Luxury condos approved for South Pandosy

A six-storey, 22-home luxury condo building in the South Pandosy neighbourhood has been approved by Kelowna city council.

Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to give final approvals for the project at 450 Groves Ave. It will be built on the south side of Abbott Park.

When the project was first considered last year as a rezoning matter, some neighbours objected to its size. The design was revised.

At Tuesday’s meeting, only two members of the public spoke against the project, while there was one supporter.

Also, council deferred a decision for a few weeks on a six-storey, triangle-shaped building at the southeast corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street downtown. Some minor issues have arisen that require more discussion between city planners and the developer.

What is Novel Coronavirus? How can you be safe?

What is Coronavirus? What are the symptoms and how can you be safe?
Here’s eveyrthing you need to know about the virus.

Corona Virus

What is Coronavirus? What are the symptoms and how can you be safe?Here's eveyrthing you need to know about the virus.

Posted by Doctor ASKY on Sunday, January 26, 2020

BCREA 2020 First Quarter Housing Forecast: BC Homes Sales Carry Momentum into 2020

Vancouver, BC – January 23, 2020. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2020 First Quarter Housing Forecast Update today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to increase 10.3 per cent to 85,290 units this year, after recording 77,349 residential sales in 2019. MLS® residential sales are forecast to increase 6.3 per cent to 90,700 units in 2021.

“The outlook for home sales in 2020 is considerably brighter than the past two years,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA Chief Economist. “Momentum carried through from the end of 2019 to 2020 will put the housing market on more solid footing, aided by low interest rates and an improving economy.”

While demand is recovering, the supply of homes for sale has not managed to keep pace. New listings activity did not materially increase during the downturn in home sales, and total inventory did not accumulate to the same extent as in prior slowdowns. As a result, market conditions around the province are tightening and home prices will likely face upward pressure as demand continues to firm. In 2020, we expect the MLS® average price will rise 4.8 per cent to $734,000.

Posted by: Brendon Ogmundson

For more information, please contact:
Brendon Ogmundson
Chief Economist
Direct: 604.742.2796
Mobile: 604.505.6793
bogmundson@bcrea.bc.ca

Kellie Fong
Economist
Direct: 778.357.0831
Mobile: 604-366-6511
kfong@bcrea.bc.ca

Canadians can expect a vibrant spring real estate market, with home prices rising modestly

Royal LePage recommends a regional approach to mortgage stress test if federal government goes ahead with changes in 2020 

  • Home prices increase 2.2 per cent in Q4 as buyers continue to move off the sidelines
  • Greater Toronto Area home prices heat up as demand outstrips supply
  • Greater Montreal Area sees strongest appreciation rate in almost a decade
  • For what is believed to be the last time this business cycle, Greater Vancouver home prices decline year-over-year — and stabilize on quarterly basis

According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey released today, the aggregate price of a home in Canada increased 2.2 per cent year-over-year to $648,544 in the fourth quarter of 2019. Similar to the third quarter, potential buyers are continuing to come back to the real estate market. In the first half of 2019, buyers had remained largely at the sidelines waiting to gauge the potential impact of the federal mortgage stress test.

“We have successfully navigated the first significant national housing market correction since the Great Recession a decade ago,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “While the drop in the number of properties bought and sold during the 2018-19 downturn was large, the value of homes in Canada held up remarkably well, with only minor, single-digit declines in the areas of Ontario and B.C. that had experienced the most aggressive price inflation in recent years, and of course those regions still suffering from a downturn in the oil and gas sector.

“The federal government has signaled that changes could come to the mortgage stress test mechanism in 2020,” said Soper. “The stress test pushed people out of real estate markets across Canada temporarily. For the most part, buyers have adjusted, yet it still represents a significant hurdle as families pursue the dream of owning their own home.”

Soper added that the impact of the regulations-driven drop in demand is felt very differently in different parts of the country.

“We believe policy makers have the necessary experience to modify the tool to meet the reality of today’s Canada – that we have very different and varied economies, and by extension housing policy needs, from region to region,” said Soper.

The Royal LePage National House Price Composite is compiled from proprietary property data in 64 of the nation’s largest real estate markets. When broken out by housing type, the median price of a two-storey home rose 2.3 per cent year-over-year to $761,817, while the median price of a bungalow increased modestly by 0.7 per cent to $537,622. Data analyzed contains both resale and new build transactions, provided by Royal LePage’s sister company, RPS Real Property Solutions.

Across Canada, condominiums remained the fastest appreciating housing type, with the median price rising 3.3 per cent year-over-year to $487,525. Largely, condominium data is weighted towards the country’s largest urban centres where the majority of them are found. The median price of a condominium rose 7.8 per cent year-over-year to $565,919 in the Greater Toronto Area and 4.4 per cent year-over-year in the Greater Montreal Area to $338,148 during the fourth quarter. However, national price gains were offset by year-over-year declines in Greater Vancouver’s real estate market where the median price of a condominium decreased 3.4 per cent to $645,607. Nationally, after significant price gains in recent years in the condominium segment, double digit gains have become more rare as the price of a detached home is now more attractive as the gap between the two segments tightens, especially for millennials looking for more space for their growing families.

According to the Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast, released in December 2019, the aggregate price of a home in Canada is expected to increase 3.2 per cent year-over-year in 2020, rising to $669,800. The company’s 2020 forecast is dependent on consistent economic conditions, assuming no new housing policy changes. Royal LePage’s 2020 forecast includes regional aggregate and housing type forecasts.

MARKET SUMMARIES

Greater Toronto Area

Low supply, population growth and increased consumer confidence continued to fuel home prices in the Greater Toronto Area. In the fourth quarter, the aggregate price of a home in the region increased 4.8 per cent year-over-year, rising to $843,609. During the same period, the median price of a standard two-storey home and bungalow increased 4.4 and 2.4 per cent to $982,944 and $806,977 while condominiums rose 7.8 per cent to $565,919.

“The Greater Toronto Area is at a pivot point where we are seeing signs that prices could begin to rapidly increase,” said Kevin Somers, Chief Operating Officer, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Limited. “The region has a very low supply of listings while we are seeing more potential buyers trying to enter the market.”

Home price growth varied significantly across the region. While some areas showed stabilizing prices and healthy price growth, many regions, including the city centre, showed the potential for rapidly accelerating appreciation rates driven by high demand and low inventory. Significant price gains were seen in Pickering and Mississauga, where the aggregate price increased 9.7 per cent and 7.9 per cent year-over-year, respectively. The aggregate price of a home in the City of Toronto increased 6.6 per cent year-over-year.

The cities of Ajax and Oshawa were the only two areas to show a year-over-year decline in aggregate price. The aggregate price of a home in Ajax and Oshawa decreased 1.2 per cent and 1.8 per cent to $661,049 and $524,423, respectively.

Greater Montreal Area

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the aggregate price of a home in the Greater Montreal Area increased 6.3 per cent year-over-year to $433,993, the highest rate of appreciation since the fourth quarter of 2010. High demand coupled with low inventory fueled two-storey and bungalow home prices as their median prices rose 7.2 per cent and 5.9 per cent respectively to $548,374 and $336,981. The median price of a condominium in the region increased 4.4 per cent year-over-year to $338,148, posting the lowest increase among the three property types surveyed in the fourth quarter.

“The fourth quarter is historically the least active, but demand remained intact until the end of the year in the Greater Montreal Area,” explained Dominic St-Pierre, vice-president and general manager of Royal LePage for the Quebec region. “This increased competition has not only reduced inventory, it has changed seller behaviour. Sellers are more likely to wait until they find their next home before listing their current home. At this point, the seller is experiencing the same frustration as the buyer with little selection to choose from and escalating prices. This exacerbates the inventory problem.”

St-Pierre added that the upward trend in price appreciation over the past three years in the region stems from the continued good economic performance driving growth in demand across all buyer segments.

“We are currently in a ‘perfect storm’ for an exceptionally competitive spring market: interest rates are low; employment rates are healthy; listing inventory is limited; and, all buyer segments are active, including first-time buyers, baby boomers, newcomers and foreign buyers,” said St-Pierre.

Greater Vancouver

While Greater Vancouver continued to show a year-over-year decline in home prices, the fourth quarter showed signs of a market moving towards recovery. The aggregate price of a home in Greater Vancouver decreased 4.8 per cent year-over-year to $1,107,719 in the fourth quarter of 2019. In comparison, in the third quarter of 2019, the aggregate price of a home in the region had decreased 5.2 per cent compared to the same period in the previous year.

Broken out by housing type, the median price of a standard two-storey home and bungalow in Greater Vancouver decreased 4.7 per cent (-4.2% in Q3) and 6.7 per cent (-7.6% in Q3) year-over-year to $1,443,918 and $1,195,003, respectively, while the median price of a condominium in the region decreased 3.4 per cent (-5.9% in Q3) year-over-year to $645,607.

“Sales volume is up and inventory is decreasing. This is a good sign of a recovery on the horizon,” said Randy Ryalls, general manager, Royal LePage Sterling Realty. “We’re likely to see some moderate price growth after last year’s decline in prices. The window of opportunity for buyers to get a deal is closing quickly for most typical buyers. There remain some excellent opportunities in the luxury market.”

Ryalls added that Greater Vancouver’s real estate market was fairly balanced in the fourth quarter.

“Sellers were able to purchase a new home and then sell their current property in a pretty short window,” said Ryalls. “It was a healthy market for both buyers and sellers.”

Ottawa

Low inventory and a tight rental market continue to put upward pressure on Ottawa home prices. The aggregate price of a home in Ottawa had a healthy year-over-year increase of 5.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019, rising to $493,947. The median price of a two-storey home increased 4.4 per cent year-over-year to $521,524 while the median price of a bungalow saw a strong increase, rising 10.1 per cent year-over-year to $501,195. During the same quarter, the median price of a condominium saw an increase of 2.1 per cent year-over-year to $329,828.

“Ottawa’s real estate market saw healthy sales activity through December,” said Kent Browne, broker and owner, Royal LePage TEAM Realty. “If demand continues to outstrip supply, we expect to see further price growth this spring.”

Browne added that Ottawa’s strong local economy, supported by good employment, entices Canadians from other regions looking to move.

Calgary

While the recovery of Calgary’s real estate market has been slow, quarter-over-quarter price trends have been encouraging for homeowners. The aggregate home price in Calgary decreased 2.3 per cent year-over-year to $469,916 in the fourth quarter of 2019. However, in the last six months of 2019, the aggregate price of a home in Calgary increased 2.1 per cent, from $460,089 in the second quarter of 2019.

Broken out by housing type, the median price of a two-storey home decreased 1.0 per cent year-over-year to $514,139, while the median price of a bungalow decreased 4.1 per cent year-over-year to $488,521. Meanwhile, the median price of a condominium decreased 6.9 per cent year-over-year to $265,488.

“Sales have improved and inventory has gone down in both detached houses and townhomes. Buyers are taking advantage of reduced prices, primarily in the single-family home segment,” said Corinne Lyall, broker and owner, Royal LePage Benchmark. “There is still a surplus of condos available offering excellent choice for buyers looking at turnkey properties with little maintenance.”

Edmonton

Home prices in Edmonton were relatively flat in the fourth quarter. The aggregate price of a home in Edmonton decreased 0.7 per cent year-over-year to $379,426. Broken out by housing type, the median price of a standard two-storey home increased 1.2  per cent year-over-year to $435,426 and the median price of a condominium remained relatively flat, increasing 0.3 per cent to $230,969. During the same period, the median price of a bungalow decreased 5.1 per cent year-over-year to $361,943.

“Home buyers in Edmonton have adjusted to the mortgage stress test and sellers are making appropriate compromises,” said Tom Shearer, broker and owner, Royal LePage Noralta Real Estate. “Sellers are optimistic when meeting buyers that they are ready to make a purchase.”

Shearer added that he expects to see moderate growth in home sales this spring but price growth will be modest in 2020.

Halifax

The aggregate price of a home in Halifax remained relatively flat in the fourth quarter of 2019, decreasing 0.6 per cent year-over-year to $318,768. The median price of a two-storey home increased 0.4 per cent year-over-year to $336,353. The median price of a bungalow was flat with a decrease of 0.2 per cent year-over-year to $267,036, while the median price of a condominium saw a decrease of 3.7 per cent year-over-year to $319,897.

“Momentum and consumer confidence is building in Halifax,” said Matt Honsberger, broker and owner, Royal LePage Atlantic. “Rental inventory is tight, and inventory among homes listed for sale is a little over half what it would have been last year. That’s the formula for price growth in the spring when demand escalates.”

Winnipeg

Winnipeg home prices saw strong gains in the fourth quarter. The aggregate home price in the region rose 7.4 per cent year-over-year to $321,346. During the same period the median price of a bungalow rose 5.3 per cent year-over-year and the median price of a condominium rose 1.1 per cent year-over-year to $306,293 and $232,875, respectively. The median price of a standard two-storey home increased 10.2 per cent year-over-year to $353,536.

“Sales are up across the detached home market, and sales of homes above $800,000 have been especially brisk,” said Michael Froese, managing partner, Royal LePage Prime Real Estate. “While demand has been strong, there is ample inventory, providing buyers choice and maintaining affordability.”

Regina

The aggregate home price in Regina decreased 2.8 per cent year-over-year to $314,937 in the fourth quarter. The median price of a two-storey home increased 1.2 per cent and the median price of a bungalow decreased by 4.6 per cent year-over-year, to $387,892 and $286,402, respectively. The median price of a condominium decreased 15.0 per cent year-over-year to $200,261.

“Resale two-storey homes were struggling to compete against new build homes in 2018 as builders reduced prices to encourage sales,” said Mike Duggleby, managing partner, Royal LePage Regina Realty. “Now that the oversupply of new build homes is under control, resale homes are beginning to regain some of those price concessions.”

For more regional analysis, visit Royal LePage’s media room to find city-specific releases. The media room also contains royalty-free assets, such as images and b-roll, that are free for media use.

About the Royal LePage House Price Survey

The Royal LePage House Price Survey provides information on the three most common types of housing in Canada, in 64 of the nation’s largest real estate markets. Housing values in the Royal LePage House Price Survey are based on the Royal LePage Canadian Real Estate Market Composite, produced quarterly through the use of company data in addition to data and analytics from its sister company, RPS Real Property Solutions, the trusted source for residential real estate intelligence and analytics in Canada. Commentary on housing and forecast values are provided by Royal LePage residential real estate experts, based on their opinions and market knowledge.

About Royal LePage

Serving Canadians since 1913, Royal LePage is the country’s leading provider of services to real estate brokerages, with a network of over 18,000 real estate professionals in over 600 locations nationwide. Royal LePage is the only Canadian real estate company to have its own charitable foundation, the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, dedicated to supporting women’s and children’s shelters and educational programs aimed at ending domestic violence. Royal LePage is a Bridgemarq Real Estate Services Inc. company, a TSX-listed corporation trading under the symbol TSX:BRE. For more information, please visit www.royallepage.ca.

For further information, please contact:

Stella Karami
Proof
skarami@getproof.com
(416) 969-2665

Royal LePage’s aggregate home price is based on a weighted model using median prices and includes all housing types.

Canada’s most popular winter recreational markets witness significant home price variations in 2019; Quebec regions post largest gains

  • High demand for upper-end properties in Mont-Tremblant’s village results in significant price appreciation and multiple offer scenarios
  • The median price of a single-family home in Collingwood rose 8.3% year-over-year, outpacing condominium price appreciation in the area reflecting high demand from boomers
  • Condominiums in Whistler, Kimberley, and Invermere post year-over-year price gains ranging from 5.0% to 9.8%; softened demand for single-family homes in Whistler favours potential buyers

TORONTO, ON, November 28, 2019 –According to Royal LePage, year-over-year price appreciation in Canada’s winter recreational property markets varied significantly across the country’s most popular alpine destinations.

Mont-Tremblant’s village posted the highest median price appreciation in Canada’s winter recreational markets for both single-family homes and condominiums during the 12-month period ending September 30, 2019, rising 37.3 per cent and 37.8 per cent year-over-year to $583,500 and $232,500, respectively. The increase in median price reflects both strong price appreciation overall as well as a surge of sales in the upper-end of the market as the region continues to attract Canadian and international buyers.

The median price of a single-family home decreased 13.8 per cent to $2,391,979 in Whistler while the median price of a condominium in the area grew 5.2 per cent year-over-year to $884,227. The decrease in single-family home prices reflects a decline in consumer confidence in the province’s real estate stemming from provincial taxes affecting foreign buyer purchases and demand for luxury properties.

In Ontario, continued high demand from boomers releasing equity from their Greater Toronto Area homes and relocating to Blue Mountain and Collingwood has resulted in year-over-year price gains for both single-family homes and condominiums. This trend of boomers relocating to cottage country is expected to continue. 

Quebec 

In the province of Quebec, many of the largest recreational markets reported a solid gain in sales activity while price appreciation in the 12-month period ending September 30, 2019 varied across regions. Families looking for a winter recreational property are competing to buy in some of the most coveted areas where high-end homes that are listed at market value and well located sell quickly as we approach the ski season.

High demand coupled with low inventory in the Mont-Tremblant area resulted in significant price appreciation. The median price for a single-family home and condominium in Mont-Tremblant’s village rose 37.3 per cent and 37.8 per cent to $583,500 and $232,500, respectively. Demand from highly motivated buyers has resulted in multiple offer scenarios for homes between $500,000 and $1 million. Just south of Mont-Tremblant, Saint-Faustin/Lac-Carré offered among the lowest prices in recreational areas in the province. The median price of a single-family home in Saint-Faustin/Lac-Carré was $190,000.

“Inventory is very low in Mont-Tremblant. When a new property enters the market, buyers line up and offers flood in,” said Paul Dalbec, manager at Mont-Tremblant Real Estate, a division of Royal LePage. “This supply shortage in the region has led to an increase in land sales as some buyers are choosing to build over buying a home as what they are looking for isn’t on the market.”

Quality of life and affordability offered in the recreational areas surrounding Montreal continue to drive sales in Saint-Sauveur and Morin-Heights, where the median price of a single-family home remained relatively flat decreasing 0.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent year-over-year to $283,500 and $310,000, respectively.

“Healthy inventory in the Central Laurentians has kept prices affordable and offered excellent selection to potential buyers. Eager sellers are lowering their prices creating even more opportunities for those looking to purchase in the region,” said Éric Léger, real estate broker, Royal LePage Humania.

In the outskirts south of the Greater Montreal Area, the median price of a single-family home in Orford and Bromont increased by 12.6 per cent and 0.1 per cent, respectively, to $330,000 and $348,875. In Sutton, the median price of a single-family home decreased 14.5 per cent to $295,000 for the same period, reflecting an increase in sales in the lower-end of the market. Among the three regions, only Bromont witnessed a decline in sales for single-family homes, decreasing 12.7 per cent year-over-year, while condominium sales in that region nearly doubled, with the median price rising 7.4 per cent to $270,000.

“The majority of our clients come from Montreal searching for year-round activities so they can spend their winter on the slopes and their summer on the water,” said Christian Longpré, broker owner, Royal LePage Au Sommet.

Longpré added that winter home sales close fairly quickly in autumn as buyers want to move in and prepare for the holiday season before snow accumulates. 

Ontario

Southwest of Blue Mountain resort, 98 upper-end properties in Collingwood priced over $1 million sold in the 12-month period ending September 30, 2019 pushing up the median price of a single-family home by 8.3 per cent year-over-year to $525,000. Meanwhile, the median price of a condominium increased 6.9 per cent to $385,000.

“Demand remains strong among buyers who are purchasing retirement properties in Collingwood,” said Rick Crouch, broker and manager, Royal LePage Locations North. “They’re cashing out in the GTA and buying a similar-sized, or an even bigger property, to enjoy year-round activities and amenities in Collingwood.”

For those looking to purchase in the Blue Mountain area, the median price of a single-family home rose 4.0 per cent year-over-year to $780,000, while the median price of a condominium rose 4.2 per cent year-over-year to $369,000. Despite healthy price appreciation, price growth was likely hampered by new short term accommodation rules that dampened demand from investors as well as buyers looking to offset mortgage and ownership costs through rental income.

Crouch predicts sales will be brisk this winter, as the early snowfall inspires more people to buy. This season, both Horseshoe and Blue Mountain resorts had their earliest openings in history. 

Alberta 

Situated in Alberta’s Bow Valley, Canmore remains an appealing area for both recreation and retirement. Over the past 12-month period ending September 30, 2019, the median price for a single-family home dipped by 2.0 per cent year-over-year to $906,270, while the median price of a condominium decreased by 2.8 per cent year-over-year to $479,000.

“The modest decline in median price reflects more sales of smaller condo units as builders seek to meet buyer demand for relatively more affordable properties. This shift in the inventory mix offers new opportunities for buyers who thought they were priced out of the market,” said  Brad Hawker, managing broker, Royal LePage Rocky Mountain Realty. “With the slower Alberta economy, the upper-end single-family market had fewer sales this past year, leading to a lower median single-family home price. Tourism is strong and the overall local market is thriving. Visitors are attracted to our beautiful landscape and with bike and running paths cleared throughout the winter, Canmore is an attractive place for those who want to be active year-round.”

Hawker anticipates healthy demand for condominiums in the region to continue well into 2020.

“Land for development is limited as we are situated among protected park area and mountain terrain, which should stabilize single-family home prices in the long term,” said Hawker. “Condominiums will always be an important sales driver in the region as this segment’s lower price point and low maintenance lifestyle is very attractive to many buyer segments.” 

British Columbia

Situated in the Kootenay Rockies, Kimberley is experiencing a surge of younger buyers, which is contributing to demand for condominiums in the area. Over the 12-month period ending September 30, 2019, the median price of a condominium increased 9.8 per cent year-over-year to $259,750. Future demand is expected to be met as permits for new builds are on the rise. During the same period, the median price of a single-family home decreased 16.8 per cent year-over-year to $434,500, partially as a result of fewer upper-end home sales.

“We are seeing young families return to Kimberley for the lifestyle offered by our four-season recreational region,” said Darren Close, managing broker, Royal LePage East Kootenay Realty.  “We are leading the way with one of the fastest growing municipalities in the province and our population growth should keep demand very strong for the single-family home segment.”

North of Kimberley, the median price of a single-family home and condominium in Invermere rose 10.4 per cent and 5.0 per cent year-over-year to $509,821 and $254,266, respectively.

“Much of the lower-priced housing stock is gone, so we’re seeing a notable resurgence in sales among the $1 million-plus homes that are on the water, pushing up the median price among single-family properties,” said Barry Benson, broker and owner, Royal LePage Rockies West.

Benson noted that the Columbia Valley region remains a popular recreational location for singles and families. There has also been an increase in retirees seeking to live there full-time and enjoy a more laid-back quality of life.

“It’s a healthy market; retired couples are buying single-family homes to live in and families with smaller budgets are purchasing condos for recreational getaways,” said Benson. “We expect similar healthy sales activity in 2020.” 

Meanwhile, in Whistler the median price of a condominium increased 5.2 per cent year-over-year to $884,227 during the 12-months ending September 30, 2019 while the median price of a single-family home decreased 13.8 per cent over the same period to $2,391,979.

“Whistler’s condominium market is returning to balance after a season of pent-up demand and not enough entry-level inventory,” said Frank Ingham, associate broker, Royal LePage Sussex. “Condominium prices are more affordable, which allows for a broader buyer demographic. Single-family homes are more price sensitive since they are a luxury product in the region.”

Situated a short drive north of Whistler, Pemberton’s real estate market attracts buyers who want immediate access to a wide range of outdoor activities but to remain within a short distance to Whistler’s world class skiing and luxury amenities.

“Pemberton is the perfect choice for someone who wants access to Whistler’s five-star restaurants and year-round activities but retreat to a more quiet community with additional outdoor recreational activities,” added Ingham.

Ingham added that he is expecting single-family home prices to stabilize in both Whistler and Pemberton as improved consumer confidence releases pent up demand and increases sales. 

Single-family and condominium median prices in Canada’s largest winter recreational markets

 

 

What’s Happening in Canadian Real Estate?

Housing, in its many facets, affects all of us, from discussions about rent to under-the-rug stories that don’t get told often enough.

Canada is home to some of the world’s least affordable housing markets ― and to the single most affordable one in a global ranking of more than 300 cities.

Fort McMurray, Alta., home of the oilsands, ranked as the number one most affordable housing market in the 2020 edition of Demographia’s annual survey, up from fourth place last year.

It takes just 1.8 times the median income in the city to afford a median home ― a reflection of both the high incomes made in the oilsands and the slump in Prairie cities’ housing markets since oil prices crashed starting in 2014. The market has been further depressed by rising insurance costs in the wake of the 2016 wildfire.

An aerial view of Fort McMurray, Alta

Compare that to Vancouver, where it takes 12.6 times the median income to afford a home. The city ranked, once again, as the second-least affordable market in the survey, 308th out of 309 cities. Only Hong Kong, with a price-to-income ratio of 20.9, fared worse.

Besides Canada, the study looks at Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the U.S. and the U.K.

The most notable change for Canada involves Toronto and Hamilton, Ont., which have dropped precipitously on the affordability rankings. Toronto ranked as the seventh-least affordable city in the survey, from 15th a year earlier. Since the previous year’s survey, it has become less affordable than London, San Francisco and Silicon Valley (San Jose, Calif.), among others.

Nearby Hamilton, which has seen house prices jump as Torontonians headed to the city in search of more affordable homes, ranks as the 30th least affordable city this year. It ranked 90th just five years ago. Demographia noted that Toronto’s rising house prices have spread to most major southern Ontario cities, eroding affordability in all of them.

This chart from Demographia shows how housing affordability has deteriorated strongly in cities near Toronto, namely Barrie, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Peterborough and St. Catharines-Niagara.

Demographia names Canada ― along with the U.S., Australia and New Zealand ― as countries where, in some cities, “middle-income households have been largely priced out of the median price housing by spiraling cost increases.”

But that’s not the case across the whole country. The study notes that Canada and the U.S. are the countries with the most variation in house prices, with cities ranking all over the affordability ranking. For Canada as a whole, it takes 4.4 times the median income to buy a house, making it the second most affordable market after the U.S., at 3.9 times.

A short-lived improvement in affordability

Housing affordability improved in Canada for much of 2019, thanks to slow or stagnant price growth in the wake of the mortgage stress test and foreign buyers’ taxes in British Columbia and Ontario.

But the end of 2019 saw a jump in home purchases and a drop in homes available for sale, an almost sure sign of higher prices ahead.

The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index was up 0.7 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms in December, which is “larger than usual for this time of the year when resale activity is typically low,” National Bank economist Marc Pinsonneault wrote in a client note Monday.‌

The Prairie provinces continue to be a buyer’s market, Pinsonneault wrote; British Columbia’s market is balanced while Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes are sellers’ markets.

“For 2020, expect home prices to accelerate in all these regions except the Prairies.” Pinsonneault wrote.

By: Daniel Tencer

Only In Canada: Why No One Knows Who Owns B.C. House Where Royals Stayed

Governments have no idea who owns many of the country’s priciest properties, but that may soon change.

TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, holds her son, Archie, as Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, looks on in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sept. 25, 2019.

MONTREAL ― In the wake of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s recent vacation to British Columbia, the British press has been seized with a burning question: Who owns the opulent Vancouver Island mansion that hosted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex?

The question has led to a flurry of unsubstantiated allegations, denials and qualifications, potentially none of it bringing the public any closer to the facts.

It’s a situation that could ― almost ― only happen in Canada. Unlike many other developed countries, Canada doesn’t have any laws that require the owners of residential real estate to identify themselves. It’s a notable weak link in Canada’s anti-corruption laws, and part of the reason the country has become a magnet for money laundering.

Whoever owns Mille Fleurs ― as the the 11,000-square-foot property in North Saanich, B.C., is known ― “used highly controversial methods also deployed by money-launderers and tax-evaders to conceal [their] identity,” The Daily Mail reported last week.

The outlet cited neighbours as saying the property had been bought by a wealthy Russian businessman, possibly a billionaire. But in a separate report, it asserted that the owner is Frank Giustra ― a wealthy Canadian mining magnate and founder of B.C. film company Lionsgate. Giustra was born in Sudbury, Ont., and is of Italian, not Russian, origin.

A day later, the paper published Giustra’s vehement denial, stating he doesn’t own the property and doesn’t know the royal couple.

SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL CANADA VIA PINTEREST
An aerial view of Mille Fleurs from a photo collection at real estate agency Sotheby’s published during a previous sale of the property.

Local news sources took a stab at figuring it out, and reported that the property is owned by nearby Towner Bay Country Club. The Daily Mail, however, says the mystery owner bought shares in the country club so they could hide their ownership of the house.

This game of who-owns-what would be much harder, these days, in most other developed countries, which have shot out ahead of Canada in passing laws to stop money launderers from hiding their ill-gotten gains in real estate.

Canada may need such laws more so than others. In a 2017 report, the global anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI) said the country’s lax laws on real estate mean that a global “corrupt elite” is using Canadian real estate to launder money. It found that the government doesn’t know who owns half of the 100 most expensive residential properties in Vancouver.