Couple on balcony

by Stephen Dupuis, President & CEO BILD



December 16 - Condo investors ease rental shortage

You would think that with all of the new condos that have been delivered to the marketplace year in, year out over the last decade, we would actually see rental vacancy rates increase as tenants become homeowners and as investors become landlords, but it's simply not so.

December 9 - Association of women in construction growing rapidly

As an association executive, I know that the name of the game is membership. Me and my colleagues in the construction and other sectors are always trying to expand our membership bases in the knowledge that there is strength in numbers.

December 2 - Three trends define 2010 market

While we're into the last month of the year, BILD is waiting on two months of data from RealNet to close the books on 2010. With nearly 31,000 new home sales logged so far, and with every expectation that November and December will prove to be very strong months, particularly for high-rise, I am projecting 36,000 new home sales for the GTA for 2010.

November 25 - ‘Condomoniun’ strikes in the GTA

George Carras, President of RealNet Canada Inc., was bang-on a month ago when he said that the sales statistics for the GTA high-rise housing market showed the month of September ending on a decidedly upbeat note, pointing to a very healthy final quarter of 2010.

November 18 - Toronto builders hoping to make gold out of silver

I've mentioned more than once in this space that the GTA is the most active condominium housing market in North America, by far. More importantly, we've got the quality to go with the quantity, as evidenced by the astonishing 84 Silver awards captured by GTA builders, designers, agencies and brokers competing in The Nationals, presented by the U.S. National Association of Home Builders.

November 11 - The truth about lying about cheating

It seems that fifty six per cent is the magic number these days. Last week I wrote about the Ontario Real Estate Association survey finding that 56 per cent of the home buying public mistakenly believes that the HST applies to resale homes. This week, the Ontario Home Builders' Association (OHBA) released survey results revealing that, you guessed it, 56 per cent of Ontarians admit to having paid cash to avoid taxes for a renovation or repair job.

November 4 - Get the facts about the HST on new homes

It's frustrating when well-intentioned organizations set out to eliminate confusion and end up raising more questions than they answer, but that's how I feel about the Ontario Real Estate Association's efforts to clarify the situation with respect to the Harmonized Sales Tax on resale homes.

October 28 - Size matters with condos

As the leaves continue falling down, the condo market in the Greater Toronto Area continues to rise-high! Last week I noted that the RealNet Canada Inc. sales statistics for the GTA housing market showed the month of September ending on a decidedly up-note pointing to a very healthy final quarter of 2010 in the high-rise market.

October 21 - High-rise meets 905

The RealNet Canada Inc. sales stats for the GTA housing market in September reveal the solid state of the GTA high-rise housing market and confirm some interesting trends as well.

October 14 - Mortgage rates homebuyer friendly

Each month, homebuilders receive a two-page Canadian Housing Industry Economic Update authored by Dr. Peter Andersen, consulting economist to the Canadian Home Builders' Association. This internal newsletter tells it like it is, for better or worse, and the sub-titles in the most recent issue paint a very positive picture:  Better Economic News; The U.S. Recession is Officially Over; and Homebuyer Friendly Interest Rates.

October 7 - Raising the flag for affordable homeownership

You may not have known that this past Monday was World Habitat Day but you may have noticed the CN Tower was lit up blue and green that evening, and it's no coincidence.

September 30 - Duty calls at the Fall Home Show

I've got booth duty this week-end at the Fall Home Show, but it's hardly an imposition. As a homeowner, I've done my fair share of do-it-yourself projects as well as several contracted renovations, and with two major rooms still needing work before I can say I've renovated every inch of my home, inside and out, I'll probably get to the Show well before my shift to check out the latest and greatest home-related products and services offered by the more than 300 exhibitors covering more than 60,000 square feet of the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place.

September 23 - U.S. builders envy Canadian housing success story

There's been some crazy talk of late that our federal government should be looking at ways of cooling off the housing market. Considering how much our federal government rakes in from the GST on new homes, they would only be shooting themselves in the foot by interfering with the housing market any more than they already have.

September 16 - One hundred cranes on Toronto sky-line

To try and tell you what the five leading contenders said in opening and closing statements plus their answers to five set questions pertaining to development and building in the City of Toronto, I'd need pages and pages of this newspaper. It's easier to tell you what I took away from listening to the candidates at a BILD-sponsored debate earlier this week.

September 9 - Recovering demand to boost house prices

The third quarter housing market outlook came across my Blackberry last week courtesy of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the operative word is "stabilization."

September 2 - GTA condo builders vie for Awards of Distinction

As the largest multi-family homebuilding market in North America and perhaps the world, you would expect that our local builders would fare well at the provincial Awards of Distinction set for late September. As it turns out, based on the finalists list recently issued by the Ontario Home Builders' Association, they will be largely competing with themselves, making bragging rights even more meaningful.

August 26 - High-rise condo market shifting to 905

The high-rise condo market in the Greater Toronto Area continues to rise high with another 1,222 units sold in July, bringing January-July sales up to 11,327 units, an 104 per cent increase over January-July, 2009. That's the second best total for that period in the past 11 years which tells you that the condo juggernaut continues to chug along in the GTA.

August 19 - Home prices increasing at decreasing rate

When I wrote last week about the sea of housing market statistics that homebuyers get bombarded with, I forgot to mention all the one-off reports that emanate from the major brokerages and financial institutions. I have a hard enough time keeping up with the information overload myself, let alone the ultimate spin put on the numbers by the media, who tend to focus on the negative more than the positive, so I have some empathy with homebuyers who also need to make sense of it all.

August 12 - Making sense of housing statistics

In preparing for a BNN interview earlier this week where I was to provide instant reaction to the monthly release of the housing starts statistics 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 5 - BILDing for Humanity

I often marvel at the expertise of the men and women who actually build all the new homes and condos throughout the GTA. I am particularly impressed with condo building construction considering the depths of the excavations, the height of the finished buildings and the overall scale of the projects.

June 29 - 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 22 - Get renovation contracts in writing

I was a guest on Canada AM earlier this week talking about renovation "horror stories." For the rest of the day I kept thinking of things I should have said including the fact that the vast majority of the cases you read or hear about involve fly-by-night or "tailgate" contractors as opposed to professional renovators.

July 15 - First-time buyers love brand new homes

According to a recent TD Canada Trust Home Buyers Report, if two homes were at the same price point, three-quarters of first time home buyers would prefer a newer home over an older home.

July 8 - The bottom line on coping with HST

The HST on new homes is actually more complicated for builders than it is for buyers, particularly until homes and condos under construction as of July 1 work their way through the system.

June 24 - Habitat ground-breaking a “moving” event

Scanning the list of the top ten U.S. home builders in 2009, the one name that jumps right off the page is Habitat for Humanity.

June 10 - Boston condo builders welcome GTA counterparts

Later this month, the Boston Bruins will have second pick in the NHL entry draft which has absolutely nothing to do with condos except for the fact that whoever is drafted with the pick Toronto traded for Phil Kessel will face much higher housing costs in Boston than whomever gets drafted by the Maple Leafs.

June 3 - Interest rates “housing-friendly”

I was up in Ottawa last week-end for meetings under the auspices of the Canadian Home Builders' Association. The economic session is closed to the media which tells you that it is a very frank information exchange among insiders.

May 27 - 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. Last 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 20 - Markham Council leads way towards sustainable development

Markham has seen the future, and the future is dense. Last week, Markham Council took a very bold step in adopting the most aggressive intensification target on the books in the GTA. Going forward, sixty per cent or 6 out of every ten new homes built in Markham will be within the existing built boundary. High-rise is coming to 905!

May 13 - Today's first-time buyers a new breed

Everybody remembers the exact details of their first home purchase as well as the mixed emotions of excitement and fear that were part of the decision-making process.

May 6 - Rising high at 2010 BILD Awards

Last Friday marked the 30th anniversary of the annual BILD Awards - an evening of recognition for the excellent work our Association members have done throughout the year. This year. more than 950 homebuilders, developers, design professionals and sales & marketing gurus gathered to see who would come out on top in 46 different award  categories. When you put that many Type-A personalities in the same room, you don't hear the buzz, you feel it!

April 29 - Green builders vie for industry honours

Although I tend to shy away from shout-outs to individual builders, I'm going to make an exception for the finalists for this year's Green Builder of the Year awards to be presented by BILD on April 30.

April 15 - High-rise meets 905

Last week I wrote of how Toronto is becoming a condo "mecca," and with 80 per cent of all high-rise condo sales in the GTA currently concentrated in the City of Toronto, it's no wonder.

April 8 - Toronto is the condo mecca

Having just spent several days chauffeuring some west-coast industry guests on a housing tour of the City, I don't believe there's ever been a more exciting time in Toronto's evolution. When you take it in all at once, it's truly remarkable to see what has been happening and even more exciting to see what's still to come.

March 25 - Will HST slow down new home market?

There's been no shortage of analysts who have suggested that the housing market will slump in the second half of this year due to the implementation of the HST effective July 1, 2010. I tend to disagree and I'll tell you why.

March 18 - Homeownership a great investment, survey says

Toronto's condo craze could continue for a while if the results of the recent RBC Homeownership Survey prove to be accurate. The number of people intending to buy a new home has increased over last year while the number of people that see homeownership as a good investment has gone through the roof (please pardon the pun).

March 4 - New rules for condo investors

After all of his thinking out loud about slowing down the housing market, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty took action on February 16, making mostly minor changes with one notable exception affecting condo investors.

February 25 - Condominium renovations hot trend

Working at the Destination Renovation Booth at the National Home Show last week-end, I was struck by how many people came by looking for a professional contractor to renovate their condominium.

February 18 - Eurodale puts the dream in the Dream Home

The National Home Show opens tomorrow and having had the privilege of a behind-the-scenes tour of this year's Dream Home, I am certain that show-goers are going to be absolutely wowed. What I'm less certain of is whether it will be the home design itself or the interior design that will evoke the most reaction - both are provocative, both are edgy, both are, in a word, "cool!"

February 11 - Update GST for harmony’s sake

With the next federal budget less than a month away, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has a golden opportunity to enhance the GST new housing rebate structure to be consistent with Ontario and British Columbia approaches to housing under the HST.

February 4 - Toronto condo builders dominate U.S. awards

If you have children in house league hockey, you'll know that when the goal differential exceeds five, they stop updating the scoreboard. At that point, the fans of the winning team shift from wildly cheering to politely applauding any more goals. I felt like the parent on the right side of the five goal differential as Toronto condo builders snapped-up a quarter of the trophies at a recent awards event in Las Vegas.

January 28 - Condo craze continues in 2009

The sight of construction cranes in Toronto is becoming ubiquitous and based on the final 2009 new home sales results released to BILD by RealNet Canada Inc., the cranes will be part of your vista for years to come.

January 21 - Are suburbanites ready for the condo craze?

Over the last fifteen years, the proportion of high-rise condo suites as a percentage of total new home sales throughout the GTA has grown steadily. For the longest time, condos commanded a 20-25 per cent market share and we all thought that was the limit. But the condo quotient continued to grow to the point that we got used to a one-third, two-thirds split as a rule of thumb.

January 14 - Family quotas not the right path

The City of Toronto is considering a proposal to mandate that 10 per cent of all condo units be large enough to accommodate families with children.

January 7 - Metro and BILD aim to build a greater GTA

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion will turn 89 this year, on Valentine's Day as it happens. Coincidentally, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) will also celebrate its 89th birthday in 2010.