Market Musings Vol. 2

Written By — As the founder of Strata.ca, Robert is one of Ontario’s leading experts on the GTA condo market. He is also the Broker of Record at Slate Realty.

Toronto is getting (yet another!) hotel

Okay, do we really need another hotel downtown? One of the city’s most ambitious developments not only hopes to build five towers at the foot of Yonge Street...it wants to accommodate travellers, too. But there’s already an estimated 6,500 Airbnb units in the waterfront area alone!

Pinnacle One Yonge

The design team behind ‘Pinnacle One Yonge’ has resubmitted its plans to include a hotel along the development’s western portion, which would feature:

  • 534 suites
  • Landscaped terraces with a rooftop pool
  • Meeting rooms, ballrooms and a restaurant

If approved, the hotel lobby will sit inside a five-storey wraparound podium at Yonge and Harbour, which will also connect to Toronto’s famous PATH system. The suites would span levels 18 to 40.

With COVID’s long-term impact on Airbnb rentals (which are transitioning from Airbnbs to regular long term rentals), there may be some demand for a hotel downtown. But who knows how long it’ll take for this one to get approved. By then, the pandemic may be over -- and those Airbnb listings may begin to reemerge as a formidable competitor to the hotel industry.

Toronto rent prices: How low can they go?

If there’s one good thing to come out of this pandemic, it’s that renters are finally getting a deal. After years of being priced out of the market, we’re seeing Toronto rental rates just keep on declining.

Toronto condo

The average one-bedroom unit in June went for $2,180 per month. That’s far cheaper than the high of $2,500 from last October. I’ve spoken to other agents on the Strata team who say their renter clients are facing a lot less competition when submitting offers. There are two reasons for this:

  • People are hesitant to move during the pandemic
  • Increased supply as Airbnb condo listings are transitioning to the long-term rental market

Before COVID, landlords were incredibly picky and would thoroughly screen tenants. Some renters who needed a guarantor would be rejected on the grounds they ‘needed’ a guarantor. That’s definitely not the case today. We’ve seen rent prices declining since March, and unless we get a vaccine in the coming months or our tourism industry takes off (not going to happen), this trend will continue throughout the rest of the year.

Don't qualify for CMHC mortgage insurance? You have other options

In my last issue, we talked about CMHC tightening its lending criteria for insured mortgages. If you’re looking to buy a home in the near future, that news probably got you a bit anxious. But thankfully, Genworth and Canada Guaranty (the country’s two other mortgage insurers) have decided they aren’t going to change their rules at all.

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This is crucial because a lot of experts had worried the CMHC’s stricter criteria would cripple the housing market. CIBC’s chief economist, Benjamin Tal, recently told the Financial Post he estimates those changes would mean 5% of homebuyers will no longer qualify for a mortgage. But now that we have confirmation the other big insurers aren’t following suit, those with less than 20% down won’t necessarily be shut out. And many lenders are quite relieved Genworth and Canada Guaranty aren’t imitating CMHC.

I find many of my clients haven’t heard of these two mortgage insurers — they’re only familiar with CMHC. I should note though that most lenders work with all three companies. Some might be wary of private insurers, but Genworth and Canada Guaranty have other attractive mortgage programs the publicly-owned CMHC doesn’t offer.

Case in point: if you thought your dreams of homeownership were shut down, know that you have other options.

Masks, masks, everywhere…

Starting today, you can expect to see a lot more people wearing masks. Masks are now mandatory in Toronto’s public indoor spaces, including:

  • Grocery stores, bakeries
  • Malls, shopping plazas
  • Libraries, community centres
  • Places of worship

If you’re searching for a new home, will this affect you? For starters, you’ll have to wear a mask when attending a showing or visiting a presentation centre (although it’s already been the norm since Mid-March).

Grocery shopping during pandemic

A mandatory mask measure is welcome news in my opinion. Masks will blunt the likelihood of a second wave and will help maintain a low infection rate, which would speed up Ontario’s economic recovery. And if things continue on this trend, the province could push ahead with the third phase of its reopening plan. Aside from sporting venues, the premier has said Phase 3 will allow ‘most all businesses’ to restart their operations.

And here’s a sign that Toronto’s on the right track: Humber River Hospital recently announced that its ICU has zero COVID-19 patients. A real turn of events for the hospital, which is located in the northwest pocket (one of the city’s hardest-hit areas). Toronto’s not in the clear yet, but we’re certainly headed in the right direction.

Starting your search for a new home? Click on any of these links to access active listings, sold listings or contact a Strata agent.

For any questions about this article or media inquires, please email media@strata.ca