First-time buyers in major Canadian markets
move to get in ahead of higher interest rates, says RE/MAX
Driven by the threat of higher interest rates down the road, first-time buyers are contributing to strong upward momentum in residential housing markets across the country, according to a report released by RE/MAX.
The RE/MAX First-Time Buyers Report, highlighting trends and developments in nineteen major Canadian centres, found that low interest rates and balanced market conditions have provided significant impetus in 2011, particularly at lower price points. Just over 30 per cent of markets are reporting sales in excess of 2010 levels as a result, while almost 70 per cent have experienced an upswing in average price. Leading the country in terms of percentage increases in the number of homes sold are Western Canadian markets, including Saskatoon (up close to 15 per cent), Greater Vancouver (up close to 12 per cent), and Winnipeg (up just over 11 per cent). With an average price hike of close to 20 per cent year-to-date (February), Greater Vancouver continues to show unprecedented strength, followed by Hamilton-Burlington (eight per cent), Quebec City (seven per cent), Winnipeg (close to seven per cent), Greater Toronto (five per cent), and Greater Montreal (five per cent).
Despite homeownership rates approaching 70 per cent, there is clearly room for growth as entry-level buyers make their moves from coast-to-coast, undeterred by higher housing values and changes to lending criteria. Many purchasers intent on realizing homeownership are scaling back on expectations or are willing to sacrifice location, quality and/or size to make their dream a reality – not unlike generations before them.
Inventory levels, while tight in several larger centres, are more balanced overall, giving first-time buyers a good selection of housing product from which to choose. Not surprisingly, condominium apartments and town homes have become the first step for many entry-level purchasers, especially in Greater Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, London-St. Thomas, Hamilton-Burlington, Greater Toronto, the Island of Montreal, and Halifax-Dartmouth where average prices have risen unabated in recent years.
With the Canadian economy on firmer footing overall, residential real estate is well-positioned moving into the traditionally busy spring market. Consumer confidence is climbing in conjunction with economic performance, and concerns over a secondary recession fade with each passing day. The mood is cautiously optimistic, as first-time buyers enter the market.
Changes to recent financing criteria have not created the anticipated run up in activity in most markets. From a financial standpoint, most rookie home buyers remain quite prudent. Those making the leap are not doing it lightly, buying within their means. While this most recent round of policy tightening will likely have a negligible effect on demand, the message is getting across.
Affordability remains a growing concern in most markets, and—aside from first-time purchasers—no one is more in tune with that than housing planners and developers. In fact, the growing demand for reasonably-priced product is creating a shift in the country’s housing mix. That trend is expected to gain traction in coming years, as builders look to create greater options for those seeking to realize homeownership. In recent years, builders have helped ease the move to homeownership by concentrating on intensification—condominium buildings with smaller suites and small-lot subdivisions offering detached, compact homes at a fraction of the cost of a traditional single-family home. On the flip side, the affordability factor is also breathing new life into tired older neighbourhoods, and that, in turn, is contributing to rising values.
As prices escalate, first-time buyers are indeed spending more—some out of necessity, but others are simply in a position to do so. Unlike in years past—a greater percentage of today’s first-time buyer pool is comprised of dual-income, college or university-educated couples with solid earnings. They’re spending close to average price or slightly more to secure—in most cases—a better location or a home that will grow with them. Yet, the fact remains that those on a tighter budget can get in for considerably less, with reasonable choices in every major market across the country. While some may feel discouraged by eroding affordability levels, the underlying confidence in the concept of homeownership is rising.
While market conditions are one thing that influences first-time buyers, few things trump the fundamental belief in homeownership. Today’s entry-level buyers are steadfast in their mindset. They know they have to live somewhere, but they simply don’t want to pay someone else’s mortgage. Savvy or practical, they remain a driving force. The bottom line is that the demand for entry-level product will remain steady. The role of starter homes in the marketplace is becoming ever more vital.
35 Balmuto St: Yorkville Condos
The Uptown Residences is an impressive 48 storey, traditional art deco style tower set just off Yorkville on a quiet street. This structure was a theatre and vaudeville center in the 1920s and features an exterior of glass and precast with a granite entrance. Luxurious living is the mood with laminate hardwood floors in the dining and living rooms, extra tall European styled cabinets, granite countertops in gourmet kitchens, upgraded stainless appliances, and some suites display 10 and 11 foot ceilings.
Additional features are the deep soaker tubs, granite counters, and under-mounted sinks in the bathrooms. A completely equipped fitness room, aerobics and yoga room, multi-station gym, steam rooms, and separated men and women changing rooms are all part of the Uptown Club. Almost all of the suites have a terrace or balcony.
Amenities are many and include The Metropolitan Lounge with it’s semi-circular bar, lush seating, and kitchenette. If golf is your love, make the most of the Virtual Golf Room, or enjoy the Multi-Media Theatre Lounge for a night at the movies. For relaxation, spend time experiencing the smells of the terraced garden patio or the sight of the breathtaking view of Yorkville.
388 Bloor St: Yorkville Condos
The Rosedale at 388 Bloor St. East is a very comfortable Toronto condo with a guest suite and visitor parking. 24 hour concierge service and wonderful views of the ravine only add to the comfort of this pet friendly condo.
1 Bloor: Yorkville Condominiums:Yorkville Condos
Location: 1 Bloor Street
Builder: Great Gulf Homes
Number of units: 795
Number of floors: 65
1 Bloor Street is the highly anticipated new addition to the Toronto condo market. This 65 storey tower will feature 795 magnificent suites that are at the height of luxury. Vip preview is expected to start soon.
18 Yorkville: The Lotus: Yorkville Condos
Architects Alliance, an award winning team, has designed this 36 storey Toronto condo with a modern point tower. The 8th floor amenities at The Villas at 18 Yorkville include a private dining room with a kitchen, weight and exercise rooms, steam, billiard, media, and treatment rooms, a bar, lounges, and a fabulous garden on the roof.
Visitor parking, 24 hour concierge, and 3 high speed elevators top the list. The suites themselves have heat and air controlled individually, 9′ ceilings, engineered wood floors with the buyer’s choice of grains, heavy carpet with deep underpad, double aluminum windows, voice communicated emergency system, chrome finished hardware, and full-size stacked washers and dryers. The kitchens are beautifully outfitted with mirrored backsplash, extra tall cabinets, curved breakfast bars with buyer’s choice of laminate or granite countertops, halogen track lighting on the ceiling, and buyer’s choice of stainless appliances.
15 McMurrich: Yorkville Condos
Toronto’s 15 McMurrich in Yorkville is a condo with large suites, premier location, and a great value. The Financial Centre is an easy commute by subway, and high end shopping and excellent dining are right on Bloor St. This 15 storey condo in north Yorkville was completed in 1981 and has been renovated extensively since then.
119 Yorkville Ave: The Regency: Yorkville Condos
Turner and Fleischer designed this magnificently lush New York style condo with an art deco flavor. Imagine entering the Regency Yorkville’s two storey lobby every day and being part of the clientele who pass under the glittering chandelier to climb the mirrored staircase.
These suites aren’t just spacious in square footage, they’re filled with the highest quality finishes and equipment including the appliances and fixtures, detailed cornice and crown mouldings, and amazing sound accents. With Toronto’s very first Condominium Butler, they offer 24 hour concierge as well.
8 Scollard St: The Lotus:
The Lotus represents the best in the Yorkville neighborhood. The building itself is striking in appearance and the amenities it offers are equally appealing. They include a guest suite, relaxing card room with a fireplace, a caterer’s kitchen in a multi-purpose party room, steam and fitness rooms, and a yoga studio.
At Davenport and Yonge Streets SW in Yorkville, all your needs will be met from the designer boutiques to the excellent dining. Floor plans can be viewed by contacting us.
22 St. Thomas St: The Windsor Arms:
At No. 22 St. Thomas Street, in the neighborhood of the 5 Star Windsor Arms Hotel, you’ll find it’s only a short walk from chic boutiques on Bloor Street and the active life of Yorkville. It’s quieter location however masks the magnificence of this condominium.
The lobby is cozy elegance with it’s fireplace, wood paneling, and large arm chairs. A valet will park your car, the doorman will greet you, and the residents have full access to the hotel services including room service, concierge, pool, sauna, spa, as well as maid and butler services is you so choose.
When George Friedman developed this structure, exceptional detail went into the project including the Courtyard Caf and Club 22 Restaurant and Lounge. They’re truly a luxurious and attract even the most elite clientele.