CMHC Tightening Qualification Criteria

If you’re looking to get an insured mortgage, things are going to become a bit tougher. Starting July 1st, Canada’s national housing agency is tightening its rules for homebuyers. This means that it’ll be harder for those with downpayments of less than 20% to access CMHC’s default mortgage insurance. To qualify, you must have:

  • A minimum credit score of 680, instead of the current 600
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio of 35%, as opposed to the current threshold of 39%

Due to COVID-19, the CMHC predicted average home prices may decline by as much as 12% over the next 18 months (formerly an 18% predicted decline, until they changed their assessment on June 23rd) in Canada's major urban centres.

Personally, I find the timing of these new rules to be a bit odd. It’s the kind of heightened regulation you’d expect to slow down a booming market... not one that’s already painfully slow, due to a pandemic.

sold house

I personally agree however that some segments of the Canadian market will decline as this pandemic wears on. When it comes to the GTA condo market, our internal stats show the average cost-per-square-foot is still up 5% from June last year, however down 1% over the past 60 days.

This is certainly a better time to be a buyer in the Toronto condo market than it has been for many years pre-COVID-19. Sellers will have no trouble selling, but have to be realistic when pricing their properties and willing to compromise a bit more than they used to. If you're interested in taking advantage of a dip in the market, now is a great time.

Ontario Lifts Ban on Short-Term Rentals Including Airbnb

Ontario just lifted the COVID-19 imposed ban on short-term rentals, most notably those on Airbnb. But I have mixed feelings about this latest move as a lot of those listings are in condos — and inviting vacationers into these buildings could put condo residents at risk during a pandemic. I can certainly appreciate the need to open up the economy and increase group sizes to 10 now, but this feels a bit like we’re just begging for that (inevitable?) ‘second wave’.

airbnb

Despite that, Strata.ca’s internal stats show there’s virtually no demand these days for short-term rentals, and likely won’t be for the foreseeable future. The Ice Condos, for example, are two sister buildings that (unlike the vast majority of condos) have always allowed Airbnb listings. As of this writing, there are literally 149 on the conventional (12-month lease) rental market between the two towers... And the overwhelming majority come furnished — confirming they’re former Airbnb units.

Our rental market is flooded with new inventory now, resulting in a pretty consistent decline in rental prices since the state of emergency was called — great news for local renters who have been gouged over the past couple years in the Toronto market.

Filmores: A Final Farewell

In February, one of Toronto’s most iconic strip clubs wanted everyone to know it wasn’t closing anytime soon. But it looks like Filmores is shutting down after all. If everything goes as planned, you’ll soon see a 46-storey mixed-use condo at Dundas and George where Filmores once stood.

filmores

But for those hoping to pop bottles in the Champagne Room, we at Strata have diligently confirmed condo amenities will not include a strip club. Here’s what it will have instead:

  • 588 residential units, including three-bedroom layouts
  • A 2-13 storey ‘base building’ for indoor amenity space
  • Nearly 800 square metres of green roof on levels 2 and 14

filmores rendering

Menkes bought the site for $31.5M back in January. But judging by its redevelopment application, the base building will retain Filmores’ famous facade. If anything, strip clubs have become a dying breed in Toronto, and Filmores has certainly had its last dance.

Toronto is North America’s Fastest-Growing City (even beating New York)

Aside from being the most multicultural city in the world, Toronto can add another proud descriptor to its reputation. We are now the fastest-growing city in North America. A new study from Ryerson University shows that Toronto out-ranked every other major city last year in population growth, even New York.

toronto city growth graph

Researchers say the driving factor is immigration. But I think our population numbers are booming for a few other reasons, too. First, Toronto is the economic engine of not only Ontario, but the entire country. So it makes sense that so many people (from students to corporate professionals) would come here in search of promising futures.

Secondly, the diversity of our job sector means Toronto has something for everyone — whether you’re arriving from within Canada or another country altogether.

Thirdly, we have a booming technology sector. International heavyweights like Amazon, Uber and Twitter are laying roots in our great city -- the foundation for what could become the new Silicon Valley.

toronto skyline

Even though my expertise is in real estate, I must admit I’m pretty excited about the opportunities all this presents for Toronto’s condo market. As a realtor who likes to consider all the impacting factors, population growth is a strong predictive indicator of where things are headed. Higher population numbers will create the need for an expansion in real estate. So expect to see some creative housing solutions as Toronto continues to thrive.