.
CMHC suggests plans to boost building
In what Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) says is the “the most thorough examination of house price patterns ever completed in Canada,” the federal agency floats some controversial ideas to increase housing supply.
Six kitchen trends to watch
Farmhouse-style kitchens peppered with modern fixtures and materials are among the top kitchen trends for 2018, according to the annual forecast from the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).
Rules spook new home sales agents
B.C. real estate agents selling new homes fear new regulations from the provincial Superintendent of Real Estate will make their jobs harder.
The Superintendent of Real Estate announced the new Real Estate Consumer Protection Rules in November 2017 and they come into effect March 15, 2018.
What it REALLY costs to build a house
Following Home BUILDER magazine’s article published earlier here on the annual Altus Construction Cost Guide 2018, Altus Group reported that due to “formatting issues” some of the construction cost estimate numbers in the Guide were incorrectly transposed, and therefore wrong. Here is the updated version.
Hard-hat workers in high demand
Canadian construction workers should have no problem finding work over the next few years, according to BuildForce Canada, which forecasts that more than 200,000 workers will be needed by 2028.
Alberta new home permits increasing
Rebuilding homes in Fort McMurray, a northern city that was ravaged by forest fires two years ago, has helped boost Alberta’s new housing construction to its first annual increase since April 2015.
Edmonton eyes bonus for bigger condos
In a bid to lure more families downtown, the city of Edmonton is considering a density bonus—two extra floors on condo projects—if the new units are three-bedroom suites.
Levitating doors among hot trends
The home show season is in swing across Canada and the U.S., and new products are appearing that may prove a hit in the home renovation sector.
We highlight three new products that homeowners may be requesting for their makeover.
Luxury bunkers seen as elite trend
U.S. futurist Ross Milroy notes that a trend is emerging among the wealthy towards creating luxury “doomsday bunkers” that could survive anything from a hurricane to a nuclear attack.
Vancouver levies $77,988 per new home
Civic costs and fees levied on home builders by the City of Vancouver now average $77,988 per residential unit, by far the highest in B.C. according to a new study.
Prairie contractor license plate battle ends
Alberta construction contractors can once again feel safe driving into Saskatchewan with Alberta license plates on their truck.
Passive build sets airtight record
The Wood Innovation Research Lab (WIRL), currently under construction in downtown Prince George, B.C., set a Canadian record for air tightness for buildings of its type.
2017: Over 120 new homes sold each day in the GTA
Sales of new homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) averaged more than 120 a day, seven days a week during 2017 as sales hit the fourth-highest level on record.
What it costs to build a house
A high quality 2,000-square-foot detached house would cost up to $460,000 in hard construction costs to build in Vancouver, $420,000 in Toronto, but around $300,000 in Montreal, Calgary or Halifax, based on the Altus Group Canadian Construction Cost Guide 2018.
Construction a highlight in job report
Construction employment was among the highlights in job creation in December 2017 as Canada shed tens of thousands of jobs in the month, compared to November.
Renovators can share in $784 million school upgrades
Ontario renovation contractors may be tempted to turn from home renovations to school work this year to share in a multimillion-dollar renovate and build program.
Thunder Bay leads permit increases
Calgary, St. John, Sudbury and Thunder Bay were the unlikely leaders in construction permit building values in 2017, all with triple-digit increases from 2016, reports Statistics Canada.
Underground contractors threaten asbestos ban
A wild card in the recent federal ban on asbestos is the unregulated black market in renovations, according to industry groups.
Mortgage effect delayed by pre-approvals
Even in high-priced Vancouver, the effect of an interest rate hike in January and the introduction of a federal mortgage stress test failed to cool the market quickly.
Ontario insulation funds equal $1 to $2 per square foot
Green Ontario Fund incentives to make home renovations more energy efficient work out to from $1 to $2 per square foot for adding insulation.
Canada now “a condo nation”
It may seem absurd in a nation with the world’s second-largest land mass but condominiums have become the fastest-growing housing choice for many Canadians.
Owners of empty homes face punishing tax
The City of Vancouver has mailed notices to more than180,000 city homeowners to explain Canada’s first Empty Home Tax.
Landlords lobby for cannabis ban
British Columbia landlords want the province to follow the lead of Quebec and ban marijuana growing in private homes when recreational marijuana becomes legal under federal legislation on July 1.
Housing starts remain strong, stable
Canadian housing starts totaled a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 226,777 in December, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Green builders sought for trade mission
Are you are a net zero carbon home builder? The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is looking for 15 leading Canadian cross-sectoral companies and professionals to join Thomas Mueller, CEO and president of the CaGBC, on a trade mission to the Netherlands and Austria in late January.
TREB blames government intervention
It was not resistance to higher home prices but government intervention that cooled the Greater Toronto housing market in late 2017, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).
Montreal tracking to record sales year
Montreal had a bigger increase in housing sales than either Toronto or Vancouver in 2017, and is on pace to set a record for residential transactions in 2018, according to the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB).
Calming seen for housing markets in 2018
After a tumultuous year, 2018 should see a much calmer Canadian housing market, according to James Laird, co-founder of RateHub Inc. and president of CanWise Financial.
Legal weed spooks some safety officials
Some Canadian safety officials fear the impending legalization of marijuana could undermine efforts to cut down on workplace accidents and enforce site safety rules. The federal government is pushing ahead with plans to legalize recreational marijuana, with new rules set to take effect July 1.
Lethbridge extends $30,000-per-home incentive
Lethbridge, fourth-largest city in Alberta, has extended a popular incentive program that offers builders up to $30,000 for each housing unit they complete in the downtown area.
Smart light protects home
A discrete new lantern-style porch light could be a high-tech add-on for home renovations: it acts as a first-response burglar alarm. The lamp is armed with motion detectors, a high-resolution video camera, and two-way speaker system connected to your smartphone.
Housing shares in biggest GTA deals
When all the numbers are in, the Greater Toronto Area is expected to have hit its fifth straight record year for commercial real estate sales and total dollar volume in 2017, with land for residential developments among the biggest deals of the year.
New Canadians boost housing market
An increase in immigration to Canada, not foreign buyers, will fuel future housing demand in major cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, a new study suggests.
Home prices will rise 4.9 per cent in 2018
Average home prices in 53 Canadian cities are expected to rise by 4.9 per cent by the end of 2018 to about $662,000, according to December 2017 outlook from Royal LePage.
London eyes record housing starts
Home builders in London are flirting with a record pace of housing starts, despite an October stumble.
Home builders grab Vancouver land
If a housing bubble is building in Metro Vancouver, residential developers apparently haven’t heard the news.
Mortgage crackdown a threat, broker says
Vancouver-area mortgage broker Dustan Woodhouse fears that the federal government is moving too fast with mortgage regulations and that it could threaten the national economy.
Edmonton condo inventory drops
A 21 per cent increase in sales and a slowdown in new construction has led to a decline in the number of new and unsold condos in Edmonton, according to an Urban Analytics report.
Builders, renovators flood back into Gatineau
Three months after paying out about $6.5 million for 724 water damage claims, the Quebec government has reversed an earlier decision and will allow homes to be rebuilt or renovated in the flood-prone Gatineau region.
CCA president Atkinson resigns, replaced
Michael Atkinson, who was president of the Canadian Construction Association since 1993, has resigned as the CCA turns 100.
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