New home prices rise in July, pushed up by Toronto

New-home prices in Canada rose in July, driven by gains in Toronto’s robust housing market, data from Statistics Canada showed on Thursday.

The new housing price index rose by 0.1 percent, slightly short of analysts’ forecasts for a gain of 0.2 percent. Compared with the year before, prices were up 1.3 percent.

The Toronto and Oshawa region led the gain, rising 0.3 percent on the month, with builders citing market conditions and higher labour costs.

Prices in Vancouver, another hot market, also increased by 0.3 per cent. But Calgary, which is sensitive to Canada’s weakened energy sector, was among the biggest decliners, down 0.3 per cent.

The new housing price index excludes apartments and condominiums, which economists are watching closely and account for one-third of new housing.

12:16 PM, E.T. | September 10, 2015
Real Estateslide3

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Rate cut could add fire to Toronto, Vancouver house markets

A further interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada could further fuel flames in the country’s two biggest real estate markets which are once again showing signs of overheating, housing watchers say.
“It’s another log on the fire for the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets,” says economist Sal Guatieri, vice president of BMO Economic Research, who expects to see a cut next week in an attempt to kickstart lagging growth.
“It’s not the amount that matters — the reduction in borrowing costs will be quite minimal — it’s the message it sends to homeowners and potential buyers that rates are going lower rather than higher and will almost certainly stay low for quite some time. That just encourages more people into the market.”
Both of Canada’s priciest cities are already swamped with far more buyers than properties for sale.
Sales — and prices — have hit new records in both Toronto and Vancouver this year. The frenzy has been driven by low interest rates, an ongoing shortage of listings and a growing sense of panic, especially among first-time buyers, that if they don’t get in now, they will be locked out of the market forever, particularly the low-rise house market.
“We are becoming concerned again about the possibility of a housing bubble in Toronto and Vancouver because prices are rising so much faster than incomes and because interest rates are continuing to fall rather than go up,” says Guatieri.
“We were much more comfortable a year or two ago when both markets seemed to have cooled off a bit and prices were rising more moderately.”

Both Toronto and Vancouver set new sales records for the month of June.
Almost 12,000 houses and condos changed hands last month across the GTA, up 18.4 per cent from a year earlier. The average sale price of a detached house was $816,583 – and over $1 million in the City of Toronto – up 14.3 per cent year over year.
Greater Vancouver’s 4,375 sales were up 28.4 per cent for the same period. The average detached house was $1.45 million – and a staggering $2.39 million for a stand-alone house in the core City of Vancouver – up 20.2 per cent from June of last year.
Condo sales skyrocketed in both regions, up 22.4 across the GTA and 35.6 per cent across Greater Vancouver, year over year.
All that demand helped push up condo prices 6.3 per cent in the GTA, to an average of $390,894, and up 5.6 per cent in Greater Vancouver to $479,450.
Last January’s surprise Bank of Canada rate cut to .75 per cent has been a contributing factor to those escalating sales and prices, says Penelope Graham, editor and spokesperson with mortgage comparison site
A cut to .5 per cent, as is expected, would see the five-year fixed rate dip below the current low of 2.39 per cent and further boost the illusion of affordability, she said.
“There are more people now entering the market with just five per cent down, because that’s all they can afford. There is a real sense of urgency in the bigger markets to get in now, before it’s too late, and get in with what you have,” says Graham.
“That’s potentially putting people in a really vulnerable position in terms of their debt levels.”
Toronto realtor David Fleming says he’s seeing a surge in demand even for condos — especially under $400,000 — and younger buyers than ever, backed by low interest rates and help from their real-estate rich baby boomer parents who want only the best for their children.
“I’ve seen a serious culture change. Young buyers used to be 26 or 27 years old. They’d graduated university, worked for a few years and lived at home then rented and bought. Now buyers are cutting out those middle steps.”
He’s seeing first-time buyers as young as 22 determined to own rather than rent. And he’s hearing from people who stepped to the sidelines three or four years ago, thinking the much-talked-about bubble was about to burst.
Instead, they’ve watched prices climb further out of reach: Back in June of 2012, the average sale price of houses and condos combined across the GTA was $508,622. This June, the average sale price was $639,184.
Where the average sale price of a condo in the sought-after City of Toronto was $364,597 in June of 2012, last month’s average was $418,599.
That was up seven per cent just over June of last year as bidding wars and bully bids — long the hallmark of the highly competitive low-rise house market — have pushed up prices for well-located, unique or larger condos seen as sound investments and house alternatives for the longer term.
“That’s a testament to the froth in the house market,” says BMO economist Guatieri.
“So many people are now priced out, they have no other alternative than to get into the condo market, and that’s pushing up prices, even though there is ample supply.”
Apart from the oil-impacted markets of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadian house prices are holding up well and consumer confidence appears to be strong, even in the midst of growing talk about a possible recession.
“None of my clients are talking about the Big R word,” says Toronto-based mortgage broker Jake Abramowicz.
“They’re confident that rates will stay low for a very long time now and that the market — both condos and houses — will not correct anytime soon.”

Source: Toronto Starslide3

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Loud, over-the-top and colourful: Memphis, the Italian postmodernist design movement, is back

Memphis is back. Remember multicoloured sofas with spheres and pyramids for feet, bookcases with jutting shelves in motley laminates? The 1980s Italian postmodernist movement – which thumbed its nose at function-obsessed modernism with loud, over-the-top aesthetics – has seen a resurgence in the past couple years. In 2015, it came full circle. Kartell, the manufacturer of sleek plastic furniture, made it official during Milan design week by decorating its shop windows in the vibrant squiggles and confetti of Memphis patterns. Inside, contemporary chairs – such as Philippe Starck’s Mademoiselle and Patricia Urquiola’s Foliage – were dressed up in eye-popping prints. The brand also debuted a collection of glossy sculptural furniture by Ettore Sottsass, the founder of Memphis who died in 2007.

This renewed interest coincides with the postmodern-inflected trend embraced by many young talents who were barely born during the Memphis heyday. A few weeks after the Milan fair, during New York design week, Anna Karlin displayed rugs and chess-piece stools decked out in a mix of raucous patterns. And, at Colony, a designers’ co-op in Tribeca, New York, Montreal’s Zoë Mowat exhibited Ora, a side table with a double-top; in one version, the upper layer, made of glass, is propped up on the lower brass surface by two sculptural objects, one double-sided marble, the other green-lacquered wood. It looks like a more refined, and functional, descendant of Sottsass’s Park Table from 1983.

Yet, the 29-year-old isn’t beholden to a defunct style. Like many designers around her age playing with pomo, she’s reinterpreting its playfulness with subtlety. “In terms of what we’re seeing,” she says, “it’s not the same subversive, anti-design movement of the 1980s. It’s more embodying a similar spirit – a lively spirit – in terms of the focus on boldness, colour and pattern.”

The Memphis Group was definitely subversive. Its intentions ran much deeper than a desire to unleash wacky, look-at-me furniture on an unsuspecting world. The San Francisco Chronicle has called the aesthetic “a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher Price” – albeit a ceremony officiated by Federico Fellini. When its founders, a group of radical designers led by the visionary Ettore Sottsass, came together in 1980, they were rebelling against the rigid rules of modernism. At Sottsass’s Milan apartment, they rhapsodized about what would become the New International Style while listening to Bob Dylan’s tongue-in-cheek lament Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.

he gorgeous art book Sottsass by Philippe Thomé, released last year by Phaidon, describes the heady months after that first meeting. (Another book, Ettore Sottsass and the Poetry of Things, is due out in September.) Designers including Michele De Lucchi, Matteo Thun and Nathalie Du Pasquier sketched, prototyped and promoted their inaugural collection in the evenings and on weekends – they all had day jobs. In September, 1981, their show at Milan’s Design Gallery attracted more than 2,000 spectators. “We arrived by taxi, understandably excited and terrified,” Barbara Radice – the design critic and Sottsass’s wife – later recalled. “We thought there must have been an accident. We couldn’t even get in.”

The movement had no manifesto of its own. As Radice wrote, “the roots, thrust and acceleration of Memphis are eminently anti-ideological.” Yet that first collection said it all: It mixed high and low materials, including kitchen-grade laminates with Bacterio and Spugna patterns, and it put form before function, presenting multifarious furnishings that collaged textures, shapes and uses. It included Sottsass’s now-famous Carlton room-divider-cum-bookcase, with shelves branching off in all directions, and Masanori Umeda’s Tawaraya boxing-ring bed – even nuttier than it sounds. I encountered it this spring at a retrospective staged by Post Design, the Milan gallery run by the successors of the original Memphis Group.

The excitement soon flamed out. Sottsass tired of the media circus, and the world tired of the movement’s tackier tendencies, and it went the way of teased bangs and neon sweatbands before the decade was over. But now, the aesthetic – and its influence on a new generation of designers – is back in the spotlight. Besides the end-to-end retrospectives in design galleries, the market for Memphis is hot.

The young designers who are riffing on postmodernism, though, are turning down the volume, opting for softer hues and more pleasing material and pattern mashups. They include many New York studios, such as Chiaozza and Ladies & Gentlemen, featured in the trendsetting – and pomo-loving – online design magazine Sight Unseen. The aesthetic is also big again in Europe; the new collection by London’s Lee Broom includes the Drunken Side Table, an off-kilter, black-and-white-striped cylinder balancing a sphere topped with a circular slab that screams Memphis.
The multihued Ornament Swatch from Vanessa Maltese consists of three hinged sticks each topped with a different shape: half-circles, pegs and triangles.
The aesthetic is also a source of inspiration for Canadian designers. During Toronto design week in January, furniture designer Khalil Jamal displayed Column, a table made up of 22 layers of felt that can be stacked symmetrically or rearranged into various shapes. He’s now also working on a chair and shelf that similarly experiment with colour and configuration. “Memphis’s use of colour, decoration and shape were a big influence in conceiving these pieces,” he says.

And the movement has captured the imagination of young artists, as seen in some of the offerings up for auction at the Stellar Living event by Toronto’s Mercer Union gallery in May. There, Vanessa Maltese showed off the multihued Ornament Swatch, consisting of three hinged sticks each topped with a different shape: half-circles, pegs and triangles – “a humorous, useless object,” she says, “like a swatch you might reference when deciding on gingerbreading for the roof of your house.” She encountered Memphis six years ago at the St. Lawrence antiques market, where she saw three kitchen tools by the group. “The bread knife had a circle, square and triangle punched out of the blade and each were painted in black, sea foam green and powder pink. I thought they were so ugly that they were beautiful.”
Zoë Mowat’s Ora side table looks like a more refined, and functional, descendant of Sottsass’s Park Table from 1983.
The new Memphis-inflected design is simply lovely – without the ugly quotient – but it’s still an antidote to the sameness of mass-produced furniture. It channels the desire for the hand-crafted, custom and authentic. Eight years ago, when Zoë Mowat began designing, her pieces were a reaction to the white shiny blobs that were big back then. “I wanted to focus on material and simple geometric forms, but with colour. And make people wake up a little bit,” she says. She’s more interested in seeing what happens when different materials – such as lacquered wood, brass and marble – butt up against each other, than in creating a pastiche of inscrutable materiality. Her tactile, self-produced designs, including the Ora mirror, Arbor jewellery stand and Stack lamp, beg to be touched as much as be looked at.

Her affinity lies with the enduring designer (Sottsass), rather than the short-lived movement (Memphis). In fact, Sottsass was constantly innovating, before, during and after Memphis. An exhibit opening in September at the eminent New York design gallery Friedman Benda covers his career from 1955 to 1969; and his sculptural collection for Kartell – six vases, two stools and a lamp, with names such as Colonna (column), Pilastro (pillar) and Calice (chalice) that exemplify his love of blowing up small objects and shrinking down architecture – was actually designed in 2004, when he was 87 years old. Kartell is producing a selection of the pieces today because it now has the plastic moulding technology to do so. As always, Sottsass was ahead of his time.


Source: Globe and Mail





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New Record for July Home Sales

August 6, 2015 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Mark McLean announced record home sales for the month of July. Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 9,880 sales through TREB’s MLS® System, representing an eight per cent increase compared to July 2014. The number of transactions were up for all major home types, including a doubledigit year-over-year increase in condominium apartment sales.


“As we move towards a new record for home sales this year, it is important to point out that home ownership demand has been driven not only by low borrowing costs, but also by the fact that the GTA economy has been performing quite well, with the unemployment rate lower compared to last year. Home buyers remain confident in the long-term benefits of owning a home,” said Mr. McLean.

The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark, which accounts for benchmark home prices in communities throughout the TREB market area, was up by 9.4 per cent yearover- year in July 2015. Over the same period, the average selling price was up by a slightly greater amount, growing by 10.6 per cent annually to $609,236.

Detached homes continued to lead the way in terms of price increases, with annual growth in the average selling price outstripping growth in the MLS® HPI detached benchmark. This suggests that there continued to be a greater share of high-end homes sold this year compared to last.

“With the level of inventory in the GTA trending below two months, many listings continued to generate a lot of interest from buyers. Not surprisingly, this supported further price increases well-above the rate of inflation. Assuming similar interest rate and economic environments over the next five months, strong price growth will remain the norm for the rest of 2015,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Source: Toronto Real Estate Board

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Sale of the Week: a $2.8-million Bayview Village new-build that appeals to a younger generation

Address: 50 Canary Crescent50 Canary 1
Neighborhood: Bayview Village
Agent: Arash Vakili, Right At Home Realty Inc., Brokerage

Built By Dwellco Homes Inc.

The Property: This newly built custom home boasts details like eight-inch-wide walnut plank floors on both levels, underlit gemstone countertops in the kitchen and iPad-controlled smart home features. Its Bayview Village location affords easy access to the 401 without the traffic found in equally tony neighbourhoods to the south.

The History: The home, completed last December, replaced one of the area’s ubiquitous 1950s-era bungalows. The sellers built the place for themselves, but then decided to downsize to a smaller pad.

The Fate: A noticeably younger set is taking over the neighbourhood as its older, professional demographic sells off to cash in on ballooning lot values. Developers have been quick to take advantage of the trend by building ritzy contemporary homes designed to woo those with more youthful sensibilities (not unlike the college-aged buyers who snapped up 50 Canary).

The Sale: The sellers bought the lot in 2013 for just over $1 million, a far cry from the $1.5 million that the area’s bungalows can fetch now. They first listed the home for just over $3 million in order to test the market, then relisted it for $2,954,999. The decrease, coupled with international marketing, did the trick: they received five offers, and chose the one that allowed them to move out the soonest.

By the Numbers:

• $2,830,000
• 4,000 square feet above grade, approximately
• 96 per cent of list price
• 15 days on the market
• 7 months old
• 6 bathrooms
• 5 offers
• 4+1 bedrooms
• 2-car attached garage

Source: Toronto Life/Real Estate





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Demand Growing for high-end homes,

So-called “top-tier real estate” — most notably Toronto and Vancouver homes in the $4 million-plus stratosphere — remain in high demand, with sales expected to spike further by the end of this year.
All the talk of a looming recession doesn’t appear to be having a dampening effect, at least not yet, except in Calgary where sales of million-dollar-plus homes have plummeted by 36 per cent in the first half of this year, says an annual report by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
Across the GTA, sales of houses and condos over $1 million were up 56 per cent in the first half of this year over the same period last year, surpassing Canada’s priciest city, Vancouver, yet again, where houses and condo sales in that price point were up 48 per cent, says the report being released Thursday.
A lot of that surge is because so many “conventional” detached and even semi-detached homes and condos now have been catapulted into the $1 million-plus price range in the country’s two biggest cities through a combination of low interest rates, demand that continues to outstrip supply, a low dollar that is encouraging more foreign investment and strong immigration, the report notes.
But also contributing is an “escalating sense of urgency” among house hunters in Toronto and Vancouver that if they don’t pay whatever it takes to get into the low-rise house market now, they’ll be locked out forever.
“We don’t see a correction coming in the single family home market,” says Ross McCredie, CEO and president of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
“There is tonnes of demand out there and a lot of people buying at these (top tier) price points are baby boomers who don’t care if the market or interest rates go up or down because a lot of them are buying in cash. They’re saying, ‘I’ve got 20 good years left and I want to live them well.’”
In fact, the biggest percentage increase in sales in the higher-end GTA market — up some 72 per cent — were properties over $4 million in the first half of 2015 over the same period a year ago, notes Sotheby’s.
Even Toronto’s luxury condo sector saw sizable gains, with $1 million-plus condo sales up 48 per cent to the end of June over the first half of 2014.
Demand for houses and condos is likely to be fuelled further if the Bank of Canada moves to lower interest rates again next week as widely expected, added McCredie in a telephone interview from Vancouver.
Multiple bids are increasingly common even on higher end homes, the report notes: Across the GTA, 47 per cent of $1 to $2 million homes sold over list price in the first half of 2015, up from 30 per cent in the same period of 2014, says Sotheby’s.
Some 35 per cent of $2 to $4 million homes and 18 per cent of $4 million-plus homes sold over list price, a doubling from the 18 and 9 per cent that sold over list price during the first half of 2014.
That increase is being driven, in part, by realtors who are under pricing properties specifically to fuel bidding wars.
Of course, $1 million isn’t what it used to be, the report acknowledges. In many parts of Toronto and Vancouver, where bidding wars and bully bids have become the common weapons of real estate wars, true “luxury” now comes at a heftier price tag.
It’s about $2 million and up for a 1,500 square foot detached house in Toronto and $1.5 million for a 1,400 square-foot condo.
In Vancouver, you’re looking at over $3.5 million for a house, albeit a more spacious 4,000 square feet, and the same as Toronto, about $1.5 million, for a 1,400 square foot condo, says the report.

Source: The Star (Real Estate)

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Old Oakville home a bright, airy custom-build

Recently built, this custom home with four bedrooms and a loft is situated in the prestigious area of Old Oakville. It’s close to Lake Ontario and Lakeshore Rd. E., where there are many one-of-a-kind shops and plenty of restaurants and cafes.
“Designed to blend in with the charm of the neighbourhood and the historical ambiance of the area, this two-storey detached home is walking distance to Oakville’s downtown amenities, as well as to parks, great public and private schools, Whole Foods, LCBO, and the Oakville GO station. It is also conveniently close to the Queen Elizabeth Way and to a mall,” says listing agent Susan McHardy.
“The home itself is inviting and airy, and is turn-key move-in ready with hardwood floors throughout the main level, large principal rooms, a main floor office, a main floor family room with a fireplace, tons of space, numerous walk-outs, a covered front verandah, and a south-facing backyard.
“It has been tastefully renovated and is perfect for families of any size who love to entertain,” says McHardy.
With plenty of curb appeal, this home has a dark, teal-blue painted board-and-batten exterior with white accents. The front lawn is well manicured and has a mature tree and garden beds. Stone steps lead to the large covered veranda.
The front entrance has two outdoor wall sconces and the solid wood door is bordered by windows.
Also bright with a window drawing in natural light, the foyer has room for a seating bench and also features wainscoting, a double closet, a ceramic tile floor and pot lights.
The living room is flooded with natural light and has a dark-stained hardwood floor, crown moulding, pot lights and a huge floor-to-ceiling, full-wall window, with two more floor-to-ceiling windows extending the vista on the side walls.
With a French door walkout to a back balcony flanked on both sides by floor-to-ceiling windows, the dining room is very bright and spacious with two more windows, crown moulding, a dark-stained hardwood floor and pot lights.
Adjacent to the foyer is the modern and sophisticated kitchen, featuring an island/breakfast bar with a granite counter, cabinetry and pendant lights overhead. Other kitchen highlights include ceramic tile backsplash, pot lights, granite counters, a dark-stained hardwood floor, a built-in seating bench below a window, a walk-in pantry and high-end stainless steel appliances.
There is a servery from the kitchen to the adjoining family room which boasts a fireplace with a floor-to-ceiling stone surround, a large bay window with a plant ledge, pot lights and a hardwood floor.
The main level also has a bright den or office with a ceramic tile floor, a large picture window, pot lights and a French door walkout to the backyard patio, bordered on each end with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Situated between the dining room and breakfast area is the powder room.
On the second level, the large master bedroom is graced with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, pot lights, two more windows, a hardwood floor, and a huge walk-in closet with built-in organizers. The five piece luxury ensuite features twin vanities, an oversized separate shower stall and a water closet.
There are three more bedrooms, all overlooking the front yard with broadloom floors and double closets. There is a three-piece main bathroom. The master bedroom ensuite can also be accessed through the hallway.
The second floor loft features a hardwood floor and pot lights.
Professionally finished, the lower level has a large recreation room with a fireplace with a floor-to-ceiling brick surround, a broadloom floor, built-in shelves and pot lights.
Also in the basement, there is a bedroom with a closet and pot lights, a laundry room and a four-piece bathroom.
The backyard is fully-fenced, featuring a flagstone patio, a cedar canopy, and landscaping.

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Flip flop: How the ravenous appetite for homes in Toronto is making life hard for renovator/developers

As Toronto’s real estate market continues its wild run, it’s not just potential homeowners who are having trouble finding affordable properties. For infill developers and resellers – otherwise known as flippers – bidding wars and wild-eyed buyers are making it hard to turn a profit rehabilitating broken homes.

“For years, improving distressed properties was our sole focus,” says Bill Crilly, a structural engineer who runs 3 Stones Custom Homes with general contractor Chris Lawrence. The company focuses on what Mr. Crilly calls “dilapidated houses that no one would want to live in,” in the downtown Toronto core, completely gutting and restoring stately, 100-year-old brick houses and outfitting the insides with luxe, contemporary design touches.

In the past year and a half, the duo has found itself regularly outbid and for the past few months has found itself entirely without a house to fix up. In early fall, for example, they tried for a house on Euclid Street, near Bathurst and College, that was listed at $960,000. 3 Stones offered $1,035,000, planning to spend around $200,000 on a six-month fix and sell for about $1.5 million.

The house sold for $1,220,000, almost $200,000 more than they were willing to pay.

“The thing is, we bought and restored the house right beside it, we know what it needed,” Mr. Lawrence says. He says the eventual buyers are in for an unpleasant surprise if they think they can get away with a cosmetic renovation. “We planned a complete gut right back to the studs.”

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Custom home Toronto’s best-kept real estate secret?

It’s a multi-million dollar home hidden in a discreet laneway, and it just might be the city’s best-kept real estate secret.
The 4,000 square-foot dream home features four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a massive, sun-filled patio.
While the home is in the middle of a bustling Toronto neighbourhood, designer Elaine Cecconi says the four-storey house is so secluded that many visitors have a hard showing up on time.
“I have people come down the lane who still can’t find it,” she tells CTV Toronto’s Dana Levenson.
“It’s that place that you want to go, and get away and hide,” Cecconi said recently as she toured the home and the efficiently laid-out property.
Nestled in the Dundas and Dufferin area of Little Portugal, the state-of-the-art home may not have a big yard, but with an 800-square-foot patio and a custom fireplace, Cecconi isn’t complaining.
Located well off the main road, the privacy helps, too.
“It’s so quiet,” Cecconi said. “It’s amazing.”
Cecconi grew up in the area and wanted to build a dream home which combined cutting edge design with an edgy, urban cool.
In 2003, Cecconi bought a piece of “in fill” property — essentially a lot in an alleyway — and it took two-years of work to get the home built.
The home also boasts an ultra-modern kitchen and a sleek, but cozy, living room. The property is listed on the market for $2,250,000.

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