A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘real estate

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto city staff want to see Victoria University pay property tax on Yorkville land”

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Mike Smee of CBC News reports on the latest regarding Victoria University’s holding of extensive amounts of Bloor Street West retail property while paying few taxes.

The head of Victoria University tried to convince Toronto councillors the school can come to a deal with the city — without involving the province — about the controversial tax-free status of the land the institution owns in an upscale Yorkville neighbourhood.

William Robins appeared before the government management committee Tuesday to answer questions as city staff want the school to pay taxes on a parcel of land it owns on the so-called mink mile; the school’s tenants include names like Prada, Cartier, and Michael Kors.

“You can understand, I’m sure, that on the face of it, it looks as if some of the city’s most successful and lucrative retailers are potentially getting a break while we are struggling with our revenues at the city,” Coun. Janet Davis said.

While the school — better known as the University of Toronto’s Victoria College — does not pay property taxes on the land, it’s unclear whether it does on the buildings themselves.

“The lease arrangements are complicated,” Robins told the government management committee. “But this is very much part of the ongoing negotiations with city staff, I can assure you that.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 22, 2017 at 4:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Nobody’s cheering, except real estate agents: The ‘trapped wealth’ of Toronto’s unrelenting housing boom”

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The National Post hosts Theophilos Argitis’ Bloomberg News article looking at the causes of the housing price boom and speculating about ways to end it without wrecking the wider economy.

Prices in Canada’s largest city surged more than 20 per cent over the past year, the fastest pace in three decades, data released last week show. Some of the city’s neighbouring towns are posting even bigger gains.

It’s become a matter of considerable alarm. Stability is one concern: if the market tumbles, so will Canada’s economy. Pricier real estate also drives away less-affluent, younger people and boosts the cost of doing business, eroding competitiveness.

“I don’t think anybody is cheering,” said Doug Porter, the Toronto-based chief economist of Bank of Montreal, who used the dreaded “bubble” word last week to describe the market. “I don’t see who benefits other than real estate agents. It’s trapped wealth.”

So, what’s driving the boom? The housing industry — builders and brokers — claim lack of supply is the main culprit. Others, Porter included, see demand as the problem. Lately, evidence is mounting that speculation is behind the jump.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Ontario’s lack of foreign-buyer data sparks concern about a Toronto housing crisis”

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The Globe and Mail‘s Mike Hager notes how the lack of official statistics on foreign buyers of real estate in Toronto means, among other things, that less reliable data metrics like search engine hits need to be used. This just proves how modern societies need good data to address real problems.

‘Up! Up! Up!”

That’s where Toronto’s real estate market is heading, according to a Chinese-language promotional article posted last month on Fang.com, a Beijing-based web portal that lists thousands of homes for sale in countries around the world.

“You will really cry if you still don’t buy,” the same posting blares.

Toronto has become the “dark horse” of the Canadian real estate market, asserts Haifangbest.com, another site jammed with Canadian home listings. It contrasts Vancouver’s continuing drop in prices with a prediction that Toronto-area homes will rise 8 per cent in value this year.

In the months since British Columbia began taxing international buyers 15-per-cent extra on homes in and around Vancouver, those marketing Canadian real estate overseas have shifted their focus to Toronto. Last year, Toronto overtook Vancouver to become the most sought-after Canadian city for Chinese home buyers searching the property listing service Juwai.com, peaking in August just after British Columbia announced the tax aimed at curbing the public outrage over skyrocketing prices. Searches for properties in Toronto proper now surpass the total inquiries for Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa combined.

Richard Silver, a Sotheby’s realtor and past president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, estimates close to 20 per cent of his clients are international buyers – from China, India and the Middle East – interested in the luxury condos and houses he sells in and around the downtown core.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “No fixed address: How I became a 32-year-old couch surfer”

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CBC News’ Shannon Martin reports on how she became a couch surfer, as rent increases outpaced her ability to pay.

I’m 32 years old, work at my dream job and have an amazing circle of family and friends who love me. Life is pretty great.

There’s just one thing — and I can’t believe I’m about to admit this to you, but here goes.

Right now, I live nowhere in particular.

I’m a couch surfer.

For the record, I did have a nice place. But then my rent went up nearly $1,000 per month.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 8:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Sold! How to make $900K on a Toronto house flip”

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blogTO’s Derek Flack looks at how a house downtown, in the area of Trinity Bellwoods, managed to rise in price by almost a million dollars between its listing in June of last year and its sale now.

Every week in Toronto it seems like a handful of homes sell for so far over asking that you wonder if the world’s gone mad or if real estate agents aren’t relying on under-listing properties even more frequently than before given the intense seller’s market it the city.

This isn’t, however, the only way to get a sense for just how high demand is in Toronto right now. In fact, it’s better to track a property that’s hit the market multiple times in a relatively short time span to get a sense for how hot things have got.

Case in point, this house at 40 Beaconsfield Ave. The Mash has tracked this one for a while, and for good reason. It hit the market last June for $1,490,000, ultimately selling for $1,700,000 just over two weeks later.

Shortly thereafter, its neighbour at 38 Beaconsfield sold for $2,096,000. Well, you know what happened next. The thought that #40 could be moved for more cash crossed someone’s mind, and it was given interior renovations before being listed at $2,450,000 this month.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 8:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Chasing the Canadian dream: The real force driving the housing boom in our big cities”

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At the National Post, Garry Marr argues, on the basis of the attractiveness of Canada as a destination and the push for all Canadians to acquire property, that the Canadian real estate boom is actually sustainable.

The mayor of Caledon, a town of about 60,000 northwest of Toronto, says government can try all it wants, but the dream of owning a home will persevere.

Allan Thompson should know. His town, like many others that ring around Ontario’s capital, has become a launching site for new communities as people priced out of the core look to the suburbs (or what was once rural) for slightly cheaper housing.

An average new single-family detached home in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was $1,264,604 in 2016, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association. But housing prices range from an average of $666,220 for a semi-detached home in Durham, northeast of Toronto, to $1.8 million for a detached home just north of the city.

“I remember I had this neighbour who was Portuguese,” said Thompson, who was a Caledon councillor for 11 years before becoming mayor two years ago. “He said to me, ‘For 20 generations back in Portugal, we all lived and rented houses in town. We had our sheep and our goats and our cattle.’ He said to me, ‘I was the first one ever to have a home.’”

That dream of home ownership is central to the escalating prices in Canada’s housing market, especially in larger cities such as Toronto where immigrants tend to settle.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “$10,000 fine for Toronto homeowner who used agencies like Airbnb to find tenants”

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The Toronto Star‘s Betsy Powell notes the imposition of a steep fine on a homeowner who accepted far too many short-term renters.

A justice of the peace has imposed a $10,000 fine on the owner of a Willowdale home who violated city bylaws by accepting short-term renters, often using web sites such as Airbnb to find them.

Justice of the Peace Gerry Altobello rejected a submission from the city prosecutor that the fine be set at $1,000 because that was “not enough” to send a message of deterrence to others doing the same thing.

Altobello said the defendant was “thumbing his nose at the community and the city,” by continuing to rent the home at 5 Glenelia Ave., for periods of less than seven days after being told to stop. The maximum penalty for a conviction is $50,000.

[. . .]

Neighbors complained about the high turnover of occupants and loud parties. Last March during one party nearby residents heard four or five shots ring out inside the home, and saw partygoers fleeing. A young man who received a gunshot wound to his head survived, Toronto police say.

Last November, Yan Pan Zhao pleaded guilty on behalf of 2391324 Ontario Ltd., which owns the two-storey home at the corner of Bayview Ave.

Zhao told the Star on Wednesday that he was acting as “an agent,” for the homeowner. He acknowledged his wife, Dan Wei, is the sole officer and director of the numbered company.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 9:16 pm