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Canadians still buying plenty of Florida real estate: BMO

Written by Jason Lau Friday, 12 April 2013 14:23

Canadians’ unrelenting passion for sun and sand has helped drive a 12 per cent increase in Florida real estate over the last two years, according to a BMO report.

More than 500,000 Canadians now own property in what was one of the hardest-hit U.S. states in the 2008 housing meltdown. And snowbirds remain the biggest foreign purchasers of Florida real estate despite a surge in interest from Asian and South American buyers over the last year or so.

Canadians are already seeing payback from their purchases, says the BMO Financial Group report released Thursday.

The price of a single-family home has climbed 12 per cent since April 2011, with the worst of the collapse now well behind the U.S., according to a recent S&P Case-Shiller study of U.S. house prices.

The BMO report paints an interesting picture of where snowbirds have landed in the sunshine state, many of them what Florida Home Finders of Canada has dubbed “endvestors” — folks scooping up real estate while it’s cheap and interest rates low and renting the properties out until they can eventually retire to Florida for winter or vacation there more often.

Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice remains the most popular destination by far, says BMO. Some 17 per cent of Canadian purchasers have bought up homes and condos in the Gulf Coast area renowned for its sugary beaches, stunning keys and cultural offerings.

According to the most recent Florida Realtors statistics, released last February, demand remains strong in the state and has helped push median single family home sale prices up about 12 per cent just in the last year, to $168,000. Condo prices have climbed 8.4 per cent to a median price of $136,000.

Second-most popular is the more easterly destination of Orlando-Kissimmee, home to Disney and dozens of other amusements parks, as well as southern Florida’s Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Palm Beach area, with its vibrant nightlife and ocean vistas. About 13 per cent of Canadians have invested in each of those areas, according to the BMO study.

Orlando has seen gains of 6.6 per cent for single family homes and the median price as of the end of 2012 was $137,000. Condo sales have softened by almost 10 per cent there in the last year, but prices were up almost 17 per cent by the end of 2012, year over year, to a median price of $76,000, according to Florida Realtors statistics.

The hard-hit Miami area saw median house prices climb more than 10 per cent in 2012 over 2011, to $202,000. Condos jumped more than 21 per cent, to a median price of $103,000 although sales were flat.

Nine per cent of Canadians have opted for the bargain-basement Gulf coast areas of Cape Coral-Fort Myers, which was amongst the most overbuilt and hardest-hit areas in the Florida housing collapse.

Similar numbers of Canadians have bought in the Tampa-St. Petersburg and the upscale Naples-Marco Island areas as well.

Lee County, which includes Cape Coral and Fort Myers, saw single family home prices skyrocket by almost 30 per cent, the highest gains by far in the state, to a median price of $134,000 in 2012.

While the price of condos in the same popular snowbird nesting spots were up 15 per cent to a median price of $134,000, the number of condos sold declined by almost 2 per cent last year, statistics show.

The remaining 30 per cent of snowbirds are scattered in communities throughout Florida, says BMO.

While Canadians accounted for almost 40 per cent of all real estate purchases in Florida in 2010, they are now facing stiff competition from Asian buyers and domestic investment companies that have been scooping up hundreds of Florida’s remaining distressed properties in the last year or two, sensing that the market is poised for a major comeback.

 

 

Five Reasons to Buy a New Condominium in the GTA

Written by Jason Lau Tuesday, 26 March 2013 17:00

“In Ontario, more than one million people are now living a condominium lifestyle and that number will continue to grow. The GTA is the fastest growing condominium market in North America, and here are five good reasons why.

  1. Affordability and choice: Condominiums are still the most affordable path to homeownership in the GTA, with the average price of a high-rise suite nearly $200,000 less than the average low-rise home. The condo market in the GTA is also the most active in North America so buyers have plenty of choice when it comes to finding their new home.
  2. Quality of construction and designs: New condominiums are built using the latest construction techniques and attention to details to ensure solid, quality construction. Not only that, but high-rise communities in the GTA have received provincial, national and international recognition for its modern designs that combine function and style with open, inviting living areas, lots of light, well-planned work spaces and built-in convenience.
  3. You choose the builder: When you buy a brand new home, you get to choose your builder based on their reputation and track record. Builders are proud of their work – they have the skills, experience and integrity to do the job right, and they are committed to your satisfaction.
  4. Energy efficiency: All new condominiums are built in accordance with the Ontario Building Code, which was updated to include more energy efficient standards in 2012. Combine that with advanced construction techniques, higher levels of insulation and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, you not only save money on your energy bills, you also enjoy a far more comfortable home.
  5. Built across the GTA: Provincial public policy is encouraging intensification and in many parts of the GTA the industry has adapted by building condominiums. Many embrace the condominium lifestyle because buildings can be found on transit corridors, they have unique amenities and they are an affordable option for first-time homebuyers all the way through to downsizers.”

 

THE FATE OF CANADA’S HOUSING MARKET

Written by Jason Lau Thursday, 21 March 2013 14:22

Recently, TD and Scotiabank, a couple of the biggest banks in Canada, released official reports predicting the fate of Canada’s housing market.

Both TD and Scotiabank have presented similar points. Let’s compare them:

TD

- Housing prices have been strong over the past 10 years, but will flatten for the next decade
- Home prices to average 2% gain over next 10 years (according to Chief Economist Craig Alexander)
- No housing bubble in Canada = no pop
- High level of immigrants to continue fueling strong demand in big cities, like Toronto and Vancouver

Read more: THE FATE OF CANADA’S HOUSING MARKET

 

Putting social housing units in condo towers

Written by Jason Lau Friday, 15 March 2013 01:53

Reach for the sky indeed. The socially disenfranchised in Canada’s biggest city may one day be living the high life, courtesy of Toronto’s boom in downtown condominium developments.

An innovative approach to Section 37 provisions could see more residential towers include some form of subsidized housing to aid tenants squeezed out of the highly competitive rental market. Section 37 of the province’s Planning Act gives the city the power to allow developers to exceed height limits for their condo projects in exchange for the provision of some community benefit. While a noble concept, the idea of including subsidized units in newly-built condo towers is still struggling to take off with real estate developers.

If at all. According to figures contained in a report released Thursday by the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG), barely 6% of Section 37 deals between developers and City Hall are historically ever directly converted to housing. The remainder come in the form of parks, public art or various other “desirable visual amenities.” Ten York, a 62-storey tower with a four-storey podium set for completion near late 2016, is one development bucking that trend. The high-rise has 694 condo units, 12 of which will be managed as co-ops by the Co-op Housing Federation of Toronto (CHFT). Stephen Upton, vice president of development and planning for Tridel, developer of the Ten York project, said the decision to include the units enables different strata of society access to downtown living.

Read more: Putting social housing units in condo towers

 

Toronto condo market carrying housing starts

Written by Jason Lau Friday, 15 March 2013 01:38

Slumping February numbers for housing starts nationwide in no way reflected the spectacular growth shown in Toronto.

Toronto bucked the national trend, showing a 7 per cent increase in single detached from 561 in February 2012 to 602 for last month. More dramatically, all other starts – which include apartment dwellings, townhouses and condominiums – climbed from 1,738 to 2,678, a 54 per cent increase from February of 2012.  “The trend in total housing starts continued to moderate in February,” said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist at CMHC. “Moderation in economic fundamentals in the second half of 2012 has led to more modest housing demand and builders are adjusting accordingly.”

Single-detached numbers for February compared to the same month last year were down from 3,018 to 2,829 for this year nationwide. All other starts during the same period also dropped from 7,606 to 6,519.

Vancouver posted strong single-detached numbers, with 279 new starts for February 2013 compared to 195 starts in February 2012; yet slumped in all other starts from 1,675 to 833 during the same period.

Read more: Toronto condo market carrying housing starts

 

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