Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Immigration boosting real estate in Canadian cities

Immigration numbers in Canada have been underestimated by around 100,000 and the sector is playing a greater role in supporting the housing market in some of its largest cities, according to CIBC. Non-permanent residents — students, temporary workers and humanitarian refugees who are currently residing in Canada – play a key role in demand for new housing and in the rental market, particularly in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, says the CIBC’s latest Economic Insights report.

New immigrants make up 70% of the increase in Canada’s population and as half are aged 25-44, they represent the country’s economic engine with the highest employment levels and the most likelihood of starting families.
In 2013, non-permanent residents (NPRs) rose 22,000 to 774,000, with an annual flow equivalent to a record-high 30% of new immigrants the country gets each year.
The number of Canadians aged 20-44 rose by 1.1% in 2013, the fastest pace in more than two decades and almost double the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development’s growth rate. Despite some concerns of overbuilding in the current housing boom, the ratio of housing starts to household formation – the rate at which people move – is not far from its long-term average of 1.03, indicating no signs of froth.

The ‘echo generation’ – the children of baby boomers – are buying fewer homes and with foreign workers set to face more barriers to come to Canada, the demand for new housing is likely to slow in future, although it will be partly offset by the country’s plan to raise the immigration quota by 20,000-30,000 a year, with an increased focus on labour market needs.
CIBC, which is Canada’s largest bank, says while it still sees some moderation in the growth of homebuilding, it expects an average rate of 190,000 starts per year up to 2016, more than 10,000 higher than its previous prediction.

Immigration boosting real estate in Canadian cities, says bank


Canada's Largest Industry Is Real Estate

According to StatsCan, the real estate industry is the industry that most contributed to economic growth in Canada since 2000. It should be noted that real estate does not include the construction and development of buildings, that activity falls under construction, the second largest contributor to GDP growth.

Real estate industry also surpassed manufacturing in 2008 as Canada's largest industry. Since 1997, the construction industry has jumped from seventh largest industry, to fourth. The second largest industry, manufacturing, is the only industry that had a negative contribution to GDP growth since 2000.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Restrictive covenants - What are those?

Long before municipal zoning by-laws existed, restrictive covenants were used as an effective community planning tool. A restrictive covenant is simply a contract between two neighbouring landowners. In a restrictive covenant, the landowner who obtains the benefit under this contract is called the covenantee, who is anxious to maintain the saleable value of the property. The covenantee acquires the right to restrain the covenantor, the landowner who assumes the burden of the promise, from putting the neighbouring land to certain specified uses.

Restrictive covenants are typically present in most new housing subdivisions under the building scheme. They affect every lot in a subdivision, and are actually a private scheme of town planning. All the parties living in that subdivision possess a common interest to preserve the character and value of all the land in the subdivision. In certain subdivisions, one cannot plant a particular tree on one's property because of the tendency of that particular tree to seek out moisture and eventually grow into a neighbour's basement.

It is important to remember that all restrictive covenants affecting your property would be found on title to your property. Ask your lawyer about any restrictive covenants that may be affecting your property before you decide to purchase a home or paint your current home bright pink.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Lest We Forget

Every year on November 11 Canadians come together for Remembrance Day to reflect and acknowledge the men and women who served or continue to serve their country during times of war, conflict and peace.

The City of St. Catharines observes Remembrance Day at City Hall November 11 by laying wreaths at the Honour Rolls and the Watson Memorial before joining the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24 at the Cenotaph at Memorial Park on St. Paul Street West.

For schedule of events and other Remembrance Day Ceremonies please visit:

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Happy Halloween!

While enjoying "trick or treating" keep in mind some safety tips to help make your experience a great one.

Walk Safely

  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. 
  • Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to
    the left as possible.  Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

Trick or Treat With an Adult

  • Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.

Keep Costumes Both Creative and Safe

  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  • Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers. 
  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls. 

Drive Extra Safely on Halloween

  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.
- See more at:

Monday, 13 October 2014

Give your garden a good tune-up

Give the garden a good haircut - Start with the messiest looking plants: perennials and annuals with dry, blackened stems and leaves, and perennials that are overgrown. If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of tackling a big garden cleanup, deal with one plant at a time to make the job more manageable. Deadhead any annuals in the garden, remove any discoloured or dry leaves. If the plants are beyond repair, pull them up and discard them. You can fill any empty spaces with fall blooming mums or ornamental kale.
Feed your plants - Repeat bloomers such as certain daylilies, echinacea, and catmint will appreciate a long drink of water laced with water-soluble fertilizer. Continue feeding annuals such as geraniums, salvia, snapdragons, marigolds, rudbeckia hirta, sunflowers and zinnias, which will continue to bloom well into the autumn.

Plant cool season edibles - If you are short of garden space, sow the baby salad greens in containers and grow them in a sunny spot on your deck, patio or balcony. Frilly green and red leaf lettuce looks pretty on its own, or use the plants as fillers in containers with flowers.
Water - Do not assume that rain will water your planters. Mature planters have large leaves that act as umbrellas redirecting the water to the ground around the container. To check if a container needs water, push your finger deeply into the soil, if the soil feels dry, the plant needs water. Water trees and shrubs deeply in the fall if there is not adequate rainfall. They will need this water to survive the long winter drought.
Replace stressed out annuals - Hot dry weather, summer holiday time away from home and undersized containers each put a strain on planter gardens. If your containers look sad, they may be beyond redemption. Do yourself a favour and tip them in the compost pile and treat yourself to a few new planters: a virtual rainbow of chrysanthemums, asters, purple fountain grass and ornamental kale & cabbage are ready for fall planting from your local garden centre.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Could targeted land transfer taxes cool Canada's hottest markets?

Ontario’s real estate association has launched an ad campaign to explain why they believe land transfer taxes hurt the economy. But in a hot housing market, could the tax be used to cool particular regions? There are still a wide range of things that could be done, including raising minimum down payments. 

A number of provinces and cities in Canada already have land transfer taxes, which are paid by real estate buyers. The land transfer tax is progressive in that it varies with the value of the property (0.5 per cent on the first $55,000, 1 per cent from $55,000 to $400,000 and 2 per cent over that). The Ontario Real Estate Association says that it amounts to about $4,000 for an average home.

The C.D. Howe Institute found that the land transfer tax slowed down the lower-priced portion of the market more than the higher end (presumably because people at the lower end of the market are more sensitive to the added cost of the tax) and it notes that “over the longer term, there are concerns that a land transfer tax would reduce mobility of people, which would have a negative unintended consequence on job markets and economic growth.”

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Canadian Real Estate Among World's Most Overvalued

Overvalued real estate markets in Canada and elsewhere show an "unhappy resemblance" to the conditions that existed in America prior to the financial crisis, according to The Economist, showing that homes are at least 25 per cent overvalued in the Great White North and eight other countries.

One of the reasons was that low interest rates were driving up the housing market since the 2008 financial crisis. Consumers thus had an easier time borrowing money, which also contributed to rising household debt-to-income ratios.

Analysts have long predicted that Canada could be headed for a housing crash. Capital Economics in May predicted a 25 per cent drop in prices over the long term, having observed slowdowns in areas such as Halifax, Winnipeg and Victoria.

Canadians’ real-estate exuberance may be fading

The share of Canadians who predict home prices will rise over the next six months fell to 38 percent this month, the lowest since April, according to Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index. The Nanos survey found 48.1 percent of respondents predict prices will remain unchanged, the most since February, and 11.5 percent forecast a drop, matching the average this year.

Home sales and prices had shown unexpected strength as the lowest mortgage rates in decades spur demand. Forecasts for housing starts were raised to the highest this year in monthly Bloomberg News surveys of analysts taken this month. 

The Canadian Real Estate Association said home sales rose 1.8 percent in August from July, the seventh straight monthly gain, led by sales in Toronto and Vancouver.


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Canadian home sales rose 0.8% from June to July

According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity increased almost one per cent in July 2014 from the previous month, marking the sixth consecutive monthly increase and the highest level for sales since March 2010.

For the year-to-date, sales activity is up 4.7 per cent compared to the first seven months of 2013 and in line with the 10-year average for the period.

Two-storey single family homes continued to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+6.32 per cent), followed closely by one-storey single family homes (+5.47 per cent) and townhouse/row units (+5.33 per cent). Price growth for apartment units was comparatively more modest (+3.18 per cent). 

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in July 2014 was $401,585, up five per cent from the same month last year.

The national average price continues to be skewed upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada's largest and most expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price is a relatively more modest $327,988 and the year-over-year increase shrinks to four per cent.