Couple on balcony


by Stephen Dupuis, President & CEO BILD


December 18 - Secondary suites effective housing solution

I hadn't been giving the topic of basement apartments, or secondary suites as they are euphemistically called, a lot of thought, but the topic crossed my radar screen from two different directions recently, and it got me to thinking.

December 4 - Athletes’ village catalyst for waterfront redevelopment

Not that I haven't been watching it unfold building by building, but on a trek out to Halton Region last week I seemed to notice all the new condo development that has occurred along either side of the Gardiner Expressway from the Air Canada Centre westward to the 427 as if it had magically appeared all at once.

November 27 - ‘Condomonium’ captures the GTA

The musical references in my column last week seemed to strike a chord with readers as I continued to get comments about it throughout this week. On that note, I'd like to put the song Rise Up, Rise Up by the Parachute Club in the back of your mind as you read on about the state of the high-rise condo market in the GTA.

November 20 - Housing tours inspire local design

People that know me know that I often say there is a song about everybody and everything. I have this habit of segueing from key words in conversations straight into the lyrics of a song, some popular, some quite obscure.  Much to the chagrin of my teenage kids, I will even start singing verses of the song.

November 13 - Canadian housing: Pricey not dicey

I'm an early riser and the first thing I do every day is retrieve the Toronto Star from my doorstep for my first dose of the daily news, for better or worse.

November 6 - Shuttle diplomacy for housing affordability

You don't get a lot of air miles for a trip to the nation's capital, but do it often enough and the points start to rack up. Just ask Durham Region homebuilder Victor Fiume of Durham Custom Homes, who as President of the Canadian Home Builders' Association is spending lots of time in Ottawa of late.

October 30 - Caught between a rock and a high-rise

Last week I revealed the results of the interactive poll of industry insiders conducted by RealNet Canada Inc. as part of the release of the third quarter GTA new home sales statistics. One thing I learned from the data is that size matters when it comes to condos (no m), a point which I will come back to below.

October 23 - Insiders see major shifts in GTA housing market

I had the pleasure of participating in a rather unique event earlier this week as a panelist on a RealNet Canada Inc. webinar arranged to present the results for the third quarter (July, August, September) activity in the GTA new home market.

October 16 - Carpenters union enjoys enlightened leadership

I have always had great relations with the folks at the Carpenters Union and last week I finally realized why. The answer starts at the top, but the story doesn't.

October 9 - Raising the flag for affordable homeownership

I was really hoping the S&P/TSX composite index would be up this past Monday October 4 because it would have been good karma for Habitat for Humanity Toronto, who had the honour of ringing the opening bell (it's actually a siren), that day.

October 2 - Duty calls at the Fall Home Show

I've got booth duty tomorrow at the Fall Home Show, and I'm actually looking forward to it, and here's why.

September 25 - Doors open for business, province says

Over the course of my career in the home building industry I've seen many Ministers of Municipal Affairs and Housing come and go as the government has cycled from the Liberals to the NDP to the Conservatives and back to the Liberals.

September 18 - The Mayor matters and your vote counts

Listening to the five leading contenders for the City of Toronto Mayor's chair debating at a BILD sponsored event earlier this week, I got to thinking about doughnuts. No, my mind wasn't wandering and this is going somewhere.

September 11 - Waiting game rarely pays off for buyers

It was a great summer for homebuilding as well as home-buying, notwithstanding the unusually high number of studies and reports by financial institutions and think-tanks making wild predictions about the trend line for home sales and prices.

September 4 - Workers the real dream-builders

Most of us look upon Labour Day as that last long weekend before the kids head back to school. If we're not trying to cram in one more trip up north or knock off an item from the job jar, we're busily sorting through the kids back to school stuff while fretting about the end of summer.

August 28 - High-rise condo market shifting to 905

It would have been hard for new home sales this July to beat last July because last summer we were still experiencing the euphoric recovery phase from the global economic crisis. Oh yeah, and the HST kicked-in this July.

August 21 - Checks and balances ensure housing market stability

Whenever I think that the housing market in the United States couldn't be worse, I hear something that blows my mind. This week I was talking to my colleague who runs the Greater Atlanta Home Builders' Association to see if there might be enough going on in that City to justify a housing study tour by our builders.

August 14 - Making sense of housing statistics

As the old saying goes, there are lies, damned lies, and then there's statistics.  Preparing for a BNN interview earlier this week where I was to provide instant reaction to the monthly release of the housing starts data by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, it occurred to me that homebuyers face a continuous barrage of statistical information which can be downright confusing at the best of times.

August 7 - Renovation takes time, talent and tools

During these dog days of summer, I doubt that renovation is a top of mind priority for homeowners throughout the GTA but if you're looking to get started in the fall, keep in mind that the best contractors are booked well ahead and beware of the contractor that can start tomorrow - there could be a good reason for that.

July 31 - Condo sales rising high

Ten thousand of anything is a lot. When you're talking about condos, it's a lot of homebuyers showing a remarkable interest in Toronto's high-rise housing market.  According to RealNet Canada Inc., there 1,764 new condos sold in the GTA in June, bringing the January-June total to a whopping 10,030 units.

July 24 - Entrails tell a tale of two markets

When the monthly new home sales reports arrive in my e-mail from RealNet Canada Inc., I can usually figure out what's going on in the market fairly quickly, whether it's up, down or sideways.

July 17 - Underground economy in renovation sector costs us all

There's a great editorial cartoon making the rounds among my colleagues across Canada. It's by Bruce MacKinnon of the Halifax Chronicle Herald, where the Nova Scotia government just increased the HST rate to 15 per cent from 13 per cent previously.

July 10 - You can’t beat brand newness

When it's time to buy a new vehicle, most people start out at the dealership looking at brand new cars featuring the latest designs, technical innovations and colours. They might ultimately decide to compromise and buy a used car, but grudgingly.

July 3 - Federal tax on new homes out of whack

The legal and land registry offices, not to mention the building sites themselves, were even busier than usual during June, rising to a fever pitch this past week as the industry mobilized to close as many new homes and condominiums as possible in advance of the harmonized sales tax.

June 26 - Construction cranes speak volumes to G-20 delegates

It's too bad many of the condo sales offices in the downtown core are locked-down this week-end for the G-20 Summit because I am sure our world leaders would be pleasantly surprised by the relative affordability of Greater Toronto condos, not to mention our world class building and suite designs.  

June 19 - Renovation activity hits $8.7 billion locally

Three million bucks an hour! No, that's not the cost of security for the G-20 meeting in Toronto but it is the amount of money that was spent by Canadians in ten major centres on renovations in 2009. At that pace, we are spending $71 million each and every day renovating or repairing our homes, resulting in total annual expenditures of nearly $26 billion last year, $8.7 billion of which occurred right here in the Toronto area.

June 12 - New Habitat homeowners find their “happy place”

I am immensely proud of BILD's community partnership with Habitat for Humanity Toronto. Each year, our Association directly supports the building of a Habitat home for a partner family as a title home donor while encouraging our individual members to support the partnership through labour, material or cash donations.

June 5 - Canada’s national housing agency deserves fair shake

It's not my job to defend the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation but when I read articles criticizing CMHC that make quantum statistical leaps while ignoring important facts as well as relevant differences between Canada and the U.S., I feel compelled to write.

May 29 - City of Toronto envied for condo development boom

I was quite critical of the City of Toronto when a couple of councilors moved to renege on a deal struck with the building industry at the height of the global financial crisis so it behooves me to be complimentary now that the City's Executive Committee has confirmed the original decision.

May 22 - New home sales, prices up in April

I find myself saying "what a difference a year makes" quite a lot these days, usually when I open the monthly e-mail from RealNet containing the new home sales data for the past month. Earlier this week, I got the numbers for April revealing a continuation of the very strong market pace set during the first quarter of the year.

May 15 - Markham Council leads way towards sustainable development

A little over five years ago, I authored a column that ran in this space titled "City, suburbs, will never be the same." The article was reacting to the introduction of the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan, which is still in the implementation phase as regional and local municipalities struggle towards conformity.

May 8 - Housing the goose that laid the golden egg

Last week, I detailed the economic impact of the residential construction industry in the GTA and mentioned in passing a statement by Gluskin Sheff Chief Economist & Strategist David Rosenberg to the effect that housing was behind Canada's miraculous economic recovery.

May 1 - Housing industry generating one million jobs nation-wide

It seems that the stronger the housing market gets, the more "experts" come out of the wood-work with doom and gloom forecasts about housing sales and prices. While everybody's entitled to their opinion, these dime a dozen forecasts wreak havoc on would-be home-buyers psyches. The fact that the dire predictions rarely materialize to the extent predicted, if at all, never seems to be reported.

April 24 - Is the market half empty or half full?

A little over a month ago, I wrote that I wasn't necessarily buying into the conventional wisdom that the housing market would be slower in the second half of the year. I'm not necessarily retracting that view, but I must say that at the time I wrote that column, I also wasn't thinking that the first half of the year would be as strong as it is turning out to be.

April 17 - Industry association embraces green

As I look ahead to Earth Day this coming week, I can't help but think back to a "Green" event I attended at the Design Exchange in the summer of 2007. If I had a nickel for every person that said to me that evening "what are you doing here?" I probably could have bought a Venti latte, and we all know that's a lot of nickels.

April 10 - GTA's greenest homes open to the public

When you are looking at new homes or condos that trumpet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED certification, you should also notice the word "targeting" followed by a certification level ranging from Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum.

April 3 - Housing affordability back under attack in Toronto

I don't live in the City of Toronto but if I did, my vote for Mayor would go to whoever advocates for a reduction in the size of the Council. Maybe with half the politicians, the development and building industry would get half the grief.

March 27 - Focus group of one compliments designs

Every year around this time, I get out and see as many new home and condo sites as possible as a prelude to the third-party judging of our annual BILD awards for design, marketing and project excellence.

March 20 - Will HST slow down new home market?

If there's one common theory I've heard about the housing market for 2010, it's that the first half of the year will be much better than the second. The two most common reasons cited for slower second half sales, neither of which I'm completely buying, are rising interest rates and the implementation of the HST on July 1, 2010.

March 13 - Land transfer tax rebates need targeting

Every time I hear or read that provincial Progressive Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak is thinking of a land transfer tax holiday to create jobs, and I've heard it many times since last Fall, I swear I am going to write a contrary column.

March 6 - Mortgage insurance clamp-down impacts rental housing supply

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty may well have created a problem he didn't have while attempting to fix a problem that didn't exist, namely speculation in the housing market.

February 27 - Beating the taxman could backfire

If you missed the chance to take advantage of the Home Renovation Tax Credit you still have an opportunity to beat the taxman by renovating prior to the July 1, 2010, effective date of the HST, but you'll need to move quickly to find a professional contractor because the good ones are always booked ahead.

February 20 - Balanced growth the way ahead for Markham

I went into a recent public meeting on growth management in Markham figuring that the best I could hope for was to make my points for the record as one of the few voices in favour of balanced growth. I came out of that meeting impressed that the balanced growth voice is a lot stronger than I thought, and it's not just developers and homebuilders speaking out.

February 13 - Federal budget has to get housing right

There has been a lot of mixed signals coming from federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty as he prepares for the next federal budget. At times over the last few months, Flaherty has said the budget will not be stimulative but after his meetings at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that seemed to change.

February 6 - What a difference a decade makes!

With a complete decade of data having just become available, the new housing trend that stands out the most over the last ten years, apart from the obvious strength of the market over virtually the whole period, has been the dramatic shift from predominantly low-rise development towards high-rise living.

January 30 - U.S. housing market still looking for bottom

I was in Las Vegas for the International Builders' Show in January, 2009, at the height of the global economic crisis and the U.S. sub-prime mortgage meltdown. As you would expect back then, U.S. homebuilders were full of doom and gloom.

January 23 - Home reno tax credit deadline looms

With the imminent expiry of the federal Home Renovation Tax Credit, the big question is whether or not the federal government will extend the popular program.  Notwithstanding what the government elects to do, it's fair to ask whether extending the program is the right thing to do, a question I will come back to later in this column.

January 16 - Respectable year ahead for GTA new housing market

It's that time of the year when everybody asks what the year ahead will bring from a housing market standpoint. I've been reviewing lots of insider analyses and projections and I'm ready to offer my own fearless forecast.

January 2 - Housing recovery worth nurturing

Just before the holidays I had an opportunity to do a television interview on a building site in Markham and in the brief time I spent walking about the site with the reporter, the word jobs kept coming out of my mouth over and over.