Few can contest that the G.T.A housing market has become a raging inferno. Factually home prices have tripled inside 10 years with the biggest % increase occurring in the last 2 years. According to TREB “Toronto`s Average Home Price set another record in January, nearing $1.3 million.” Most of us can acknowledge that the primary catalysts are the consistent levels of immigration, limited housing supply combined with historically low mortgage rates. Yet despite these daunting extraneous circumstances. Canadians still have one of the highest rates of homeownership ( 68% ) in the free world. Provincial ministers are repeatedly quoted; “ that demand is so strong, that Ontario will need > million and half homes over the next 10 years, just to keep pace”. These comments are occurring during an era of unprecedented % prices increases.
It begs the question, what will the average be in 10 years if nothing is done? In order to maintain this dream of homeownership, what must be done? Here are some bulletin points that might help.
Canada`s 70 billion $ national housing strategy has already pledged $4 billion to help digitize the varied municipal planning departments. While this is being accomplished they should insist on standardizing building standards and codes across all municipalities. These new tabulated measures and the recorded data should be available to all developers, contractors, home designers and renovators. This seemingly insignificant step would be giant leap forward in streamlining the approval process. The enhanced transparency would immediately eliminate much red tape.
IE: It should not take > 3 years to sever a conforming residential lot. It should not take > 2 years to obtain a building permit to build a garage, a basement apartment or front porch. Unfortunately, at the moment these type of delays are an everyday reality.
Simply put, delays cost money! It is speculated that these typical delays are adding more than 10% to the cost of housing.
The national housing strategy should promote infrastructure (new and retrofitting) development across municipalities thereby encouraging higher density not only along transit corridors but in nearby neighbourhoods.
A functional housing policy would facilitate seniors to maximize the use of their residences. By promoting nominal interest rate bank loans to those that would add a legal second unit, garden home or laneway home.
Simply put, these income properties would better maximize the use of the land. It also inevitably promotes greater financial independence for seniors. It subsequently encourages seniors to reside longer in their primary residence. This modest increase in density should be of particular interest to municipalities with large areas with excess school and recreational capacities. The associated economic multiplier with basic trades and notaries would be enormous. Not to mention the enhancement of social life in those neighbourhoods.
A proactive housing policy would index the HST rebate for new properties;
IE: < $1.500,000 in the cities and a million in smaller towns.
It is estimated that HST adds min. 10% to the cost of new housing. Again by modestly adjusting this tax. This would lower costs & thereby creating greater financial incentive for all builders. A comprehensive H.P. would seriously address municipal development charges. Costs are regularly > $200 k before lifting a shovel. Ironically the fees are the same whether you build a semi detached or a luxury home.
Future Federal funding should be allocated contingent on Infill lot fees being made more affordable, especially for projects of 3 to 10 units. Homes of 800 to 1400 sq. ft. should be given extra consideration. These smaller sized homes are endemic to the so called missing middle market. An equitable H.P would encourage all municipalities to end policies of zoning exclusivity. (Towns regularly allow monster homes in older neighbourhoods but not a 2nd unit or laneway home)
A far thinking housing policy would demonstrate more flexibility with overall zoning restrictions. Permitting underutilized commercial properties to become residential or mixed use in nature.
IE: Dated strip malls could be revitalized with ground level shops ,2nd floor professional uses, 3 & 4th residences. Parking at the back. Brownfield developments should receive priority, especially if 25% of the area is dedicated to green-space.
The federal government should encourage it`s provincial partners to work together regarding harmonizing the HST. Plus encouraging discussions about & raising height restrictions along busier thoroughfares to 4 storeys. (where federally sponsored infrastructure will take place). If the federal government covered but a few of these points. Accurate Appraisals senses that It could facilitate the creation of 500,000 additional homes over the coming decade.
Additionally; Real estate boards should be directed to create much greater transparency with the blind bidding process. The concept behind BB is antiquated and often falls victim to narcissistic abuse. The lack of transparency ultimately exacerbates home prices. Our commercial appraisers believe that home prices should not be posted until the sale closes. A fair % of deals do not close due mostly to inadequate financial profiling.
Most importantly, the federal government should encourage all banks to have recent home sales appraised by qualified AIC professionals . This would mitigate lenders risk and act as a governor on skyrocketing home prices. Sir Wilfred Laurier was a little ahead of his time. The 21st century belongs to Canada. During these dynamic times, let us show the world how!
A massive Nod of the Hat to our attentive MP. Mr. Kyle Seeback for taking time with several of our appraisers in asking them about current market conditions and their professional overview.