2019 News Index
Housing sales up for five straight months
Sales of existing houses in Canada have posted increases for five straight months, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), buoyed by a buyer wave in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and a surprising mid-summer surge in Metro Vancouver.
Buyers adjusting to mortgage stress test
Canadian homebuyers are apparently adjusting to the federal mortgage stress test, witnessed by June posting the largest month-over-month increase in mortgage credit growth in two years.
Wilkes speaks out as builder jobs fall
As Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) president and CEO David Wilkes’ op-ed column appeared in a Toronto newspaper detailing the importance of his industry in local job generation, a report was released warning of a big loss of jobs in Ontario’s residential construction sector.
Montreal luxury sales eclipse Vancouver
Vancouver, once the Canadian leader in luxury home sales, has been overtaken by Montreal this year, according to a mid-year report from Sotheby’s International Realty.
Flat roof insulation challenge met
Flat roofs on both detached houses and new condominium apartment buildings are becoming popular in larger Canadian cities as the cost-per-square-foot for living space rises. In Vancouver or Toronto, this can now equate to $750 per square foot or more and surpasses $500 in central Montreal.
Sales jump surprises Vancouver
Housing sales across Metro Vancouver snapped a year-long decline with a surprising rebound in July, normally a slow month for home buying, reports the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver ((REBGV).
Montreal’s tallest condo tower set to start
Montreal has been cited as the hottest housing market in Canada, with a sales-to-new-listing ratio of 94 per cent, according to a national survey by Zoocasa.
BOC rate cut still stress -inducing
The Bank of Canada (BOC) has lowered its five-year qualifying mortgage rate from 5.34 per cent to 5.19 per cent, the first downward move in three years, but the change will have little effect on those trying to qualify under the federal mortgage stress test.
Alberta offices converted to rental homes
An aging 12-storey office building in Edmonton and a landmark office tower in Calgary are being converted to rental housing by Strategic Group of Calgary.
OHBA goal: One million homes by 2031
The Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) is aiming for its members to help deliver a lofty goal: One million new homes by 2031 to meet the demands of Ontario’s growing population.
Construction leads job gains
Construction—including home building, added more than10,000 jobs in June compared to a month earlier, leading all Canadian industries.
Vancouver new condo pre-sales crater
Pre-sales of new condos in Metro Vancouver plunged 89 per cent in May compared to May 2018 as only 115 sales were recorded, according to project market and industry analyst MLA.
CMHC incentive mostly aids condo buyers
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) will begin accepting applications September 2, 2019 for its new incentive program for first-time buyers.
Rentals share as housing starts increase
Canadian housing starts beat expectations in June, spiking to a seasonally adjusted pace of 245,657 units—up from 196,890 a month earlier, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., and above analyst expectations of 210,000 starts.
Low prices fuel Vancouver condo buyer surge
The composite benchmark price of a Greater Vancouver home fell below $1 million for the first time in two years in June and the effect is being seen in a surge of sales at the bottom end of the housing market.
Halifax housing hot—and getting hotter
The 7 per cent spike in resale housing transactions in the Halifax area this year is no fluke, according to real estate analyst Dane Eitel, who forecasts that the Nova Scotia capital is poised for higher sales and record high prices.
Canada Lands plans Ottawa mega-build
Canada Lands Corp., which has specialized in turning mostly former Canadian Forces land into mixed-use developments, is planning a mega-build in Ottawa. The proposal calls for a mixed-use development on a 25-acre parcel that could include hundreds of housing units, three 24-storey office towers for the federal government, and other high and low-rise commercial and residential buildings.
Location, tech lures young buyers
An exhaustive survey of what author Brett Easton Ellis calls the “wuss generation” but are better known as Millennials, shows that lifestyle, location and high-technology are important to these young homebuyers.
GTA new home sales strengthen
May saw new home sales continue to strengthen in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).
Developers amp up buyer incentives
Free flights, free strata fees for life, free mortgage payments for a year and 8 per cent interest paid on deposits for buyers are among the tempting incentives being dangled by Metro Vancouver condo developers.
House price index inches up in May
The Teranet-National Bank composite house price index inched up 0.5 per cent in May from April. It was the first month-to-month gain in nine months.
Suburbs may lure more Montrealers
Even young cosmopolitan denizens may be tempted to move from the island of Montreal to the suburbs, based on data released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
First ‘living building’ house underway
A “living building” house that will generate at least five times as much energy as it consumes is under construction in Vancouver.
CREA sees stronger sales in second half
Canadian housing sales will rally in the second half of this year after a sluggish start, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
Alberta’s biggest builder mandates solar
Alberta’s largest home builder, Jayman BUILT, has mandated roof solar panels this year, which it says will lower energy costs, help with home affordability and increase the resale values of new homes.
Falling mortgage rates sustain sales recovery
The spring uptick in Canadian housing sales could be sustained by rates on a standard five-year fixed-rate mortgage that have fallen to their lowest level since spring of 2017, according to Ratehub, an online rate comparison site.
York’s biggest Habitat for Humanity underway
It still needs volunteers and about $1.5 million in donations, but Habitat for Humanity is forging ahead with its biggest build in the York Region of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)—six, two-storey townhouses for lower-income families.
RBC expands into home renovation
RBC Ventures Inc., a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), has bought Smart Reno, a service that connects consumers to renovation professionals and helps contractors develop leads.
Canada’s first “dementia village” opens
Canada’s first retirement housing concept designed for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia is becoming a reality with a private developer opening the Village in Langley, British Columbia this June. The Village is developed by B.C.-based Canbrit Development.
Banks hit as mortgage growth dips to 17-year low
As demand for new mortgages slide, some banks are cutting their earnings forecast while others are scrambling to grow their mortgage business.
Labour shortage spooks Quebec builders
In the midst of the strongest residential construction market in decades—if not history—Quebec home builders and developers are most concerned about a shortage of skilled labour.
Vancouver developers cancel condo projects
About 20 per cent of new condo projects in Vancouver have been cancelled as sales of new condos fell while inventory of unsold new condos grew, according to reports from Altus Group and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.(CMHC).
Forty-floor timber tower planned
Vancouver real estate developer Delta Land Corp. is planning to build the world’s tallest wood tower: a condo building that could rise to 40 storeys and be built to Passive House standards. If approved, it would be the tallest wood building and the highest Passive House structure in the world.
Mortgage rate cut, home sales increase
A cut in the seldom-used 10-year mortgage rate could signal wider mortgage rate relief this year as the full extent of Canada’s housing downturn becomes clear, some analysts contend.
Quebec leads job surge
The unemployment rate fell to 4.9 per cent in Quebec and to 4.6 per cent in British Columbia—the lowest jobless rates in the country following a surprising national job surge in April.
Tridel takes top BILD awards
Tridel virtually ran the table during the recent 39th annual BILD awards for Greater Toronto’s residential industry.
Home starts spring higher
April housing starts soared 20 per cent higher than a month earlier as the pace of national residential construction activity blew by expectations.
Prompt payment act could be coming
The federal Canada Prompt Payment Act (Bill S-224) has been passed by the Senate and awaits consideration by the House of Commons.
Suburbs becoming cool again
A desire for affordable homes—especially detached houses for new families—is making suburban living increasing popular among young Canadian homebuyers.
Affordability starkly different across Canada
Only the top 10 per cent of income earners can afford to buy a detached house in Toronto, where the benchmark price is $873,100. In Vancouver all but 2.5 per cent of the top earners can afford a house at the current benchmark of $1.44 million, according to new data from real estate broker Zoocasa.
Electric-powered windows touted for condos
View Inc. of California—which has offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto—is touting the use of its electric-powered, sunglasses-like windows for multi-family projects in Canada.
Vancouver foreclosures creep higher
Foreclosures and court-ordered sales of Vancouver homes are creeping up but still represent a small amount of listings in the struggling market, according to a Vancouver real estate agent who has been tracking the action.
West wanes as East rallies
In a big change from a few years ago, Western Canada’s housing sales are waning this spring in comparison with eastern provinces, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
Estimates should increase for hard cost inputs
Any Canadian contractor budgeting for a multi-storey residential project should increase their estimates for hard costs by 5 to 8 per cent this year to cover higher prices for steel and aluminum products.
Toronto, Vancouver head in different directions
Greater Toronto saw March home sales holding steady from a year ago, a decline in new listings and a modest increase in benchmark prices compared to a year early.
Single-family home prices dip
The last time the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index declined in March from a month earlier was a decade ago as the global financial crisis roiled markets around the world.
Lot bought for $25,000 earns charity $7.6 million
The saga of a lot bought 50 years ago in Surrey for $25,000 and expected to sell this month for more than $7.6 million to aid local charities underscores the jaw-dropping real estate appreciation in Metro Vancouver.
BC Step Code lauded as money maker
The B.C. government, energy design firms and educators are promoting the BC Step Code—claiming the new building standards it will bring to the market will create jobs and opportunities.
Major realtor cautions sellers
Royal LePage, one of Canada’s largest real estate firms, is bearish in its housing outlook this year for sellers, but sees an opportunity for buyers.
Starts slow down eases labour shortage
A 16 per cent decline in Canadian housing starts in February may signal the residential construction industry will be given some room to catch up with a serious shortage of workers.
Renovations top lotto wish list
Half of Canadians say that if handed a windfall—such as a $50,000 lottery win—they would spend it on home renovations while just 30 per cent say they would move to a better home, according to a recent online study by RateSupermarkets.ca.
New detached-home sales rise in GTA
The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) registered sales of 639 new single-family houses in February—the highest level since April 2017, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).
Stress test survives but fixes have flaws
Despite intense lobbying from the real estate and residential construction industry, the federal government retained the mortgage stress test when it presented the federal budget.
Sad stat spurs condo marketing in Calgary
The rather sad fact that in this age of super connectivity more Canadians are living alone than at any time in history has spurred a marketing concept at a new condo development in Calgary—and the idea may catch on.
Twelve-storey wood towers approved
British Columbia is doubling the height limit for wood buildings to 12 storeys in a bid to increase timber production and sales in the province’s key forest industry.
Detached house prices fall for fifth month
Prices for detached houses in Canada fell in February for the fifth straight month, reports the Teranet National Bank Composite Price Index—dropping 0.4 per cent from January.
Budget wish list includes buyer incentives
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau will table the 2019 federal budget March 19. and tThe residential real estate and home building industry has a long wish list for thise last budget before the next federal election.
Montreal home sales may overtake Vancouver
Montreal is bucking the national trend of slowing sales, posting an 8 per cent increase in sales so far this year.
One-two punch stuns housing analysts
Most analysts were forecasting the pace of housing starts in Canada to remain above 200,000 units in February, so the thump down to less than 175,000 has proven a shock.
Housing horizon flat, analysts warn
Real estate associations and analysts are forecasting a fairly flat 2019 housing market, as the stress test continues to affect all levels of buyers.
Calgary builder awards $40,000 for public art
Calgary home builder Greenview Development is accepting artist applications for a public art piece near its AVLI on Atlantic condo project.
Low defaults put lie to stress test need, brokers say
Canadian homeowners, especially those living in high-priced cities, have minuscule delinquency rates on mortgages and continue to post excellent credit scores.
Tiny Terrace sees housing boom
Terrace, a B.C. town of 12,000 residents situated 1,300 kilometres northwest of Vancouver, is bucking a downturn in the province’s housing starts.
“Super thin” energy-window launched
“Super window” said to be at least twice as insulating as 99 percent of the windows for sale today—with the possibility of achieving mass-market penetration.
New name for Vancouver builders
The former Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association will have a different name emblazoned over its booths at the annual B.C. Home and Garden Show this month: HAVAN.
Millennials dedicated to homeownership
Despite current angst in the housing market – with lower sales and starts and flat-line price increases – most young Canadians appear determined to achieve home-ownership, a national survey shows.
Housing starts dip in January
Canada-wide housing starts dropped to an annual pace of 207,000 units in January but a mild month-over-month rise in the resale housing market may indicate a gen-erally stronger year for the residential industry.
Banks back builders in stress battle
Canadian homebuilding and real estate organizations now have a muscular ally in the battle against the federal government’s mortgage-stress test: big banks, which are sharing the pain of lower incomes.
Faux marble and stainless deliver a quick reno
We know Home BUILDER readers are sophisticated when it comes to home improvements, but, hey, what if you could transform a second kitchen with the look of marble countertops and black stainless steel appliances for less than $250?
Milton sell-out signals GTA strength
Mattamy Homes quickly sold out all 180 building lots in a new subdivision it is developing in Milton, a signal that the Greater Toronto Area new home market re-mains robust despite a recent downturn.
Quebec forms new realty association
A new real estate association has been created in Quebec. The Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB) was formed on January 1, 2019, bringing together more than 12,500 real estate brokers and agencies.
Land wild card in home building costs
The hard construction costs to build new homes are not much different from coast-to-coast but land values can drive costs hundreds of thousands of dollars higher in Vancouver or Toronto, according to the 2018 Construction Cost Guide from Altus Group.
B.C. facing construction labour shortage
British Columbia will bear the brunt of Canada’s construction labour shortage over the next decade, according to BuildForce Canada.
“Steeltown” housing sales cooled fast
Two years ago Hamilton was a surprisingly hot housing market in southern Ontario. While prices stayed firm, “Steeltown” sales cooled quickly in 2018 according to the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB).
Future Development: Tornado-proofing new houses for less than $1,000
The vast majority of new houses in Canada could be inexpensively engineered and built to withstand category EF-2 tornadoes, according to an Ontario engineer and wind-damage expert.
RBC cuts mortgage rate
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), the biggest bank in the country, has cut its five-year, fixed-term mortgage rate to 3.74 per cent, down 0.15 per cent.
London hospital site sold for housing
In one of the biggest Ontario residential land deals so far in 2019, the Ontario government has sold the site of the former London Psychiatric Hospital for redevelopment.
Tech-savvy kitchens catching on
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) said recent surveys show there is a growing appetite for high technology in kitchens, and this affects design trends.
BOC admits overkill from regulations
The Bank of Canada (BOC) has conceded that stiff new mortgage regulations, provincial and municipal housing restrictions and rising interest rates have had an overkill affect on the Canadian housing market, resulting in a larger and more negative impact than expected.
Tiny PEI boasts biggest starts increase
Prince Edward Island posted a 156 per cent increase in housing starts during December, with detached house starts up 9 per cent and multi-unit construction 347 per cent higher than a year ago.
Kitchen trends conflicted for 2019
Take your pick of the conflicting kitchen design trends for 2019: sleek and modern lines with hidden appliances; wood-themed with a vintage, authentic feel; all white or dramatically coloured.
Challenge: Housing 303,000 immigrants every year
There are 100,000 more immigrants arriving in Canada each year than there are new homes being built—perhaps the best indication that the current housing downturn will be brief, if brutal.
CREA eyes nine-year sales low in 2019
Sales of existing homes in Canada will fall to a nine-year low in 2019, according to a revised and more bearish forecast from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
Winnipeg details impact fees
The City of Winnipeg will charge home builders an “impact fee” of $59.48 per square metre ($6,412 per 1,000 square foot) for new residential construction starting January 1 under its revised Impact Fee By-Law.
Kanata tees up housing plans
The Kanata Golf & Country Club near Ottawa is teeing up plans for a large residential development on the 172-acre parcel, according to owner and operator ClubLink.
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